Burpee Equivalents: Understanding Junk Food in terms of Your Favorite Exercise
Occasionally we slip up with our diets and sneak in some junk calories. When we do, we have to pay the price…In Burpees! At Spartan Coaching HQ we have been conducting research to quantify energy expenditure during the Burpee exercise. Here is what we found:
burpees for 130lb individual
burpees for 180lb individual
1 large French Fries
1 IPA beer
1 Slice of Dominos Peperoni Pizza
1 8 ounce Ted’s Bison Cheesburger
1 scoop of Ben Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream
1 12” Roast beef sub from Subway
1 Cola soft drink
1 Fried Calamari Appetizer
1 Plain Bagel
1 Slice of Cheescake
1 Egg McMuffin Sandwich
1 Cadbury Creme Egg
First we calculated the amount of work being performed during the Burpee. We calculated work as:
- Work (w) = force (f) x distance (d)
- f = weight of the individual in kilograms
- d = distance from the floor to the maximal height of the head during the jump in meters.
Male Athlete A:
- Height: 71 inches (1.80 meters)
- Weight: 180 lbs ( 81.8 kg)
- Average Vertical jump during 5 minute Burpee test: 5 in. ( .12 m)
- Total vertical displacement from the floor to maximal jump height: 1.92 m (height plus jump height)
- work = 81.8 x 1.92
- work = 157 kg/m
- Given: 1kcal = 426.4 kg/m
- Thus, 0.368 kcals of mechanical work per Burpee
External mechanical work or the work that is being performed does not equal the amount of work that is being produce internally, humans aren’t 100% efficient. Efficiency during running and cycling is about 25%, thus for the body to perform 25 kcals of external work, it must produces 100 kcals of energy internally. That means that the body has to produce 1.47 kcals of internal energy to produce 0.368 kcals of external mechanical work per Burpee repetition.
We can also calculate energy production during the Burpee exercise by measuring oxygen consumption with metabolic cart. We had several athletes perform the Burpee exercise at a constant rate for 3 minutes while wearing a portable metabolic measuring system that continuously measured oxygen consumption. The average Burpee rate was 10 Burpee repetitions per minute and average oxygen consumption during the last minute of exercise was 35 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml O2/kg/min). We found the measured oxygen cost of a single Burpee repetition to be 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee.
To convert oxygen cost to energy expenditure we did the following:
- Total oxygen consumed during a single Burpee is calculated as the product of body weight (kg) and O2 cost in ml/kg/.min
- 81.8 kg X 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee = 286 mlO2/Burpee or .286 liters (l) of O2/Burpee.
- One liter of oxygen is equivalent to about 5 kcals.
- 0.286 l O2 X 5 kcals/l = 1.43 kcals/Burpee.
As you can see , there is good agreement between the 2 methods (1.47 and 1.43 kcals/Burpee respectively).
Founders Breakfast Stout is one of my favorite beers. If this athlete had 2 beers at 250 kcals per beer he would need to perform 349 Burpees to burn off those calories.
2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals or 419 burpees
Pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough = 980 kcals or 685 burpees.
Use the chart below to figure out your Burpee equivalent of junk food calories.
Energy Expenditure During the Burpee Exercise (kcals/Burpee)
Body Weight (lbs.)
kcals per Burpee
Example – for a 140 lb person:
2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals
600kcals/ 1.11 kcal per Burpee = 540 burpees
You can have your cake and eat it too, but be ready to pay in Burpees!