On Burpees and Meaning
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can I get to 100 burpees every day like Brian Johnson does?”
“Understand that it’s as much mental as it is physical. You have to make it meaningful.
Deeply internalize that Energy is your most important resource. It’s an enabler for everything you do. Movement is one essential aspect of Energy – and your overall well-being –, next to Rest/Recovery and Nutrition.
The most important systems of personal meaning are your Identity and your Values. You have to integrate Movement into both of these systems.
Embrace your identity of Mover / Athlete.
Embrace Movement as one of your primary Values.
In strategic terms, do them in small sets, and spread them out throughout the day. To ensure consistency, have a system for it.”
“What does your system look like?
“I use the following terminology:
Micro-Unit = 1 burpee (the floor)
Unit = 5 burpees
Macro-Unit = 2 x Unit = 10 burpees (the ceiling)
I like multiples of 5 because they’re easier to count.
The key to consistency, I found, is connecting the burpee habit with other activities.
More specifically, with my work time. I do 3 units (3 x 5) during every work hour: one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. If for any reason I skip one, I do a macro-unit (10) next time.
The beauty of this system is that, once it becomes a habit, you don’t need to track your overall daily progress. You know that if you’ve worked 6 hours, you’ve done 90 burpees.”
“What if I can barely do 5 burpees? How can I build up to it?”
“To build up to it, adjust the unit.
Start with the micro-unit – 1 burpee. This is the habit-seed [<medium; short read].
Stay at 1 burpee until it feels easy, then add another one. This becomes your new unit.
Whenever the unit feels easy, add another rep.
Whenever you feel tired during the day and feel you can no longer sustain the volume, gradually scale down the unit for the day, all the way to the micro-unit if need be. It’s more important to maintain the habit – three units per hour, however small the unit – than to reach 100.
Focus on Quality. (Perfect/Quality Reps)
Think of every burpee session as a micro meditation. Start every single one by taking a deep breath and connecting with yourself (Centering).
In terms of feedback, use sound and markings on the floor to assess quality. The less sound you make – this is called Stealth in Parkour –, and the more precise your hand and foot placement, the better the quality of the rep.
You can also add Variety from time to time and experiment with various types of burpees.”