Burpees are famously a brutal, physically exhausting move, and it’s common to max out after a relatively small number of reps. Unless you’re Alison Brown, that is. The 38-year-old personal trainer from Ontario, Canada has made history by performing 730 chest-to-ground burpee reps in the space of an hour.
Brown completed her historic feat back in July, and her 730 burpees have just been qualified as an official Guinness World Record in the female category, beating the previous record of 709 reps.
“I’m a little bit competitive in nature and the original record-holder set the bar very high,” Brown told CBC News. “So when I saw the number I was just ready to give it all I had and I knew I wanted to set the bar even higher. So it’s pretty cool to know that I did it.”
Brown decided to try and set a world record after her son brought home a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. She ended up choosing the burpee because it’s one of her favorite workout staples, but also because the physical act itself, which involves dropping to the ground and then getting back up, felt more resonant than ever considering the turmoil the entire world has faced in 2020, and could be a valuable lesson to her three children.
“I tell all of my clients, children will be what they see, not what we say to them… So I tell my clients that you need to model what you want your children to follow,” she said. “This has been a year of us having to get back up… So I really like that metaphor, you just got to keep getting back up.”
However, while Brown’s accomplishment is awe-inspiring, it is not necessarily one that should be attempted by others. As in so many other exercises, quality of reps counts far more than quantity, explains Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel C.S.C.S.
“When you’re doing burpees, think of getting off the ground as ‘efficiently’ as possible,” he says. “Note that I didn’t say ‘quickly.’ If you focus only on quickness, but you’re not hitting efficient positions, you’re going to leak and waste energy. By default, you won’t get up as quickly as you want to. And if you’re wasting a ton of energy on each rep, it’ll slow you down and fatigue you faster as you pile up reps and work time… A burpee is a valuable opportunity to train triple extension (the same thing that athletes train, and the same thing you train when you’re doing a power clean), so don’t waste that in the quest to do zounds of reps faster than everyone else.”
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