The other night I was asked, “What is the difference between the wide and the narrow leg burpee and if the wide leg burpee is “safer” than the narrow leg burpee?” What a fantastic question! 

If you are new to exercising and/or new to performing a burpee, I recommend that you start off learning the proper form and technique from a trained/certified health and fitness professional (personal trainer, coach, sport performance specialist, etc.). If you have injuries, this is important because you don’t want to aggravate them. If you don’t have injuries, you don’t want to create them by performing this exercise improperly. A trained/certified health and fitness professional has the ability to look at your body alignment and give you the appropriate modifications for your injuries and/or muscular imbalances. A trained/certified health and fitness professional also has the ability to tell you whether you should or should not perform this exercise, based on your current fitness level and state of health.

Let me paint a picture for those who have not had the joy of experiencing a burpee first hand. To perform a burpee, you do not need any equipment: a) start in a standing position; b) crouch as if you are trying to squat down then place your hands on the floor in front of you; c) quickly jump both feet back, into a plank; d) quickly bring your feet back under you; e) jump up as high as you can, land softly on your feet with slightly bent knees. 

Now there are many variations of the burpee. You can add a push up, squat, knee tuck, etc. That’s the beauty of the burpee! There are so many ways to make it more challenging…and fun!

What is the difference between a wide and a narrow leg burpee? When you are performing a wide leg burpee, you are on your toes; your legs are apart and are wider than shoulder width. With a narrow leg burpee, you are on your toes; your legs are close together, narrower than hip width. 
When you are performing a wide leg burpee, you bring your limbs (legs and feet), away from the mid-line/center of your body. You are in a reverse “Y”. The exercise is less difficult because you are getting assistance, with balance and/or strength, from your legs. You are not as dependent on the muscles of the core, that are responsible for stabilization and movement (such as transverse abdominis, internal obliques, rectus abdominis, external obliques and the erector spinae), to keep your body level and even.

When you are performing a narrow leg burpee, you bring your limbs (legs and feet), close to the mid-line/center of your body. You are in a straight line. The exercise becomes more difficult because you are not getting assistance from your legs to aid with balance and/or strength. You are dependent on the muscles of the core, to keep your body level and even.

Is the wide leg burpee “safer” than the narrow leg burpee? Not necessarily. The wide leg burpee is a modified burpee variation so that you can perform the exercise more safely.  
Any exercise, performed without proper form, can be unsafe. Since the narrow leg burpee requires you to have more core stabilization, strength and control, it is important that you build the strength in these muscles, prior to performing the burpee, so that you reduce your chance of injury. One exercise that you can do that will help build the strength of the core muscles is the plank. The plank exercise targets the muscles of the core that keep the body level, even and stable while performing the burpee.

When performed properly, the burpee is a fun, powerful, challenging exercise that builds endurance, strength and agility while increasing the cardiovascular system’s ability to be more efficient and effective at oxygen utilization and consumption as well as increasing the body’s ability to recover after exercising.

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