Burpee Run Workouts for Elite Conditioning (Program)

The jumping portion of a traditional one pump burpee.

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If you’re after elite conditioning, strong lungs, strong legs, and some extra upper body muscle, then you owe it to yourself to try this burpee run workout plan.

Though I first started doing this style of training as a way to specifically prepare for a Spartan Race, I accidentally discovered in the process a perfect tool for jacking my level of conditioning into the stratosphere in a matter of just a few weeks.

To perform burpee run repeats, start with an easy run to get the blood flowing. Then, you’ll complete a designated set number of burpees, which will skyrocket your heart rate. From there, you’ll repeat the run / burpee intervals, being forced to learn to recover while continuing to exert yourself.

I’ve found that this ability to recover quickly under extreme fatigue is my secret weapon for developing unmatched conditioning very quickly.

The foundational burpee running workout

Though the following workout seems deceptively simple, you’ll find that if you stick with it for 8-10 weeks at a time, you’ll be extremely conditioned by the end of the training block.

Here’s the foundational workout:

  • One mile run, 30 burpees
  • Repeat for 3 miles

During this workout, I tend to do the full, “CrossFit” style burpee, placing hands at shoulder width on the ground, with a full push-up. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to utilize other burpee variations or to delete the push-up altogether if you wish.

Don’t worry, I’ll provide a simple program to progress to this workout below.

Sample burpee running training program

When I’m coaching others on building up to my preferred “base building” burpee run (three repeats of one mile with 30 burpees), I typically provide the following plan:

  • Week 1: 400m run, 5 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 2: 400m run, 7 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 3: 400m run, 10 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 4: 800m run, 12 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 5: 800m run, 15 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 6: 800m run, 18 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 7: DELOAD – take the week off and recover
  • Week 8: 1200m run, 20 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 9: 1200m run, 22 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 10: 1200m run, 25 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 11: 1600m run, 28 burpees, repeated 3x
  • Week 12: 1600m run, 30 burpees, repeated 3x

After Week 12, I’d recommend another deload. From there, you can continue to add more reps, or simply maintain your level of fitness by repeating your week 12 workout once per week. You should be able to complete this training session in around 30 minutes.

Personally, I’ve taken this up to 1.5 mile runs with sets of 30 burpees for four rounds. However, at the time I was specifically training for a 6 mile Spartan Race. You’re welcome to progress this into infinity, if you wish.

Going into the push-up on a one pump burpee.

Who should do burpee run workouts?

Though burpee run workouts are not for everyone, there are certain classes of people who will benefit immensely from the levels of conditioning that can be achieved though burpee runs:

Martial artists, wrestlers, grapplers, boxers

Succeeding in martial arts, wrestling, or any other combat sport relies on a couple of things:

  • Excellent technique, and
  • Elite physical fitness!

It’s been said before that fitness in combat sports isn’t necessarily about who’s strongest at the beginning of a fight, it’s about who’s the strongest at the end of the fight.

We’ve all watched fights where an early lead is lost quickly by a fighter who gasses out! Burpee workouts like burpee pyramids and burpee runs have a unique ability to train our ability to resist fatigue over the long haul.

Obstacle course racers and Hyrox athletes

At the risk of being too on the nose, obstacle course racing is a literal combination of running with strength exercises interspersed throughout, while in a highly fatigued state. What’s more, most popular obstacle course races feature burpees as a punishment for not completing an obstacle.

Hyrox athletes have literally coined the term “compromised running” term to refer to this type of exertion.

When I first began completing obstacle course races, I read that the average Spartan racer will do 60-70 burpees during the race. From my experience, I’ve found this to be true for most people.

What better way to get ready for that physical challenge than to train for it specifically with burpee runs?

Endurance athletes

During my days of endurance racing, I began incorporating run / burpee / run training as an adjunct since I was also doing Spartan races at the time.

The result? My endurance got better, and my speed increased.

Note that if your goal is pure endurance, I wouldn’t suggest replacing basic workouts like tempo runs and long runs with burpees – that just doesn’t make any sense. However, adding a burpee run once per week can be a fantastic way to build fatigue resistance in endurance athletes.

Anyone who wants to out-perform their competition!

If you’re competing in any type of competition or sport that’s highly physical, you’ve got to learn to perform while extremely tired. This is a common thread across most sports.

Almost nothing will build fatigue resistance and the ability to continue to GO under extreme fatigue than burpee running.

A man tying his shoes getting ready for a run.

We’re not the only ones with this idea

The idea of combining burpees and running together in the same workout is not new. There are multiple CrossFit workouts that feature just these two movements:

  • “Sweat” WOD: one mile run, 50 burpees, one mile run, 50 burpees
  • “Clovis” WOD: 10 mile run, 150 burpee pull-ups (partitioned as necessary)

In addition, one simply needs to take a quick look through popular YouTube channels like Iron Wolf or Strong and Conditioned to see the elite levels of endurance and toughness that these workouts provide.

What do these workouts have in common? They are brutish, and they are highly effective at jacking your levels of conditioning into the stratosphere if you stick with them consistently.

Important tips for burpee running workouts

Learn to recover during the runs

Burpee runs create a unique ability in an individual to recover while continuing to exert themselves physically.

After a hard set of burpees, your legs will feel like Jello and your lungs will be burning. If our goal is fatigue resistance and hard conditioning, that’s what we want.

I often find that I feel as though I’m running through mud for the first 400-800 meters after a hard set of burpees. That is totally fine. If we just keep the run going, you’ll find that some time within the next mile, you’ll be “recovered” enough to complete another set.

Over time, you’ll find that the amount of time it takes you to “recover” from the burpees gets shorter and shorter.

Minimize rest between repeats

Should you rest between your rounds of burpees and running? Often times, I take no rest at all. That being said, it’s based on your level of fitness. There’s nothing wrong with taking 30-45 seconds after your set of burpees to gather your wits.

That being said, I would suggest that if you’re having to take breaks, then the number of burpees you’re doing per set is too many. The point of this workout is to learn to keep going under extreme fatigue, not build strength or muscle with burpees.

If your goal is to build muscle with only bodyweight, I would not suggest burpee running as a way to accomplish that. You’d be much better served by incorporating some circuits of weighted push-ups, pull-ups, and squats.

Don’t overdo it

If these workouts seem a bit psychotic, that’s because they are! They work so well because they are much more difficult than most workouts you’re used to. That being said, I’m still a fan of Jim Wendler’s adage of “start too light and progress slowly.”

Remember we’re trying to build our abilities here, not crush them. You won’t be a superhero in week one. THAT IS FINE!

Using the program below, start with a load that’s manageable, and progress over the course of months.

How often should we perform burpee runs?

Assuming you’re also doing some other resistance training and/or cardiovascular conditioning during your week, you will be just fine with incorporating this workout into your weekly routine once per week.

For folks who are trying to turn this into a complete standalone exercise program, I would recommend completing the workouts twice per week in the following fashion:

  • Monday: Burpee run as written in the plan
  • Thursday: Perform an “easy” day by only completing two-thirds of Monday’s workout (multiply the distances and burpee counts by 2/3rds and complete that)

I would not recommend trying to do burpee runs more than twice per week. If you’ve got space in your routine for more than two workouts, I would recommend doing something else for your third (mid-week) workout:

  • Option 1: Strength training or weighted vest circuit training
  • Option 2: An additional “pure endurance” session like a tempo run if conditioning is your goal

Turn burpee runs into full-body workouts

Though I’ve sung the burpee’s praises as a conditioning tool in this article, there is an obvious drawback to the burpee:

Contrary to popular belief, the burpee is not a total-body exercise. It completely neglects the upper back and biceps, which are essential to a functional body and athletic physique.

If you’re looking to turn these sessions into full-body workouts, try incorporating pull-up and burpee workouts together. The back and bicep work from your pull-ups will be a boon to your capabilities overall, and it will save you from having to perform a separate back and bicep day to make up for all the pressing you’ve been doing.

Beyond bodyweight – making burpee runs harder

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention probably the most basic scaling option for this style of training. Once you’ve built a basic level of fitness on burpee runs by completing the program above, you’re welcome to give yourself an added challenge by completing the workouts in a 10-20 pound weighted vest and starting the program over, from the beginning.

Standing up from a weighted vest burpee.

Starting over will provide a much-needed break from the longer workouts at the end of the program, while simultaneously providing extra resistance to fight against on your push-ups, jumps, and running.

Once you’ve spent a month or two completing these workouts in a weighted vest, you’ll find that returning to bodyweight only training is a breeze.

A word of warning about the weighted vest

It would feel irresponsible not to issue a word of warning here: if you’re not used to using a weighted vest for running, start there!

Additionally, if you’re not proficient on basic bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats, then you’ll want to spend some time building basic strength.

Wearing a weighted vest can be a fantastic tool for those who already have strong backs, legs, and lungs. I would recommend it only to people who are proficient at this style of training to begin with.

Try burpee runs! Your heart, lungs, and muscles will thank you!