One Thing You Can Do Today to Burn Fat

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Burpees. No one likes them, except for the demented.

The metabolic demand from burpees is like a gorilla on crack. Relentless. Near annihilation.

Most people in reasonable shape can do a decent burpee. Here’s a burpees video from an on-line fitness company called Hyperstrike.

It will destroy you if you do it with a sense of urgency (like this badass kid). You can eliminate the jump at the end of each burpee, if you wish. It will still destroy you.

Here’s my simple instruction:

Do 50 burpees in as little time as you can. Rest where you need to. It could take you 2 minutes, or 20 minutes.

The less time it takes to complete, the greater the power expression.

The greater the power expression, the greater the mechanical power output.

The greater the mechanical power output, the greater the metabolic power output.

The greater the metabolic power output, the greater the caloric expenditure.

The greater the caloric expenditure, the greater the fat burned.

But here’s the thing: all the burpees you’ve managed through the searing metabolic burn, breathlessness, physical discomfort, and outright muscular shutdown… none of it makes any difference to your long-term body fat.

Food, no matter what kind, fills it all back.

The point of this post: exercise is great for lots of things, one of which is burning calories. But calories are an open-ended thing. A huge discrepancy can exist between calorie expenditure and calorie intake.

If you want to lose fat long-term, you’ll have to average less calorie intake long-term.

By the way, 50 burpees took me 2:18. Try it for yourself, and put your time in the comment.

This entry was posted in Dietary Habit, Exercise and Physical Activities, weight Loss and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to One Thing You Can Do Today to Burn Fat

  1. Trinity Selle says:

    I love that you talk up exercise, but also point out its reality in weight loss. This makes me more aware that it’s ultimately my eating habit that dictates my weight. Your message is really clear and simple, and I really get it.

  2. Kevin says:

    A soda + candy bar or even a second helping of a whole food dinner = the calories you used to sweat your butt off for 20 minutes during the workout. Or at least pretty close to it sometimes.

    Real food, real work(out), real understanding of hunger (when to pick up and put down the fork) = win win win 🙂

  3. mommy1.618 says:

    Hi Johnny,

    It is so simple and yet so hard, isn’t it? Eat less, move more, lose weight. But always–eat less. I’ve never done burpees–here it goes! Thanks as always for the spot-on message.

  4. Bangkok Jay says:

    Great post, Johnny!

    Hate them burpees but love that it knocks me to the floor every time. I tried the jumping variety in tabata format (8 rounds 20secs on 10secs off) and every time managed to last only 5 rounds at best (avg 10 per round). No mas after that but then I try to do “push off the ground pushups” for another round or two before I totally collapse.

    Being so hard to do, I more or less stopped doing them 2 months ago and focused squarely on the caloric deficit instead, which did work (5lbs).

    I was under the impression (from so many sites) that these HIIT exercises truly did have some torching effect to fat-burning but am very glad to read your simple wisdom.

    I’ll leave the burpees as an occasional sadomasochistic ritual instead and think of it every time I consider that dessert or treat. – Jay

    • Johnny says:


      You hit it right on the nail. Although burpees are highly effective at improving VO2 uptake, work capacity, anaerobic threshold, lactic acid buffering and recycling capability, the best way to lose that 5 pounds is still through a dietary caloric deficit.

      One has to question: at what point in the real world do the functional benefits above have diminishing value for the average person? At what point do they exceed practicality, and become masochistic, high risk, inflammatory, unhealthy, and generally not needed?

      I’d rather have a killer 6-pack.


  5. Mark says:

    Did 50 burpees in 4’03”. Man, my legs are already sore…

  6. Dan says:

    Ouch! Just did the 50 in 5:55…damn that’s more than double your time! When I got to a mere 20 I was spent! Definitely going to add these to some of my workouts!

    And yes, it’s quite amazing how easy it is to compensate the calories burned in a workout…especially since I used to be in endurance sports and stuffed myself for years trying to get above 4-5% BF! Now the game has changed but life is definitely much more enjoyable eating really good food in moderate amounts.

  7. Roland says:

    I’ve done Crossfit for 4 years. I have scored close to 400 on Fight Gone Bad for the past 3 years (with standardized technique). During the same amount of time, I also ate the Zone/Paleo diet. Felt great. But I NEVER had anything more than a 4 pack. I was consistently above 12% body fat, just never quite managed the physique I always wished for.

    Meanwhile I became dreaded with always having to push myself to the limits with exercise. Even with excellent technique in most exercise, I had elbow tendonitis, shoulder pain, and hip pain.

    5 months ago I stopped Crossfitting and just started doing a much more laid back workout routine with less frequency and intensity, and decided to add intermittent fasting to ACTUALLY create a true calorie deficit instead of relying on exercise. Since I started IF’ing, I am actually way leaner and for the first time I’m seeing a 6 pack!

    But if you ask me to do Fight Gone Bad today, I don’t think I can get even past 300. The irony is I feel way healthier, much better, and I look way better. I wish I knew this 4 years ago, rather than beat myself up senselessly and believing this was what it took to get lean. Wish I knew it was as easy as taking a break from eating here and there… like you say, “turn off the valve”. 🙂

    And like you Johnny, I’d much rather have a 6 pack and feel great. (BTW, 50 burpees took me 5:54. And I don’t feel bad about it either. I’ll get better at burpees, for sure, but now I know they don’t determine my 6 pack abs!) 🙂

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