Can Burpees Replace Running? (The Facts You Need to Know)

Last updated on September 19th, 2022 at 01:52 pm

Who else wants to know, “Can Burpees Replace Running?”

Most of us appreciate the fact that we need to do some form of cardio on a regular basis.

Whether your goal is to keep fit, lose weight, burn fat, or train for a particular sport, cardio is typically a requirement.

The “go-to” cardio exercise that the vast majority of people turn to is running.

However, are burpees a better alternative?

Can Burpees Replace Running?

If your goal is to lose weight, burn body fat, and produce an aesthetically-pleasing body then burpees can definitely replace running. Burpees burn more calories than running when performed for an equivalent amount of time. Plus, burpees are both an aerobic and an anaerobic exercise, and they produce the afterburn effect.

Burpees or Running – What Are Your Goals?

Crossfit Competitors at an Outdoor Meet

Burpees can definitely replace running, although this does very much depend on your training goals.

If you’re simply training for the good of your own health, then I say go for it with the burpees.

By this I mean, burpees are the far superior exercise (in my opinion) if your goal is to:

  • Lose weight
  • Burn body fat
  • Get stronger
  • Get fitter
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Improve your conditioning

However, there also happens to be occasions when I wouldn’t recommend that you replace running with burpees.

In the main, I’m referring to those of you who are training for a particular sport or event that involves running.

Burpees certainly have a huge number of advantages over running, but relevance also plays a part.

If you regularly play football, run on the track, or are training for a long-distance race, burpees will only take you so far.

All of these disciplines, and many more, actually involve running.

And the only way to improve your capacity for running is to run more often.

So, as you can see, it’s all relative.

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Burpees vs. Running Calories

If your aim is to lose weight or burn body fat through exercise often the first place to look is the number of calories burned.

I guess in many ways this does make sense.

In order to lose weight you should be consuming fewer calories than you are burning.

We all burn calories throughout the day, even while we are “inactive”.

The simple process of breathing, cell regeneration, blood pumping through our veins will all burn calories.

In order to up the ante, we typically look for exercises that will burn the most calories.

So, let’s have a look at the calories burned from burpees compared to running.

The following figures are based on a person weighing 170lb.

If this person runs a 10-minute mile they can expect to burn 133 calories, according to Captain Calculator.

If the same person performs 100 burpees they can expect to burn 135 calories, according to research provided by Dr. Jeff Godin.

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So, initially the figures seem fairly even.

However, our 170lb person can expect to burn approximately 135 calories from 100 burpees, irrespective of the time it takes.

Whether they take 5, 10, or 15 minutes to complete the 100 burpees, approximately 135 calories will be burned.

With that being said, this is where it gets interesting.

Burpees have a far greater likelihood of producing the afterburn effect than running.

This is where your body burns additional calories throughout the day, even after you have stopped exercising.

Burpees and the “Afterburn Effect”

The afterburn effect, also known as the EPOC effect.

Or if you want to get all scientific – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.

Basically, this refers to an increase in your metabolic rate.

A Woman Doing Burpees

An increased metabolism means that you consume more oxygen after exercise in order for the body to return to its pre-exercise state.

And a higher metabolic rate means that you are burning more calories while at rest.

Many forms of exercise produce the afterburn effect.

These include:

  • Weight lifting
  • Circuit training
  • Interval training
  • HIIT

Basically, any form of exercise that continuously elevates your heart rate to an increased level before bringing it back down again.

This increase and decrease in heart rate and breathing is repeated over-and-over again for a set period of time.

On a scale of 1-10, you could say that your heart rate at its highest level is a 9 or a 10.

As you “rest” your heart rate drops back down to a 4 or a 5, before you elevate it once again.

This is typically how burpees work.

However, when we look at running in its most common form, jogging, this doesn’t happen.

Running is most frequently completed at a moderate intensity and a steady state,

So, in effect your heart rate will remain at a 5 or a 6 throughout your workout.

This unfortunately will not produce the afterburn effect.

What this means is that as soon as you stop exercising your heart rate and oxygen consumption returns to normal.

Therefore, you stop burning calories as soon as you stop exercising.

The afterburn effect could easily last for an additional 12-24 hours (sometimes more) after you have stopped exercising.

This depends on the type of exercise you are doing, and the intensity at which it is performed.

I would say on average that performing 100 burpees in 10 minutes will see you continue to burn an “additional” 5-10 calories every hour for at least a few hours afterwards.

So, when we now look at the calories burned for burpees vs. jogging it tells a very different story.

Your 10-minute mile run stays at 133 calories burned.

However, your 100 burpees will typically burn over 200 calories, during and after exercise.

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Burpee Challenge – 20 Minutes 20 Different Burpees

Burpees are Both Aerobic and Anaerobic

Another huge advantage that burpees have over running is that they are both aerobic and anaerobic.

In the most simplest of terms, burpees are both a strength and cardio exercise.

In effect, you are getting more bang for your buck.

Burpees are not only a great exercise, but they can help you build strength and lean muscle.

And the more lean muscle the body has, the more calories it burns while at rest.

Now, I’ve given running a bit of a hard time here.

This is probably because I don’t class myself as a runner, and I very rarely find myself running or jogging.

However, this doesn’t mean that running doesn’t have its merits.

That being said, I prefer to do my running in a way to make it both aerobic and anaerobic.

Plus, I will run in a way that increases my metabolism and produces the afterburn effect.

Sprinting is without doubt my favourite form of running.

And sprinting definitely ticks all the same boxes as burpees, and even more on top.

Not including warming up and cooling down, I can finish a sprint-training session in under 10 minutes.

And most of that time will be spent resting.

But, the benefits of that training session, in terms of calories burned, metabolic rate, and the afterburn effect, far outweigh a 30-minute jog.

Something else to consider is that I also like to mix together a form of running with burpees.

One of my preferred conditioning workouts involves 5 sets of 400m runs and 20 burpees.

I run 400m as fast as I can.

Catch my breath for a few seconds, then perform 20 burpees.

I’ll then take 90-120 seconds rest and then repeat until 5 sets have been completed.

This entire workout will take me less than 20 minutes to complete.

However, the overall benefits are yet again far greater than 30 minutes of constant jogging.

Burpees or Running – The Boredom Factor

A Group of People Taking Part in a Race

I’ve mentioned that I’m not really a runner, and unfortunately I do find that I get very bored when out for a jog.

However, some people will say they feel exactly the same about doing burpees.

Although I agree that exercise can occasionally be fun, there are times when you just have to grin and bear it.

And more often than not, exercise is performed as a necessity rather than as an activity of pleasure.

Only you can decide which form of exercise is the lesser of two evils in your mind.

For me, burpees will also be better than running.

There’s absolutely no competition, burpees win hands down.

If you want me to be completely honest, I hate running.

But there will those of you who absolutely love running.

So, the decision as to which exercise you should perform is yours, and yours alone.

I know I could quite happily do intervals of burpees for as long as my body allows me, and not get bored.

However, 5 minutes into a run, and I’m already wishing that I hadn’t bothered.

And this includes running in different terrains or even in a picturesque setting.

Running just doesn’t do it for me.

Once again, you may be completely different.

Different strokes for different folks.

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Final Thoughts

So, can burpees replace running.

In my mind they most definitely can.

However, your personal circumstances should also be taken into consideration.

If you partake in an activity or sport that involves running, then the only way to get better at running is to run more often.

That being said, if you are merely looking at this from a health and body composition viewpoint, burpees are the greater exercise by far.

2 thoughts on “Can Burpees Replace Running? (The Facts You Need to Know)”

  1. Hey Partha,

    This would definitely help me out doing burpees instead of running. I absolutely hate running so I do my best to avoid it. But, I know that I need to run to get to that weight goal of mine. If replacing running with burpees can help me get to that weight goal, then that will make me extremely happy. I know burpees are extremely difficult and they will hurt, but I think I would prefer them to running.

    I will start with these when I exercise tonight and I will let you know what I think of them. If I can cope with them 🙂 then I will continue and hopefully start to see the benefits soon.

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the amazing work.

    All the best,


    • Hey Tom,

      Great to hear from you.

      Much like yourself, I’m not a fan of running, never really have been.

      I did do a lot of running in my younger days, then this kinda subsided once I started going to the gym.

      I even gave running another go when we went into the first lockdown of 2020, but after a few months I decided it just wasn’t for me.

      Now I know burpees are tough, and most people have a love/hate relationship with them, but I have always preferred them over running.

      Plus, I think from a “pound-for-pound” perspective, there are few better bodyweight exercises.

      As far as I’m concerned they have everything.

      Great for strength, cardio, mobility, agility, and conditioning.

      Plus, I can tell you something for sure – you get good at doing burpees and you will typically have a fit and athletic body.



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