Remember I found a guy in England who did a one-year burpee “ladder” in my post “A burpee brother?” A burpee ladder means one burpee on the first day, two on the second, three on the third. A one-year ladder means you go until you do 365 on the last day for a total of almost 70,000 in the year.
I’ve meant to do 365 burpees in a day since then. So I did.
Ten days of meditation has its ups and downs. Day five they asked us to hold our positions for the full hour, which led to searing pain and sweat about forty minutes in. By day six my body had figured out which muscles to relax so they weren’t fighting each other and to separate the physical sensation of pain from the feeling of misery. Day seven was brutal again. Not wanting to endure another day five, I hit on doing 365 burpees.
I was finishing lunch when I hit on the idea, about 11:30am. I figured that if I thought of burpees as working on meditation, I could skip the first afternoon session and do burpees until about 2:15, when they’d ring the bell for the next group session. Since I knew I’d do my usual twenty-five each in the morning and evening, I calculated I could do the remaining 315 by doing sets of ten every five minutes.
Then I hit a snag. How would I keep track of how many I did without something to write with?
On the way from the dining hall to my room, I picked up thirty-two pebbles. I put them in a pile in my room and after each set of ten I moved a pebble from one pile to the other. After doing all those sets of ten (plus a few sets of fifteen to save time), I couldn’t do only five for the last pebble so I ended up with 370 for the day.
I didn’t forget he did 364 the day before. I wasn’t up for another day of over 300, but I couldn’t go back to just fifty the next day so I did 100, then 75 the next day, then back up to 100, then 75, and now I’m back to my usual 50 per day.
The next day my left elbow hurt. I think I hit it with my knee. So I have to change my claim that burpees have almost no risk of injury. If you do 370 in a day or increase the number you do by a factor of seven, you might bruise your elbow.
It didn’t hit me until writing this post that I was using burpees, something many people say they hate, to relieve me from sitting still. There is a lot of irony and meaning in that juxtaposition.
My room had a low ceiling so I couldn’t jump that high, which makes burpees easier.
Doing 365 in a day takes serious effort, both calories and finding time to do them. At first a set of ten felt easy. I didn’t breathe that heavy and it returned to normal after about a minute. Toward the end my breathing got heavy as soon as I started and wouldn’t recover for a few minutes after finishing. Plus I would start sweating.
Burpees the next day were harder than even the ones at the end of the day.
When I do twenty-five in a row, my legs and lungs give out first. When I do a lot of sets of ten, my arms give out first, though that might be because of the lower ceilings.
Though I had respect for someone doing a 365-day burpee ladder just on hearing about it, doing that many in a day increased my respect. Doing burpees the day after told me the difficulty through the feeling in my lungs and energy-less muscles. Then again the next day when the soreness was stronger. And two months before he did 365 he was still doing over 300 per day.
As always, doing the burpees, while hard, isn’t the hard part. The hard part is deciding to do them. Doing them just burns calories. Choosing forces you to think and act.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book