Can Burpees Build Muscle?

I was looking for the old bodyweight thread in the Conditioning section however can’t find it at all

I never usually post my videos in here however thought I would throw this one in to help guys and gals who are time strapped and need to get their muscle building game on

This is probably my thorniest subject as I seem to attract a bit of flak regarding this subject however I genuinely believe that burpee variations, particularly ones that focus spending more time ‘on the ground’ so to speak, can lay down new tissue

Feel free to chime in guys and let me know your thoughts.


Technically everything you can overload will build muscle. A person who can do 10 pushups will definetly grow some muscle on the way to 100 pushups.
The main problem would be optimal time consumption for a workout. You can do 3x10 of benchpress or 10x100 of pushups, for example. Sooner or later you will be doing so much of these movements you will spend your day doing what could have been done in 10 mins.
There is definitely also diminished returns principle. Going from 10 to 100 will make you grow some muscle. But im not sure you can do enough to actually achieve BIG physique. Most guys who do only bodyweight stuff usually dont weight even 100kg. I have seen lightweight and middle weight fighters do crazy bodyweight workouts. I am yet to see a 190cm and 120kg lean dude who does only those tho.

I guess it depends on what we all define as muscular. For someone who has never done anything, bodyweight workouts will definitely do a lot. Not a lot of bodybuilders and actually big athletes like discus throwers, NFL halfbacks etc rely on them so much so there must be a reason.

There are tons if studies on hypertrophy now, and we see at least the basic trends of sets and reps which are optimal. No study ever mentions doing simmilar movements for 300 reps as a good option tho.


Resistance training and progressive overload is the optimal route to muscle building. That’s not even up for debate IMO

Burpees are not going to make you look like Nick Walker however there’s definitely some muscle building potential in there

I’d love to see you do 100 navy seal burpees Hank you big tank you :kissing_heart:


I think even walking can build muscle for some folks, but this is probably ‘folk-dependent’.

  • If you’re already a thicc boi whose been lifting for a while, I’m not 100% sold on burpees adding muscle. Not saying it couldn’t happen, just not a bunch of hypertrophy happening with this type of movement - comparative to actual hypertrophy training.
  • If you’ve got spaghetti noodle arms and a LBM of 15lbs, you’ll probably build quite a bit of muscle from, well, anything… I don’t know a single movement that would involve more muscles than a strict form burpee. I’d be amazed if this didn’t result in muscle growth.

I also think breaking down the burpee into individual movements (jump squats, push ups, and whatever you want to call the feet-to-hands part before you get back up) and doing higher reps of just those movements would result in pretty decent hypertrophy, if relatively untrained.

I do believe burpees are a great way to stay healthy and work energy systems, I just don’t see them adding a ton of size to someone. Certainly beats riding the couch though.

Disclaimer: please don’t ask me to do 100 burpees, because I’ll be dead long before I hit the halfway point


I think I fall with the majority here - it probably builds lean tissue until you’re able to knock out 100+ reps. I mean that’s the same with any resistance training, though, so it’s not a big with calisthenics.

I would imagine the rebuttal is a video of someone doing 100-200 reps of curls and having good arms. I would respond thusly:

  1. Rarely are those unbroken, in which case we have multiple “sets”. This can certainly also apply to burpees, as I alluded above.
  2. Those may not be the primary driver of hypertrophy: maybe they promote tendon health and motor learning (the ability to contract your biceps), so now you’re other pull exercises are more stimulating.

Now, if we’re saying can they help you look muscular… of course! You get a threshold of hypertrophy and you’re lean - you’ll look great!


I would suggest that folk try a Zulu burpee as a ‘finisher’ to their chest day

1 burpee rep alone will take most to failure. 10 of those and you’ll spend the rest of the day walking around like you’ve got a bench press powerlifting suit on

Also I want @Andrewgen_Receptors to give me 100 unbroken


You able to post a link for this? YT and Google don’t seem to recognize the term.

If I had the choice between giving you 100 burpees unbroken and 100$, I think I’d choose the 100$ :sweat_smile:

My cardio is trash - I’ve been incorporating WODs (some of which contain burpees) to correct this =)


Check the video. They’re the 2nd one in

I’ll ping you my PayPal


Not to derail, but I’d always say my bottom line is (in the words of the great Rocky Balboa): “it’s all edible.”

I don’t think there’s the “true way”. Whatever we’re going to go at, hard, is going to give us many benefits/ improvements. There may be more or less efficient paths to an end goal, but that doesn’t mean anything else “doesn’t work.”

Burpees are clearly the answer for you. You’re able to go very masochistic, you get them in anywhere without equipment, and they’ve lit a fire for you. That’s always going to be much better for hypertrophy than plodding away comfortably on a machine that bores you without even glimpsing a failure point.

I really think most of us want to look muscular, anyway. A large part of that is reducing body fat. Hard conditioning is clearly a beneficial and efficient path here.


My thoughts are that just doing burpees could get you more jacked than 90% of gym goers. Which is not a high bar.

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I think burpee can build muscle,

I also think that the ceiling is lower for burpees than for traditional strength training, especially for lower body

I do think burpees, when done correctly, are a great conditioning exercise that develop athleticism and are more fun than traditional cardio modalities

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The cool thing is we Know that Burpees can build muscle! We’ve watched the process occur, and it’s documented with photos, videos and witnesses.

Instead of speculating about how prison guys get jacked with pushups, we can check out the Chong story!

Anyway, I think that if you want to build muscle with bodyweight, you should put the idea of Straight Sets to Failure out of your mind. That’s the fastest way with weights.

But with burpees and calisthenics it seems like you want to avoid failure. Like you build up some fatigue, then instead of pushing to the “finish,” you just linger in that fatigued state. You just keep moving enough to stay under duress for awhile. And it burns and is terrible. And i think that “Metabolic Stress” is what makes you grow.

Just thinking about it is making me queasy.




I used time under tension when I was younger and that worked for those purpose at the time.

Extended tut is definitely challenging, especially with limited weight.

I dont know how well it would work in adults though.

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Lots of calisthenics/gymnastics progressions use time held in an isometric contraction as the main variable. Seems to be the equivalent of reps in most of these programs.


Yeah. The only thing you cant do slowly is the squat thrust extension and contraction.

The rest though, you can make that burn.

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I love how this is becoming a Classic movie for all dudes. I feel like it’s been awhile since we had an action movie that wasn’t totally forgettable.


I am going to speculate that, if you took the average person and had them do 8 minutes of burpees a day, every day, for 1 year, the physical transformation they would undergo would be so ridiculous that their friends would not recognize them.

I base that off pure alchemy.

The “trick” is compliance. No days off, ever. It’s only 8 minutes, but they can never be skipped.


I’m going to (continue to) be annoying…

I agree with what you wrote. I think folks that get stuck get hung up on whether what we’re doing is the best for hypertrophy (creating the most lean tissue) vs physical transformation which is what they’re really after.

Any of these methods may be limited in the amount of absolute tissue you can lay down - who cares if you’re still moving through the “improvement” spectrum, which is more encompassing?


Along those lines it could certainly help hypertrophy by increasing cardio capacity, which in turn aides recovery via improved ability to rectify oxygen debt.