Weekend Challenge: The Burpee Breathing Ladder


Published: April 8, 2016


Most workouts are governed by time – how long it takes you perform an exercise, the length of time you need to rest between sets, how long you need to perform a certain exercise for… This workout is different because, instead of using time, it uses the number of breaths you take to control the amount of rest you get between sets.

This has a number of effects:

  • Teaches you to control your breathing rate even when you are tired
  • Means that you don’t have to keep an eye on the time when you work out
  • Forces you to work at a different pace to what you might usually find comfortable
  • Provides a novel challenge to keep exercise boredom at bay

The workout

  • Do one burpee
  • Take one deep breath
  • Do two burpees
  • Take two deep breaths
  • Do three burpees
  • Take three deep breaths etc.

Keep adding a rep and a breath until you (a) reach ten reps or (b) can no longer do the required reps or (c) cannot limit yourself to the prescribed number of breaths.

Exercise description


Burpees – stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Squat down and place your hands on the floor just in front of your feet. Jump your feet back and into the press-up position. Perform a single press-up. Jump your feet back up and into your hands and then leap into the air. Land on slightly bent legs and repeat. Leave out the press-up and/or the jump if you need an easier version of this workout.

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