What is a Burpee Over the Bar?
Burpee over the bar is a simple, full-body, dynamic exercise that builds strength, muscle, coordination, and overall athleticism. The idea is simple: place a barbell on the floor, and jump from side to side, performing a burpee on each hop. Doing so burns tons of calories develops a range of muscles in your body, and improves your endurance.
Thanks to the combination of different elements, burpees over the bar develop multiple characteristics simultaneously. As a result, the movement boosts your athleticism and makes you better able to handle everyday tasks.
As far as programming goes, adding burpees over the bar near the beginning of your training is beneficial. The exercise involves many muscles, so doing it early in your training would allow you to maintain proper form, do more repetitions, and achieve better results. For example, you can do your primary movement for the day and do burpees as a second or third exercise.
How to do the Burpee Over the Bar
- Place a barbell on the ground and stand perpendicular on one side of it.
- Jump in the air and immediately descend into a squat while keeping your back neutral.
- Once you’re at the bottom of the squat, reach forward and plant your palms firmly on the floor as you simultaneously kick your feet back. You should end up in a high plank position at this point.
- With your body straight as an arrow and shoulders, elbows, and wrists in a straight vertical line, take a breath and descend into a push-up by bending your elbows. Go down as comfortably as you can, then push yourself back to the high plank position.
- Once you perform the push-up, lunge both feet forward next to where your hands are positioned, squat up, and jump laterally over the barbell.
- Descend into a squat and repeat the same movement. Once you’re done, jump laterally once again over the bar and repeat the motion.
- Keep alternating until you finish the set.
What muscles does the burpee over the bar activate?
Burpees over the bar are a full-body activity that trains various major muscles. As you squat, the movement trains your quadriceps, which extend your knees (1, 2). Your hamstrings also activate, and so do your glutes (1).
During the push-up portion of the exercise, you train your chest, triceps, shoulders, and serratus anterior (3). Your chest (pectoralis major) activates off the bottom, allowing you to get back to the top position. The shoulders (mainly the anterior head) assist the chest in arm extension. Your triceps’ primary job is to extend your elbows, and they become increasingly active as you get closer to the top of the push-up.
Burpees over the bar also involve your midsection muscles, which work to keep you stable, especially in the high plank position. The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques are the primary muscles that flex isometrically to provide torso rigidity.
Tips for Proper Technique when doing the Burpee Over the Bar
The most important tip to keep in mind for burpees over the bar is to chop the exercise into the individual movement patterns: lateral jump, squat, high plank position, push-up, and back into a squat. Doing so will allow you to master the unique aspects of the exercise. Once you’re confident in that, you can work on making your transitions more fluid.
Similarly, take your time with each repetition. You are not on a time trial, so you shouldn’t aim to complete each repetition as quickly as possible. Instead, take your time with each movement pattern and focus on proper technique. Set yourself up for each squat and push-up before descending. Doing so will help you assume a safe and strong position.
Lastly, descend as much as you can on the squat and push-up. Your range of motion will depend on your strength, but training through an extended range of motion will help you work each muscle more effectively, making the exercise more beneficial.
Variations and Modifications of the Burpee Over the Bar
1. Regular Burpee
Regular burpees are identical to the variation we are looking at today. Both movements include a jump, squat, and push-up. The only difference is that regular burpees have you jump vertically and land in the same spot. In contrast, over-the-bar burpees require that you jump laterally after each repetition.
2. Superman Burpee Over the Bar
The superman burpee over the bar is also a similar exercise. The primary difference is, you also have to include a superman repetition at the bottom of the push-up. You squat down, transition to a high plank, do a push-up, bring your arms to your sides, and extend your body. Once finished, place your hands on the floor, push yourself up, and transition into the squat.
3. Box Jump Burpee
The box jump burpee is a great variation that ensures you jump high enough on each repetition. You have to squat down, assume a high plank position, do a push-up, and get into a squat position. But then, instead of hopping laterally, jump forward and land on a plyometric box.
Mistakes to Avoid
A common beginner mistake with the burpee over the bar is rushing each repetition. Prevailing wisdom suggests that we breeze through burpees, so trainees often rush the process. But as mentioned above, burpees are complex and involve several movement patterns. So, take your time on each repetition, making sure to prioritize technique over speed.
Another mistake with burpees over the bar is not descending enough on the push-up, limiting the exercise’s effectiveness. Avoid the error by bringing your torso as close to the floor as you can on every repetition. Doing so will allow you to train your shoulders, chest, and triceps much more effectively.
The third common mistake with burpees over the bar is landing on your heels after each lateral jump. Landing on your heels is harmful because it places too much stress on your knees and ankles, increasing your risk of injuries. Avoid potential issues by landing on the balls of your feet. That way, your calve muscles absorb more of the impact force.
Similar Exercises to the Burpee Over the Bar
Bench Press (Barbell)
While not the same as burpees, the barbell bench press is beneficial because it strengthens your chest, shoulders, and triceps (4). All three muscle groups play an essential role in the push-up, making the bench press useful for your burpee performance.
Jump squats are an excellent bodyweight movement that builds lower body strength, power, and muscle mass. Since jump squats are part of the burpee, doing them is perfect for improving your performance on the full-body movement.
Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight movements you can do to strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps, and serratus anterior (3). The exercise is also great for promoting shoulder health and strengthening your midsection. Like jump squats, push-ups are one element of burpees, beneficial for your performance.