On a scale of one to 10, how much do you dislike burpees? If you said 10, we don't blame you! But what other exercise gets all your muscles firing and heart pumping so that you can burn lots of calories in just a few minutes?
Compound moves — ones that combine two or more exercises you're likely already familiar with — are an efficient way strengthen your entire body. These movements are relatively easy to learn, but they'll activate multiple muscle groups at once — no burpees needed.
So, instead of sweating through a much-dreaded exercise, here are 12 alternatives to burpees you can incorporate into your workouts for every muscle.
1. Full-Body Extension
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge your hips back and bend your knees into a squat as you swing your arms behind you.
- Swing your arms up over your head as you stand up and raise onto your tiptoes, squeezing your glutes and keeping your core tight.
- Start out slowly to master the form, then speed it up until you feel the burn.
This one looks simple, but if you do it right, you’ll be working up a sweat in no time. It’s basically the second half of a burpee without the jump, so it’s easier on your joints.
2. Marching Glute Bridge
- Begin by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the floor, knees up toward the ceiling.
- With your arms at your sides, press into your heels and lift your hips up until you form a diagonal line from knees to hips to chest.
- Keep the hips elevated throughout the motion by squeezing the glutes. Actively press your arms into the floor.
- Raise your right foot a few inches off the ground, then place it back down.
- Then, raise the left a few inches off the ground and bring it back.
- Continue marching here, keeping your glutes active and hips elevated.
3. Dumbbell Man Maker
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Squat down and place the dumbbells on the ground.
- Jump or step back into a plank.
- Row the dumbbells one at a time up to your shoulders.
- Jump or step your feet back to your hands, then stand up.
- Finally, perform an overhead press, lifting the dumbbells directly over your shoulders with your arms fully extended.
- Lower them down and start again.
The man maker exercise is kind of like a burpees on steroids — it’s a tough one! But instead of the plyometrics of the jump in burpees, you’re adding a pair of dumbbells as resistance.
4. Squat to Press (Thruster)
- Grab a pair of dumbbells (or a barbell) and hold it at shoulder level.
- With your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and push your butt back to squat down, holding the weight steady at your chest.
- Stand up explosively and use the strength generated from your hips and glutes to lift the weight up into an overhead press.
- Lower the weight back down to your shoulders with control.
If man makers are a bit too much for you after all those burpees, cut out the first half of it and you’re left with thrusters.
5. Inchworm to Push-Up
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
- Fold forward to plant your palms on the ground.
- Keeping your legs as straight as possible, walk the hands forward to a high plank — hands in line with the shoulders, body flat from head to hips to toes.
- Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle from the ribs and lower the body toward the ground.
- When your chest hovers just above the floor, press into your palms and spread the shoulder blades apart, straightening your arms back to the high plank.
- Then, keeping your legs straight, walk your hands back to your feet and return to standing.
Part of a great full-body exercise isn’t just its ability to strengthen a particular muscle group, it’s also about lengthening it. While inchworms strengthen your upper body and core, they also stretch your lower body.
Can't do a push-up? Make this move easier by dropping to a knee push-up, keeping a flat back throughout the motion. Or take out the push-up element entirely, says April Whitney, certified personal trainer.
6. Standing High Knee Lift With Dumbbell Curl
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing each other.
- Raise one knee toward your waist and curl the weights toward your shoulders. As you raise the weights, rotate the weights so that your palms face your shoulders.
- Lower to start, then switch sides.
7. Push-Up + Leg Lift
- Start in a high plank with hands under your shoulders.
- Lower your chest to the floor (or as low as you can). As you do, lift your right foot several inches off the floor, keeping the foot flexed.
- Lower your foot to the ground, then push back up, maintaining a straight line from head to toe.
- Repeat, lifting the other foot this time.
Another push-up variation like the inchworm, this exercise puts an additional emphasis on your glutes, as you’ll be adding a leg lift at the end. If you’re feeling especially strong, add a resistance band around your thighs.
8. Reverse Lunge Press Knee Up
- Stand with feet together and a dumbbell held with both hands in front of your chest.
- Step your left foot back a few feet and bend both knees until they’re at 90-degree angles.
- As you step back, press the weight overhead with both hands.
- Lower the weight back to your chest as you stand up.
- Step your left foot back together with the right before lifting the left leg out in front of you, bending your left knee.
- Set your left foot back down.
9. Kettlebell Swing
- Start with feet wider than hip-distance apart and knees bent.
- Grab a kettlebell with both hands (bell still on the floor a few feet in front of you).
- Hinge from the hips as you swing the bell through your legs and back behind you, keeping your core engaged and your back flat.
- Use the power from your hips and glutes to straighten your legs as the kettlebell comes back through your legs and up to shoulder height, all while keeping your core tight.
There’s a reason swings are a go-to exercise in the kettlebell community: They’re a great full-body exercise. Just make sure you choose a lighter weight to start until you master form. And keep your core engaged the entire time to protect your lower back.
10. Dumbbell Woodchop
- Stand with feet hip-width apart (or a tiny bit wider) with a dumbbell, medicine ball or the handle of a resistance band or cable machine in your hands.
- Pivot toward your left as you raise the weight over your left shoulder, arms extended straight (twist and lift onto the ball of your right foot).
- Then, bring the weight across your body and down to the right side, bending both knees as you do this.
- Stand up and be sure to do the same number of reps on each side.
There are a variety of ways to do this exercise — with a medicine ball, dumbbell, cable machine or resistance band — but no matter how you do it, you’ll be hitting your upper body, lower body and core at the same time.
11. Medicine-Ball Slam
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and a medicine ball on the floor in front you.
- Squat down to pick it up.
- Stand up as you raise it over your head.
- As you squat back down, throw it as hard as you can toward the floor.
- Pick it up again and repeat.
This last move is a great one for getting out any pent-up anger, frustration or other negative emotions, as you get to slam a medicine ball to the ground as hard as you can!
12. Standing Oblique Crunch
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on the back of your head.
- Raise your right knee to your side as you bring your right elbow down toward your knee.
- Move back to start, then switch sides.
Try This 10-Minute Full-Body Workout
Ready for a quick, 10-minute workout for every muscle with several of the moves above? Try this workout to target every major muscle group in your body and burn a ton of calories in the process.