Featured Expert

Rob MacDonald

Rob MacDonald is the Training Director of Gym Jones, one of the country’s most elite and hardcore gyms, located in Salt Lake City. He’s broken multiple power-endurance world records. He enjoys exercise induced suffering and burgers.

I have news for you: You’re probably not working out as hard as you think you are. 

Honestly ask yourself, when’s the last time you truly went all out and gave a fitness task everything you have? After eight years at Gym Jones, I’ve found the answer to that question for the average person is “never.”

Are your hard days really as hard as you tell yourself they are?

When people don’t achieve a fitness goal, they want to blame external forces. They make excuses for sub-optimal results: “I didn’t have enough time to train,” “I didn’t have the right equipment,” “I have bad genes.”

In reality, the problem is likely that you’re not working hard enough—that you’re unwilling to throw yourself into the fire to reach your objective.

If you want to nail a lofty goal, you have to put yourself in an uncomfortable place. It’s in that dark, uncomfortable place that true change and transformation happens. It’s there that you build the physical and mental grit to meet—even exceed—your biggest personal challenges.

“Death By Burpee” is a simple drill we use at Gym Jones to teach people how to throw themselves into the fire. It strips away excuses because it’s quick and you can do it anywhere. All you really need is a will to suffer.

(Find out Why Burpees Are The Most Badass Exercise.)

At some point during this drill, you will face what we at Gym Jones call “The Moment.” The Moment is that critical point in a workout where your mind tries to convince you that you’re too tired to go on and that you need to quit.

It’s at this instant that you must decide whether to dig deep and find more fuel in the tank (trust me, it’s there) or to walk away.

For most people, “The Moment” in Death By Burpee occurs somewhere between 15 to 20 minutes in. If you listen to your mind and walk away, you’ll stay the same. If you silence the demons and just keep pushing for another round or two, you will build willpower that lasts a lifetime. 

Death By Burpee

To do a burpee, stand with your feet slightly beyond shoulder-width apart. Bending at your hips and knees, squat and lower your body until you can place your hands on the floor. Kick your legs backward into a pushup position. Do a pushup, and then immediately reverse the move. As you rise to the standing position, explosively jump in the air. That’s 1 rep. 

One important note: At Gym Jones, we have standards for a rep to count. During the pushup, you must maintain a perfect plank and your chest must touch the ground.

At the top of the burpee, you must jump at least six inches high and clap. If you miss one of those criterion or your form breaks down at any point, the rep doesn’t count.  

Now, set a timer, and do:

Minute 1: 1 burpee
Minute 2: 2 burpees
Minute 3: 3 burpees  
Minute 4: 4 burpees

Follow that pattern—adding another burpee each minute—until you cannot do the required number of burpees in the given minute.

The first 10 minutes will be easy. Then things will get much, much more difficult. Tell us how long you lasted in the comments. A great score is getting to minute 19. 

We’re a big fan of burpee burnouts. Before you tackle Death By Burpee, try to complete our Burpee Burnout.