Ramping up a burpees-and-suicides workout by doing it outside – in winter


Traci and Colleen doing our outdoor workout Saturday morning in 20-degree weather at the Washington Park tennis courts in Bluffton.

On Saturday my sister and I wanted to try a grueling softball workout Colleen had told us about, but we couldn’t find an indoor court to do it on. So we met at the Washington Park tennis courts in Bluffton for a session of “suicides” sandwiched between ladder-style calisthenics, including burpees – an exercise I hate so much that just last year I’d resolved to never, ever attempt one again.

Still, when Colleen came home from softball conditioning last week and described the latest torture session their strength-and-conditioning coach had come up with, we couldn’t resist telling Traci about it. Which meant, of course, that she would insist we try it. (The three of us happen to be teammates, along with my dad, in the latest incarnation of Wells Weighs In at the local YMCA.)

The idea was to do a ladder progression starting with one burpee, one pushup and one sit-up, increasing each set by one until you reached 10, then working your way back to one again. In between each set of calisthenics, you run a “suicide” – a series of four sprints from the baseline of a basketball court to the near foul line and back, followed by a sprint to the half-court line, far foul line and far baseline.

Because we were doing this workout outside, there would be an extra payoff – bonus calories burned keeping our bodies warm in the 20-degree winter weather.

“The easiest part of this workout is the running,” Colleen warned us, and she was right.

As expected, the burpees were pure torture by the third set of just three reps. Having been informed that few of the athletes on the high school softball team had been able to maintain a sprint pace – and that some had even resorted to walking near the end – we gave ourselves permission to simply run the suicides without attempting high gear.

Compared with the burpees, the running segment of the workout felt like a recovery break.

Our primary goal, in this initial session, was to simply complete it. No skipping burpees when the others weren’t looking. Thus, with legs burning and my perpetually sore left wrist howling – and both Traci and Colleen already well into their pushups – I forced myself to do the requisite number of burpees called for in each set.

Initially I’d been hesitant to get down on the cold surface of the tennis court, even wearing gloves. (Unlike my sister, it hadn’t occurred to me to bring a beach towel to do calisthenics on.) But before long, I’d discarded my gloves and wasn’t giving the cold ground much thought. There were too many other hardships to consider.

Eventually we got past the set of 10 and started making our way back down the “ladder.” Because we were getting so tired, doing five instead of 10 only provided so much relief, By that point, those five felt exponentially tougher than the first set of five.

But by the time we got to our second set of three, we were grinning like idiots, knowing we were almost done.

“We just did 100 burpees, 100 pushups and 100 sit-ups,” Colleen announced when we finally finished, about 40 minutes after we started.

Needless to say, we were no longer feeling the cold.

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1 Response to Ramping up a burpees-and-suicides workout by doing it outside – in winter

  1. bgddyjim says:

    That’s bad@$$, chica. Nicely done.

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