Improve your everything in 5 minutes a day.

It has been a while since I threw down the challenge gauntlet. The 28 day  Beginner Squat Challenge back at the start of the year was fairly successful. The rather meandering and undefined Lent Challenge less so. This one is slightly different in that it is something I decided to do myself and then one of the admin in one of the other groups suggested I share it. It is not of my creation. I claim no credit for it. It is one of the Johnny Pain Strength Villain challenges. I’m just going to do it and invite any of you who wish to take part too.

but “Improve everything in under 5 minutes”? That sounds a rather extravagant claim. It sounds like one of those clickbaity links that pop up on Facebook or the tagline on the cover of a Health and Fitness magazine,

but yes. I guarantee that if you see this challenge through it will have a marked impact on your cardio vascular fitness level, your stamina, your leg and core strength and you will get significant visible body composition results, and it will never take up more than five minutes of your day.

After the collapse of the over complicated Lent Challenge, you will be glad to hear that this one requires no equipment whatsoever (other than a watch, clock or timer of some sort), only involves one exercise and that does not entail any complicated technique or real need to observe form. You can do it indoors or out. It will not interfere with any other training you may be doing. You will not get callouses or blisters. Karen from accounts will be giving you jealous/admiring glances before you are even at the halfway mark.

Assuming you are generally able bodied and do not have a medical condition that precludes exercise you can start from any level – obviously the fitter you are the quicker you may progress and if you are an absolute beginner it may take longer to get up to speed at the beginning.

The only caveat is that this is not a short challenge. As I said you may get through it faster or slower depending, but personally I am reckoning on about 90 days. But 5 minutes a day at the very outside. And faster, leaner, stronger… significantly… minutes off your race times, inches off your waist… guaranteed… or your money back.

The eagle-eyed and cynical among you may have notice that I have not given any specifics away yet. Just like those clickbaity websites and Fitness magazines, I’m trying to tantalise you into committing before giving away the secret.

Okay. It’s Burpees. A fuckton of burpees. Every day.

hmm, well, that emptied the room pretty quickly, didn’t it?

Ah, burpees… Not quite everyone’s favourite exercise, I realise. Not my favourite exercise either, i will readily admit, but a horridly effective one, and , well, we are looking to achieve a lot in a short space of time. If I could propose a way of getting the same job done with 5 minutes of meditation and slow eye movements as was suggested on the Marathon group you can believe I would be all over it, but sadly meditation is not going to deliver the metabolic bang for the buck we require for the task at hand.

Okay so, just to scare off the last stragglers remaining who have not managed to get out the emergency exits yet, I should, in the interests of full disclosure, reveal at this point that the end goal of the challenge is 100 burpees. Unbroken. In 5 minutes.

Those of you who have gone 1 plus 1, quick maths and calculated that 100 burpees in minutes is 1 burpee every 3 seconds, congratulate yourselves on your mental arithmetical acuity. Those of you who are just shaking your heads and muttering that I am mental, just hold on a moment… it’s not actually as bad as it sounds…

Well, it is as bad as it sounds, but it is not undoable. If you have a heart condition or other medical condition that precludes you from high intensity exercise, you’re going to want to sit this one out. Likewise if you have knee or hip issues that mean you cannot get up and down off the floor safely. Otherwise, have at it! If you are shaking your head and muttering that you simply aren’t fit enough to do 100 burpees, or any burpees, let alone in 5 minutes well, join the club. I very much doubt anyone here is and if they were it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. If you think you are carrying to much weight to be doing burpees, well, so are we all, that’s kinda the point of doing them. Trust me, by the end of the challenge you will be carrying a lot less. You don’t do 100 burpees a day without looking like someone who does 100 burpees a day.

For those of you, probably all of you, (or even us, because I felt exactly the same way this time yesterday) who are just looking at the words 100 burpees and thinking that is just a ludicrous unmanageable figure, well… didn’t you think the same thing the day you first looked at the programme to get you to running 5k? Didn’t you think the same about the amount of weight you wanted to lose at the start of your weight loss journey?

Yes 100 burpees non stop is a distant seemingly impossible goal, but you don’t have to do 100 burpees right now. I’m anticipating taking at least 90 days to reach that target. We’re going to break it down and do a little bit at a time and progress gradually towards the goal.

I’m assuming everyone knows what a burpee is. If not here is a demonstration:

2 things to note: firstly, as in the video, you have to take your chest to the floor. I have seen so many exercise classes where people just put their hands on the floor and jump their feet back a few inches. I have no idea what that is, but it is not a burpee. My daughter comes home from school apoplectic on PE day because girls n her class don’t do proper burpees.

However, you are not obliged to do the whole plank to pushup thing. You can just drop to the deck and then spring back up again.

Oh, and you do need to do the jump and overhead clap. Every time. No cutting corners.

Other than that, it couldn’t be simpler. Just like falling off a log. Onto your face. Then jumping back up and doing it again repeatedly.

I did mine already today. I started out doing 3 sets of 10 in 30 seconds with 30 seconds break in between. I was being a bit over zealous. I should have taken 1 minute breaks. I didn’t quite get the 3rd set. I took 34 seconds for the last set of 10, so tomorrow I’m going to repeat that. if I nail all 3 sets in 30 tomorrow I will move on to 3 sets of 11 in 33 seconds, with a 1 minute break and so on. It continues like that until we reach 3 sets of 30 in 1:30, then it drops back down to 2 sets of 31, but we’ll get on to that when we get to it.

So, start with whatever number you can do keeping a 3 second tempo. If you can do 10, do 10, if you can 3 or 4, do 3 or 4 then add a rep each time you have managed 3 sets. If you can only do 1, do 1 and keep trying until you can do 3 sets of 2.

I haven’t done any metabolic conditioning for ages so I felt like I had been gargling fire by the end. But that is to be expected at the beginning of anything. On the plus side it was all done in under 3 minutes and I didn’t die. Only another 89 days or so to go.

See? I told you it would be fun.

Oh, no , wait… I didn’t say that at all. Thank the gods for that. I did say it would make you fitter, leaner, stronger, though and that I stand by.

Right, those of you who have not fled for the hills… get down and get on it.


  1. TonyS

    I bet your ears are burning this morning as your popularity plummets. Nothing for a few weeks and this is what you make a comeback with. I’ll give it a go. I know I can get down in three seconds but I’m not too sure on getting back up again.

  2. Linda E

    Right! I’m 68, female, and have a new pup who wants to chew me to death, so can I really do this? Well, no, not first thing. Not until I had remembered that age is only a number, gender is immaterial and I can put the pup in her crate for ten minutes. Have been trying to keep up with a few daily squats so will extend that and try out some of your burpees as I have a big charity challenge upcoming, so need my core strength to build endurance!

  3. Julia Holman

    I am enjoying learning how to do burpees, and I have done them most days. I thought my tummy had broken after 2 days but but I think it was underused muscle problem which would suggest I really need to do this!!!!! Thankyou.

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