ATC 317: The 3-Minute Burpee Test- How Do You Score? Plus: New Data on Physical Activity’s Role In All-Cause Mortality, Tips to Deal With Extreme Heat & Humidity, and Speed Talk With Lucho

August 14, 2020


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Study Discussion #1 

International Standards for the 3-Minute Burpee Test: High- Intensity Motor Performance

What the Coaches say:

  • This study aimed to develop international standards for evaluating strength endurance with the use of the 3‐Minute Burpee Test
  • Random population sample of over 3,000 women and almost 6,000 men
  • Average age of participants was 20 years old
  • On average the men completed 56.69 cycles/3-minute test, and the women completed 48.84/3-minute test
  • The best male participant completed 82 burpees, and the best female participant completed 73 burpees
  • Both Lucho and Tawnee decided to complete the 3-Minute Burpee Test!
    • Lucho completed:
      • 60 without pushups
    • Tawnee completed:
      • 30 with pushups
      • 47 without pushups
  • Lucho has been doing burpees during his stream workout sessions
  • The only thing that Lucho has seen that qualifies as a true burpee is when the thighs and chest touch the floor (how you get down doesn’t necessarily matter).
  • We encourage you to do a 3-Minute Burpee Test! Email us at and let us know how it went! We’d love to hear from you.

Study Discussion #2 

What the Coaches say:

  • This study aimed to find the correlation between all cause mortality, specific mortality, and physical activity
  • All cause mortality and specific mortality categorized into 8 different causes: cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory tract disease, accidents and injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus, influenza and pneumonia, and nephritis.
  • Longitudinal study (8.75 years)
  • 479,856 US adults followed from 1997-2014
  • Participants 18 years of age or older
  • Physical activity categories:
    • Insufficient Activity defined as those who were not meeting the standards of the 2018 physical activity guidelines
    • Aerobic Only defined as “at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity (e.g., gardening, brisk walking), or 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity (e.g., running, faster cycling).”
    • Strength Only defined as “muscle strengthening activity was sufficient at a recommended ≥2 times/week and insufficient if <2 times/week.”
    • Aerobic and Strength
  • 59,819 participants died
    • Most deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease (8 causes total were identified – see above)
  • Those who did both Aerobic and Strength had a 40% reduction in all cause mortality
  • Aerobic only 29% reduced risk (also reduced risk in all 8 causes identified in the study)
  • Strength only 11% reduced risk (reduced from only 3 causes)
  • Physical inactivity is estimated to be responsible for 6-10% of the global burden of major chronic non-communicable diseases and 9% of premature deaths.”
  • Physical inactivity equates to a “total cost of $53.8 billion to healthcare systems worldwide in 2013. Among all countries, the United States has the highest economic burden, of about $24.7 billion in healthcare costs (accounting for 45.9% of global healthcare costs).”
  • From the burpee study: “Weekly aerobic training should involve 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (46 to 63% of maximal oxygen uptake, VO2max) for 30 to 60 minutes per session and/or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise (64 to 90% of VO2max) for 20 to 60 minutes per session.” (Klika and Jordan, 2013)
    • Burpees include aerobic and strength! Do yourself a favor and get your burpees on!
  • You will be a more resilient human by investing in your training!

Matt from Australia asks:

Want my cake and eat it too!

First off love the show especially ATC! I have systematically gone through and listened to pretty much all the episodes. My question is I want to increase my speed (who doesn’t?) while training for distance races, I have a 45km trail run lined up for early October and then a 30km in mid-November. I normally stick to 5k,10k and half marathons but with the current situation my normal races are not on. I feel the easy answer to improving my 1k (3.24) and 5k (19.31)  PBs is to improve my out and out speed. Currently I am topping out at 15s for 100m. In my youth it was a flat 12s and I am now 38. With all of life’s factors I usually run between 40-70km a week. I am sure Lucho could rant on this for a while, I would love to hear.

What the Coaches say:

  • The first thing you need to consider is durability. Doing true speed work is violent (i.e., impact – force upon landing, dynamic movement – tendons under a high load); need to work into it.
  • Start with strides (even a really good 200-meter program starts with tempos)
  • Then, build into relaxed sprints (grounding workouts); continue to develop
  • Once you reach your near top end, sprint for 30 meters; but Lucho says not to worry too much about this (he doesn’t think you need to work on true speed)
  • Strides and timing 100 meters will be plenty for you
  • Timing is really important – it drives intent!
  • One of Lucho’s favorite workouts is the ladder workout
  • If you want to focus on critical speed, running 40-70km a week is going to ruin that (you can’t run 70k a week and develop critical speed effectively; you can improve it, but you can’t top it out)
  • Start with strides; spend 4 weeks focusing on the 100. Don’t drop weekly volume.
  • Do a really long warm-up!
    • An example of Lucho’s warm-up:
      • 400 easy
      • Lunges, isometric wall sits, seven-way hips, isometric hamstring holds, single-leg RDLs, hopping, hip/leg swings
      • 20-meter strides
      • 40’s (timed)
      • 1-3 x’s 100’s – building into each. Start out easy and relaxed, last 40-50 meters max effort (not forced!)
      • Once Lucho feels feel ready, then he’ll start the workout.
  • Don’t overthink it too much!

Richard asks:

Heat’s one thing, what about excessive heat?

I started to listening to the ATC show last fall while training for my next (5th) marathon. Love the show and feel like I can relate to a lot of the questions that are answered. The Coronavirus has changed my training plan from being aggressive (trying to prep for a marathon PR) to more of a maintain mode.
My question centers around training in excessive heat/humidity. I live in Alexandria Virginia (near the Potomac River) and we’ve had a record hot July, with most days over 90 degrees (including I think 19 straight days) with high to very high humidity. I have struggled to maintain my normal training paces (I’m going 20-30 seconds slower pace per mile on most days). I get that it’s more difficult to run in high heat and humidity, but was wondering if there’s an “agreed upon”/common distance equivalent for running in such conditions…for example running 7 miles in current challenging northern Virginia weather conditions (90-95+ degrees with high to very high humidity) is “equivalent” to running 10 miles in “normal” northern Virginia weather conditions (~75 to 80 degrees with low to moderate humidity)? I guess I’m partially just searching for an excuse as to why I’ve struggled so much (slow pace, heavy legs, needing to stop to rest [normally I don’t stop]) during runs this late June and July.
Data about me: I turn 51 this year and have been running for about 4 years. My normal training run pace is about 7:30 per mile (not tempo/interval/speed, that’s obviously at a faster pace). I race distances from 5k (18:35 PR) to marathons (2:58:20 PR) on roads, and run in 5- and -10 mile trail series races too.
I’d appreciate your thought on this issue.

What the Coaches say:

  • Excessive and consistent heat training detracts from the quality of training. But the coaches think you’re getting fitter!
  • If you were to run in cooler weather all of a sudden, you’d see improvements
  • Training in this type of heat equates to high altitude training
  • You build mental toughness and grit training in the heat
  • Emerging research is showing that hen training in the heat excess ammonia is produced in the muscles. This ammonia goes up to the brain and can cross the blood-brain barrier
    • Extra ammonia accumulation can cause a disruption in cerebral neurotransmitter homeostasis (i.e., decrease cerebral function)
    • The removal of ammonia is dependant on the synthesis of glutamine from glutamate (which is a precursor for GABA)
    • Therefore, exercising in the heat possibly decrease healthy neurotransmitters
  • The evaporation of sweat off our body cools us down; this isn’t happening as efficiently in the humidity
  • Your pace may possibly be the same!
  • Keep an eye on your heart rate
  • Balance is key here – don’t push it too hard

Comments (2)

  • Amy Wells says:

    I am a fitness instructor at a local Recreation Center in Conroe, TX and I offered the 3-Minute Burpee Challenge as “extra credit” to my class (approx 18-25 participants). 5 people participated and our average was 56.2! I was able to complete 70 and the other instructor (teaches opposite days of me) completed 65. I have an endurance background (marathons, 50k, 100k, IM, Masters swimming, trail/gravel biking, etc.) and she has a Crossfit background. Great test which had my heart rate through the roof. Love listening while running. ATC and Holistic Nutrition are my favorites. I’ll be sending some questions your way. Thanks for all you do! Amy

  • peter davies says:

    need to mention: the study did not about chest-to-floor burpees. The press up was left out. Very important detail. The number of reps would’ve been too awesone otherwise.

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