Recently we began a 6-week bodyweight only strength/ work capacity training cycle.  The program we designed consisted of six exercises: (1) sit-ups, (2) push-ups, (3) box jumps, (4) jump lunges, (5) pull-ups and (6) burpees.

One week prior to the cycle start we assessed each athlete to establish their current fitness levels in each exercise.

Max reps in 60 seconds is a common method to assess sit-ups, push-ups, box jumps, jump lunges and pull-ups.

For burpees, we we needed something different.

Burpees are as much a metabolic exercise as a strength endurance exercise.  Plus, as a movement, each burpee takes 3-4x as long as of the other bodyweight exercises.

Our answer is the Burpee Beep Ladder (BBL) Assessment (see the ladder below).

All athletes begin at Level 1 and progress as far as possible up the ladder.  Level 1 commences with 10 burpees which must be completed in one minute.  The athlete works through the repetitions as quickly as they wish – with the remainder of the minute as a rest period.  If the athlete is able to complete the prescribed number of burpees within the minute they will move immediately to the next level.

In this case the athlete would move to Level 2, which is 12 burpees in one minute.  If this is completed, then the athlete moves to Level 3 and 14 burpees, then  Level 4 and 16 burpees, then Level 5 and 18 burpees…and so on until they are unable to complete the prescribed repetitions in a minute.  The athlete is then scored on the cumulative number of burpees preformed.

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Our athletes ranged from a score of 109 (Level 6 + 19 reps) to 47 (Level 3 + 11 reps).  Our average score was 68.2 reps.  These numbers amount to between 5 and 8 minutes of burpees…and the last 1-2 minutes of the test are killer!

In addition to being a simple assessment your BBL scores are perfect for scaling and progressing training.  If you are looking for a great 5-10 minute total body Work Capacity circuit to add to your training here is an example of how you might use the BBL in a four week cycle with two training sessions per week:

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Questions? Email