Dryland Exercise – The Burpee

University of Alabama Head Swimming Coach, Coley Stickels is one of the most creative and renowned strength trainers for swimmers in the world. Coley was a sprint freestyler under Rick DeMont at the University of Arizona and later coached many successful age group athletes including Olympian Abbie Weitzeil before becoming a successful NCAA head coach.  We asked Coley and some of his elite swimmers to train at our headquarters in Islamorada, FL and demonstrate a series of dynamic dryland exercises.  In all of Coley’s exercises, you will find a common theme of building strength, coordination, quick movements, and balance.   

Coley’s Medicine Ball dryland workout, now available in Lanes 2-4, contains a complete 20 minute sequence that can be performed in your own home.  It can by virtually copied by a good age group athlete and modified to fit the needs of any participant.  Ideally you will need a gymnastics or thick yoga mat, plenty of room to perform dynamic movements and a partner to help.  Coley prefers not to focus too long on one single exercise but rather likes changing the exercises throughout the workout, perhaps repeating the entire sequence a few times.   The consistently repeated movement or theme throughout Coley’s medicine ball series is the ‘Burpee’.   Here are some pointers that will help you achieve good form in a Burpee.  

Watch the Medicine Ball Workout


The Burpee

The top of the pushup, or plank position should have straight back, firm hamstrings, evenly distributed weight through the hands and feet.  The safest position for minimal torque on the shoulder is with the hands directly under the shoulders.  Margo Geer demonstrates nicely.



The bottom of the pushup is another key position. Amanda Kendall maintains a straight back, firm hamstrings and evenly distributed weight throughout hands and feet and gets her chest close to the ground.  Keep the elbows tucked into the ribs and maintain control of your speed during the descend for minimum torque on the shoulders.    



Maintain the weight evenly through the hands as your legs shift to the front and into the squat position.   



The feet should always plant directly under the knees so the weight is evenly distributed. If the feet are behind the knees their is too much pressure on the lower back. 



When engaging the jump make sure to keep the lower back straight, stick the bum out to ensure you are using not only your quads but also your core to jump.



Maintaining control of your entire body weight throughout the Burpee is critical in order to make Coley’s Medicine Ball workout effective.


Watch the Medicine Ball Workout