The Burpee Mile WoD: Goal Times, Tips, and Safety

Can you burpee for a mile?

A woman performs a burpee in a grassy field.
Getty Images.

“Woohoo, there are burpees in the WOD today!” said no CrossFitter, ever. 

Sure, some cardio-loving CrossFit athletes might not mind burpees, but the people who actually enjoy them are few and far between — which is the main reason that the Burpee Mile WOD is held in infamy among CrossFitters. 

As per the CrossFit main website, to complete the Burpee Mile WOD, you must: “Cover one mile using burpees only. You may jump forward as far as you want for each burpee, but you may not walk forward at any point.” So yes, it’s exactly what the name implies: one full mile’s worth of burpees. 

The Burpee Mile WOD isn’t one of the famous “Girl” WODs, nor is it one of the hero WODs that pay homage to military and emergency service members, but nonetheless it has become a benchmark workout among CrossFit boxes all around the world. 

The Burpee Mile WOD

Score: For time. See how quickly you can cover one mile using only burpees!

Equipment Needed: None, but a track would be helpful to measure distance. You should also wear gloves to protect your hands.

Goal Times: Beginners: 2 to 3 hours. Intermediate: 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Advanced and elite: Less than 2 hours.

Level: This WOD may not be suitable for beginners, as it requires substantial endurance and a strong cardiorespiratory fitness base.

Benefits

To be quite truthful, most CrossFitters complete the Burpee Mile WOD for fun — for the sole purpose of saying they did the Burpee Mile WOD. Aside from the prestige it gains you in the CrossFit community, the Burpee Mile WOD does offer a handful of real fitness benefits. 

Cardiovascular Endurance

A burpee is a full-body move that challenges your anaerobic fitness. Stringing multiple burpees together challenges your aerobic fitness. Perform, say, 500 to 800 burpees and you’ve got cardio galore. 

Muscular Endurance

In addition to taxing your lungs, the Burpee Mile WOD taxes your muscles — all of them. This workout will induce full-body fatigue and contribute to improved muscular endurance

Power 

Broad jumps require a lot of power from the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Completing a full mile of broad jumps will definitely help you develop power and explosiveness in those muscles, which can translate to more complex movements, such as the snatch and the power clean.

Mental Toughness

If nothing else, completing the Burpee Mile WOD will fill you with self-pride and joy. You just burpee’d for an entire mile! That’s a feat to be ecstatic about. But to complete the feat, you’ve got to have a lot of grit.

This is one of those workouts where you’ll likely find yourself wanting to quit over and over again. Attempting — and hopefully finishing — workouts like the Burpee Mile help you build mental toughness and realize that you’re capable of much more than you think.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Setup for the Burpee Mile

Depending on where you plan to complete your burpee mile, the setup and preparation will differ slightly. If you’ll use a track, everything will be pretty simple. On a 400-meter track, you’ll do burpees around the track four times. Make sure to keep a water bottle and some fuel handy. 

If you plan to do the Burpee Mile WOD on a road — in a neighborhood or otherwise — you should carefully scope out your route beforehand. Avoid any major intersections and ideally plan a route that has sidewalks the entire way through. 

You should wear protective gloves no matter where your route goes: Your hands will endure a lot of pressure and possibly some scraping throughout the mile. Gardening gloves work well because of the thickness of the palms.

Full-length pants or leggings are ideal over shorts for the Burpee Mile WOD, and if you have any sort of knee protection, such as knee sleeves, also wear those. 

How To Do a Burpee

  1. Start standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the hips and the knees to bring your palms to the floor. 
  3. Kick your feet out behind you to land in the plank position.
  4. Lower your body to the ground and push back up (perform a push-up).
  5. Jump your feet forward so that they land right outside of your hands. 
  6. Stand up straight to finish the burpee.

Note that a traditional burpee involves a small jump once you are fully standing, but since this workout requires a broad jump, that small jump is unnecessary.

How To Broad Jump

  1. After you stand up from the burpee, swing your arms behind your body, simultaneously bending your knees and hips. 
  2. Powerfully swing your arms forward and push through the balls of your feet to launch yourself forward. 
  3. Land on your feet, bending your knees to absorb as much shock as possible. 

Common Mistakes

Starting Off Too Fast

As with any endurance-based workout, you should pace yourself carefully with this one. If you’re relatively good at burpees, have good endurance, or are an experienced CrossFitter, you may feel the urge to do the first handful of burpees very quickly.

Resist the urge and start off with an easy pace that will be sustainable for the entire mile. 

Trying to Jump Too Far

According to anecdotal accounts on the internet, the hardest part about the Burpee Mile WOD is the broad jump that comes after the burpee. You might feel tempted to jump as far as possible, but you might actually be wasting your energy doing that.

Instead, experiment with the length of your jumps at the start of the WOD to find a broad jump distance that feels effective but sustainable. 

Lack of Preparation

This is a long workout, and that’s that. The Burpee Mile takes even the most elite athletes the better part of two hours to complete. Most intermediate athletes take about the time it takes to run a half marathon at a 9-minute-per-mile pace (two hours, give or take).

You wouldn’t embark on a half marathon with no fuel or water, so don’t embark on the Burpee Mile with no fuel or water. 

Before starting this workout, you should either set up water stations along your mile route (if you’re using a 400-meter track, just make sure to keep a large water bottle nearby) or wear some sort of hydration pack, like a CamelBak

If you’re able, enlist a friend to follow along with snacks or gel packs for energy. With a workout this long, it’s possible that you could experience hypoglycemia, which may lead to dizziness or fainting. If you can’t find a friend to help, make sure to eat plenty of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a moderate amount of protein before you start the WOD. 

Modifications and Variations

Half-Mile Burpee WOD

There are a lot of reasons why any CrossFitter might want to scale the distance of the Burpee Mile WOD, two major reasons being fitness level and time restrictions — it’s not easy to dedicate two hours or more to a workout, not even including the warmup or cool-down.

If you’re worried about not getting in a good workout, don’t: scaling to a half-mile will still present a serious challenge. 

Quarter-Mile Burpee WOD

If even a half-mile sounds like too much, cut the WOD down to a quarter-mile of burpees. Even 400 meters of burpees is an impressive feat! For intermediate athletes, this scaled version of the Burpee Mile WOD takes approximately 30 minutes. 

Walk Instead of Jump

As mentioned before, many people think the broad jump is by far the most difficult part of the Burpee Mile WOD. If you have any limitations due to injury, pregnancy, or other conditions, walk a predetermined number of steps in between each burpee instead of jumping. Choose a number before starting the WOD and stick with that number until the end. 

Safety and Precautions

Expect and Prepare for Soreness

Even if you are in great physical shape, the Burpee Mile WOD presents a challenge that your body probably isn’t used to. You should expect to be sore after this workout and recover accordingly. Stretch, foam roll, rehydrate with electrolytes, eat carbohydrates and protein, and rest up after finishing the Burpee Mile WOD. 

Wear Gloves 

Don’t let your hands get torn up on the Burpee Mile WOD — and they will if you don’t wear gloves. You want a pair that has thick material on the palms and won’t slip around to avoid blisters. 

Protect Your Knees

In addition to protecting your hands, you should take measures to protect your knees. Wear long pants or leggings as a base layer of protection. Add slightly padded knee sleeves or compression sleeves to further protect them. 

Set Up Water Stations 

If you plan to complete the Burpee Mile WOD on a non-repeating route (that is, you’ll travel away from your starting point for the entire mile), set up water stations to prevent dehydration. Other options include wearing a hydration pack or having a friend tag along with some fluids.  

Eat Before and After

Long workouts present the risk of low glycogen and low blood sugar, especially if you don’t eat enough food beforehand. You should eat a large meal high in carbohydrates and moderate in fats and protein about two hours before starting the Burpee Mile WOD. You may want to supplement with a small, high-carb snack, such as a banana, a few minutes before starting. Your body will be depleted after finishing the WOD, so refuel with fast-digesting carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible.  

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