Cart 0

Another Reason to Hate Burpees: Burpee-Toe

Stew smith

Burpees - The Exercise Everyone Loves to Hate...

Face it,  Burpees are not fun because they are hard. 

Think of them as a more dynamic pushup mixed with a squat thrust. The heart rate sky rockets and you start to feel the fatigue or failure of both the arms and the legs. That is the beauty of this sadistic exercise.  I have found some uses for this exercise over the years, but still prefer the older school 8 count body builder pushup over the burpee. 

But first, how many of you have had toe pain when it comes to burpees?  Maybe you did not realize it was from burpees - other than it hurt when you were doing them. We experienced them one year when we had a large group of people doing swim pt with us though we only had 2 lanes to use with more than 20 people.  As the coach, you have to think of creative ways to keep people working and get people in the pool so this is what we did:

Swim PT:  Half the group does swimming for 200m at a goal pace CSS or a freestyle hypox (or skip breathing) set of 6-8 strokes per breath. The other half of the group had to do a series of exercises on the pool deck until the last person finished swimming 200m. So they would do:

Burpee 1 minute
Flutterkicks 1 minute
Pullups for the time remaining (having a pull up bar on the pool deck is handy for Swim PT workouts in general). 

This usually took 3 minutes/set to complete and we did 5-10 sets depending on what we had left after running and PTing prior to the pool session. 

The problem with this upper body day swim PT was after about a month several of us got turf toe. We figured it out quickly that the barefoot burpees on the pool deck was causing the pain and replaced burpees with pushups.  No more turf toe. We still did some burpees during warmup drills, but kept the volume down and wore shoes during short drills like a 1-10 burpee / jog pyramid with no issues. 


Turf toe is a painful injury to the base of the big toe that typically occurs in athletes who play field sports, such as football, baseball or soccer. Turf toe describes an injury to the joint at the base of the big toe when an athlete forcefully jams his toe into the ground or bends his toe backward, beyond its normal limits. 

Other Ways to Get Turf Toe - Other students in the past had turf toe from doing similar exercises in martial arts when barefoot as well which led to me realizing it was the burpees that was causing this pain and not the high running miles of our summer run cycle. The turf toe just made the initial start of distance / goal pace running a little uncomfortable, but it went away once the burpees stopped. After researching this further, the term Burpee Toe actually exists.  The one other time I had this injury was not during football (played on softer grass), but when doing lifts like the clean and jerk with a split jerk method which is a very forceful movement on the back toe IF you are doing it incorrectly. I was landing on that toe instead of the ball of my foot with the heel too high off the floor. 

I do like to add in burpees when the intensity of a workout needs increasing.  For instance, a great obstacle course similator workout is the Pullup / Burpee Pyramid where you have a short running distance of 50-100m in between a pullup bar and the place you are doing burpees.  It is simple: 

1 pullup - run - 1 burpee - run back to pullup bar
2 pullups - run - 2 burpees - run back to pullup bar
3 pullups - run - 3 burpees - run back to pullup bar... work your way up to 10 and back down to 1 again for 100 pullups / 100 burpees plus a non-stop activity similar to the pulling / pushing and running required of an Obstacle Course Race (OCR).  Mix in crawling, farmerwalks, and fireman carries for some of the runs and you have an awesome workout. Some students have made their way up to 20 (and stopped) when the 1-10-1 pyramid got too easy.

Another awful exercise / event is the 400m burpee-broad jump which is part of the Devil's Mile (400m bear crawl, 400m fireman carry, 400m lunges, 400m burpee forward jumps).

Burpees are a dynamic calisthenic workout and like box jumps, jumping lunges, and similar exercises have a greater potential for injury compared to the less intense exercises (pullups, pushups, dips, squats, lunges). Be careful when doing these exercises and have a reason to add them to your workout. And do NOT do them barefoot or on really hard ground in high volume. A few to get the heart going is not going to be an issue but 100+ in a workout could definitely cause unnecessary pain and injury. 

 Who Invented the Burpee?  Did you know a physiology research student in the 1930s created the "burpee"? Science! His name was Royal Burpee in fact. The original burpee was what we call a squat thrust (think burpee without the pushup) and used as a fitness test.  The military actually adopted it during World War II and used the squat thrust for a 1 minute test. It was nicknamed "the burpee" after its creator. 

Who Is The Tactical Fitness Coach / Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Check out the Complete List of Training Programs (Spec Ops, Military, Police, Fire) 

Published Book Workouts 
2 for 1 Deal While Books Last

Tactical Fitness 
Tactical Strength  
Warrior Workouts Vol 1  |   Vol 2   |    Vol 3
The SWAT Workout

IN FACT - If you buy any of the above published books that we have remaining on our shelves, we will add in a FREE book on that list into your package!

Other titles of published books can be found at like Navy SEAL Fitness, Navy SEAL Weight Training, and others...

These are some of the best selling programs at

And more BOOKS from the BOOK section at :


Save 25% on ALL EBOOKS/BOOKS with THANKS25 coupon code
Tactical Fitness (40+) Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4


NEW:  Increase Strength and Crush PST / PAST (Winter lift cycle)
NEW:   Calisthenics and Cardio (only) (Spring / Summer Cycle)
NEW:  Stew Smith's Fall / Winter Lift Cycle
NEW:  Stew Smith's Spring / Summer PT / Cardio Cycle


The Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts


Navy Training Pipeline

Army Training Pipeline


USMC Training Pipeline


Boot Camp, Service Academy, Rescue Swimmer, Plus Running!


The Law Enforcement / Fire Fighting Physical Fitness Workouts


Many of the above titles are in both BOOK and EBOOK versions, notice for first word in the title of the BOOK or EBOOK for which code applies. 

Online Coaching Options

Buy this for yourself or for someone who asks specifically for it - these do not make good surprise gifts..

Save $50 on Online Coaching with PTCLUB50 coupon code

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

Premium Coaching Program This Program is ONLY for Those Who Are Serious - But Need a Little Extra Motivation

Save $50 on Premium Online Coaching with PTCLUB50 coupon code

Sometimes We Need a Workout Partner

Do you need a program that actually works for you? We can build it personally for you and your personal goals and help you fit it into your day with the equipment you have available.  Let Stew Smith be your training partner and coach.

Many people ask me what is the difference between the Premium Program and the Online PT CLUB Coaching.  The people on either program receive personalized training from me - Stew Smith - to best fit your abilities, goals, time per day, days per week, facilities, and equipment.  We communicate regularly about your progress and your feedback helps me create the next week plan for you.  There is no template workout and see you later.  These programs are created 1 week at a time with YOU and ME in communication to figure out how best to create the next week.  Give me a call to see if it is right for you or not - 410-271-0837!

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE and Informative Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

Stew Smith


Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published