Would you rather do Burpees or double Kettlebell cleans?

By Lavanya

Mar 10, 20245 mins read

Would you rather do Burpees or double Kettlebell cleans?

Are burpees the most memed exercise ever? There is everything from comic strips to merchandise, decrying burpees, and wondering what spawn of the devil came up with it. Don't believe me? Go out in public and say "I love burpees!" Chances are high you will be mocked soundly for this and steered firmly in the direction of free weights. 

So why? Why do a "this or that?" comparison with this, the most disliked exercise of all? Won't the other one win by sheer dint of not being a burpee? 

Weeeellll.... let's discuss, shall we? Both routines work the whole body, are excellent for metabolic conditioning and fat loss. If a compound exercise is what you are looking for, burpees and kettlebell cleans fit the bill admirably.

First, what is a burpee? 


Firstly, let's clear this so there's a clear understanding of what a burpee is. A burpee is champion of all full body movements. It starts off in a squat, moves to a full body plank, to a push up, finally ending in a squat jump. A bodyweight exercise, it uses your own body as resistance. There are many advantages to a burpee. 


  • You need no equipment. You can bust out a burpee or 10, wherever and whenever. 
  • It needs no additional warmup. You can consider the first 2 burpees as warmup by starting slow and then increasing speed as you go up in reps. 
  • You can make it as hard or as easy as you want to. You can slow it down and spend time in each position or go for speed and explosive power. You can ditch the push ups and stick with just the plank. Or just regular body weight squats or squat thrusts and give the squat jumps a miss. 
  • Burpees can even be the full training session on days you don't feel like doing much. With plenty of rest periods and a challenging number of reps in each set, a day of burpees can give you a good all around workout. 
  • You can even use it as a simple test of endurance. Select a number, say 50 burpees and time it. Next week, try to beat that time. The more you shave from your original time, the better your endurance. Simple!
  • Then there's the hard style burpee, if you really want to put your body through the wringer. 

But if calisthenics don't rock your world and kettlebell workouts are your jam, then grab a pair of kettlebells and let's check out cleans. 

What are kettlebell cleans?


Geoff Neupert lists the double KB cleans and presses amongst the best kettlebell complex there is and top of the most "bang for your buck" exercises. A double kettlebell clean is more or less a double kettlebell swing. You get into a hinge and hike the bells by pulling the kettlebell handles towards you, just as you would do with kb swings. Instead of throwing the bells forward, you tuck your elbows in to your sides and rack them neatly on to your shoulders, in the front rack position. 


  • Double kettlebell exercises are really tough on your body and the clean is no exception. In kettlebell training, though the clean is taught prior to kettlebell swings and kettlebell snatches, it is still a complex move that you can spend the rest of your life perfecting. 
  • It doesn't take much to make your heart rate go up!   
  • Double KB cleans can be tailored to fit every fitness level. It is good to start with a level below your swings weights so that you can pay attention to achieving proper form. 
  • The move is a killer on your core muscles as well as the muscles in the back of the body. If fat loss is your goal, then this one move is a definite fat scorcher. 
  • Working on the movement pattern of a double KB clean is a meditative experience. By focusing on good form, slowing it down and breaking down each step into its elements, time spent on doing the kb cleans will pay dividends in the long run.

One thing to bear in mind: all double kettlebell exercises are advanced moves. Same applies for the cleans. These should be attempted only after perfecting the single KB cleans and under the watchful eye of a good coach to prevent injury.

If kettlebell exercises are what float your boat, here’s a “burpee” for you: say hello to the humane burpee. Coach Dan John came up with this diabolical routine by basically deconstructing the burpee and adding kettlebell weights to it and coming up with this turbocharged version. 

So there you have it. Whether your goal is building functional strength or weight loss, both burpees and KB cleans are top contenders. Which one would you go for? And why? Drop us a line and let us know!