In this video author/coach and former elite gymnast Carl Paoli of Freestyle Connection talks about a few key focal points of good burpee mechanics. In the first part of the video he explains why the burpee—despite its ubiquitousness in worlds like Spartan and CrossFit—is a very complicated exercise. As Paoli explains, you, the athlete, move your body from a flexion, to extension, to neutral, to extension, to flexion, to neutral—and on and on.
In the video, Paoli talks about how he teaches the burpee to adults the same way he would a 5-year-old: Using images so the athlete will keep the feet close together (to avoid collapsing knees) and elbows close to the body (to instill better shoulder mechanics).
He also talks about the importance of bracing the midline (or core) so that–particularly when you’re doing a long set of burpees–you’re OK when you bow your back at the bottom position of the burpee. As long as you’re keeping the glutes and midline activated and “turned on” so to speak, you can bow your overall line safely.
According to Paoli, by training this skill of performing burpees with the core engaged you’ll effectively be training for other movements. He mentions rope climbing, Olympic lifts, kipping pull-ups.