What can you learn in one minute that will be useful for the rest of your life?

Keep your body moving and

… doing burpees.

We eat too much, often the wrong kind of food—and move around too little. Most people neglect their bodies to the degree where the body can’t take care of itself anymore. One day, it gets out of shape so badly it goes into a tailspin, and then only the most strong-willed of us can put it back on track.

Burpees lower the threshold back to salvation more than anything else. I hate burpees and I love burpees—for three reasons.

1. It’s simple

You can do it everywhere: in your bedroom, at the roadside, in a hotel room, even at the back of the plane on transcontinental flights. And you need no trainer to teach you the technique.

2. It’s effective

Burpees is your ticket to the Hell of Anaerobic Exercise. This is the place for lazy bags like me who hate wasting time on unproductive things like exercising. Just a few minutes of pain and sweaty misery sprinkled throughout your daily/weekly routine will burn your calories and build your muscle mass like nothing else.

3. It’s scaleable

Even if you’re extremely out of shape, burpees are scaleable enough to accommodate you.

The founder of the Soviet state Vladimir Lenin was amazed to discover the magic of burpees when he was grounded in a police lock-up. Being an atheist vigilante, he called the variation of this exercise “prayer bends”. In one of his letters, he wrote of his “50 prayer bends challenge” (В.И. Ленин. Полное собрание сочинений. Том 55, стр.72).

The secret

The key to success is to use your heart rate for steering the exercise. You’ll need an HR measuring device that shows you the HR continuously while you’re torturing yourself.

I always include the anaerobic self-torturing at the start of every training session. I’m pushing 60, so my safe anaerobic range is between 142–160 BPM.


I do 5 anaerobic sets that take me about 10 minutes.

  • I spurt (or use the elliptical) to push my HR to 150.
  • Once my HR gets up to 150, I keep up the effort so that it stays between 150 and 160, and do this for 1 minute.
  • After 1 minute, I cool down to get the HR to under 130.
  • Once under 130, I spurt again up to 150, take 1 minute, then cool down again.

These 10 minutes are usually the most miserable ones of my day. But that’s exactly what they are supposed to be. I take these minutes as a reasonable penance for enjoying myself the rest of the time.


No pain, no gain is exactly what’s at play here.

However, the heart rate according to the table above is something you shall never, never, never challenge. Even with a strong heart, there’s always a risk you can push it too far if you go beyond the hot red zone.

This is why you must progress slowly, and always have the HR displayed in front of you. Talk to your doctor, start in humility, observe your body’s reaction, stay safe. Best of all, find yourself a good PT for the first few sessions: it gives you both better motivation and builds up a safe routine that you can start tweaking to your heart’s content.


For measuring your HR you can use any belt device you fix to your chest. For example, this cheap Wahoo thingie can pair with the iPhone you keep in front of you.

Footnote: I’m a certified PT.

As a conservative, how do you stay in shape?

Short answer: Rucking and burpees.

Longer answer:

The Covid pandemics and the recurring lockdown let my inner conservative spread his wings like never before – and rucking and burpees have become a very prominent role in my body’s maintenance routine.

Historically, these two are very conservative exercises.

Below, me bathing in sunset shines in my gym this summer. Over the last year, despite certain overconsumption of red wine and chocolate, I went down in weight from 86 to 78 kg. (My height is 182 cm).

What I did was taking into use two basic body exercises known to the pious and God-fearing for thousands of years.

1. Rucking

Rucking is a heavy-duty, lower-intensity workout that consists of walking or slowly running with a weight for a set distance. Usually, it happens with a weighted rucksack. I use a weighted 30 kg vest:

I pace the walk to keep my average heart rate at about 80–85% of my maximum HBM for 30–45 minutes. Almost the entire body working under the pressure of additional kilograms makes me break in sweat during the first few minutes of the exercise. Usual walks bore me to death. Rucking at about 6 kmh with an additional 30 kg is the opposite of boring, I assure you.

Saint Peter was the most known practitioner (albeit involuntary) of rucking. In his time, people used chains for weight. St. Peters device is kept on display in the reliquary of San Pietro in Vincoli.

Many Christians have been practicing this ever since. Some of them even made it a lifestyle item. Below is a part of a large painting “Boyar Lady Morozova” with a fool for Christ sporting a massive metal cross with an industrial chain over his shoulders.

Below, a modern-day Russian lady in an Orthodox procession disciplining her body and spirit with a similar device.

2. Burpees

Burpees are ground bows extended to lying down flat on the floor at the low point and jumping jacks at the high point. You can take burpees at your own tempo. Fast or slow, they are taxing anyway.

The classic of Marxism-Leninism Vladimir Lenin discovered the magic of burpees in Tsar’s lock-up. This illustrates one major great advantage of burpees. You can do them whenever pandemics, angry parents, or court orders ground you in some cramped space.

Once you start doing burpees, it doesn’t take too many of them before you find out how much you hate them. I hate them, too. But my inner conservative is merciless. Millions of Christians, Muslims, and others who practiced the deep bows through centuries — and the founder of Soviet rule is also among them —can not be wrong. I abide.

Below, a woman in old-era Russia performs deep bows in the small living room of a peasant cottage in front of her mother-in-law. Combining your burpee routine with relationship-building with your in-laws, how about that?