Are Man Makers The Ultimate Burpee Exercise?

If you’re looking for full body exercises, here’s one that’s simply a step beyond the ordinary, and those are Man Makers.

Okay, if you don’t know by now, I love training with bodyweight exercises. I do mix in weight training as well, but for the most part I prefer the impact that bodyweight routines can deliver. I can do them practically any place and at any time.

But when it comes to the superb Burpees, I have a love-hate relationship with them: They suck…but in a good way. 

Man Makers

But sometimes great exercises can get a little boring. So one way I like to keep myself engaged is to spice up every go-to exercises with other elements. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding in more resistance, or dropping/increasing the rep count. I find it doesn’t have to take much to make a movement more challenging. And, sometimes looking for new reasons to keep you coming back is half the fun.

How to Tackle Man Makers

This exercise is a relatively new one with it’s roots stemming from the Crossfit Universe.

The goal of the exercise is to help build functional strength while putting emphasis on training for balance and coordination.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to do a round of Man Makers.

Here’s the sequence to perform one go-through of the exercise:

  1. Squat
  2. Pushup
  3. 1-Arm Row (right arm)
  4. Pushup
  5. 1-Arm Row (left arm)
  6. Squat
  7. Power Clean
  8. Push-Press

Yes, in that order. And yes, that’s just one repetition. Now try stringing a few sets together. You’re sure to be sweating like a hog around Easter.

The key thing to observe here is that out of this eight-move sequence, you’re getting a full body workout. Both the upper and lower body are getting a bit of action, along with the core muscles too.

This helps because you should be pulling away from “train the abs constantly” mentality. It’s always more important to develop the whole body, rather than concentrate on you six-pack. A workout program like Reveal The Steel will help you maximize your strength development in every muscle group.

While dumbbells are generally used with man makers there’s nothing that says you can’t use kettlebells. Actually, if you don’t have hex-head-styled db’s that give you a flat base, kb’s might be the perfect solution. It’ll offer you more stability when attempting the pushup element in Man Makers. For a beginner this is important. But as you get more comfortable with this exercise rounded dumbbells are great choice for adding in a bit more of a challenge.

However, when you’re picking a dumbbell or kettlebell weight you’ll want to take how much can manage with a shoulder press and cut it to about half. This is specifically important if you’re just adding this into your exercise arsenal. As you build up your conditioning then, of course, it important to increase the weight load.

Once you feel man makers feeling less challenging, you can start adding in a few of the tips to further along your training.

The reason I like man makers is because they incorporate some of the best compound exercises all in a single go. So you’re benefiting from more than the amount of effort you’re putting into them.

How can you add them into your fitness plans?

They offer enough resistance to be the central part of your routines. Here are two examples of putting the ultimate burpee into play.

This first example is based on a typical Crossfit Workout of the Day (WOD):

Seven Rounds For Time

  • 7 Man Makers
  • 7 Pull Ups – chest to bar

Another routine would be to mix in some abdominal exercises into the mix. My buddy Troy Pesola at Cube Dweller Fitness has a great Kettlebell Man Maker Workout. His workout includes three sets of 10 reps, and then finishing off the routine with hanging leg raises. It’s some grueling stuff when paired together.

One of the things I like about traditional burpees is the simplicity because “sometimes simple is better.” With Man Makers, they give you that same kind of feel, but in return you’re getting a surprising strength-based workout.

About the Author

mw 100x100Hey! I'm , and I've setup this blog to prove anyone can get in shape without needing a gym fee. Each article is drawn from my own experiences, expert trainers and bestselling fitness authors. Please feel free to chat me up on FacebookG+ and Twitter. Also, I do reply to every drop me a line down below.

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Mitch, how many would you recommend the first go round? I'm going to try and incorporate into my HIIT routine tomorrow.

Pearl Bracelets
Pearl Bracelets

Thanks for this great exercise program. I have the same problem usually, I get bored of doing the same routine over and over again for weeks, so I also add something new, or change the order a bit, or look for new ideas, like the ones in this post. I think keeping up our body's fitness and shape is very important, we will notice the difference when we reach an age when our acquaintances who haven't been working out will have trouble with basic, everyday tasks, and we will do them with ease. If we don't exercise our muscles regularly, they can lose their elasticity, and at an old age it can lead to muscle atrophy as well.


Mitchell, I was first introduced to man makers from Steve Maxwell and have been using them as an awesome workout finisher. The kettlebell is the way to go with this exercise!

Michael @
Michael @

Thanks for the comment, this looks like a great little workout, 1st i have heard of it and very creative. Props to whoever made that up.


Mitchell, Thanks for the mention! I've done the man-maker with both kettlebells (my favorite) and with dumbbells. I have to say I disagree with the guy in the first video - find round dumbbells! Part of the exercise is being forced to keep thing stable. On kettlebells you need to be able to keep them balanced. With round dumbbells you need to work to keep them from rolling. Bring it! I mean, really, the exercise is called the man-maker. We shouldn't be finding ways to make them easier, right? -Troy

HomeFitnessManual moderator

@Kimkay It kinda depends on how and when you're using this in your workouts. If you plan on working in man makers as an exercise in your current routine (think swapping them out for another exercise) then you can just do as many as you would have done for the other exercise.

If you plan on using man makers for HIIT purposes, I'd start at either doing 15-20 per set. From here you can adjust depending on your fitness level, or what's left of your post-workout stamina.



Thanks for the comment. I switch around the exercises in my workouts every now and then for two main reasons: the first is to keep the muscles from getting bored, and the second is also for keeping the mind from getting bored. I believe change is an important part of progress, even minor ones.


Richard, I try to use my kettlebells as much as possible, and the kb/man maker combo is a wonderful pair up. -Mitchell


Hi, Michael. Thank you for stopping by the blog. The reason why I like Man Makers is because they are a workout in themselves, but when folded into a training plan they're sure to supercharge the body for strength gains and fat burning. -Mitchell


Good point, Troy. Another thing to watch out for when using dumbbells is that they allow enough space between the ground and the handle. That's why kettlebells are a great alternative to keep in mind because the last thing anyone wants are a pair of smashed fingers.

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