Squat thrusting toward the record book — 5,000 times

Detroit — “Burpees,” or squat thrusts, burn tons of fat, improve cardiovascular endurance and the flexibility of hips, and spur development of the glutes, quads and hamstrings.

It also is true the full-body exercise can leave participants on the ground, gassed, panting to reintroduce oxygen (please, now, Dear Lord!) to the blood and brain.

Over the weekend, Brighton native Mike Berean did 500 advanced burpees an hour. He said he did about 70,000 since the beginning of summer, hoping to better a mark recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mike Berean, 46, of Brighton attempts to break the world record for most burpees in a 12-hour span

Berean said he wanted to honor his friend, Marni Levine, an accomplished martial artist, and to raise money on research for what took her life 13 years ago, at age 37: breast cancer.

“She was an integral part of our organization, Krav Maga Worldwide,” he said. “She was a fourth-degree black belt. That was quite an accomplishment.

“And I don’t mean to say it any weird way, this is a profession that is mostly male-dominated. She rose to being one of the highest-ranked women in the world.

“And besides that,” Berean said, “she was a very staunch supporter of people being able to protect themselves, and helping those who needed the help.”

Krav Maga is Hebrew for “contact combat.”

It is a fighting system developed for the Israeli Defense Forces from a combination of boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo and karate. It employs real fight training.

To honor Levine and raise money for research, Berean took on the current record of 4,689 burpees in 12 hours Sunday at Krav Maga Great Lakes in Wixom.

“He ended up doing 5,010 burpees, so he did break the record,” said Dori Berean, his wife. “We raised over $7,200 for the Marni Fund. And we’ll be collecting until the end of the month.”

Easy, it was not.

About 4:10 p.m., Berean pronounced himself “tired and bored.”

At 4:20, he called for Pepsi and Gatorade.

Within a half hour, a crisis emerged. But Berean and his camp batted it aside.

Chugging pickle juice and warding off leg cramps, Berean had reached 4,015 of the devilish exertions at about 4:38 p.m., when Dori and others noticed he needed a rub down with some of that “fast acting, deep penetrating, long lasting, pain relieving, clinically proven” cold therapy.

It worked.

Berean unofficially broke the record.

The folks from Guinness are to review the effort and should have the official determination within several days. A Guinness spokeswoman confirmed that the organization had received Berean's application, which is under review.

They have exacting standards, like the time Guinness officials rejected a bid at Michigan Stadium, several years ago, to set the record for the largest crowd at a live hockey game, because of a failure to abide by precise rules for yielding an official count.

When it comes to burpees and the Guinness book, rules apply.

First, rather than standing, placing palms on ground, bending, thrusting legs backwards, pulling them back forward and standing up, the official burpee for this record is even more strenuous.

“What I have to do is start by lying on my stomach, with arms out to the side,” Berean said. “Hips and knees have to be straight, and legs all of the way back, feet out.

“Then, I do a push-up, jump your feet to your hands, jump up in the air, go back down, kick your feet back to the feet-out position. And that’s one rep.”

“In order to do it for Guinness, you actually have to cover a certain amount of distance, how far your feet go back,” he said.

After measuring his height and putting a tape line on the ground, Berean had to land his feet beyond the line, every time.

He also had to set up two cameras to record the entire 12-hour affair continuously.

The records and recording of it, which Berean submitted Monday, had to be meticulous.

“We have three pages of rules,” he said. “We have to have proctors for the whole 12 hours. There are rules for them. Rules for how it all has to start and stop.

“We have to record it from two different angles. The recordings all have to be nonstop, no pauses or nothing in the recordings or it can disqualify you.”

It costs $1,500 for the application and expedited review, which should be done in five business days, Berean said. “Otherwise, it takes 16 weeks for the process.

“It’s considered an unofficial record at that point, and we’ll see how we do with the Guinness folks.”