I have a love-hate relationship with burpees. It can be a chore to do, but the rewards physically are worth it being one of the most excellent fitness and conditioning moves ever. It involves the whole body and improves your resistance. As for its origins of its unique name, Wikipedia says;
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American psychologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the Burpee test. Consisting of a series of the exercises performed in rapid succession, the test was meant to measure agility and coordination. It is not clear whether the exercise itself was invented by Burpee, or if his test merely popularized it.
Ok enough with the academics, click here for a demo.
1. Begin from standing then drop to a crouched position
2. Shoot out your legs to the back and drop your chest to the ground in a push-up position
3. Bring your legs back to your torso to finish the push-up cycle and then back to crouch
4. Jump as high from your feet as you can and reach up
A variation I do is the crawling burpee: basically after the crouch, you crawl with your hands forward until you reach the push-up postion. Then pull up the legs to a crouch again and follow the same cycle. It's "gentler", lazier than the regular one.
Note: As with all exercises, warm-up and strech first! Taking it slow is also wise. As you progress you'll be able to increase how many you could do in a given time (i.e. - how many in a minute).