The History of the Suicides Exercise

The suicides exercise, also known as the burpee pull-up, is a popular and challenging exercise that combines a burpee with a pull-up. However, in recent years, there has been a growing movement to change the name of this exercise due to its insensitive and triggering connotations. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the suicides exercise, why it’s time for a new name, and some potential alternatives.

The History of the Suicides Exercise

The suicides exercise was first introduced in the 1930s by Royal H. Burpee, a physiologist from New York City. It was originally called the “burpee test” and was used as a simple way to assess an individual’s physical fitness. The exercise was later popularized by the military and became a staple in physical training programs.

In the 1970s, the exercise was given the name “suicides” due to its resemblance to the act of jumping off a building. This name was meant to be a playful and lighthearted reference to the intensity of the exercise. However, as mental health awareness has increased, many have come to realize that this name is not only insensitive but also potentially harmful.

The Insensitivity of the Name

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The term “suicides” is a loaded word that carries a heavy weight for many individuals. It is a term that is often used to describe the tragic act of taking one’s own life. Using this term to describe a physically demanding exercise can be seen as trivializing and disrespectful to those who have been affected by suicide.

Furthermore, the use of this term in a fitness context can also perpetuate harmful stereotypes and stigmas surrounding mental health. It implies that those who struggle with mental health issues are weak or unable to handle physical challenges, which is simply not true.

The Potential for Triggering

For those who have been personally affected by suicide, the term “suicides” can be extremely triggering. It can bring up painful memories and emotions, making it difficult for individuals to participate in the exercise or even be in the same room as others performing it.

This can be especially problematic in group fitness settings where individuals may not feel comfortable speaking up about their triggers. It can also create a negative and uncomfortable environment for those who are trying to focus on their physical health and well-being.

Why It’s Time for a New Name

Given the insensitivity and potential for triggering associated with the name “suicides exercise”, it’s clear that a change is needed. As society becomes more aware and understanding of mental health issues, it’s important to be mindful of the language we use and the impact it can have on others.

Promoting Inclusivity and Diversity

One of the main reasons for changing the name of the suicides exercise is to promote inclusivity and diversity in the fitness community. By using a term that is insensitive and potentially triggering, we are excluding and alienating a large portion of the population.

By choosing a more inclusive and respectful name, we can create a more welcoming and supportive environment for all individuals, regardless of their personal experiences.

Encouraging a Positive Mindset

The term “suicides” has a negative connotation that can create a negative mindset when performing the exercise. By changing the name to something more positive and empowering, we can shift the focus to the physical benefits and mental strength that the exercise builds.

This can also help to break down the harmful stereotypes surrounding mental health and promote a more positive and understanding attitude towards it.

Potential Alternatives

Now that we’ve established the need for a new name, let’s explore some potential alternatives for the suicides exercise.

The Burpee Pull-Up

The most obvious and straightforward alternative is to simply refer to the exercise as the “burpee pull-up”. This name accurately describes the two movements involved and removes any negative connotations associated with the term “suicides”.

The Phoenix Exercise

The phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and resilience, making it a fitting name for this challenging exercise. It also ties in with the idea of rising from the ashes, which can be seen as a metaphor for overcoming mental health struggles.

The Warrior Exercise

The term “warrior” evokes feelings of strength, determination, and perseverance, making it a powerful name for this exercise. It also ties in with the idea of mental toughness and overcoming challenges, which are important aspects of both physical and mental health.

How to Implement the Change

If you’re a fitness professional or instructor, it’s important to lead by example and start using a new name for the suicides exercise. This can help to educate others and promote a more inclusive and respectful fitness community.

If you’re an individual who regularly performs this exercise, you can also make a change by using a different name when referring to it. This can help to spread awareness and encourage others to do the same.


The suicides exercise has a long history and has been a staple in fitness programs for decades. However, as society becomes more aware and understanding of mental health issues, it’s time for a change. By choosing a more inclusive and respectful name, we can promote a more positive and supportive fitness community and break down harmful stereotypes surrounding mental health.

So the next time you’re performing this challenging exercise, remember to use a new name and be mindful of the impact our words can have on others. Let’s work together to create a more inclusive and understanding fitness community.