Murph: A Workout That Pays Tribute to a Hero
Test your strength and endurance with this brutal workout that pays tribute to an American hero.
Every year on Memorial Day, thousands of crossfitters, fitness enthusiasts, military veterans and patriotic Americans gather to perform a workout that tests their strength and endurance. It has become well known as a physically and mentally grueling way to demonstrate your fitness while paying tribute to an American hero. You don’t have to wait for Memorial Day, however, to give this workout a shot.
Hero WODs (workout of the day), as they’re known in Crossfit, are some of the most intense workouts you’ll find anywhere. It’s not how grueling they are that makes them so well known. It’s that each one is named after a fallen soldier, sailor, airman, marine, police officer, or firefighter. The intention is to think of the person it’s named for when performing the workout, especially when it gets really tough.
This WOD is named for Mike Murphy and here’s his story.
Lieutenant Michael Murphy
Lieutenant Michael Murphy, of Patchogue, New York, was killed in action in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005. He was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions that day, placing himself in the open and exposed to enemy fire in order to make a satellite phone call to get the quick reaction force (QRF) to help save his teammates.
Murph, as he was known to his friends, loved to do this workout, which he called body armor. With a 20 pound weighted vest or plate carrier, run a mile, do a 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, and then run another mile.
How to Do Murph While Traveling
Murph is a bodyweight WOD and requires no barbells, dumbbells, or any other equipment besides a pull-up bar. If you're traveling, odds are that you won't have a weighted vest with you. That's fine. Scale the workout and do it without the vest.
You can do Murph in a hotel gym. Run your mile at the beginning and end of the WOD on the treadmill. If the hotel gym doesn't have a pull-up bar, you may have to improvise. Find a place to do your pull-ups. Tree limbs and swing sets are great. Find something that works. Get creative if you have to.
If there's no way for you do to pull-ups, try this variation of the workout: 1 mile treadmill run, 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, 300 squats, 1 mile treadmill run.
Three Tips For Completing Murph
To conquer this workout, you have to have a strategy for tackling the high number of repetitions you have to complete. Here are three valuable tips that I've learned from doing Murph over the years.
1. Partition the repetitions.
You can do this a number of ways. I prefer to do 20 rounds of the following in between the mile runs:
- 5 Pull-Ups
- 10 Push-Ups
- 15 Squats
The point is to not complete hundreds of pull-ups, push-ups and squats consecutively. Perform more rounds of lower repetitions of each exercise to avoid fatiguing muscle groups.
2. Practice in the weeks and months leading up to Memorial Day.
Don't approach this workout without training for it. Start a few weeks or months before Memorial Day. Do the workout once a week. You'll need plenty of recovery time. Start without the added weight. Do a quarter or half of the workout at first. Track your progress by timing yourself. Gradually make it harder as you get closer to Memorial Day.
Start hydrating in the days before you do the workout. Murph requires a tremendous amount of energy to complete the high number of repetitions and not being hydrated could mean not completing the workout. Have a water source with you while working out and take sips between rounds.
Remember that you will get tired during this workout. You'll probably think about cutting corners or giving up. Think about Lt. Mike Murphy. Think about the men who gave their lives during Operation Red Wings. They didn't give up and neither should you.
Donate to the Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.
Learn more about Lieutenant Michael Murphy here.
Pictured in the cover photo are Lt. Mike Murphy (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Axelson (right).