By memorizing the military roots of gymnastics named after Lt. Michael P. Murphy, Navy SEAL who was killed in operation 2005-CrossFit boxes around the U.S. holding Murph every Memorial Day.
However, Murph is not a typical CrossFit function. It is one of the longest, most strenuous Crossfit WoDs with a duration ranging from 40 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the athlete’s level of skill and endurance.
How To Train For Murph Workouts?
As the Murph Challenge is a difficult, long-term task. For most athletes, this exercise will take more than an hour. Currently, the world record for finishing the Murph Challenge is owned by Alex Blenis, who finished the race in just over 22 minutes. You will need perseverance and strength to complete the Murph Challenge.
In fact, research has shown that the power of one-rep-max has less to do with exercise than Murph. The researchers also found that lifting time was more closely related to good performance than running time at work. So, while you need to be able to complete the run from start to finish, the real meat-and-potato challenge will be a drag, push, and squats.
The same research study also found that due to the weight movement in exercise, having a lower percentage of body fat helps to eliminate these exercises. Due to the nature of the repetition of these different movements, you need to have a really solid foundation in each movement to complete the exercise and avoid injury.
In 2018, a meta-analysis was performed on CrossFit performance and showed that participants were at greater risk of shoulder injury during gymnastic movements such as pulling. But in this exercise you will eliminate 100 pull-ups - so not only will you need to divide the sets into smaller sets, but you will also need to make sure you are competent in that task, especially if they will be adding a 20-pound vest to the figure.
The Murph workout can be performed in the following sequence:
- 1-mile run
- 100 pull
- 200 push-ups
- 300 air squats (bodyweight squats)
- 1-mile run
The whole exercise is being done wearing a 20lb vest. For CrossFit competitions, men wear a 20lb vest and women a 14lb vest, however, this is not a requirement and also the workout is hard enough without the extra weight.
How Can You Modify The Murph workout?
Probably the biggest thing about Murph WOD is that it is not for everyone. Athletes of all skill, strength, and endurance levels can compete in Murph.
- Assisted pull-ups:
If you are not yet able to complete the pull-up (not to mention 100), try different variations of assisted pull.
- Resistance band:
You can use a rubber resistance band to reduce your body weight and help you push it upwards.
Pull-ups jumping involves standing in a high place (like a box) and jumping to get your chin off the bar.
- Bodyweight rows:
If pulling is out of your question, try bodyweight rows on TRX, gym rings, or other hanging equipment. With bodyweight rows, simply hold on to something that hangs in a horizontal position with your arms outstretched and pulls your body to the grip.
- Variations In Push-ups
Push-ups are a very difficult workout for bodyweight. There are three main ways to fix it if you can complete a full push-up. From the simplest to the most difficult, these are the push-ups on the wall, the push-ups on your knees, and the push-ups in the box or on the bench.
- Against the wall:
Stand about two feet from the wall and place your hands on the wall. From this position, bend your elbows and lower your body against the wall.
- On the knees:
Instead of lifting yourself up on the plank in the hands and toes, lower your knees. From that position, lower your body and push up to return to the starting position.
- On the box or on the bench:
This is like pushing against a wall, but your hands will be on the box or on the bench instead. Keep your weight on your toes and lower your body to the box or bench, then push upwards.
- Squats Modification
There aren’t many ways to change air squats, but a few small tweaks can help if you’re struggling with walking or strength.
- TRX squats:
Using TRX or other fixed support is helpful if you do not have the ability to perform an air squat properly. Adjust the TRX straps to your height and hold them in front of you with your arms outstretched. From there, lower yourself into the squat and back up.
- Heel lifting:
If movement/ mobility is your problem (i.e., trying to squat in good shape because your ankles or hips are stiff), lifting your heels can help. Before you start Murph, set up a small squat channel (like a 2.5-pound plate) on the floor. When it’s time to squat, put your heels on the weight to get the extra height to help with mobility.
The Bottom Line
The Murph Challenge has become an international event and an American way of remembering fallen soldiers. It’s a test of fitness on Memorial Day for which anyone can enroll, no matter what their level of fitness is. Therefore, the Murph training requires minimal equipment, but it is a very difficult challenge so make sure you are familiar with the movement before taking it unless you decide to adjust the exercises to best suit your physical needs.