All you need to know about Murph

What is Murph?

It is a tradition among CrossFit boxes all over the world to perform this workout on Memorial Day.  It is a hero workout named after a fallen U.S. Navy Seal – Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.  This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. Shortly after his passing, renamed it “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who sacrificed his life to save his fellow seals.

The movie “Lone Survivor” depicted the story of Murph’s heroic actions along with his fellow U.S. Navy SEALs. It is not mandatory, but highly recommended you watch this movie at least once before Murph – it will really open your eyes to the meaning behind this workout.

When is Murph at Sycamore CrossFit?

This year we will perform Murph on Saturday, May 25th.

We will be starting at:
10:15 am – Everyone is welcome to come anytime after 9 am to begin warming up

CrossFitters and Thrivers are encouraged to come.  

If you haven’t already done so, please register to participate HERE. This is a free workout open to our athletes as well as members of the community.

What is the actual workout “Murph”?

For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

Everyone will start and finish with the mile run, and then you can choose to partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed.

Here are the best/most common ways to break up the reps:

25 Rounds: 4 Pull-Ups, 8 Push-Ups, 12 Air Squats

20 Rounds: 5 Pull Ups, 10 Push Ups, 15 Air Squats

10 Rounds: 10 Pull-ups, 20 Push-Ups, 30 Air Squats

We recommend that most athletes choose smaller sets and do more rounds.  The push ups are usually the toughest part for most athletes and small sets will keep you from hitting a wall on the push ups so you don’t have to take long rest breaks waiting for your arms to refresh.

If you have completed this workout before in under 45 minutes  and want an additional challenge, you can always try to do the full 100, 200, 300 in order!

What are the best ways to scale Murph?

If you’re thinking that sounds impossible, then don’t worry, we have you covered.  A lot of people are concerned by this Hero WOD and how hard, or maybe impossible, they think it might be.  Our simple answer is that it’s scalable. CrossFit and Thrive are always scalable. The best way to approach MURPH is to have a clear game plan of what version of this workout you will be doing before you show up.

Every athlete is different, so you should pick a WOD that is suitable for your current level of fitness and experience. That being said, this workout should CHALLENGE you. The best part about a hero workout is that it is designed to seem impossible.  It pushes you to your limits. These people we honor through Hero WODs died in service to our country and freedoms. We want to participate in a workout that is something hard enough to make us think we aren’t going to finish it and need to think about their struggles to help us push through it!

Here are a few of the most common ways to scale Murph:

  1. Do it with a partner!  You and the other person can run together and do the full mile or cut it down to 1200m or 800m each.  For the other exercises, you opt to alternate rounds or alternate exercises and hit the cumulative totals as a team of 2.
  2. Go for the full runs but do 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 of the volume on the pull ups, push ups, and squats.  As mentioned earlier, the pull ups and push ups are typically the hardest part so this will cut down the volume to a more manageable amount.
  3. Scale individual movements as needed.  You can do ring rows instead of pull-ups, box or knee push-ups instead of traditional push-ups, etc.

Should you wear a weight vest?

The original Murph workout as posted on does suggest wearing a 20 lb weight vest if you have one available, although we don’t recommend that for most athletes.

If you have completed Murph in under 45 minutes previously without a vest, then you can definitely consider adding a weight vest this year.  With that said, if you have not been doing any workouts with a vest on up until this point, we wouldn’t suggest wearing one for the first time during Murph.  If you do choose to wear a vest, we highly recommend purchasing your own.

**A word of caution for newbies or those who have had time off**

There are risks to taking on a workout like Murph, especially if this volume of pull ups and push ups far exceeds what you have been doing for the last couple months.  The biggest risk of concern is Rhabdomyolysis or “Rhabdo”, which is when the muscle fiber breaks down and gets released into the bloodstream. This can result in kidney failure and result in hospitalization or even death.    If you are just starting with us, or have had time off recently, you should definitely scale the Murph workout. We recommend talking to a coach so they can give you a safe, but challenging option to take on.

The athletes that are most susceptible to rhabdo are those who were former athletes, or who have been in great shape in the past, but who have had time off or are not currently in their best shape.  These athletes typically have the mental fortitude to push past their physical limits, which can result in a condition like Rhabdo. Athletes should also ensure hydrating properly and limiting alcohol consumption on Friday and Saturday of the Murph workout.

If you aren’t sure what rhabdo is check out this article HERE and be aware of the dangers associated with doing a hero WOD after long rest periods. Another useful article which includes the prevention of rhabdo can be found here.

I want to do Murph, but I can’t do _____{fill in the blank}_____.

No worries. We want everyone to come to experience this hero WOD and feel successful. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do a single pull up, can’t do a full push up, or can’t run a mile. We have options for you. Below are some considerations for doing Murph along with a few of the many ways you can “Murph” – come up with your own plan and know what you want to do before you show up!

Other Murph Versions:

Individual Half Murph:

(½ everything)800m Run
50 Pull-Ups
100 Push-Ups
150 Air Squats
800m RunOr½ reps + Run both full miles

Individual ¼ Murph:

(¼ everything) 800m Run
25 Ring Rows
50 Push Ups
75 Air Squats
800m Run Or Same reps but run both as 800m runs

Full Partner Murph:

1 mile Run together
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run together

The most popular option. Still a VERY tough WOD. Both Partners will run both miles together. They will split reps; even split not required. Only one partner works at a time. If one partner returns from run first, they can begin working on their first round. Typically performing 5-10-15 for 20 rounds format, partners can alternate movements or full rounds to move quickest.

Half Partner Murph:

800m Run together
50 Pull-Ups
100 Push-Ups
150 Air Squats
800m Run together

Still a tough WOD. Both Partners will run 800m together. Only one partner works at a time on the reps and split the reps however you wish. If one partner returns from run first, they can begin working on their first round. Typically performing 5-10-15 for 20 rounds format, partners can alternate movements or full rounds to move quickest.


Movement Specific Modifications:

Reducing the Runs:

If you cannot run both full miles**We encourage you to reduce everything else before reducing the runs**

Choosing 800m runs in place of each mile run (1 mile=1600m)

If injured, substitute a Concept2 Rower for 2000m per run.  Or on the AirDyne Bike 160 calories

Cannot perform Pull ups: Ring rows or using bands for assistance.
Cannot perform Push-ups:   Athletes can also use bands for push-up assistance, or complete elevated push-ups with their hands on a box in order to keep moving through these reps.
Novice CrossFitter

(less than 6 months) and this is your first hero WOD:

¼ Murph

800m Run
25 Pull-Ups
50 Push-Ups
75 Air Squats
800m Run


800m Run
25 Ring Rows
50 Box Push-Ups
75 Air Squats
800m Run

We encourage all of our members to come do any version of Murph they please.


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