Why Murph?

Every year on Memorial Day weekend, CrossFitters in affiliates across the world perform the Hero workout, ‘Murph’. It is a workout that has become synonymous with CrossFit, not just for its brutal toughness, but for what it represents. ‘Murph’ is not simply another workout we do in a class to increase our fitness before moving on to whatever else we have going on in the day. It is a workout designed to honor and remember the men and women of the armed forces that have lost their lives in defense of our freedom. And as is the case with every Hero workout, it has a story of courage and sacrifice behind it.

These HERO workouts are symbolic gestures of respect for all the fallen soliders and service men and women who defend our freedom. CrossFit affiliates around the world, regardless of ethnicity or nation, honor their courage by pushing themselves to the limit in these (intentionally) brutal workouts. It is a way to remember these men and women—to ensure that they are never forgotten. Every Memorial Day weekend, we remember Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy.

This workout was actually created by Murphy himself, and he originally titled it ‘Body Armor’—hence the 20lb. vest. This is not an easy workout. It is high volume, and requires the respect it deserves. While you may be understandably fired up to attack it with vigor straight from the get-go, we’d like to offer you a few tips to ensure that you give ‘Murph’ your best effort and don’t burn out too early.

Use a rep scheme
You can partition the pull-ups, push-ups and squats as needed, so take advantage of that by using smart rep schemes to keep your muscles as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Here are a few you can use:

20 rounds of
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 squats

This is essentially 20 rounds of the benchmark WOD Cindy, and is probably the most commonly employed as it is the easiest to remember and a lot of athletes have had success with it in the past.

20 rounds of
5 push-ups
5 pull-ups
5 push-ups
15 squats
Advised for those who struggle with push-ups.

20 rounds of
5 pullups
5 squats
5 pushups
10 squats
5 pushups

Stretch everything. This is a full body workout, and your wrists, chest, shoulders, calves, hamstrings, quads and hips are going to be taxed. So make sure you are as limber as you can be heading into the workout.

Given that this is one of the longest workouts in history, don’t be afraid to stop and reach for the water bottle when you need to (especially for those that will be completing the run in humid and hot climates). The goal is to complete the workout—you don’t want to bring on rhabdomyolysis in the process.

Don’t use a vest until you have built up a solid level of fitness
While the prescribed version of ‘Murph’ is meant to be done with a weight vest, it is recommended that only competitive athletes use it. If you cannot complete ‘Murph’ under one hour without a weight vest, you shouldn’t be using one yet.

Pace yourself
In addition to employing a rep scheme strategy, try to incorporate a few seconds of rest between sets. In addition, during the mile runs remain calm and remember to breathe and exhale in rhythm.

Remember why you’re doing the workout
Recognize that this isn’t your typical class WOD. This workout is meant to remember those who have died for our freedom, so try to keep that in your head when you feel like giving up.

Post workout recovery
Mobilize, get plenty of fluids in you and some healthy snacks to replenish all the lost nutrients (like some nuts, banana and/or protein shake).

Average times for this workout can range from 47 minutes to 57 minutes. Depending on whether your running route has hills, try to break 1 hour if possible.
The fastest Murph times are from 40 minutes to 45 minutes.