murph workout
Let’s do this!

Are you ready to tackle on one of the toughest crossfit wods of the year, the Murph Workout? Do you struggle with pull ups and high rep push ups though? Are you looking for some strategies on how to prepare? 

In this blog I’m going to help you be prepare for one of the simplest yet hardest crossfit workouts of the year by sharing with you:

  • How to scale whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced and wearing a vest
  • Workout strategies and tips 
  • What to do instead of pull ups
  • Give you all the tools and resources you need

“ Fail to plan then prepare to fail.”

What Is The Murph Crossfit Workout

The Murph Workout is named after Navy Seal – Lieutenant Michael Murphy who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 and this workout was his favorite. The crossfit community and people all over the country do this workout to honor not only him but the soliders who fight for us everyday.

1 Mile Run

100 Pull Ups – these can be done kipping, they don’t have to be strict. Video how to perform kipping pull ups is here

200 Push Ups

300 Bodyweight Squats

1 Mile Run

*Men wear 20lb weighted vest & women wear 14lbs weighted vest

The Murph Workout first showed up on crossfit main site in 2005 and has been one the community looks forward to doing every memorial day. 

the murph workout
Preparation is everything.

If you are thinking there is no way I can do 100 pull ups or that many push ups and certainly can’t wear a weighted vest. Keep reading…I will show you how to scale, whether you are a beginner and or if you don’t even have a pull up bar. 

Modified Murph Workout For Beginners & How To Scale

If this is your first time doing murph or you just aren’t as proficient at the movements yet that is okay! This crossfit workout has a little more meaning behind it. With it being held on memorial day each year, use this time to remember those who have gone to battle for our freedom. 

Modified Half Murph Workout Version 1:

800 Meter Run

50 Pull Up

100 Push Ups

150 Bodyweight Squats

800 Meter Run

If you can perform the movements and just aren’t ready for the high volume then splitting it up in half is one the best ways to tackle the workout. 

Partitioned Murph Cindy Style Version 2:

Run x 1 Mle

Then perform:

20 Rounds

  1. 5 x Pull Up
  2. 10 x Push Ups
  3. 15 x Bodyweight Squats

Then Run x 1 Mile

When the task at hand isn’t overwhelming and we feel it’s manageable (20 Rounds of Cindy)  in our mind we switch from thinking 100 is too many for me “ I can’t do that” to “oh I can do that.”

 That’s what partitioned Murph does. It breaks things down into manageable reps. One round at a time. Small manageable sets. 

Pull Up Alternatives For The Murph Workout

100 Pull Ups is a lot and I’m pretty good at pull ups. Here is a video of me doing 82 kipping in a row:

If you want to get stronger, faster, and better at gymnastics.. I can help you with that. Since I can’t gauge where you stand I will give you some alternative pull up options and let you choose what is best for you. 

Level 1 – Do you need to learn or master the technique of the kipping pull up? 

My prerequisite before you start kipping pull ups is that you are able perform 8 – 10 Strict Pull Ups first before we have you start kipping. 

Level 2 – Jumping Chest To Bar

This movement takes a lot of strength and isn’t a cop out when you are still wanting a good challenge for Murph. 

Level 3 – Banded Pull Up

Be careful with this option though. If you can’t perform 8-12+ pull ups with the band when you are fresh I prefer you take another level down to jumping pull up. 

Level 4 – Jumping Pull Up

I would guess that this is probably the best option for most when performing this workout. It allows you to still accumulate a lot of reps and gives you a good training stimulus. Make sure to land in the bottom of the pull up every time to complete a rep though. Jump up and land with your arms locked out.

Level 5 – Elevated Ring Row

These are tough. We are doing murph. We aren’t looking for the easiest way out. If you typically do ring rows try the elevated version today on a box. They are tough. If you want to get better at pull ups anyway, these are good one to start adding in. You can’t expect to get better if you don’t challenge yourself. 

Level 6 – Ring Row

These are a great option for people that want to do Murph without or don’t have a pull up bar and or can’t perform pull ups yet. They still work your back, strengthen your arms and are a great alternative way to still do murph. But maybe you give me 200 rows instead? 🙂

I created a blog post on how to get better at pull ups with a simple easy to follow step by step guide for Katie, and shared with our community and I’m happy to give it to you as well. Click “how to get better at pull ups.”

Push Up Alternatives For The Murph Workout

murph workout crossfit

Now I am pretty darn good at pull ups but to be honest I’m not nearly as good at push ups. Especially when tackling 200 of them. Keep in mind that small manageable sets is always the best way to tackle this crossfit workout. 

Level 1 – Do you need to just master the form of the Push Up?

Good form or not 200 push ups is a lot. Especially within a 20/14 lb weighted vest on. Depending on your fitness level you may not even wear a vest. 

Level 2 –  Hand Release Push Up

I don’t ever want you to compromise push up form so we want to choose an exercise that still allows you to get full range of motion. 

Level 3 – Elevated Push Up

This is a great option for beginners and honestly most people. It allows you to make it harder or easier by adjusting the height of the box without compromising full range of motion. 

Level 4 – Knee Push Up

I don’t care what your fitness level when your arms get tired you might end up on your knees. No shame. If you are still working on your strength and this is where you’re at. No shame. You’re doing murph. That’s what matters. 

Level 5 – DB Chest Press

Do push ups hurt your shoulders? Can you not do them for any other reason? Of course I recommend watching the form so you don’t get hurt again but DB Chest Press is a great alternative option for push ups. We still are able to work the same muscle groups. 

I want you to think about this though. How hard is 5 push ups? Choose a weight that would be just as hard (okay maybe a little easier) as it would be to do the push ups. 

Example:

Men:

Advanced –  50lbs –> Intermediate – 35lbs –> Beginner – 15-25 lbs

Women:

Advanced – 35lbs –>Intermediate – 25lbs –>Beginner – 10 – 20lbs

Push Up Workout Finishers To Try:

murph workout times
Dips are good variation to strengthen your chest and triceps

If you feel like I did above after these challenges…you did it right. Super challenging but big smile on your face 🙂

Push Up Challenge # 1 Descending Pyramid Style – 

Beginner a running clock and every 30 seconds perform:

12 reps

When the clock hits :30 complete

10 reps

When the clock hits 60 seconds etc. until the you get down to 2 reps then hold at the top for as long as possible in the Hand Plank Position

These push up workout challenges are tough and they move fast. If needed increase your intervals by 15 seconds per round until you can decrease your rest time. 

Push Up Challenge # 2 Pyramid Style V2:

Begin a running clock and every 20 seconds until the clock hits 4:00 minutes perform:

12 x Elevated Dips

10 x Push Up

8 x Bottom Push Up Pulse

When the clock hits 4:00 complete:

Every 30 seconds x 4 sets

20 seconds x Hand Plank

When the clock hits 4:30 complete:

20 seconds x Bottom Push Up Hold

These push up workout challenges are tough and they move fast. If needed increase your intervals by 15 seconds per round until you can decrease your rest time. 

Push Up Challenge #3 High Intensity Interval Training:

Four sets:

Run x 40 Yards

10 x Push Up

Run x 40 Yards twice

10 x Push Up

Run x 40 Yards four times

10 x Push Up

Rest x 2 minutes

This is a good hiit workout that is quick and if you want to make it murph workout style instead of the push up in the middle change it to your pull up alternative or Strict Pull up if you can.

If you love good challenges like this then you will love our crossfit programming. We have “fun” stuff like this all the time. Check it out here.

How To Complete The Murph Workout

what is the murph workout
Last Years Local Murph Crew!

The Murph workout is one of the toughest crossfit workouts of the year and that’s why you want to do it with your local community if possible. I like to think back on what those soldiers have done for us and our freedom and use that as motivation to push through the brutal workout and “embrace the suck”. 

Man did I “embrace the suck” on this day. It was hot. I was in a shed with no breeze. But I kept chipping away. That’s what you have to do as well, chip away:

Men wear a 20lb weighted and women wear a 14lb vest this is advanced. If it’s your first time…don’t do that. And I highly recommend you doing our free 30 day Murph Plan to help you prepare too. 

The Run:

You have a long workout ahead of you. You need to be patient and not let the nerves and excitement get ahead of you. Here are some suggested run paces:

Advanced & Experienced Athletes:

  • Finish your run around 8 – 10 Minutes 
  • Stay patient. Don’t get competitive with your buddy, the workout has a long way to go.

Intermediate & Scaled:

  • Finish your run around 10 – 12 minutes
  • Focus on your breathing
  • Get into a good rhythm and give yourself positive self talk

Side note:

If you want to get better at running you should join our run program. It’s awesome. You can learn more about it here.

Beginner & Modified:

  • Just keep moving. 
  • Your time doesn’t matter. 
  • If you have to run, walk it, that’s fine. 
  • Just keep moving and stick to your plan. 
  • If you want to finish strong, stay patient and finish strong on the second run…remember it starts and ends with a 1 mile 🙂

Side note:

If you want to get better at running you should join our run program. It’s awesome. You can learn more about it here.

murph workout for beginners
Working on breathing between sets.

The Pull UPS

The run has you feeling good and now it’s time to tackle the pull ups, be sure to click the link so you  have your form dialed in. Depending upon how proficient you are will dictate your sets of course, but EVERYONE needs to do small manageable sets. Make sure to reference the pull up alternatives so you are doing what is best for you. 

I also highly recommend wearing a pair of gymnastics grips so you don’t rip your hands. I did that on my first Murph, not fun. 

I will base all my suggestions below on doing the Murph straight through which is:

Run 1 mile, 100 Pull Ups, 200 Push Ups, 300 Bodyweight Squats, Run 1 Mile. 

Advanced & Experienced Athletes 

  • Go for 10 – 20 reps in the beginning but don’t blow up (don’t fail any reps)
  • Keep your rest to 20 – 30 seconds
  • Keep moving as you fatigued focus on your breathing. Come down off the bar and commit to a number of breaths and get back up on the bar. Example:

You are getting fatigued and getting down to five reps. Take 5 breaths through your nose, get another five. 5 breathes another five. This makes you stay consistent and not feeling sorry for yourself and you start walking around thinking about how you wish you were better at pull ups. 

Side note:

If you want to get better at crossfit gymnastics movements  you should join our gymnastics program. It’s awesome.

Intermediate & Scaled:

I recommend you to perform the some of the two alternative pull up options:

  1. Jumping Chest To Bar 

OR

  1. Banded Pull Up 
  • Small manageable sets
  • Keep your rest between 20 – 40 seconds
  • If you have a running clock watch the clock and make yourself go after twenty seconds. As you get fatigued, make yourself go in 30 seconds, then 40 seconds, etc.

Side note:

If you want to get better at crossfit gymnastics movements  you should join our gymnastics program. It’s awesome.

Beginner & Modified:

I recommend you to perform one of these alternative pull up options:

Jumping Pull Up OR Elevated Ring Row OR Ring Row

Listed from most difficult to easiest all movement will still serve you as a great alternative to feeling accomplished and crushing Murph.

  • Small manageable sets
  • Keep your rest between 45 – 60 seconds
  • Maybe you commit do performing 5 – 8 reps every minute on the minute
  • See how your body feels, make sure to hydrate, have fun and keep moving

Side note:

If you want to get better at crossfit gymnastics movements you should join our gymnastics program. It’s awesome.

how to get better at pull ups
Time for some push ups!

Made it through the pull ups? LETS GOOOOOOOOO

The Push Ups

Pull ups are done, time to blow up your arms and feel like you can’t push yourself no matter the amount of motivation. At least that’s how I felt last year! So this year I have to manage it better and I will save you the agony. 

It’s a good idea to have more than water. Drink BCAA and electrolytes. My go to is Karbolyn Hydrate and Nuun.

Make sure to watch the video tutorial on how to do it properly to so you aren’t jacking up your shoulders:

Advanced & Experienced Athletes 

The thing that makes Murph so brutal is the push and pull combination and since we don’t typically wear a vest in training it takes a toll on you quickly so manage your expectations and focus on quick small sets versus giant sets consider some of the following rep schemes:

  • 25, 25, 20, 20,15, 12, 7, 5 = 129  keeping your rest to no more than 30 seconds
  • 10’s for as long as possible, 8 for as long as possible, 6 for as long as possible and staying dedicated to short rest breaks

The main thing you want to do is keep moving. Listen to your body, look at the clock and stick to your plan.

Intermediate & Scaled

I recommend you perform one of the two alternatives to push ups: 

  1. Hand Release Push Up 

OR

  1. Elevated Push Up

Maybe you commit to performing X (20,40,50) standard push ups before you switch to one of the alternatives then try one of these rep schemes:

  • 10’s for as long as possible, 8 for as long as possible, 6 for as long as possible and staying dedicated to short rest breaks (20 – 30 seconds) or 5 breaths. 
  • 10 Reps every minute on the minute

Listen to your body, manage your rest and hydration and give your best 

Beginner & Modified:

I recommend you perform one of the two alternatives to push ups: 

  1. Knee Push Up

OR

  1. DB Chest Press

I know from working with thousands of people over the past decade how hard it is to get your first pull up, and how challenging it is to crank out a ton of push ups. I want to encourage you to keep working hard though. Most people continue to try and get better by just doing more and more. That’s not the approach you want to take. 

You want to create a strong foundation, build strength first, move through full range of motion and that’s the object with the knee push up and the DB Chest Press. Don’t compromise range of motion and you WILL get stronger. It’s OKAY if you can’t do 5 – 10 in a row. They are hard. Give your best and keep working hard and chip away at the reps.

murph workout
She’s a badass, we know. Thankfully she is one of your coaches!

The Bodyweight Squats

This is when our very own coach Katie Andres pulls away. She can power through high rep bodyweight squats. 

She says “ for me the key to any bodyweight movement is to remember all the I have squatted heavy weight and I tell myself this is nothing compared to 230”.

 Not so easy for all of us though but hey you heard it from her as she had a time of under 50 minutes last year!

300 x Squats

Your arms get a break you can finally breathe and you can see the home stretch. I highly recommend you setting up cones, water bottles, chalk marks, drawn out circles, anything that you can can give you a visual:

X ———-> X ———-> X ————> and just keep chipping away.

Set up each station at 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, etc or 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300.

This will give you a visual and a feeling of accomplishment as you get closer towards your final cones. Standing in one place counting to 300 I can promise you your mind will start to challenge you. 

Advanced, Intermediate, Scaled, Beginner & Modified All Need:

Before your workout and always a good idea before you are performing squats is to make sure your hips and ankles are warmed up and you have adequate range of motion. 

Open up your hips like the image below, and get your hips below your knees. 

bodyweight squat
You can use your arms to help you counter balance too.

Squats Hurt Your Back?

If you are having a hard time getting your hips below your knees it’s most likely because you have poor ankle dorsiflexion and I encourage you to try this and it will take pressure off of your back:

  1. Foam Roll Your Calves 

Do this for 60 seconds per side. When you have tight calves we have to get the muscle fibers to loosen up before we stretch them.

  1. Stretch Your Calves 

Do this for 60 seconds per side. Now we want to lengthen your muscles. I talk about having full range of motion all the time. Having “mobile” ankles and calves will unlock your performance. 

  1. Free Up Some Range Of Motion 

Do this for 60 seconds per side. We loosened up your calves which those two alone will help your squat feel better but now I want to try something you probably haven’t before. Grab a band, and let’s work on a “banded distraction at the joint” it’s a cheap way to get some assistance like a Physical Therapist would to help increase your range of motion.

  1. Retrain Your Squat 

Stretch your achilles and then after completing this series I bet your squat feels A LOT better. If you still aren’t able to get into a good position, try the assisted version.

*We provide proper warm ups, stretching protocols, and drills like the ones above within our training programs everyday. We care about quality movement, and training hard. Check out our crossfit program where we give you all the tools and support to get you stronger, faster, and better at gymnastics. 

how to run a 6 minute mile
Okay, time to chase Katie down!

The Final Run Of The Murph Workout!!

1 Mile run to go, you just did 300 squats, your legs feel heavy but it’s the final stretch! Every workout we have to finish strong, it’s who we are. But it’s still a mile, you have to stay patient. Here are some motivation things you can tell yourself or do:

“ 1 Mile is going to take me about X amount of time, I can work hard for another X amount of minutes.” 

“ I have worked hard for the past X amount of time, I can’t give up now.” 

“ Just keep moving.”

” One step at a time, one foot in front of the other.”

“Every other tree pick up the pace just a little bit.”

” Okay only 3 minutes to go. Work hard for 90 seconds two times.”

” Final push, what are you made of!”

Thoughts inside my head 🙂

Another thing we want you to do is focus on breathing. Count your breaths up to 10 then back to 1, then count to 15 then back down to 1, etc. 

Think of this perspective we tell our clients…. In 10,20, 30 minutes you are going to feel just fine. Here is the difference:

  1. You are going to be happy with your efforts 
  1. You are going to tell yourself, “ I think I could have done better.”

The choice is yours. During the workout it’s tough to keep pushing hard when your legs hurt, you can’t breathe, etc. but if you can think of that perspective that you will feel fine shortly after you finish it may help you keep pushing to finish the murph challenge strong!

Workout motivation
You want to feel like this after. FREAKING PUMPED!

Murph Workout Times How Long Will It Take?

How long does it take? I mentioned earlier how important performing the exercises that are best suited for you is important. If you haven’t seen that check out pull up and push up alternatives above. 

If you have chosen the right “level, scale, modifier” whatever you want to call it here are some goal times:

 Beginner & Modified

  • Finishing it would be awesome first of all but if a good target for your first time would be to get as close to 75 as possible 

Intermediate & Scaled

  • I’m confident you are pretty good at one of the movements and one of the movements is your arch nemesis am I right? Well, buckle down on you are good at today and keep working hard and see if you can break the one hour mark!

Advanced Crossfit Athlete

  • If you are going to wear that vest you better be ready to bring it. You already know the drill and you are probably going for a PR. Be sure to bring another buddy along this year and crush it!

I would love to hear all of your times in the comments below and or share pictures to a facebook group I have created “ Crossfit Workouts, FAQ, and Education.” 

Conclusion

Crossfits toughest workout Murph is no joke. We provided you with a ton of education and resources so you can crush it even as a beginner:

  • Workout tips
  • Push and Pull Up Alternatives
  • How To Modify The Workout or Partition “Cindy” style
  • How To Pace The Workout 

Our goal is to give you The Complete Murph Workout Plan and everything you need to know so you can put your best foot forward. 

murph workout
Your coaches Kevin & Katie

PS:

If you want to get stronger, faster, and better at gymnastics you check out our Crossfit Program and let’s crush this thing!

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  1. […] medicine and that’s all we want for you. We want you to get out and move. Technically one of the hardest crossfit workouts of the year can be done from […]

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