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What is Murph? An Insight into the CrossFit Hero Workout

“Are you doing Murph this year too?”. If you've heard this phrase before but didn't know what to make of it, let's change that! In CrossFit, hardly any workout is as well-known as “Murph”.

The Hero Workout, named after fallen Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, is both a physical and mental challenge that is guaranteed to push you to the limits of your endurance and willpower.

We tell you everything you need to know about this tough workout!

What is the story behind the CrossFit Hero Workout Murph?

Athlet, der mit Weste Liegestütze macht

The story behind “Murph” goes back to Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, a United States Navy SEAL officer whose bravery and dedication were recognized far beyond the battlefield.

Lieutenant Murphy served during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. On June 28, 2005, Murphy's team was ambushed by an overwhelming enemy force. In the heat of battle, isolated on a ridge with no communication to headquarters, Murphy made a decision that would prove his unwavering heroism.

To call for help for his badly battered team, he went out into the open to reach a satellite phone signal, knowing full well that this would make him a direct target of the enemy. The brave act ultimately cost him his life, but allowed reinforcements to be sent and the life of a team member to be saved.

For his selfless act of bravery, Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the United States.

What significance does Murph have in the CrossFit community?

Drei Athleten, die Liegestütze machen

In the CrossFit community, the Hero Workout “Murph” has a profound meaning.

Every year on Memorial Day (always the last Monday in May), CrossFitters around the world gather to complete “Murph” as a tribute to Lt. Murphy and all the fallen heroes who have given their lives in the service of their country's freedom and safety.

Many use the workout as a benchmark to measure their progress over time by comparing their completion times or increasing the intensity of the exercises. But it is also a workout that promotes community and strengthens the spirit of cohesion.

Incidentally, the workout is inspired by a workout that Murphy himself does regularly and which he has named “Body Armor”.

How does Murph work?

Athlet, der Klimmzüge macht

The CrossFit Hero workout “Murph” includes a specific sequence of exercises that you should perform without interruption. This is how “Murph” typically works:

The structure of “Murph”

  • 1 mile run (1.6 kilometers): The workout begins and ends with a run. This part tests your cardiovascular endurance and warms you up for the challenges to come.

  • 100 Pull-ups: The first run is followed by 100 pull-ups, an exercise that requires considerable strength in the upper body, especially in the back and arm muscles.

  • 200 Push-ups: Immediately after the pull-ups come 200 push-ups, which work the chest, shoulder and triceps muscles. This high number of repetitions not only tests strength, but also muscle endurance.

  • 300 Squats: The 300 squat is a comprehensive lower body exercise that strengthens the leg and gluteal muscles and further challenges endurance.

  • 1 Mile Run (1.6 kilometers): The workout ends as it began, with a run.

Implementation and rules of Murph

  • No partitioning: Murph was originally intended to be performed without dividing up the exercises (partitioning). This means that all 100 pull-ups, then all 200 push-ups and finally all 300 squats should be completed in succession before the final run.

  • Follow the sequence: The specified sequence of exercises is an essential part of “Murph”. It should be adhered to in order to maintain the integrity of the workout.

  • With or without a weight vest: Many people do “Murph” with a weight vest (20 lbs/9 kg for men, 14 lbs/6 kg for women) to increase the challenge and replicate Lt. Murphy's experience in combat.

What scaling is available for Murph for beginners?

Verschwitzter Athlet

If you're a beginner, the Hero Workout “Murph” can be quite intimidating. However, there are different scaling options that make this intense workout more accessible for everyone - without losing the essence of the workout.

Here are some adjustments that can help you as a beginner to approach “Murph”:

Divide the exercises into smaller sets

Instead of performing the exercises in the full order (100 pull-ups, followed by 200 push-ups, followed by 300 squats), you can split the repetitions into smaller sets.

A common method is the “Cindy” split: 20 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats. This breakdown makes the workout less intimidating and helps minimize fatigue.

Modify the exercises

  • Pull-ups: You can use ring rows or banded pull-ups as an alternative to regular pull-ups. These exercises reduce the load but still strengthen the back and arm muscles.

  • Push-ups: You can do push-ups on your knees to reduce the intensity. Another option is to do push-ups against a wall or raised surface to adjust the resistance.

  • Squats: Air squats are generally suitable for all fitness levels, but you should pay attention to your form to avoid overexertion.

Reduce the total number of repetitions

Another option is to reduce the total number of repetitions. Instead of doing 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats, you can aim for half or a third of the repetitions, depending on your current fitness level.

Do without the weight vest

For many, wearing a weight vest is part of “Murph”. As a beginner, you should refrain from using the vest until you feel more comfortable with the exercises and have improved your overall fitness.

Take breaks as needed

In contrast to the traditional “Murph”, where you try to minimize the time between exercises, you should allow yourself breaks. This will help you avoid overexertion and train more safely.

What equipment do you need for Murph?

CrossFit Athlet mit einer Gewichtsweste

You hardly need any equipment for 'Murph'. This makes it one of the most accessible yet challenging workouts.

The central part of Murph consists of 100 pull-ups. You will need a sturdy pull-up bar for this. Many CrossFit boxes have such bars, but you can also do the workout on a suitable and safe bar outdoors or at special outdoor fitness stations.

Optional equipment

  • Weight vest: To increase the intensity and simulate Lieutenant Murphy's experience in the field, many participants choose to complete the entire workout with a 20-pound weight vest (about 9 kg for men) or a 14-pound weight vest (about 6 kg for women). However, this is optional and not recommended, especially for beginners.

  • Hand protection: As “Murph” involves a high number of pull-ups, hand protection can be useful to avoid blisters and calluses. Special CrossFit gloves or simple grip pads work best.

  • Good running shoes: An essential part of “Murph” is the two runs at the beginning and end of the workout. A good pair of running shoes can help you improve comfort and performance while running.

  • SmartWOD Timer: To measure your time and track your progress, a stopwatch or timer is useful. With the SmartWOD Timer app, you'll never lose track of time.

Murph - A tribute through endurance

“Murph” is not only a test of physical fitness, but also an emotional experience.

Whether you're a beginner working on scaling or a seasoned athlete taking on the extra load, “Murph” is a powerful reminder that fitness is not just a personal journey, but also a way to commemorate and pay tribute to something greater.

Once you've done “Murph”, you'll never forget that moment again, I promise!




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