A fixture in the Crossfit community, completing the Hero workout of the day (WOD) Murph has become a right of passage for many in the functional fitness community. From celebrities like the Rock challenging John Krazincsy to soldiers serving overseas. This workout has become a Memorial Day tradition for many. All looking to honor the military’s fallen hero’s all over the world. But what is the Murph challenge? Let’s take a look deeper into this workout and how to perform your best the next time you take on the challenge!
The Murph Challenge
Originally named “Body Armor,” this workout was one of the favorites of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y. Sadly Lieutenant Murphy was killed while serving in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. Then on 8/18/2005 the official Crossfit website posted the workout as their Workout of the Day. Changing the workouts name to Murph in honor of the fallen soldier.
The workout itself was an instant hit, pushing athletes to their limits. And shortly after becoming an annual tradition in the form of Memorial Day Murph.
What is the Murph Challenge?
There are a lot of opinions of the “official” way to complete the Muph HEro WOD, so I’ll post the official version from the original Crossfit.com WOD Post:
1 mile Run
1 mile Run
In memory of 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”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.
Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
Unpartitioned or Partitioned – Murph’s Official Rep Scheme
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of ways to do Murph. And a lot of debate in the Crossfit community over which one is the “official Murph rep scheme. Here is the quick overview on the options and the truth behind which one is correct.
Complete the workout is to do all of the reps in a movement (ie all 100 pull ups) before moving to pushups .Complete 200 pushups before moving to air squats and so on.
Break up the pushups, pullups, and air squats as you need to. Like 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats. More on this below.
Must Wear a 20# Vest
The original post says if you have a 20lb vest, put it on. So many feel this is the only way to do the workout.
What is the right way to do Murph?
Based on the original post on Crossfit.com it clearly says to “partition the pullups, pushups, & air squats as needed.” Most people that believe it should be done unpartitioned are referring to when the workout made its first appearance in the 2015 Crossfit Games. It should be noted that multiple athletes ended up in the medical tent due to heat exhaustion from the event.
When it comes to the weighted vest, wearing 20lb body armor is where this workout got it’s original name. It’s meant to be done with a 20lb vest if you have one. But should not be done in a 20lb vest if you have not trained for it. For most people this is too much weight and when done “for time” can lead to injuries.
Murph Strategy – How to Partition
Method 1 – Cindy
This is how most people choose to break up the sets, following the format of the popular Crossfit WOD Cindy.
20 Rounds of
15 Air Squats
Method 2 – Big Sets
If you have it in you, doubling the reps per round will cut down on your transition time. Only do this if you can maintain a stead pace at these size of sets.
10 Rounds of
30 Air Squats
Method 3 – Front Load the Squats
This is my favorite way to break up Murph. It cuts down on your total transitions and gives your legs some recovery time before the last mile.
20 Air Squats
How to Train For the Murph Challenge
Training properly for a challenge like this is one of your best keys for success. And not hurting yourself. If you want to take your Murph time seriously I’d suggest starting at least 3 months out. This will give your body enough time to adapt to the high reps of the movement pattern safely while getting really strong along the way.
Start your training by building up your sets of pullups, pushups, and air squats. The pullups and pushups tend to be the hardest part of this workout. So focusing on these is very important. Aim to get strong at doing sets of 10 pullups, 20 pushups, and 30 air squats. Then work on starting to combine the movement together in smaller sets.
While building up your set volume start working on your running! Then once you’re comfortable with the number of reps, combine the running with the pullups, pushups, and air squats.
A couple workouts you can do include:
Half Mile Run
150 Air Squats
Half Mile Run
Cindy or Cindy for Time
20 Minutes As Many Reps as Possible or 20 Rounds for Time
15 Air Squats
Same as above but for 10 Minutes.
What is a good Murph time?
An average Murph time completed in a vest is between 50 minutes and 70 minutes. A good time is between 43-50 minutes and high level athletes will look to complete this in 42 minutes or less. A lot of this can depend on how long and flat your run is.
What is the fastest Murph time?
The current top Vested Murph World Record Times are:
- Alec Blenis – 32:41 (Unpartitioned)
- Hunter McIntyre – 34:14 (Unpartitioned)
- Josh Bridges – 38:88 (Partitioned)
- Matt Frasier – 35:44 (Partitioned)
- Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson – 38:40, (Unpartitioned)
Average Murph Time With Out a Vest
An average Murph time completed without a vest is between 40 minutes and 50 minutes. A good time is between 40-35 minutes and high level athletes will look to complete this in 35 minutes or less. And breaking sub 30 minutes is not uncommon.