The “Murph” workout is a legendary one that every fitness athlete has probably heard of, if they haven’t already attempted it.
Named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005, the Murph WOD is a test of not only an athlete’s physical strength and endurance, but mental strength and willpower. Depending on your skill level, a Murph workout will be an intense 40-minute to hour-long test of your cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, endurance and mental fortitude.
That said, even though the Murph WOD is known for being one of the most difficult and grueling WODs, you don’t necessarily need to be in the best shape of your life to conquer it. With modifications and variations, you can make the Murph workout the ultimate test of your ability at various levels, making it harder as you get stronger.
How to do the Murph workout
The standard, unmodified Murph WOD is an advanced workout. For those who think they’re ready for the challenge, this is how it’s done.
If you’re a beginning or intermediate athlete, this will give you an idea of what you can work toward by starting with some modifications to the exercises detailed further down.
- Pull-up bar
- Optional weighted vest (20 pounds for men, 14 pounds for women), or body armor
- 1-mile run
- 100 pull-ups
- 200 push-ups
- 300 air squats
- A second 1-mile run
How to score the Murph workout:
The Murph WOD is scored by the amount of time it takes to complete the challenge. Good goal completion times for different levels are:
Elite: 35 minutes or less
Advanced: 36-41 minutes
Intermediate: 47-58 minutes
Beginner: 63-71 minutes
Modifications and Variations
The Murph workout is an intense personal challenge. Whatever your strength, endurance, and skill level, you can modify the Murph to be a challenge that you are able to complete while pushing the limits of your ability.
Below are four great ways to modify aspects of the Murph workout.
1. Assisted pull-ups
Completing 100 pull-ups is intensely hard, especially if you’re still working on performing a few pull-ups or even one pull-up. Here are a few ways that you can assist or modify pull-ups:
- Jumping pull-ups – stand on an elevated platform at the pull-up bar, and while using the strength of your arms, add a jump to assist you with getting your chin over the bar
- Resistance band pull-ups – Use a rubber resistance band to reduce the amount of body weight being moved by your arms alone
- Bodyweight rows – you can perform bodyweight rows on gymnastics rings or a TRX instead of performing traditional pull-ups
2. Modified squats
If you’re still working on perfecting your form or building your strength to perform air squats, you can use a TRX or other support or swap out the squats with heel raises performed on a box, platform or other elevated surface.
3. Modified push-ups
If you can’t yet complete full pushups, you can modify them by doing them with your knees on the ground in a partial plank position, or by placing your hands on the wall or a box or bench and pushing off from there, rather than from a plank position with your hands on the floor.
4. Replace the run with jump roping
If the weather is bad or you’re not in an area where you can leave your pull-up bar to complete a 1-mile run, you can replace the running portion of the Murph workout with jump roping. 8 minutes of moderate jump roping is roughly equivalent to 1 mile. This modification will affect your scoring, so you can score for the amount of time it takes you to complete the rest of the challenge plus your average mile time or score the rest of the workout and leave out the jump roping portion.
Whatever your fitness level, the Murph workout is an intense challenge for your whole body and mind. It’s important that you prepare to complete the Murph challenge by properly warming up with both light aerobic work and dynamic stretches and recover from the challenge by rehydrating, replacing electrolytes, and refueling with protein and carbs.
The Murph WOD is more than a great way to test your abilities, it’s also a way to honor and commemorate Lieutenant Murphy and the other members of the armed forces.
As you push the limits of your physical and mental fortitude, remember that this Hero WOD pays tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.