Everything You Need to Know About the Murph Workout

Everything You Need to Know About the Murph Workout

The Murph is one of the original CrossFit Hero workouts that is also considered one of the most challenging.

Don't let its simplicity fool you - This is one tough way to get fit.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about the Murph workout including preparation, the workout itself, and recovery.

Are you ready to tackle the Murph? Let's get started!

 

What is the Murph Workout?

Before we dive into the workout, let's talk a bit about the history of the Murph.

All of the CrossFit Hero workouts are named after those who have served in the armed forces and given their lives.

The Murph is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings.

Lieutenant Murphy sacrificed himself in order to call for backup while buying time for his men and distracting the enemy.

Despite being shot, he continued to fight until he eventually succumbed to his wounds.

On October 27, 2007, the Congressional Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to Lieutenant Murphy.

If you've researched CrossFit before, you might have already heard of Lieutenant Murphy's story. What you may not realize, according to Navy.com, is that Lieutenant Murphy is the third service member to be given the highest national award since President Bush deployed American troops to Afghanistan in 2001.

He is also the first solider from the Navy to receive this award since the Vietnam War.

The Murph workout is a CrossFit classic that consists of the following:

  • One-mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 squats
  • One-mile run

 

Getting Ready for the Murph Workout

On paper, the Murph looks pretty straight forward. There's no need to get a barbell, kettlebell, rings, or any of the usual CrossFit equipment.

This is all based on your own bodyweight. All because it's a calisthenics workout, it can be easy to think, "Hey, let's just dive right in."

But as we mentioned above, this workout is no joke. There's a reason it's considered one of the hardest workouts to complete, especially if you're trying to stay within a certain time bracket.

For example, a complete beginner with little to no fitness experience needs to complete this within 70 minutes, which seems like plenty of time until you realize a one-mile run can take up to 13 to 15 minutes if you've never done it before.

Suddenly, you have a lot less time AND you still have another mile to run at the end!

With all of that said, prep work is essential for the Murph workout.

You want to get your body ready while decreasing your risk of muscle strain or injury. Here's how to do just that.

 

Nutrition and Hydration

Getting ready for the Murph workout begins hours before the warm-up. It all starts with the proper nutrition and hydration.

Murph Nutrition

This is a long, endurance-based workout. You need to make sure you have the proper fuel to get through it.

You want to eat a combination of lean proteins and complex carbohydrates several hours before the workout.

Here are a few examples for meal planning:

  • Chicken breast and two cups of brown rice
  • Grass-fed beef with two cups of quinoa
  • Three eggs with three tablespoons of egg whites and one cup of overnight oats

 

Hydrating for the Workout

You also need to make sure you're properly hydrated leading up to the Murph.

How much water should you drink? The answer is probably more than you think.

A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces, but for a longer endurance workout like Murph, you want to aim for closer to three-quarters of your body weight in ounces.

For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day.

But for the Murph workout, aim to drink at least 120 ounces of water each day leading up to it.

 

Should You Use Supplements?

While supplements aren't necessary, they can certainly help you prepare for the workout.

Here are a few to consider:

Electrolytes: If you're drinking plain water with no electrolytes, you could be setting yourself up for trouble. You want to stay hydrated and that means water AND electrolytes need to be present. Consider adding an electrolyte-boosting supplement to your water before, during, and definitely after your workout.

Creatine: This one is a great supplement to take because it directly provides energy to your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which can help you power through the Murph workout.

Beta-Alanine: This is another supplement that can improve your performance by reducing muscle fatigue. Beta-alanine has also been shown to directly support strength levels during resistance training.

Glutamine: This is an amino acid that helps with muscle recovery and can also help reduce post-workout soreness.

Caffeine: This is a personal preference, but if you normally drink coffee or pre-workout supplements containing caffeine, there's no need to stop leading up to the Murph workout. Caffeine has been shown in countless studies to support athletic performance both physically and mentally.

 

Warming Up for the Murph

You would never lift weights without first going through a warm-up, and the Murph is no different.

Warming up helps get your muscles ready for the work they're about to do as well as increase your heart rate so you don't shock your system when you start running.

A proper warm-up will also help improve your range of motion, making the Murph that much easier (or at least feel like it).

So, what should a Murph warm-up look like? We recommend performing exercises that mimic what you're about to do.

 

Dynamic Exercises

For this dynamic warm-up, we would recommend with slow movements with full range of motion. Here are a few exercises you can do:

  • Knee-to-chest
  • Butt kicks
  • Toy soldiers
  • Bear crawl
  • Inchworms

From here, you can perform a light jog to get your heart rate up.

You don't want to use the same intensity or distance as you would for the Murph workout. Instead, jog for about a minute then walk for a minute. Repeat this for several minutes.

 

Mimic the Workout

From there, you would perform the same exercises you're about to do but only at half the range of motion.

Here's a sample warm-up that you can do:

Perform 10 repetitions of squats, but only descend to half the depth.

For pull-ups, substitute another movement that isn't as demanding such as banded rows. Perform 10 reps.

For push-ups, perform them against a wall or on your knees. Perform 10 repetitions.

Repeat this list one or two more times.

 

Stretching

Take the same approach to your stretching: Move the body through dynamic stretches or active movements instead of focusing on static stretching.

Here are some dynamic stretches you can perform:

  • Arm circles
  • Trunk twists
  • Hip circles
  • Lunge and reach
  • Walking lunges

Remember to focus on your breath as you move through each movement.

You want to be able to breathe steadily throughout the Murph workout, so it's important to practice that now.

 

The CrossFit Murph Workout

Now that you're all warmed up, let's jump into the workout. As we highlighted above, the Murph workout consists of the following:

  • One-mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 squats
  • One-mile run

Right out of the gate, some of you might be intimidated by this, but the trick is to break it down into manageable sections. By looking at the workout in chunks, it becomes more attainable in your mind.

While some hardcore CrossFitters swear by doing this workout straight through, you don't have to.

Your first option is to simply break up the workout into halves:

  • 1 mile run
  • 50 pull-ups
  • 100 push-ups
  • 150 squats
  • 50 pull-ups
  • 100 push-ups
  • 150 squats
  • 1 mile run

You can also break this workout up into what more closely resembles a traditional calisthenics workout using sets and reps.

  • 1 mile run
  • 20 sets of 5 pull-ups
  • 20 sets of 10 push-ups
  • 20 sets of 15 squats
  • 1 mile run

In this version, the run would be like performing cardio, and then you would use a tri-set method to complete the exercises until the next run.

In other words, do the run, then perform 5 pull-ups immediately followed by 10 push-ups and move right into 15 squats. Take a break only if you need to then continue from the top with 5 pull-ups. Do this until all reps are finished then complete the final run.

Play around with the dividing of the workout until you find one that feels right to you.

 

Average Times Based on Fitness Level

According to WODTimeCalculator.com, these are the average times to beat based on your fitness level and experience.

  • 70 min 07 sec – Fitness Level 0 – Beginner athlete
  • 63 min 45 sec – Fitness Level 25 – Beginner athlete
  • 57 min 17 sec – Fitness Level 50 – Average athlete
  • 47 min 01 sec – Fitness Level 75 – Average athlete
  • 40 min 37 sec – Fitness Level 90 – Advanced athlete
  • 36 min 45 sec – Fitness Level 95 – Advanced athlete
  • 32 min 34 sec – Fitness Level 98 – Elite athlete
  • 28 min 35 sec – Fitness Level 100 – Regional athlete

Keep in mind, these are suggested times. We can't stress this enough: Use this as a recommended guide, NOT a required time to beat.

These times give you an idea of what people at your fitness level are doing, but the only person you should really be competing against is yourself.

 

 

Post-Workout Recovery

You made it through that grueling workout. Now it's time to take care of yourself so you can avoid the worst of the soreness while ensuring your performance improves for the next time.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Where's the first place you should go after the workout? Aside from the shower, you want to get your butt in a kitchen.

Your body is going to desperately crave muscle recovery nutrition, so you'll want to focus on healthy sources of protein and simple and complex carbohydrates.

Dietary fat is also essential, but we recommend saving the fattier meals for after your initial post-workout meal.

For protein, you have several options depending on how much time you have.

If you need to get moving, you can stick with following options:

  • Two cups of chocolate milk and a banana
  • Two scoops of protein with instant oats and a serving of candy (not a chocolate bar)

Both of these options have carbohydrates that will be utilized immediately (simple) and that will be broken down over time (complex).

If you aren't pressed for time and want to enjoy a home-cooked meal, here are some great post-workout meals to make:

  • Protein pancakes with a side of eggs, Greek yogurt, berries, and honey
  • Slow cooker pulled pork with roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed kale
  • Stir-fry with chicken, brown rice, and vegetables
  • Roasted salmon with quinoa and steamed broccoli

 

Hydration

While you're cooking your recovery meal, you need to hydrate. As we already talked about, that means getting in plenty of water and electrolytes.

If you're a fan of low-sugar sports drinks, this would be the perfect time to drink one.

You can also make your own electrolyte drink by adding a pinch of Himalayan salt, a tablespoon of honey, and the juice of half a lemon to a glass of water.

 

Ice Bath / Cold Shower

One of the most popular trends within the CrossFit community is to get used to taking cold showers and/or jumping in an ice bath post-workout.

The thought behind this is that the cold water will help your muscles recover faster by reducing inflammation from micro tears.

While there isn't a ton of scientific research to back this up, many people within CrossFit swear by it.

 

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a self-massage technique that can help improve blood circulation, break up knots, and reduce soreness.

The idea is to lie on a foam roller and move back and forth in small sections that cover a few inches on your body. Do this for up to one minute. After the minute is up, you would move to the next section.

For example, if you're rolling out your hamstring, you would start just below the glutes for one minute, then move to the middle of your hamstrings, and end above the knee.

 

Get a Sports / Deep Tissue Massage

If you're really looking to reduce soreness and support muscle repair, you can get a sports or deep tissue massage.

Both types of massages are designed to focus on muscle recovery by breaking up knots and increasing blood circulation.

A sports massage is focuses on specific areas that may be causing pain or discomfort. It combines both massage with static stretching. The stretches are held in place by the therapist. They'll move the affected muscle deeper into the stretch with each pass.

A deep tissue massage focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. Admittedly, this one can be painful at times, but the benefits are well worth it. Over time, you will adjust to the occasional discomfort. Worst case scenario, you can ask the therapist to use lighter pressure.



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