Every Memorial Day, the Worldwide CrossFit community participates in the Memorial Day Murph to honor fallen military members. Locally, the B3 community participates while raising funds for the Jonathan Cote Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship aids veterans at Santa Fe College and The University of Florida in paying for semester tuition and books. The scholarship was started by Chris Marhefka, owner of B3, in honor of his friend, Jonathan Cote, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2006.
The Murph workout is a 1-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, and 300 unweighted squats, followed by another 1-mile run. In its most elite form, athletes complete it while wearing a 20-pound weight vest.
If you read that last sentence and thought “NO. FREAKING. WAY.” I will give you some tips on scaling the workout, avoiding rookie mistakes and some training ideas to get you comfortable before completing the Murph in full on Memorial Day.
This is a long workout (40-60 minutes for most) so don’t sprint the first mile or come out on fire on your first round of calisthenics. Think of pacing like you would a 10k, steady all the way through until the last 200m!
Unless you are a Murph Veteran or want to see what Rhabdo feels like, don’t wear the weight vest…Yes, 20 lbs makes a big difference.
Don’t go to failure on your pullups, pushups or squats…You WILL regret it later when you are down to one at a time. I will discuss strategies in a bit.
Don’t sacrifice quality for speed. A “No Rep” is a “No Rep” whether you have a judge or not.
Scale the workout if you have to, but challenge yourself outside YOUR comfort zone.
No matter how many times you have done the Murph, a little practice goes a long way. A week before the workout, do some big sets of pushups, pullups, and squats. The large volume will prepare your body and mind for the large workload of Murph.
In the weeks leading up to Murph, add in some 3-5 mile runs. The long, slow pace will prep your heart and lungs for the aerobic workload.
Murph is held on Memorial Day…May 29th…in Florida. It is going to be HOT for everyone. Do yourself a favor and avoid the alcohol the day before, drink plenty of water and eat a clean diet with some meat, an avocado, and some carbs the day before. Eat like you normally would (unless you normally eat Taco Bell…in which case don’t do that…and what are you doing?)
Did I mention drinking LOTS of water before, during, and after….
You’ll want a Fit Aid…maybe 2.
This is for the afterparty…
Do an honest assessment of how well you can handle this volume of exercises, then scale so you can participate safely and complete the workout.
To scale pullups: banded pull-ups, jumping pull-ups or ring rows.
To scale pushups: pushups from knees or hands elevated to a box. The higher the box, the easier the push-up.
To scale squats: Squat to a target. The higher the target, the easier the squat.
To scale the run: Slow down, but try not to walk. If you must, alternate between run/walk.
I will be wearing my B3 Murph tank since 100% of t-shirt proceeds go to the veterans Scholarships…plus our official B3 Murph tank is guaranteed to improve your Murph performance 161%***
***Tank science still in human trials.
Wear a shoe that is comfortable for running a mile distance but also is stable enough for all those squats. It is personal preference, but a running shoe or your favorite Nanos/Metcons would be ok for this workout.
If you do opt to wear one. Most vests are adjustable with the amount of weight you can carry at a time, so as you train for Murph you can build up the resistance and your stamina. Here is the most affordable 20 lb weight vest with the best reviews. Order on Amazon for fast delivery.
There’s no way around it, you will be doing 100 pull-ups. Bars are known for eating skin, especially when sweat and adrenaline is involved. Rips suck. You don’t want rips. If your hands rip during the pull-ups, Murph is gonna suck much worse for you.
So Protect those puppies by wearing some gymnastics grips. I’ve used a few different types of hand protection, and have decided to use my new pair of Jaw grips. Find them on Amazon HERE
Pro Tip: File callouses down a few nights before.
Not much strategy to the first run. Relax, go slower than you think. Don’t be spent going INTO the 600 reps…otherwise you will need to clear your schedule that day.
The real strategy goes into the 600 reps. Very few people will do all 100 pullups together, all 200 pushups, then all 300 squats. So the question is how to break up those pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. Here are a few plans of attack.
Five pull-ups, ten push-ups, fifteen squats for 20 rounds. This is probably the most “common” strategy. Minimizes transitions and prevents you from exhausting your muscles too quickly. This has been my strategy on my last three Murphs.
5 push-ups, 5 pull-ups, 5 push-ups, 15 squats for 20 rounds. Similar to “Cindy”, but splitting the pushups into 2 sets. This may be good if you know push-ups are your limiting factor.
With this rep scheme you’ll be doing 33 rounds of 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, and 9 squats (yes 33! Better have a whiteboard close by to keep track!) This is a good strategy if pull-ups are your limiting factor. (P.S. You will need to do one mini set of 1-2-3 to get all your reps in, probably in the beginning when you are fresh.)
“The Leg Saver”
Interesting strategy to allow your legs to rest in the last 5 rounds before heading out for the second mile run. You do 20 rounds total, but complete all your squats in the first 15. I have never seen this one in action, but would look like this:
then 5 rounds:
Choose your Murph strategy around your weakest movement and stick to the plan even in the early rounds when it feels like you could do more.
Even if you are spent after the 600 reps, try to run at the start of mile 2 and run as long as you can. The workout is over when you finish that mile. Challenge yourself here and suffer a little bit in honor of those that paid the ultimate price.
Stay positive and have a motto to recall when you are deep in the pain cave. Some of my favorites: “Mind over matter”, “keep moving forward”, “embrace the suck”, “looking good, feeling good”, and “All day”. Even if you are shuffling, drooling and head bobbing through the finish…Run it out. You will survive.
Follow this guide and you are guaranteed to Crush Murph in style on May 29th.
**Two Disclaimers: 1) I am not a medical expert/doctor/whatever. These are purely my strategies I am considering, use at your own risk. Be safe. 2) This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click on them and purchase product, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.**