How to train for the Murph workout challenge
Spring is officially in the air, and it's never too early to start shifting your attention towards Memorial Day and the Murph challenge. For most that means hot dogs and cold beers. But for those who enjoy a tough challenge and a great workout then it means something completely different: MURPH.
MURPH WOD is not just any WOD! It is the Hero WOD to beat all Hero WODs. Named after a workout performed by Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005, it is pretty simple in its design. But it is anything but simple in its execution.
What is the Murph Workout?
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the functional training Murph challenge, it consists of:
Strict protocol calls for performing all reps of each exercise before moving on to the next exercise. For example, run the 1st mile then do all 100 pull ups, followed by all 200 push ups, followed by all 300 squats and finished off with a 2nd one-mile run.
If it wasn’t already hard enough; it’s done for time (with a time cap of 70 minutes) and while wearing a 20lb weight vest. This makes for one brutal challenge that truly separates the men and women from the boys and the girls.
If you plan on doing the MURPH challenge on Memorial Day it might be a good idea to start prepping now. Here are a few tips to help you survive and even thrive:
FUEL UP FOR A CROSSFIT MURPH WORKOUT
MURPH is most definitely not something where you want to try out that new fasting-cardio fad. You are going to need to eat your Wheaties before this one.
Make sure to eat a good meal that is carb-heavy a few hours before starting. It’s also not a bad idea to have a few energy gel packs on hand so you can take one about 20 minutes before and one during.
Another good idea is to make sure you are well hydrated and have hydration on hand for the WOD. Sipping water or an electrolyte drink in between sets is always good advice.
PACE YOURSELF DOING THE MURPH CHALLENGE
The MURPH WOD is a marathon, not a sprint
So whatever you do, don’t fly out of the blocks looking to crush that first mile. Think of it as your warm up. Add an extra minute or two to your normal mile pace. For example, if your normal mile pace is 8 minutes, plan to do the first mile in 9-10 minutes.
When you get to the exercises don’t go all gangbusters and try to bang out as many reps as possible. Set an exercise pace and stick to it.
USE EXERCISES SETS FOR FASTEST MURPH TIME
Since the MURPH challenge is such a demanding WOD, most mortals take the smart option of partitioning the pull ups, push ups and squats into more manageable sets.
Two common options are:
20 sets of; 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 squats
20 sets of; 5 push ups, 5 pull ups, 5 push ups, 15 squats
Another option is to knock out a number of reps of the exercise that you are best at and chip away at the other two. Do this until you have performed all reps of your good exercise then focus on your next best.
For example, let's say you are great at pull ups and can do 50 unbroken. Knock out a set of 30 or so, then do 10 push ups and 20 squats. Perform as many large sets of pull ups interspersed with smaller sets of the other exercises until you are done with pull ups. Then turn your focus to your next best exercise.
At any point, you can always switch to using either option A or B to finish off.
PLAN MURPH CIRCUIT REST PERIODS
Don't make the mistake of trying to do multiple sets unbroken without any rest.
Whatever set scheme you plan to use be sure to build in short 15-30 second rest breaks between each set. Then add one longer 2-3 minute rest period about half way through. During these rest periods grab a quick drink, wipe off the sweat, chalk up and mentally prepare for next set(s).
WIN THE MURPH CHALLENGE WORKOUT MIND GAME
MURPH is as much a mental struggle as it is a physical one so a strong mind game is essential. Let your focus go to the hero you are honoring.
Rather than looking at the rep totals, break everything up into small chunks and just keep chipping away. Even if towards the end you are just doing single reps, they all count. Focus on just completing your next set.
Review tips from top CrossFit Games athlete Julie Foucher including how to prepare for MURPH.
Remember the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
GET THE BEST MURPH WOD WEIGHT VEST
For those hardcore enough (i.e. crazy) to attempt the MURPH challenge in a weight vest, wearing the right fitting vest is crucial.
While there are many great military-style plate carrier vests out there, that are designed to hold body armor plates that stop bullets, not for working out. They are usually bulky, ill-fitting, especially for females and extremely uncomfortable. Tactical weighted vests for fitness have solid metal weight vest plates that bounce.
Generally you should review weight vest research to guide your decision on how to train and what weight vest is best for you.
The vest should be snug and close fitting so it doesn’t bounce and chafe, but not too tight that it is restrictive. A weight vest for MURPH should fit your torso length and not be too short so it is top heavy or too long so that it gets in the way of your hip crease as your move.
Select a weighted vest with a slim profile so as not to get in the way during pull ups or push ups. It should also not bounce as you run or do squats.
Ideally, it should be made of a breathable fabric and not something that is going to just hold in the heat and possibly cause you to overheat.
Pick a weight vest that is adjustable. Why? You can vary the load during your training to increase resistance over time. External loading with a weight vest is a great way to train for MURPH. With an adjustable weight vest you can gradually increase resistance building strength over time.
Do you already have a plate carrier vest or prefer to own a vest that can also be used with body armor plates? Now you can convert a tactical weight vest into an better fitness weight vest. Hyperwear has invented adjustable flexible weight vest plates that hold 1/2 lb weights made with 100% recycled USA steel. For the same price as solid metal plates for tactical vests, you get weights that allow for progressive loading to improve your training for MURPH. The plates will bend to fit closer to your center of gravity giving you the best chance to optimize your MURPH time. They fit major brands of tactical weighted vests like the WOLF TACTICAL Adjustable Weighted Vest, 5.11 TacTec® Plate Carrier, Bear KompleX Weight Vest, GFIRE Tactical Vest, TRIBE WOD and other plate carrier vests that can hold large size SAPI plates.
Looking for the best in performance from a fitness weighted vest? We've got you covered. You found the makers of the best 20 pound weight vests designed for MURPH. Select from the Hyper Vest ELITE made with black Cordura® fabric, or the new tactical style Hyper Vest TAC designed for Hyperwear 10 lb adjustable flexible weight vest plates.
The Hyper Vest TAC can hold up to 40 lbs of adjustable weight for the ultimate in a tactical weight vest. The Hyper Vest ELITE adjustable weighted vest includes a reflective YKK zipper making it easy to put it on and take it off quickly. It stands up to contact from bars and the ground. In 2021, Alec Blenis set a world record time for MURPH using a Hyper Vest ELITE. Preparing for the MURPH challenge has never been better.
The original patented Hyper Vest PRO is still known as the best adjustable weight vest on the market. Its slim profile won’t get in the way of your workout. Both are made from a wicking, breathable fabric and are highly adjustable. The Hyper Vest ELITE and PRO models are sized making them best fitting weight vests you will ever experience, guaranteed not to bounce, move or chafe. The Hyper Vest TAC is one size and has the flexible weight plates and adjustable weights making it the top choice in a tactical weighted vest.
While MURPH is one of the toughest workouts you are ever likely to attempt, it is also an awesome experience that you will never forget. Take a look at registering for the Murph challenge on the official site to benefit a great cause. So enjoy it, relish it and crush it.
Recommended: How to use a progression weight vest training to improve pull ups