Murph Strategy + Tips

Murph Strategy + Tips

By Colin Farrell

The workout…

For Time:
Run 1 Mile
100 Pull-up
200 Push-up
300 Air Squat
Run 1 Mile
*If you have a weighted vest or body armor, wear it.
This workout needs no further introduction, besides the following:

“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.”

Things to keep in mind…

One of the biggest discussions around this workout is how (or if) to partition the repetitions of pull-up, push, and air squat. If this is your first time doing Murph, it is probably best to perform 20 rounds of 5 pull-up, 10 push-up, and 15 squat. If you are going to partition the reps at all, that is probably the best way to do it. Larger chunks of reps with fewer rounds have fewer transition periods so (on paper) appear to be offer the potential for faster times; however, that efficiency will be lost unless the athlete can do unbroken sets of 10-20 repetitions of push-ups and sets of 10+ pull-ups for the entire duration of the workout. If you are not confident in your ability to complete big sets of pull-ups and push-ups, stick to performing 20 rounds of 5/10/15. 

When attacking the pull-ups, choose a scaling option that you can perform at least in sets of 5 for the duration of the workout. A great option for this workout is banded pull-up or ring row. I would strongly advise against performing jumping pull-ups unless it is something you have been doing a lot of lately and you are pretty adept at the movement. Athletes have a tendency to do very little pulling when completing jumping pull-ups, but instead control the descent and almost turn every rep into a mini pull-up negative. Pull-up negatives are an awesome tool and a great movement to build pulling power; however over the course of 100 repetitions, that is asking a tremendous amount of work to be performed almost exclusively by the bicep. The simultaneous elongation and contraction of the bicep during the descent of the jumping pull-up can cause muscle tissue to tear. 

Even for the gifted gymnast, this workout comes down to the push-up. Break them up early and often. Something I’ve heard dozens of times over the years: 

“The push-ups were the worst part; I should have paced those out more.” 

Something I have never heard a single person utter in almost a decade of CrossFitting: 

“I paced those push-ups too much; I should have done bigger sets.” 

In terms of scaling, completing them with your hands propped up on a box (12”, 16”, or 20” for most) is a great option for this particular workout.Your mindset…

When completing the workout, the sheer volume of repetitions can be staggering, especially in the second half of the push-ups. It’s exceedingly easy to get in your own head and have the inner monologue turn negative really quickly.

The key to this workout is focus on doing a set of 5, 10, 15, or 20 reps (depending on the movement) and focus on doing that set really, really well. Focus on mechanics, use all the repetitions as a lot of chances to perfect your air squat, push-up, or pull-up. Make that set your working on as perfect as possible, and think of nothing else, least of which should be all of the reps you still have to go. All of your attention needs to be on the immediate task at hand; you’ll be done before you know it. 

Good luck everyone!