Crossfit Murph: Explained, Tips, Tricks, Times

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What Is Murph?

If you’re not familiar with the CrossFit classic hero WOD Murph here’s the workout:

1 mile run
then
100 pull ups
200 push ups
300 squats
(partition pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as you see fit)
then
1 mile run

Competitive athletes may choose to wear a 20# weight vest or body armor for the workout.

Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy

Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy

History

The Murph hero WOD was originally posted on CrossFit.com on August 18th, 2005 by Lauren Glassman. The description read as follows:

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.

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

Tips And Tricks

For most of the population Murph’s 200 pushups are the limiting factor. Many athletes will bite off more than they can chew attempting to break them up in to sets of 20. By the time they’ve accumulated the first 100 pushups they are struggling to string three together at a time.

Pushup burnout can be prevented by partitioning the workout wisely. Listed below are some rep schemes to consider:

5-10-15

The 5-10-15 scheme is probably the most common pattern people succeed with. This mirrors the rep scheme of the CrossFit benchmark workout Cindy:
20 rounds of
5 pullups
10 pushups (If you are new to Murph, be smart and shake out your arms after five reps, from the very beinging).
15 squats

5-5-5-15

If pushups are a particular challenge for you consider the following scheme
20 rounds of
5 pushups
5 pullups
5 pushups
15 squats

5-5-5-10-5

Similar to the 5-5-5-15
20 rounds of
5 pullups
5 squats
5 pushups
10 squats
5 pushups

What To Expect

Times vary quite a bit on Murph. The mile route will of course be a big factor in determining your time. As a rough guideline though consider the following for an athlete (male or female) completing the workout without a weight vest:

+70 Minutes Beginner
40-70 Minutes Intermediate
30-40 Minutes Advanced
30 Minutes or less Elite

Doing Murph Tomorrow?

Take a look at our post Doing Murph Tomorrow? Five Things To Do Today

More Information

If you’re interested in learning more about “Murph” the man you can check out Wikipedia: Michael P. Murphy.

The original post for Murph on CrossFit.com can be found here: CrossFit: Thursday 050818.

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About Phil

Phil is the media wizard behind the brilliant FuncThat. He discovered CrossFit in 2009 and has been hooked ever since. He eagerly awaits the day CrossFit adds weight and age classes to the Games since he's confident he could dominate the 125 pound, 38 year old male division (as long as double unders aren't included). You can follow Phil and FuncThat on pretty much every social media platform ever. Here's a summarized list: Google+, Twitter, Facebook. If you're looking for help setting up your affiliate's site or need a hand with your social media you can contact Phil at psteffek@functhat.com

46 Comments

  • Andrew says:

    I have a method that seemed to have some success in my gym. 10 rounds x 10 reps each; push-ups, squats, pull-ups, squats, push-ups, squats. Never use the same muscle group for more than 10 reps in a row and it creates a very balanced rhythm.

  • Marshall says:

    20 rounds

    5 Squats
    5 Pushups
    5 Squats
    5 Pull ups
    5 Squats
    5 Pushups

  • TAREK says:

    Hi,
    I thought the idea of the exercise was to do all the pull-ups then move to the push-ups and so on ! At least this is what I understood from the original post.

    • Phil says:

      Doing the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in order will definitely make for a tougher workout and I know a number of people go that route. The original post though says the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats can be partitioned as needed. (Hmm, So I guess if you don’t “need” to partition the work…)

    • rokec says:

      @Phil; I think that TAREK is right. That “partitioned as needed” is that you go for pull-ups for example 20-15-15-10-10-10-5-5-5-5. Push-ups: 15-15-15-15-15-15-10 etc etc.
      At least this is what I think otherwise it’s A LOT more EASIER.

  • Bill says:

    how often would one do this workout? once a week, twice a week? every day??

    • Phil says:

      Bill- it’s a pretty strenuous workout with a lot of reps. I’d say once or twice a year as a test of your fitness would be plenty. Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day perhaps?

    • Tyler says:

      My squad does it once a week

    • Greg says:

      To get ready for the last race in the series, the Spartan Beast, I vowed to do Murph once a week, for 10 straight weeks. My race is this Sunday and last Sunday I did Murph in 32:11 (no vest) and did the 5-10-15 way. I am 48 years old by the way. I used to do 10 pull-ups, 50 squats and 25 push ups and was wasting my time. I would do it that way in 38:43. As soon as I changed it to 5-10-15, I cut my time down to 32 minutes. The 5-10-15 way works best for me I’d say. After 10 weeks, I don’t find Murph that imposing like I used to. But knowing you can do a hard workout in 32 minutes is a great feeling.

    • Phil says:

      Wow! Once a week!?! Makes sense based on your goals but geez! Great feedback on the strategy for splitting up the workout. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marcus says:

    Are the pull ups traditional or kipping and can you work chin ups in with pull ups?

    • Chris says:

      Marcus,

      I’m 99% sure the pull ups need to be strict or kipping pull-ups. They can easily be modified with a band, although getting in and out of that will effect your time.

    • Phil says:

      Thanks Marcus and Chris! Good question and suggestions!

      Typically, in CrossFit Land kipping is allowed unless it is specifically excluded (e.g. “strict pullups”).Also, there usually is no distinction between pull-ups and chin-ups. The standard is typically to go from a hanging position with the arms completely extended to the chin breaking the horizontal plane of the bar (check the masters standard for pullups from the 2011 CrossFit Games Event 6). Many people will change up their grip across sets as a way to try to give some muscle groups a bit of a rest.

      Good luck!

  • Castro says:

    I went 5 pull-ups x 10 push-ups x 20 squats. Finishing the squats early saved my legs a little and let me gain some momentum with the upper body. Finished under 34 for my first ever murph, so I’m thinking it was a good rhythm.

  • Scott says:

    So what did Murph do? Each exercise all at once or did he break it up ?

    • Phil says:

      Good question Scott. I dug through all the comments on the original crossfit.com post and couldn’t find an answer. If anyone knows please drop a comment or shoot me a note and I’ll update the post with the info.

    • Damon says:

      Being he was a stud SEAL and Naval Officer you can assume he did it in the most difficult manner imagineable. LT Murphy performed this workout weekly prior to deployment(s). The fact that cross fit co-opted the workout is meaningless.

  • Ugo says:

    You can partition but you must follow THAT sequence of exercise.
    Otherwise is just a little more then Cindy with some running…

    • Bob DeMan says:

      Respectfully disagree
      When we do Murph in our box the pullups, pushups, and squats can portioned anyway you’d like. The WOD reads run then pullpushsquat then run
      In between the “thens” you complete the pullpushsquat.
      If you do all 100, 200, 300 in order it is harder and I can respect that.

    • Phil says:

      Thanks for the feedback Bob!

  • I just finished my first attempt ever at the Murph! I’m whooped lol! I did not use a vest this time…will work up to that lol. I finished in 30:10. Is that half way decent for a 47 yr old man? Lol! I just heard about this Challenge a week ago…where the heck have I been? It’s Amazing that this tribute to Lt. Murphy has spread all over the world. I’m looking forward to giving this some serious training and getting my entire gym involved Memorial Day 2015 🙂

  • Gabriel says:

    It makes no sense to say the exercises can be partitioned if the intention is to partition each exercise until complete before jumping to the next. That would imply that each exercise could be completed unbroken but they’re allowing you to break them up,

  • Eric says:

    @Gabriel : I agree with you. I start CrossFit 6 month ago with my gym partner (we go in a standard gym club, there’s no CrossFit box in our area).

    I found The Murph 6 weeks ago and I really like the concept, particullary that you have to complete each exercise before doing the next. We try our vry first Murph three weeks ago, and I did it in 1h07′, then second time 1h03′. Las sunday was my third attemp and I was able to make it un 55’17”. It’s not easier, maybe harder, but just quicker. If tomorrow I broke the sets, I’m sure I’ll dramatically improve my time, but it will make no sense, no benchmark for me

    Sorry for the english I’m french

  • KJ says:

    I respectfully disagree with equating a momentum, rhythm kipping pull with a “strict pull”. Difficulty level and eccentric stress load for 100 strict pulls is off the charts compared to the kipping version…and especially with the vest on. Should be a separate RX sub category otherwise it’s apples to oranges comparison.

  • Ange' says:

    Are the push ups supposed to be hand release or not?

  • Mary Ann Ratajczak says:

    I took the Murph Challenge today , I completed it in 47 mins I did it in groups of 20 reps (sometimes I doubled my sets depending on how I felt) Nit so bad for a 51 year old

  • Nick says:

    Did Murph today for the first time. Push-ups were indeed the limiting factor (and are a particular weak area of mine), but I got through it without scaling! The 5-5-5-15 scheme saved me.

    • Phil says:

      Good to hear Nick! Splitting the pushups into two sets of five is a real game changer for most athletes.

  • Erin says:

    Females at my box are wondering what to shoot for eventually. All we’ve ever seen of true RX Murph is to wear a 20lb vest, but is that for males and females alike? If it is, we’ll aim to get there one day (yikes!). CF WODs generally have separate RX weights for males and females though…and we’ve never been able to find anything that says what RX Murph is for females.

    Thanks for your tips and insight!

    • Phil says:

      That’s a great question Erin! The general consensus is that since the workout was originally done wearing military body armor, which weighs the same ~20 pounds for men and women, both men and women would wear the 20lb weight vest during the workout. I’ll update the FAQ with your question. Additionally, I did a little research based on the 87 women who posted Rx’d Murph times at themurphchallenge.com/.

      Top 10%: under 43 minutes
      Top 25%: 43-50 minutes
      Top 50%: 50 – 58 minutes
      Top 75%: 58-65 minutes

      Next question: When should I consider using a weight vest? I’d suggest once you can perform Murph in under 40 minutes it’s time to consider adding the vest.

    • Erin says:

      Love it; thanks! (And thanks for the quick response!) I’ll let the ladies know.

    • Damon says:

      Um yeah… You don’t get a discount for being female. Wear 20 lbs. of body armor or admit you scaled it.

  • Erin says:

    Hi Phil,

    I loved your response above re: female rx “Murph,” and I’m wondering about your thoughts on Dave Castro programming 14lb vests for the ladies during the Games? While I wouldn’t dare suggest that the women’s times and efforts are anything but incredible, I can’t help but think that scaling the weight for the women is disrespectful to the essence of the workout (body armor weighs 20lbs whether you’re male or female).
    What are your thoughts? And I wonder if 14lbs will now be considered the new “female rx standard” for Murph..? :/
    Thanks!

    • Phil says:

      Hey Erin-

      I think you’re right on.

      From my perspective, the 20lb vest for women would have been in the spirit of this hero workout. And now that a 14lb vest has been used in the Games I’m sure that will become the defacto standard.

      That being said, most of the gyms I’ve done Murph at only offered 20 pound vests, so perhaps the 14lb vest will make the workout more approachable for lighter athletes?

      It’s probably worth mentioning that seeing the toll Murph took on the Games athletes, the women in particular, it’s probably a good thing the vests weren’t heavier. I think the issue was the mandatory rep scheme and heat more than the weight, but the heavier vests would have only made matters worse.

    • Damon says:

      Erin – you couldn’t be more correct. Women are absolutely capable of doing it with 20lbs. There is only one standard. Do it or admit you scaled it. Either is fine but just be honest.

  • David Bellerose says:

    Hello! First, thanks for the suggestions. However, a friend told me that you couldn’t partition the exercises: he meant that you had to complete the 100 pull-ups then do the 200 push-ups and then move on to squats. He told me that it was the way to do a real murph because it’s harder etc. So, is he wrong, or the partitioning suggestions are just for beginners who want to prepare for the “real” Murph? Thanks.

    • Phil says:

      Hey David,

      Great question. The general consensus is that partitioning the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats is the way this workout is prescribed in the vast majority of gyms. Doing the exercises in order with a weight vest is absolutely harder, and is how the workout was prescribed in the 2015 CrossFit Games. I’ve been unable to track down any information on whether the workout’s namesake Lt. Michael “Murph” Murphy partitioned the workout or performed it straight through.

      Phil

  • […] box put a 50 minute time cap on Murph, but ran it anyway. It is a work day in […]

  • Alex says:

    Hi all i need to knoe how can i enter the cross fit event ? I train by my self and do all hard work training i am rady to go . All i need to find upcoming event even the small tournament i love to partecipade .
    Alex

  • Alex says:

    20 pul ups
    50 squats over head 10kg halte
    10 pul ups
    30 – 20kg halter clean and jurk
    10 pul ups
    20 -30 kg halter lift from ground to shulder
    10 pul ups
    150 push ups
    5 pul ups
    100 sit ups
    5 pul ups
    Run 50 miter
    5 pul ups
    Run 100 miyer
    5 pul ups
    40 squat 10 kh halter
    5 pul ups
    30 squat 29 kg halter
    5 pul ups
    20 squat 30 kg halter
    59 Box jump
    This was don unther 22 minuts .
    In caspion sea cross fit event just a local chalenge .

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