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Crossfit Murph Workout Review (Hero WOD)

I have literally been premeditating when I would do get my ass kicked by the Crossfit Murph workout (Hero WOD) for over a week now, and decided that the day before Thanksgiving would be perfect. Since I knew well in advance that I was going to do the “Murph WOD” today, I decided that it would be best if I was 100% at optimal strength so I decided to chill yesterday and save up my energy instead of doing an Insanity routine. Since I decided to save up my energy the day before this routine, I ended up watching a new episode of Workaholics and the DWTS finals – shout out to J.R. for being the top star!  Anyways, before I cut to the chase and break down the Murph WOD, I will say that yesterday I probably should have done at least some kind of a workout because I had too much energy to even sleep – I ended up watching ESPN highlights about 3 times through until I finally was able to peace out to sleep…haha.

Before the "Murph"

When I woke up today, I hopped up out my bed, turned my swag on, cooked up some eggs for a late breakfast, and prepared myself for the “Murph” Crossfit workout. Since I’m talking about Crossfit routines, I will mention that I recently completed the Barbara WOD with a 25 lb. weight vest, and last week I pushed myself through the Severin WOD. Although both of those routines are badass with the 25 lb. weight vest, let’s just say that they do not “F” with the Murph. Although this was only my first time doing the Murph WOD, it was quite the fun experience – but I still got my ass kicked. I am in great shape, and there were times during this routine when I thought I was going to puke up the water that I sipped throughout.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the “Murph,” I had read about other people’s experiences with it in advance just to see what they thought. Part of the reason that I chose this routine to do today (on the day before Thanksgiving) is that I knew that there would be lethal levels of Tryptophan in my system and I would be heavily sedated from sitting my ass on the couch watching three football games…haha. In other words, I am planning to take the day off from working out on turkey day. Plus, since I am very thankful for the U.S. troops and military, it was only right that I chose a Hero WOD to get pwnd by today.

If you are going balls-to-the-walls “all out” during the Murph routine, you will probably feel like puking – and who knows, you might even puke a few times. No matter if you are strapped up with a 25 lb. weight vest like I was or you’re doing the entire routine with just bodyweight, you’re definitely in for a world class workout. I will admit to the fact that staying strapped with the 25 lbs. for a 1 mile run, followed by 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, and followed by another 1 mile run had me feeling like a badass mofo, but also like I was not going to survive to see any turkey tomorrow…haha.

Crossfit Murph Workout Review (Hero WOD)

The Murph is another one of the Crossfit Hero workouts, which are given names based on individuals that died with great honor while serving their country. To understand this routine, it helps to first get an understanding of the hero that it was named after. The “Murph WOD” was created to honor Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy from Patchogue, New York who died while serving his country in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005 – he was 29 years of age when he died.

R.I.P. Michael Murphy

While reading about this routine, what amazed me more than anything was the fact that this was actually a routine that Michael Murphy frequently did and was cited as being his personal “favorite.” So basically Crossfit not only named a routine after Michael Murphy because he was an incredible war hero, but they also did it because it was one of his own favorite workouts. While Michael Murphy was still alive, he had his own special name for this routine as well – he called it “Body Armor.”

If you do some additional research on Michael Murphy, you will find out that not only was the “Murph” workout named in his honor, but there was a new Guided-Missile Destroyer named in his honor – appropriately entitled the “USS Michael Murphy.” You may also discover that Michael Murphy was awarded a Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism during Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan back in June 2005.

He was a Navy SEAL that was assigned leadership of a four man team – their goal was to find a Taliban leader in Asadabad, Afghanistan. Unfortunately his crew came under direct fire from a larger enemy force with superior tactical position in a mountainous region of the country. Despite the fact that Michael Murphy was severely wounded from gunfire, he used every ounce of energy to leave his position of cover and managed to still find a signal so that he could communicate with his headquarters. Although he was being repeatedly shot at by enemies, Michael was able to calmly provide his unit’s location and call for backup. After making the call for help, he continued to fight strong until the gunfire wounds robbed him of his life.

If reading Michael Murphy’s story doesn’t make you want to kick the living shit out of yourself during this workout, I honestly don’t know what will fire you up. Although I love doing these workouts, it always fires me up more when there is an emotional backstory; it’s like extra fuel that I use for amping myself up when I get tired. Although I generally play some pretty raw rap music to keep me as hyped up as possible during Crossfit routines, there are certain times when I feel like collapsing and music doesn’t pick me up. As an alternative to music, when I feel like collapsing, I keep in mind the special individual that this routine was dedicated to and their story.

Crossfit Murph WOD Instructions

Do the following exercises for time:

  1. 1 Mile Run (Start)

  2. 100 Pull Ups + 200 Push Ups + 300 Squats (Middle)

  3. 1 Mile Run (Finish)

READ THIS: Partition the pull ups, push ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a 20 pound vest or body armor, wear it. I wore a 25 lb. vest since the weight distribution in my vest works best at 25 lbs.

My Crossfit Murph WOD Time = 52 Minutes 40.8 Seconds

Below I’m going to breakdown the entire workout based on how it is organized.  My total time is above, but I kept track of my exact time for all of the exercises.  Although you can use whatever timer works best if you attempt this routine, I suggest either buying a timer or using your computer.  I actually had 2 timers running at the same time: one on my computer and the other on my phone (just in case one got disrupted at least I would have a back up).  My phone works the best though because I am able to look at it while I am doing the exercises and see what exercises are kicking my ass more than the others.

Murph Time Breakdown

1 Mile Run = 7 Minutes 42.6 Seconds

For my 1 mile run, I made sure that I mapped out precisely a half mile away from my house so that round trip would end up being a full mile. I started my timer for the workout as soon as I began my initial mile run. What’s nice about the neighborhood that I’m in is that I was able to run straight down the road until I came in line with another side road – and that distance was exactly a half mile, so I turned back around and ran back home to get started with the pull ups, push ups, and squats.

The first mile of the workout really wasn’t too difficult for me. I was strapped up with 25 lbs. in my weight vest, but I felt like I was cruising. The streets were a little bit wet from a little misty rain, but I really didn’t care at all. My phone was basting some hardcore rap and I felt like I was going to kick some ass with the pull ups, push ups, and squats when I got back. As soon as I hit the basement, I wrote down the time for my run and immediately started the pull ups, push ups, and squats. If I’m going all out, I can run a mile in under 6 minutes, but adding 25 extra pounds slows me down a little bit.

100 Pull Ups + 200 Push Ups + 300 Squats = 36 Minutes 54 Seconds

This was by far the longest portion of the workout as well as the hardest. Honestly running the first mile felt like nothing more than a good warm up. My legs felt fine and I think that if someone would have been racing me without a vest, I probably would have gone even faster to try and keep up. When I started this portion of the workout, I already had a strategy to get through these exercises. Since in the rules it clearly states that the moves can be partitioned, I divided them up similar to the Barbara.

How I partitioned the middle of the Murph:

  • Pull Ups: 5 sets x 20 reps
  • Push Ups: 10 sets x 20 reps
  • Squats: 6 sets x 50 reps

My pull ups, push ups, squats partition

For the pull ups my goal was to do 5 sets of 20 reps. For the push ups, my goal was to do 10 sets of 20 reps. And finally for the squats, my goal was to do 6 sets of 50 reps. I actually had created a chart before the workout even started that helped me keep track of all the reps. The last thing I wanted to do was get confused about counting the number of reps that I had already done. So I created a chart and kept a pen nearby so that whenever I completed a set, I would cross it off – zero thinking involved so I wasn’t wasting time or doing extra reps.

Create a worksheet so that you don’t lose track of reps

At one point I was so tired during these that I lost count of a set of squats. I thought I had already done 40 reps, but I wasn’t sure if I was at 40 reps or 30 reps, so I said fuck it and made myself do 10 extra just to be safe – so in the end I may have done 310 squats instead of 300. I ended up finishing the squats first, followed by the pull ups, and lastly the push ups. If I had to rank these in terms of difficulty, I would say that the push ups and squats are tied for most difficult, and the pull ups are of slightly lesser difficulty just because there are only 100 reps.

Why you should wear a weight vest

I honestly don’t know whether I could have been any faster during this portion of the Murph. I took some quick breaks to shake out my arms and get water, but other than that, I was going hard with my 25 lb. vest strapped. If I had not been wearing the vest, I don’t think this routine would have been nearly as tough for me. Even though it may not seem very significant, adding 25 lbs. to your bodyweight while doing 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 squats ends up feeling like a ton because your arms get tired a lot more quickly than they would without the extra weight. I should mention the fact that I used push up stands as opposed to just the ground in order to get deeper range of motion and more burn with each rep of the push ups.

1 Mile Run = 8 Minutes 4.2 Seconds

To end the Murph, I hobbled back up the stairs after doing my 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 squats to finish the routine with another 1 mile run. I had my phone blasting once again and I got off to a good start, but felt like puking the entire time. Although this final mile run is certainly not the hardest part of the workout, it is a wicked way to end. I actually liked ending with another mile run, but while I was running I felt like I could barely pick up my legs and like my core was going to explode. When I hit the halfway point, I turned around and tried my best to focus on how fast I would need to be going if I wanted to win a race.

I knew that the routine was almost over, and Thanksgiving was on the calendar for tomorrow, so I had to go all out here and finish strong. When I hit the driveway I was pretty dizzy and the first thing that I did was rip off the 25 lb. weight vest to get some water. Looking back at the time of my final mile run to end this workout, I think that I did a good job. I was glad that I finished the routine without fainting.

Crossfit Murph Workout Review (Conclusion)

Although this was my first time doing the Murph WOD, I can say that I was both honored to have done this hero workout and impressed. I was impressed at the overall intensity from start to finish as well as the sheer number of reps to be completed in the middle. Having finished the routine, taken a nice long shower, and replenished my body with a nice meal, I can safely say that I feel fucking amazing. The feeling that your body gets from doing this workout is like no feeling I have ever gotten before. I felt like every part of my body was relaxed and sedated from all of the hard work that this routine requires.

After the "Murph"... ready to flop and get K.O.'d like a Magikarp

Adding sit ups after the workout for a “cool down”

In hindsight, if I had to nitpick, I would suggest that the makers of this routine put some sit ups in here. My core got a great workout “as is” but since we’re including pull ups, push ups, and squats, why not throw in 400 sit ups? I decided that because I was so honored to have done this workout in memory of a fallen soldier, that I was going to tack on 100 sit ups. I did not include them in my total timing, but I still did them as fast as possible. Additionally since some of the other routines have sit ups, I wanted to make sure that my core got directly blasted. How much longer would this routine take you if they added 400 sit ups in the middle before moving on to the final mile run?

What is the hardest part of the Murph WOD? The middle.

If I had to pick one exercise that was hardest, it would probably be either the push ups or squats – but the entire “middle” portion of the workout with pull ups, push ups, and squats is definitely tougher than two 1 mile runs. Although I would normally say that the squats are the easiest exercise in other Crossfit routines, if you do some push ups and pull ups – then try to go rapid-fire on a set of 50 squats, you will probably have a tough time. My core was burning and I felt like I might throw up while doing the squats. Sweat was pouring down my face and the entire workout felt like I was in a fight with myself…haha.

How does the Murph workout compare to some other Crossfit workouts?

I recently did the Severin workout in which you do 50 strict pull ups, 100 push ups (lifting hands off the ground at the bottom of each rep), followed by a 5K run (3.1 miles). In that particular workout, you are NOT allowed to partition the reps like you are in the Murph. So you have to complete all 50 pull ups and 100 push ups (with lifted hands at the bottom) before moving on to the 5K run at the end. In that workout I also wore my 25 lb. weight vest to make it as tough as possible on my arms.

Although the total run is a greater distance in Severin than Murph, the Murph is a lot more difficult and will take you more time – I honestly think doing the Severin twice back-to-back would be about the same difficulty. Additionally the Murph was a lot tougher than the Barbara WOD with a weight vest, I haven’t tried the Chelsea workout or the Angie workout while strapped up with my 25 lbs., but regardless of that fact, I think it would still be a tougher routine. I personally think that the “Angie” is probably the easiest routine, and the Murph is probably one of the hardest that I’ve completed thus far.

Do the Murph on a special occasion

I recommend doing this routine whenever you want to experience a hardcore fitness challenge. Personally, I think that these “Hero” workouts are even more relevant when there is a special occasion or holiday like Memorial Day or in this case, Thanksgiving.

Final thoughts: R.I.P. Michael Murphy

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Mike January 29, 2012, 3:21 am

    Excellent. Thanks for your honesty. I’ve been researching what is a decent time to complete Murph, and I’ve been frustrated because so many people actually claim to have completed this in RIDICULOUS times. 14 minutes? 22 minutes? I just don’t see how that’s possible. When you subtract the run time, that doesn’t leave enough time to complete the 400 reps! Anyway, thanks a lot!

    • Drew January 29, 2012, 6:45 pm

      No problem Mike! I think part of the time depends on whether you’re strapped with a weight vest too. I was strapped with 25 lbs and I could have majorly cut my time if I had done this routine strictly bodyweight… My guess is that the person who reported time of 14 minutes didn’t RX or had to modify. Some reported times make me ask WTF too, that’s why I don’t usually pay much attention to them unless the person RX’d!

  • Dave June 4, 2013, 4:49 am

    My trainer has us doing the murph every Monday. The pull ups are modified for me, but at 370 lbs I do it in 2 hours right now. (This is after three months of training, and a 60 lb loss. I am 6’5″ so that contributes to my weight.) Lets just say, my workout crew has a love hate relationship with Mondays. R.I.P. Mike Murphy

  • Patrick October 16, 2013, 1:02 pm

    Bro, Murphy was from my hometown. I appreciate you paying homage in this blog to one of the greatest heroes that has ever lived.

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