Murph WOD: Setup, Safety, and Scaling

Parting with our girl WODs for now, I’d like to discuss one of the most impactful WODs in CrossFit history. This is one of the Hero WODs, not the first but a meaningful one. 

Murph WOD commemorates a U.S. military hero. Upon the day of its release on the official CrossFit website, the WOD came with the signature. 

“In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28, 2005.”

Many members of the first CrossFit boxes were the hero’s colleagues who knew him. And that made its meaning of it so much more prominent. 

Murphy is a challenging WOD, suitable for its SEAL background. If you want to attempt this “marathon” that will leave you exhausted yet proud, you must know specific rules and tips. 

What Is Murph WOD? 

what is murph wod

For Time

1 mile Run

100 Pull-Ups

200 Pushups

300 Air Squats

1 mile Run

With a Weight Vest (20/14 lb)

Murph WOD has a unique story that tells about human heroism and a story of a The Protector. This was the nickname of the Navy Seal, Michael Murphy, who’s “given” the name to the WOD. The story impresses. 

Michael was always a courageous child, learning to sweam at two, playing all kinds of sports, hitting a game-winning home run, and thanking his team for the “team victory.” He was a selfless person, a team player, ready to sacrifice himself to save friends. This is exactly what happened in 2005 Afghanistan. Being pressed by the armed goatherds, with no signal to call for help, Murphy made a selfless decision. He left the cover to reach the signal and call in for help from his team. 

“He dropped the satellite phone after being shot more than 14 times but picked the phone back up and finished the call. While being shot, he signed off saying- “Thank You”, then continued fighting from his exposed position until he died from his wounds.”

Mentioned in Navy Times.

Getting back a few years before his death, we should take a look at Michael’s fitness routine. Being a SEAL, strength and endurance were of utmost importance to him. Michael usually preferred calisthenics and was interested in CrossFit. During his time on missions, he created a CrossFit-inspired workout routine with minimal equipment that could be done on any base of theirs. As usual, during missions, Michael wore his west during training. This was known as the Body Armour workout.

After Murphy’s death, his routine was spread by word of mouth among his SEAL colleagues. That’s when Greg Glassman was asked to include the workout as Murphy WOD.

Scaling 

Since that time, it has become the most popular and grueling CrossFit Workouts. And one of the longest. Logically, many CrossFit athletes want to try their strengths in this WOD.

Murphy can range from impossible to exhausting, depending on the athlete’s level. It’s not a piece of cake for anyone. 

However, understandable that intermediate athletes would also like to (take a dip) in this WOD. In this case, a few scaling options can help in the process. 

I’ve only managed to find the scaling option for beginners from the recognized sources. Frankly, there is no need to scale the WOD up as it’s already one of the hardest possible. 

Half Murph

1/2 mile Run

50 Pull-UpsPull-Ups

100 Pushups

150 Air Squats

1/2 mile Run

No Weight Vest

Or another version:

Dumbbell Only

1 mile Run

100 Dumbbell Bent Over Rows

200 Pushups

300 Air Squats

1 mile Run

What Are Murph WOD Goals? 

how to do crossfit wod

The recommended standard timing is as follows: 

Beginner: 63-71 minutes 

Intermediate: 47-58 minutes

Advanced: 36-41 minutes 

Elite: <35 minutes 

Strangely, there is a little slip in the timeframe provided by the calculator. There’s a range between 58 and 63 minutes that is not mentioned in the guide. Thus, let’s leave this as a transition period between the beginner and intermediate levels of athletes. Considering the complexity and diversity of the WOD, it’d be fair to provide a transitioning phase between the two groups. 

But what about the Hero himself? What was Murphy’s time? Sure, Greg Glassman used the soldier’s time as the base for time calculations. Fortunately, we have the answer to this question. 

“Michael’s standard time was 32 to 35 minutes,”

Thus, from this recollection, we learn that Michael has been set as the elite norm! Well done, mister Glassman. 

Clearly, this is a long workout that requires due preparation, especially for beginners. 

How to Do Murph WOD? 

murph wod

If you are ready to try your strength and endurance in this legendary WOD, you should be prepared for exhaustion and, in some sense, desperation. To get that satisfaction, in the end, you have to keep proper form and use all the tips shared by professionals. SO, let’s cover the sequence for a start and then move to safety and tips. 

The Run

1-mile run. This is the beginning and the ending part of the WOD. Initially, you should use any advantage in running skills you might have to win some time for the further exercises. This cardio exercise is usually done inside the box, and only very rarely do the coaches transfer the run outside. Inside, you may have a treadmill (CrossFit boxes usually use high-quality treadmills, some of which are mentioned in the article about the best treadmills of 2022) or just free dedicated space for running. One mile is not much, but when used in this complex WOD….

The Pull-Up

As you are done with the run, immediately head to the pull-up bar. Now comes the real challenge of completing 100 pull-ups and with a vest, no less. Place your hands in an overhand grip on the bar slightly wider than a shoulder-width apart. Lift your feet off the floor/box you may be using, engage your core, and pull your shoulders slightly back and down. Bend your elbows and pull your chest up towards the bard. The pull-up is counted when your chin raises above the bar. Lower to the starting position (legs lifted) and repeat.

The Push-Up

Now, switching to push-us. Get on the floor in a plank position, hands beneath shoulders and slightly wider. Tighten your core. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your torso until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Push back up through your hands. Keep your whole body straight this whole time. 

Air Squats

Air squats should seem easy-peasy after the upper-body heavy two previous exercises. These are the simple bodyweight squats. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly outward. Engage your core and squat down; move your hips slightly back so that your knee doesn’t go beyond the toes. Raise to the starting position. 

The Run. Again!

In the end, polish it all with another 1-mile run. At this time, it’s highly recommended to divide the run into several sets. 

Murph WOD Safety and Tips 

murph wod tips

Among the safety and tips, I’d like to discuss today are mainly the consequences of such an exhausting WOD. 

  • Do not pick a heavy vest right from the start. For your first try, I’d suggest going for bodyweight exercises. 
  • If you are more of a runner than a lifter, I suggest giving your all during sprinting and slowing the tempo during other exercises. 
  • In general, try to divide the non-running exercises into several sets. The recommended division are 10 rounds of 10 pull-ups (5 rounds of 20 pull-ups), 10 rounds of 20 pushups (5 rounds of 40 pushups), and 10 rounds of 30 air squats. However, this is only an example. You can choose the approach and rep number that leaves you just short of failure every time. Because the studies suggest that there is no significant difference between training to failure and just shy of failure. But the moral perspective would be more positive. 
  • It’s better to do the scaled-down version with proper form than the full WOD with the lousy form! This is the standard fitness rule. 

What Are Murph WOD Benefits?

Murph WOD is a high-intensity full-body workout. This is the ultimate “marathon” for CrossFit athletes. In the rare times you complete this WOD as a part of The Murph Challenge, you test your body’s strength and endurance. The benefits are full-body, just like most WODs are meant to be.

Although this is an exhausting test, you hardwire your body for new heights and PRs! Murph WOD gives you a perspective on the capabilities of the human body. During one session, you burn lots of calories; I can’t even imagine how much. The count surely is one of the highest in CrossFit Practice. The elevated heart rate throughout the whole workout makes it an effective cardio training. Powerful bodyweight movements add an aerobic component to the training.

In Conclusion

This is the first “hero” WOD I’m highlighting on this website. The first but not the last! And this one is the most impactful for the community considering many U.S. CrossFit athletes knew the hero.

And this is where we see a big difference between girl benchmark WODs and this one that is almost a marathon. And one of the longest-lasting WODs. Murph WOD is surely not a workout for beginners, at least in its original form. moreover, intermediate athletes can have a hard time completing it fully as well.

However, one of the biggest reasons that push CrossFitter into completing the Murph WOD is the satisfaction of joining the “hero” ranks and becoming closer to the power of the best of the best.

Are you ready to try your first Murph WOD?

Resources

  1. First Navy MoH since Vietnam to go to SEAL”. Fuentes, Gidget (October 12, 2007). – Navy Times. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  2. How Murph Became the Most Legendary Fitness Challenge Ever by Michael Easter – (May 6, 2021, Men’sHealth)
  3. WOD Time Calculator – (wodtimecalculator.com)
  4. Workout of the Day – (August 05, 2018, CrossFit.com)
  5. The Murph Challenge official website

About

Irene’s fitness journey began in 2017 with attending classes to improve her health and researching the anatomy of working out. After years of investigating trendy and “up and coming” fitness regimes, she is ready to share the tips and advice she’s learned from athletes and expert trainers of the field.