What Is "The Murph"

Last week, we started off with the most important part of The Murph - the man who inspired the event. If you haven’t read about Lieutenant Michael Murphy, click here to read last week’s article. If you’ve already read the “Who”, this article is to give some insight into the “What” - what exactly is the Memorial Day Murph workout?


Physical Challenge
As alluded to in our last article, The Murph is a chipper sandwiched between two one-mile runs.


Why it is so tough?
If you’ve had the chance to stop in to Storm, you’ll know that we take a two-prong approach to training our clients. Of course, a gym is a place to improve physical fitness. On that front, we throw out all fad diets and workouts and provide you with scientifically proven methods of training tailored to help you conquer your goals. Beyond the physical, we use the gym to help you grow mentally - methodically pushing our clients past their own perceived limits. This is what we call growth.

Likewise, The Murph is both a physical and mental challenge. It falls into the category of Power Endurance for the sheer amount of consistent effort put toward strength and endurance exercises. Here, we break it down by what each component will do to your body during the time you are completing the event.

The One Mile Run: The opening mile is the most important part of the event. This is what sets the tone for the rest of the event. The first run should be run at 5k pace. Often times we see athletes go out too fast then struggle the 600 body weight movements. Other times, people save themselves too much and put themselves behind the pack. The most important thing in the first mile is to stay constant and steady. If you feel like you are going too fast, slow down. If you feel like you are going too slow, stay there. It is better to be slow and not dive into the pain cave too quickly.

Next, is where Murph can vary by site. Some places insist all 100 pull-ups are completed, then the 200 push ups, then the 300 air squats. Some gyms allow athletes to break up the sets as they see fit. I.e. 5x Pull Up, 10x Push Up, 15x Air Squat for 20 Rounds. In 2016, The CrossFit games required athletes to complete rounds of 20x Pull Ups, 40x Push Ups and 60x Air Squats.

Regardless, these movements compound on each other. Pull-ups are an upper body pulling movement. Push-ups are an upper body pushing move. Even though one is a push and the other is a pull, there is some overlap in muscle groups. The pectoral region, shoulder girdle, and triceps are involved in both movements. While air squats seem like a break, they are performed on legs which have already run one mile and must run one more.. While each movement is only bodyweight (plus a 20lb vest if doing the workout as prescribed), the volume will quickly push you into a lactate energy system.

After all of the movements are completed there is still a one mile run left. This mile is all that is between you and the end. Go. Your shoulders will be sore from the pull-ups and push-ups. Your legs will be sore from the air squats. This is where the psychological component of the workout kicks in. It’s easy to slow down in this last mile. It’s the last mile. Push yourself and finish the drill. Until you are pushed beyond comfort into pain, until the only consequence is living with the decision to quit or go on, you can only guess at how you will react. The stimulus must be appropriately difficult to attain mental breakthroughs. This is one of the workouts we use to provide that stimulus. Which path will you choose?


George Cullen