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How to Go Sub-40 on Murph

The CrossFit work “Murph” is a classic hero workout honoring Lt. Michael Murphy, Medal of Honor recipient. The workout consists of:Run 1 mile100 pull-ups200 push-ups300 air squatsRun 1 mile**Wear a 20lb weightvest if you have it**Here are 5 important tips to completing this workout at a PR pace, and eventually working to a sub-40 minute workout time as prescribed.

     1. Don’t take out the first mile too hot!

Each year we give the 3-2-1-GO! call to kick off our annual Murph, and each year a few guys take off like a bat out of hell. While this pace would be a great training pace for 200m repeats, it will pretty much set you up for an awful day while mid-way through Murph. I recommend a building strategy during your first run. Meaning that your first 400m should be the slowest, then each 400m gets a little bit faster. I aim to run around a 7:15-7:30 mile pace in my first mile (~20% slower than a PR mile), and I pace that out as 1:55, 1:50, 1:48, 1:45 or as close as I can to that. The workout is a battle with your heart rate and oxygen, kicking things up to 180-190bpm in the first few minutes will mean that you are never able to get it down into a lower zone to move consistently.

     2. If you cannot do more than 2 pull-ups or 4 push-ups in a row, use the 2/4/6 x 50 strategy (laid out in video)

This workout will be most hindered by the volume of push-ups and pull-ups you will do. A lot of people choose strategies like 5/10/15 x 20 (listed below), but then break the pull-ups AND the push-ups. This leads to a lot of wasted time and unnecessary rest breaks. Avoid this by breaking the sets up naturally to create a smooth consistent round time. Take breaks every 5 rounds to move a poker chip, grab some water/chalk and get back to work.

     3. If you can do 5 pull-ups unbroken each round, use the 5/10/15 x 20 strategy.

If your pull-ups are not a problem, then this strategy will be the best one for you. The video below lays out where you will want to take rest each round, and this strategy implemented well will easily allow you to complete the coveted 20rds in 20minutes needed to go sub-40 minutes in this workout.

     4. Chalk while you squat

Murph is traditionally done outside or in very warm weather months. This means a boatload of sweat, and typically a lot of ‘caked’ chalk everywhere. As a gym owner, it is really nice to see when people place their hand prints in the same area for all 200 reps so there is an easy clean up after, so take that as an aside…won’t help your workout but will make you more loved around your coaches for respecting the facility. But knowing that chalk is a necessary evil in this workout, we want to AVOID chalk BREAKS like the plague. 20-seconds turns into 30, turns into 40 later in the workout, all to walk across the room to grab a chalk bucket. I like to place a chunk of chalk beside my water bottle and poker chips, OR place a little powder in my pocket. Then during my ~10th airsquat I begin to chalk my hands, and by 15, they’re good to go immediately into the pull-ups. Reducing these breaks and moving seamlessly from one movement to the next will drastically help your PR time.

     5. Paced squats are faster than fast squats.

It sounds crazy to people, until they watch all of the top athletes at the CF Games do Murph a few times. Once your strength stamina gets beyond struggling with the push-ups and pull-ups, this becomes entirely about your heart rate. The easiest way to jack your heart rate up in this workout is first, the run (see #1), and second doing super fast air squats. Watch these CF Games athletes doing Squats on Murph and notice how they focus on breathing and staying upright, with a brief pause at the top. This is huge to reducing lactic acid build up and keeping your heart rate low. Never stop moving, and keep your pacing consistent, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Honorable Mention: Have fun — I mean that. Operation Redwing was a terrible day for America, we lost some amazing Americans and good people. But all of the stories about them were that they were fun-loving guys who took the most out of life, and I think we should embody that — Smile, cheer your friends on, bring them and hit it in the spirit of optimism and gratitude. 

This video discusses common tips and strategies to improve your time and gives you landmarks to success through this challenging classic CF workout. We recommend completing this workout once or twice each year to gauge progress in your health and fitness, as well as challenge your mental and physical state.

Written by Jeff Binek, Owner Friendship Fitness & Nutrition, PR RX Murph time of 39.22 @ 221lbs bodyweight. 

Check out our Dublin, Ohio Gym Benchmark CrossFit Class or Remote Coaching for work on Functional Bodybuilding with a Friendship Coach. 

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