The Murph Challenge – History, Strategy, Training, Tips, & Times

What Is the Murph Workout? The Ultimate Test of Strength and Endurance!

The Murph workout is a demanding fitness routine that has gained popularity among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

In the CrossFit community, there is a wide variety of different challenges which people try to keep the workout from getting stale.

One of the most popular challenges members of the community try is the Murph Challenge. It has also gained notoriety from the celebrities who advocate for it, like the Rock.

It has also become a tradition for the workout to be done on memorial day to honor fallen heroes.

In this article, we will explore the history and significance of the Murph workout. We look at the strategies, training tips, and ideas for adjusting the workout to your fitness level.

We’ll also look at some of the fastest times for completing the Murph workout. And hopefully, you get some inspiration if you want to take on this challenging test of endurance.

The Murph Challenge for the Brave and the Bold

Honoring Lt. Michael Murphy: The Inspiring Story Behind the Murph Workout

The workout was initially called the ‘Body Armor’ workout. But it became a favorite workout of Michael Murphy, a Navy Lieutenant who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in June 2005.

This led to the CrossFit.com -website posting the workout as their WOD (workout of the day) in his memory. The workout was then officially renamed after Lt. Michael Murphy. This led to it gaining quick traction and becoming an annual tradition.

What Is the Murph Workout?

While the Murph Challenge is popular, there are still a few disagreements over the correct way to do the challenge. However, we will work with the official version on the CrossFit site, which was posted in his honor.

The official posting was:

  • a 1-mile run,
  • 100 pull ups,
  • then 200 push ups,
  • followed by 300 squats, and
  • ending with another 1-mile run.

Murph’s Official Rep Scheme

As was referenced in the previous section, there are many different adaptions and ways of doing the Murph challenge. These sometimes stray from the reps on the original post.

We will go over the other popular versions of the Murph Challenge so you can see if any of these will suit you better!

1. Unpartitioned

To do the Murph Challenge unpartitioned means completing all 100 pull-ups before proceeding to the push-ups, then all 200 push-ups before moving on to the squats.

With short rest breaks, you can manage a high volume of repetitions. Pull-ups might be done in 20 sets of 5, and push-ups in 40 sets of 5.

2. Partitioned

This version simply changes the workout by making it so you can break up the middle reps however you want.

An example of this is only doing 5 pull ups, then moving onto 10 push ups, and then 15 squats, and then repeating until you have done as many reps as you need to.

3. Wear A 20 Pound Vest

Another element of the original post that is occasionally overlooked is that you should be wearing a 20-pound vest while the workout is being done (14-pound for women).

While some CrossFit enthusiasts see this as optional, others see it as an integral part of the challenge and if it is being excluded you are not doing the challenge correctly.

The weighted vest does make a massive difference to the challenge. Pushups and running with a vest would be a very different beast than without a vest.

4. How To Do It Right?

The post which made the Murph Challenge popular stated that you could partition the middle exercises however you want.

However, people disagree with this since it was done unpartitioned once it appeared in the CrossFit Games in 2015.

When it comes to wearing the weighted vest or not, the weighted vest is thought to be the reason why the challenge was originally referred to as the body armor challenge.

You can consider 40 minutes as a cut-off time for wearing a vest. If the challenge takes over 40 minutes without a vest, you are not yet ready to take it with a vest. If the challenge takes under 40 minutes without a vest, you are ready to take it with a vest.

Push Your Limits: How To Train For The Murph?

One of the best ways to ensure that you are successful when doing a challenge like this is to make sure that you are training properly. This will ensure that you find the challenge easier, and that you will not injure yourself.

  • If you plan to do this challenge, we recommend that you start preparing for it at least three months in advance. There is some flexibility in this, depending on your experience level.
  • You must ensure that your body will adapt to the high number of reps and the pattern of movement you will need to do safely.

To start training for the Murph Challenge you will want to build up the sets of the pull ups, push ups, and squats.

Note: Murph is an exceptionally challenging workout. You should only attempt it if you are in good physical condition. If necessary, start with an easier version. A healthcare professional or fitness trainer should be consulted before attempting this workout.

It is recognized that the most difficult part of this workout is doing the pull ups, so you will want to focus on these as this is what is likely to cause issues for you. 

It is often recommended to start by doing a set of 10 pull ups, then 20 push ups, onto 30 squats, and then once you are comfortable with this, moving this into smaller sets. 

Of course while you are working on this you will need to start thinking about your running as well since this is often overlooked since people tend to place a lot of focus on the reps instead of this. 

The Murph Challenge – History, Strategy, Training, Tips, & Times (1)

Murph Times

What Is A Good Time To Aim For?

The average amount of time it takes most people to complete the Murph Challenge while wearing the weighted vest is anywhere between 50 and 70 minutes.

A very good time will be somewhere in the range of 43 to 50 minutes, and if you are a much higher level athlete, you could be able to do it in under 42 minutes.

A lot of this also depends on how the run goes as some variables are out of control while doing this.

The World Record Time for the Murph

The Murph workout in 30 minutes: is it possible? Let’s take a look at the fastest Murph times.

Alec Blenis set the record for the fastest known weighted & unpartitioned Murph with a time of 32:41 in 2021.

Alec ran the first mile in around 5:50 and the last mile in roughly 7:40. These are impressive times when you consider that in between the runs, he had to do 100 pull-ups (in around 4 minutes), 200 push-ups (in around 8 minutes), and 300 squats (in around 7 minutes). And all those while wearing a 20-pound weight vest.

Before Alec, Hunter McIntyre held the record with a time of 34:13.

To compare those impressive mile run times with average runners, you can read our article on How Long Does It Take To Run A Mile On Average.

As this challenge and the record hunt gain more attention and more athletes attempt it, we may see the record fall below 30 minutes.

Time Without A Vest

When it comes to completing the challenge without the weighted vest, this is usually between 40 and 50 minutes, and a great time to aim for is between 35 and 40 minutes.

Some of the best have even managed to get under 30 minutes.

Summary

The Murph Challenge is a massive challenge to overcome, so if you want to attempt it, make sure to train well and go in with a strategy!

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