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What is "Murph?"

Murph is a workout that happens in May, every Memorial Day. This workout is a particular CrossFit workout known as a Hero WOD. Those workouts are meant to honor military members who died while in military service.

Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy was killed in action in Afghanistan on 29 June, 2005. This workout was a particular favorite of Murph's, which was named "Body Armor" at the time. In the full-on version, the athlete wears a weighted vest during the whole thing (hence, the body armor).

If you participate in Murph, you are paying tribute to those in service who paid the ultimate price, while also honoring yourself and your body, showing what your body can do.

The Murph workout is:

1 mile Run 100 Pull-Ups 200 Push-Ups 300 Air Squats 1 mile Run *With a 16 lb Vest (for women; men wear a 20 lb vest)

If this is your first introduction to Murph, I suspect I know what you are thinking:




Listen, there are many ways to modify this workout. Not everyone can do it as it is written, and the majority of us at Kali Strength modify it to meet our particular fitness levels. Here are some modifications you can do:

  1. Shorten the run. Can you run a 400? Great--grab a partner, and each of you can run 2 x 400 to equal 1 mile in total. Can you run an 800 by yourself? Then do that. Can you run a mile, but on the second one your legs are made of lead and omg what is happening? It's okay, just shorten that second run. Can't run at all? Hop on a rower for 1600 meters each time.

  2. Modify the pull-ups. Using a band is an option, but that can get cumbersome and slow you down. You can do that if you want; nobody cares how long it takes. Ring rows are a great option, because you can make them harder (feet farther forward of the rings) or easier (feet behind the rings) depending on your fitness level. Because they are so accessible, they are a great choice for many fitness levels. If you've got pull-ups, then we look forward to watching you do them! Chalk up.

  3. Modify the push-ups. If you have full-body push-ups, but can't do that many of them, then just do as many as you can, and when your arms are gassed, do them from your knees. When your arms are gassed from doing them from your knees, get up and do them full-body against the wall. Any of these options could be done for the whole workout, as well.

  4. Just do the air squats, c'mon. Get as low as you can (just below your knees) each time, and do sensible sets. Shake out your legs every so often. Keep going.

  5. Ignore the vest thing. Those who are upping their game might wear one. Most of us do not. No big deal.

There is one more big modification that needs to be addressed, whether you modify the movements or not, and that is because of this fact: You can do the reps in any combination you want. We start and end with the run, but the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats can be done in any combination. The most common are:

  1. Do them as written, start to finish. This is difficult.

  2. Do 20 rounds of "Cindy." This means you do 20 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. Get some chips to help you count.

  3. Do 10 rounds of Double Cindy. I don't know anyone who does this, but you could.

  4. Do the Damage Special™: 50 rounds of 2-4-6. That's 2 ring rows, 4 push-ups, and 6 air squats. This is quite accessible to the vast majority of us, and it keeps you moving the whole time; you won't have to stop and catch your breath very much, is the point. Use your phone's stopwatch feature, and turn it on when you start your ring rows. AFTER YOUR SECOND ROUND, hit the Lap button after each round. The phone will count for you. When it hits 50, get out the door for your second run.

  5. Cut the reps in half. If you have just started working out with us (or are rehabbing an injury, etc. etc.), this is always an option. Murph is a long workout, and we want everyone to have fun and get a great workout in. Half of the reps is still a great workout, and if you cut the run in half as well, then you've got a great place to start.

Murph is a fun day -- lots of people come to the gym to do this workout (the only workout of the day on Memorial Day), and it's heartening to think that we are working out with all of CrossFit gyms, and others, around the world, on that day.

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