CrossFit ‘Hero WODs’ are workouts dedicated to men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty. To show respect, they’re generally tougher, heavier or longer than your standard CrossFit fare, making them infamous in the functional fitness community.
Perhaps the most well known of them, ‘Murph’, is definitely no exception to that rule. Dedicated to US Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, (who was later portrayed by Taylor Kitsch in the 2013 biographical blockbuster Lone Survivor), many in the CrossFit community will be donning weighted vests this weekend to commemorate the fallen in what has become known as ‘The Murph Challenge’.
A combination of running, and bodyweight movements, ‘Murph’ challenges nearly every muscle in your body, as well as your lungs, and moreover, your grit.
If you want to take on the challenge this weekend, you can find the workout below. The calisthenics movements are bookended either side by a one mile run, but you can break down the individual reps however you wish – the most popular option being to complete 20 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 press-ups and 15 squats, with minimal rest. Some prefer to go ‘unpartitioned’ meaning you complete all reps of each movement before moving onto the next, but most agree that the most important factor in tackling 'Murph', is giving it your all.
Go at your own pace and scale the movements or distances following our guidelines below to suit your own fitness levels. If you can manage, and have a weighted vest wear it; the idea here being that every body gives their own personal version of 100% effort.
Run 1 Mile
1 mile is a challenging but short distance, but remember there’s a lot of work to do after this so don’t come out of the gates too hot, lifting your knees high (A) and driving ahead with your arms (B).
Ditch the vest if you know it's going to cause you genuine harm, and if you have problems running, even unburdened, switch the run for a row or ride. If you're going to hit the bike, double the distance. If you're going to row, aim for a distance between 1600-2000m. Whatever you choose, try and make sure your effort reflects how long it would take you to run a hard mile, then aim to get with 1-2 minutes of that time on the closing mile.
Pull-Up x 100
You’ve got a lot of reps to get through here, so keep the sets short from the beginning. Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip over shoulder-width apart. (A) Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows whilst pinching your shoulder blades together. When your chin passes the bar, (B) pause before lowering to the starting position. Break these up into small manageable chunks, and do this sooner rather than later. If you go out too hot, you'll find yourself staring up longingly at the pull-up bar for the majority of this workout.
Again, the quickest way to make this more accessible is to leave the weight vest in your locker. Full-time Crossfitters will be performing kipping or butterfly pull-ups, a far more efficient way to reach a high rep count, so if you're going strict, consider scaling back the reps to 50 or 75 or using a band for assistance, or switch to ring rows or inverted rows with your feet on the ground. Don't be afraid to switch it up and scale back mid-workout either, the important thing is you work to your own personal 'redline'.
Press-Up x 200
Drop into a strong plank position, with your core tight and hands on your dumbbells (A), bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor (B). Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively. Just as with your pull-ups, break these up into smaller sets than you may think necessary to avoid being stuck face down on the ground. If you reach the point where you can only perform sets of 1-2 reps, consider scaling.
If high rep press-ups present a challenge, consider elevating your hands onto a box or bench. This change in angle will alleviate some of the resistance, making the movement easier to perform. A resistance band doubled over and wrapped around the arms, above the elbows, can also help you to chomp through the reps.
Air Squat x 300
Take deep breaths and find a rhythm. Standing tall (A), keep your chest up and sink your hips back, before bending your knees to drop your thighs until they are at least parallel to the floor (B). No half-reps here, please. Then drive up.
Most will be able to make it through these, even if it means shedding the vest. If your mobility is an impediment to squatting deep, raise your heels on plate or blocks. If you struggle to squat deep for high reps for other reasons, try placing a bench or box behind you at the appropriate height and squat up and down from it.
Run 1 mile
This is the home straight, if you’re gunning for a fast time this is where you can really open up and give it all you’ve got, otherwise. Just hold on tight and push hard until the very end. Your legs will be jellified by this point, but focus on your breathing and settle into a manageable pace. Don't be afraid to empty the tank towards the end; this is supposed to be hard.
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