May – Memorial Day – Murph Workout


It’s May already! For some of us that means nearing the end of the school year, or spring cleaning, or being able to finally go outside again. With the nicer weather, the tourists begin crawling around where we live, and the aroma of food being cooked on the grill flies in and out of our open windows. The wildlife begins to show, and the humidity begins to set in.

May also brings Memorial Day, which is a day to remember those who died in combat. (Veterans Day, which is November 11th is a day to honor living service members and veterans.) Memorial Day is about gathering, to honor the loss of our country’s men and women, and to celebrate in the spirit of their sacrifice. Memorial Day is to honor the lost by celebrating who they were before they died, and to remind ourselves of the value of their sacrifice, made on our behalf.
We can celebrate however we want to today, because of the sacrifices made by those killed in combat, going all the way back to the Civil War. It’s important to keep in mind the honor, selflessness, and integrity that some embodied right up through the end of their lives. These traits, their character, their indomitable spirit, is what we are celebrating on Memorial Day. In that spirit, we live on in a free country. In their void, we strive to be better.

In this age of information, the truth can get buried amid the propaganda overload. It is our duty to sift for the truths, to acquire knowledge, and to pass on the stories and information that is relevant to our countries lineage, and history for the next generation. Stories of lessons learned, sacrifice, war, honor, selflessness, empathy, and integrity.
Keep the stories alive, keep the memories alive, keep their spirit alive, and the sacrifices will not be in vain.

Lest we forget.

More info about the history of Memorial Day –

Attention – those that CrossFit – May also brings Memorial Day Murph, or The Murph Challenge – Annual fundraiser of the LT Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation (501c3).

The genesis of CrossFit doing hero workouts was to honor the men and women that have fallen in the line of duty. CrossFit sadly, has an ever-growing list of heroes which now have workouts named after them, as a tip of the hat, or a salute to those who have sacrificed with their lives. The hero workouts are tough! These workouts are usually tougher than regular workouts (physically and possibly more mentally) and more demanding in: time, weight, range-of-motion, load, capacity, and ability.

In my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to honor the heroes that these workouts are named after. These workouts should be done in a way that pushes each person to a place they didn’t know they could go, both physically and mentally. I do not think these workouts are intended for everyone to just go do, as prescribed. To run, you need to learn to walk first, and before that comes crawling. Many folks attempt to do these hero workouts as they’re written, and are potentially doing more bad than good.

Form first, (and always!) then intensity. If you cannot do full range of motion air squats, you have no business attempting to do this work out as it’s written. You should be working on your squat technique and associated limitations before attempting this workout in full. Same goes for pullups (kipping/butterfly pullups more accurately), and pushups too. This workout is a ton of reps and even though it’s a CrossFit workout, that doesn’t mean abandon technique and discipline to finish it quicker. At its core, this workout and the other hero workouts are to pay tribute to those heroes and their sacrifices. For each rep that you half-ass, or don’t fully complete, you are spitting on the sacrifice made by the person which the workout is named after.

In a time of difficulty, you are choosing to take the easy way, to cut corners and to hide.

Shameful. Shame on you!

For more background on who Michael Murphy was, visit this website and watch the documentary –

This workout is usually done “for time” but time is just one dimension of the overall workout, and only one metric for measuring overall improvement. The time on the clock does not matter, because you do not matter; you are likely not going to the games. The time in which you do the workout is completely irrelevant unless you do each rep fully, and then that time only matters if you do the workout again, under the EXACT same conditions, otherwise that time is just a small piece of the overall picture. If you only do 295 air squats to beat your old time, or someone else – 1) you’re a liar, and 2) you’ve taken what is a tribute to the sacrifice made by a service member and made it instead all about you.

Here’s the thing about time in workouts, if you have time to watch the clock, you could instead be doing work. You should also be able to go out and push yourself without a clock staring at you. Quit gaming the clock, and instead just do the work, quit trying to outsmart hard work, just do the work!

Here’s something I feel gets overlooked by many, this was a regular workout for Michael Murphy and it was just called Body Armor. It (likely) was not something that he half-assed, it was a way for him to train in his kit, and get a good workout. I assume Murph did not need someone watching his range of motion, he did not need a clock to tell him when to work. If you are going to honor the man that gave his life for his brothers, and his country – show some respect, discipline, honor and integrity then and do it beyond the best of your ability. This should not be about times, or weighted vests, it should be about bringing out a drive inside you to keep moving forward, to do what is right when it isn’t easy, to push to a place that you didn’t know you could go, physically or mentally.

And to put the argument to bed about which is the actual Murph workout… the original workout was posted on CF mainsite on 18 August 2005 (Murph, Dietz and Axelson died on 28 June). In the years since, we have seen this workout done in challenges, fundraisers, and even at the CF Games. Because those settings require scaling options (scaling up and down), we have seen different versions called “RX” (or as prescribed). The workout as it’s written below is the original CF workout, posted 3 weeks after the death. If you see something else labeled RX, it’s for a specific setting (and arguably incorrectly named).

[Other versions labeled RX have stated that the movements must be done in order (i.e. – all pull-ups must be done before pushups can be started), or that the weight vest is RX, or that the weight vest is required AND the movements must be done in order… again, those versions are for certain fundraisers, challenges, and games settings.]


For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty-pound vest or body armor, wear it.

Post time to comments.

For last year’s article and video about Memorial Day Murph, visit here –

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