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The Murph Challenge – Kit Grawal – Medium

The Murph, named in the memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, is known to be one of the most brutal CrossFit workouts. The workout is intense, long and effective. The challenge is not just to finish the workout but to finish it as quickly as possible. Before I get into more details, I want to talk about the man himself. Also known as Mike, this workout was his favorite and he called it “Body Armor workout”. He was awarded the highest U.S. military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in Afghanistan war where he died on June 28, 2005. More details can be found here.

What makes this blog special is that it’s a completely different type of workout than most people are used to and this workout is for the doers. I like to try out different styles of workout and in the past, I have switched between heavy weight lifting, hypertrophy training, high intensity workout, cardiovascular specific training, etc but didn’t try CrossFit. I am a certified trainer and watching some of the videos of CrossFit lifters, I didn’t feel comfortable with the form of the exercises. For this reason, I focused my personal training towards weight lifters but I kept wanting to try out CrossFit because quite a few people I know were all praises for it. The workout is popular mostly among people interested in CrossFit and is as follows:

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 squats
  • 1 mile run

For a person working out for 2–3 years, this should look reasonable. I thought this was doable but little did I know that there was a twist. This workout is supposed to be done wearing a 20 lbs. vest or a body armor. The goal is not just to complete the workout but like other CrossFit games workouts, it is to finish it as soon as possible. Since I was not an expert on it, I jumped in without thinking too much trying to do as many repetitions as I could at once. Last week, I did this workout for the 12th time. I learnt over last few weeks about the workout and how to improve the time. There are a lot of ways to cheat on this workout and even then, it will get that blood pumping, heart pounding and sweat flowing. I don’t remember the last time I sweat so much.

Out of the 12 times, I have completed the workout only 9 times. I do 20 x 5 push-ups, 30 x 5 squats and 10 x 10 pull-ups every alternate day just to be able to complete the challenge.

Give this workout a try and to help you, here are some tips on how you can do this workout and get the best out of it.

  • Maintain low body weight: Why do I say this? The heavier you are, the more difficult it gets to do pull-ups and push-ups.
  • Start with no weights: When you start, try to do the entire workout without any weights. Trust me, it’s difficult without weights as well.
  • Time it: No matter the time needed, finish the workout and time it. When you do it next time, try to improve. For the first few attempts, you probably won’t want to complete it.
  • Add weights: Finish within 55 minutes without weights before you start putting on some weight and then repeat. Start with 5 lbs. and work your way up.
  • Focus on depth: Form is very important. At the beginning, you can cheat but at the professional level, repetitions with incorrect form are not counted. If you watch people doing the actual challenge, they tend to not finish the workout because of the added repetitions.
  • Distribute: Instead of doing maximum repetitions in each set, try to divide into sets. The more repetitions you do at once, more rest you will need to recover. Instead if you split them, you will get through a lot of repetitions without much stress on the body.
  • Rest: Don’t try to do this workout everyday. Give around 3–4 days of recovery after this training. It’s intense, specially with the weight. Good rest is needed to avoid injuries.
  • Over consumption: Don’t eat or drink a lot of food and water before training. Don’t gasp for air but try to maintain the breathing.
  • Stretch and warm-up: It is important to stretch and warm-up before you start the workout.

I will post more tips if I come up with more and these are base on my experiments. Applying these have affected my strength considerably. I treat this workout as fat burner but don’t let it fool you. This workout will build some serious muscles as well.

My stats so far:

  • Without weights: 47 minutes, 35 seconds
  • 10 lbs.: 58 minutes, 10 seconds
  • 20 lbs.: 1 hour 20 minutes, 48 seconds

I have been trying to improve all 3 stats. I am in good shape I think that if I do squats correctly the 1st time, I can finish in 40–45 minutes. I have decent legs but I hate training legs and I redo a lot of repetitions because of improper depth.

Following are few videos showing the Murph workout, correct form and some other CrossFit workouts.

The Murph: The link also shows the acceptable form for each exercise.

CrossFit Games: Individual Murph: The actual games (2015) showing the best time at pro level.

240 lbs. Murph: No weights, decent form. I consider the workout more challenging with high body weight.

Rough Red vs Rough Black: Stars my favorite “Lauren Fisher”. Snatches, burpees, shoulder press, pull-ups, thrusters, overhead squats, push press, etc. A competition between team Rough Red and team Rough Black.

I am looking forward to updating my workouts and learning more about CrossFit training although I don’t intend to do a lot of CrossFit. I like weight training and The Murph as a good overall workout. I also tend to go for long distance running few times a week.


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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !

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