The Ultimate Checklist: Murph Memorial Workout For Beginners

Written By Charleh Dickinson  |  CrossFit 

Every year, the CrossFit community comes together on Memorial Day to remember those who served their country and hedge their bets on whether they can or cannot complete Murph (workout).

If you’re new to discovering the incredible CrossFit community or a veteran coming back for more, there’s really nothing more of a bonding experience than crawling over the finish after that dreaded second run.

For those who may not know, Murph is as follows. Grab yourself a weighted vest (20lbs for the guys & 15lbs for the ladies), then mentally prepare yourself to be working out for 60 min (yes, that’s not a typo) whilst you complete for time: 

1 Mile Run
100 Pull-Ups
200 Press Ups
300 Air Squats
1 Mile Run

If you want to learn more about how you can get the best tips and tricks to smash this workout, we’ve written this guide that you’ll love right here.

Planning to do the Murph workout at home?
Check out this video below:

Now, I won’t apologize in advance for the suffering you’re about to experience or the satanism of returning back for more. Still, we do recommend reading more about the legend and namesake, Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005. This workout is a humbling reminder of what we’re grateful to have in our daily lives and thankful to the incredible men and women who have given that to us.

In this article, we will create a list of essentials that you will need for Murph.

Looking after your palms - protect those hands.

It goes without saying, in CrossFit, you’re always running the risk of hand tears. There’s literally nothing worse than ripping your hands right in the ceases and then the searing hot shower feeling like hellfire for weeks afterwards. That’s not to mention painting the rig red during the workout, which coach really won’t be too happy about. I’m pretty sure that counts for extra penalty burpees afterwards, which are arguably worse than Murph itself. 

So, hand care is crucial if you’re looking to survive. For many of us, 100 pull-ups is a lot and possibly above average on your weekly gymnastic volume. Depending on how you partition the workout, your hands will take a beating.

To look after your hands, here are 3 tips you can do to prevent them from ripping.

Grips, grips, grips.

There are a lot of established brands that sell grips, and with a quick Google, you can have them ordered to your door in seconds. What you don’t want to do is buy them brand new on the day. Instead, make sure you’ve ordered them in plenty of time, measured the right size to your hand and worn them in with shorter WODs in advance.

Shaving calluses and beeswax.

I’ve combined these two tips together as they go hand in hand. 

Before starting CrossFit, I remember the days when my hands were as soft as silky all those many moons ago, but over the years of daily battering on the rig and knurling of the barbell has caused my hands to turn into sandpaper. Delightful calluses have also formed, leaving the palm super vulnerable to creating craters the size of the Grand Canyon.

To combat this, regular maintenance using a callus remover to shave the callus down to the same level as the rest of your skin and then beeswax. Moisturizer simply won’t cut it and will leave the skin “too soft”. The ideal is having super smooth skin that’s tough. This little trick has been borrowed from experienced climbers who also require the same solution. 

Stop your weight vest from rubbing.

You can imagine it. You’re hot. You’re sweaty. And every time you perform a rep, you have a weighted vest rubbing in and around your shoulders. If you think the workout is tough enough, the last thing you want is a painful distraction adding more to the angst. 

Firstly, let’s address if it’s worth owning your own weighted vest or not? If you’re new to the sport, probably not. It’ll no doubt just sit in some cupboard collecting dust. However, if you know you’re into CrossFit for the long game, then this is a worthwhile purchase. There are several hero WODs that require a weighted vest - you can check them out here.

Before starting the workout, take a few extra minutes to sort your vest and ensure it’s comfortable. Most CrossFit vests will have a solid plate, front and back, and the top should sit just below the collarbone with the bottom above your belly button. The key is to have the vest tight enough to reduce as much movement as possible without restricting your lungs. Trust me, when you get to that second run, you’ll be puffing like a dragon trying to scrape together as much oxygen as possible whilst you shuffle your way around the loop.

Finally, find what works best for you. To protect the skin, many athletes will have a t-shirt under the vest, but this comes with an air of caution. If you’re an athlete like me who overheats at any sign of cardio, you may suffer more from the heat than the actual rubbing of the vest. I personally opt for a vest and sports bra, and if I know my vest is going to rub on the top buckles and side straps, using a little petroleum jelly won’t do any harm.

Chafing Thighs, Painful Feet and Sore Calves.

If you’ve done any kind of running, you will know. May is typically a warm month which means extra sweating, and with a vest, even more, sweating on top. No matter how slow you crawl around the “run”, the last thing you want is your thighs chafing, the mid-foot causing achy pain, and tight calves to finish it off.

Starting with the thighs, make sure to prepare your clothing the night before. Ladies, aim for leggings and even high waisted ones as they may even be helpful with the straps on your vest. Guys, the key is to be wearing sports underwear to stop any “un-wanted movement”, plus longer CrossFit style shorts that typically stop just above the knee.

Secondly, in the Murph workout, this may be one of those times where all those CrossFit shoes might not be the best choice. The 300 air squats are simply not enough to warrant the flatter shoes that normally come with the CrossFit sole. You’ll make greater gains by wearing a running sneaker. 

It can be tempting to want to tighten your shoes to the max, but that will just cause more problems. Instead, warm up your feet by rolling a hard ball along the lengths of your feet and tighten your shoes to a comfortable level. Same as your weighted vest, tight enough not to move (and not rub!) but not to restrict as you get further into the workout.

Bonus - loosen your shoulders and hips.

Whether you’re working through Murph like “The Games” or splitting it up into “Cindy”, 100 Pull Up, 200 Push Ups and 300 Air Squats will take a toll on your shoulders and hips. Take preventative measures of drinking plenty of water, use resistance bands to warm up the smaller muscles in your shoulders and stretch out your hips.

The additional volume will cause your muscles to cramp up, and remember, Murph is a long workout. When in the hole, it’ll just become never-ending.

Remember - have fun!

Murph can look scary, and when looking through the list, I bet you’re wondering why we even do this workout, but once it’s all over, the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and community is enough to keep coming back for seconds. So remember, grab a buddy, grab a vest and have fun! The more you do Murph and track your progress, the better it becomes.

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