Every May, a few newer gym members ask me, “Is the Murph workout okay for beginners?”
The answer is yes (yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes). Almost anyone can do Murph, including people brand new to CrossFit.
In this post, I’ll explain why beginners can and should do Murph and share some tips for making the workout beginner-friendly.
Why do Murph on Memorial Day?
Murph is a CrossFit hero workout named for Lt. Michael P. Murphy.
Murphy led a team of four Navy SEALs conducting surveillance on a Taliban commander. After being ambushed on June 28, 2005, Murphy ran into enemy fire to get a clear signal to call for backup. He completed the call even after being shot, allowing a teammate to be rescued alive.
Murphy died shortly after making that call.
CrossFit gyms nationwide do Murph on Memorial Day to remember Lt. Murphy’s bravery and that of thousands of other men and women who died to protect our freedom.
Here’s the workout (which, FYI, was Murphy’s favorite while deployed):
Some athletes also do Murph with a weighted vest, which is how Murphy did it (in fact, he originally called the workout “Body Armor”).
Murph Movement Standards
Murph is simple but not easy.
In addition to the workout being long and taxing, each movement has specific standards that you must hit every single rep (no quarter push-ups or other silly business!):
- Pull-ups: These can be strict, kipping, or butterfly. Fully extend the arms without feet touching the ground to start the rep, and finish with your chin over the bar.
- Push-ups: Begin in a plank position with your arms fully extended. Keep your body rigid as you lower, stopping only when your chest and thighs touch the ground. Complete the rep by pushing your body upward and extending your elbows at the top.
- Squats: Slowly lower your hips until they’re below your knees, then stand up until your hips and knees are fully extended.
To that end, any rep that doesn’t meet these standards technically doesn’t count (and that’s not meant to make you feel bad–it’s meant to make you stronger).
So if you’re unsure you can do an entire Murph while hitting those movement standards, you can try a more beginner-friendly version!
The Murph Workout for Beginners
I designed this Murph workout for those new to CrossFit and maybe even new to working out!
The movements are simpler, and I’ve reduced the reps by 75 percent.
Here’s a beginner-friendly version of Murph:
400-meter run, jog, or speedwalk
25 ring rows or inverted pull-ups (make sure your table is incredibly sturdy. If there’s any question, don’t use it)
50 push-ups to an elevated target
100 squats to a box or chair
400-meter run, jog, or speedwalk
Of course, some CrossFit beginners might be able to do a bit more than this.
If this describes you, you could try Mini Murph, which is simply a half Murph. You can still modify any movements you need to hit the movement standards, even if you do Mini Murph.
That’s the beauty of Murph–you can get a great workout while making it your own and honoring a hero, regardless of how long you’ve done CrossFit.
Ready to Try It?
Ready to try our Murph Workout for Beginners?
Heck yes, you are!
If you’re doing it at home, you’ll need:
- a place to run
- a set of gymnastics rings or VERY sturdy table
- a wall or other elevated surface for push-ups
- a chair for your squats
That being said, doing it a gym is easier equipment-wise (and much more fun, at least in group CrossFit classes!).
Many CrossFit gyms allow drop-in visitors for Murph for a daily class fee.
If you live in St. Louis, you’re welcome to join us on Monday, 5/29, at 9:30 a.m.! Click here to reserve your spot!