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3 Tips to Crush Your First Murph This Memorial Day



THE MURPH IS one of the most legendary workouts in all of fitness and one of a select few WODs that holds a permanent place on the calendar. The routine has become a Memorial Day tradition for more than just the CrossFit and military communities that first embraced the simple, brutal series. Now, exercise enthusiasts of all stripes strap on their weighted vests to run, pull, push, and squat to challenge themselves and pay tribute to military veterans and kick off the summer season.

You might be looking forward to your first run at the Murph this year. If the standard version of the workout is intimidating, that’s okay. You’re far from alone, as people from all experience levels will take on the WOD this Memorial Day. The key is to understand the best way for you to tackle the routine—and for that, it helps to have an expert on hand. We’ve got just the one for you: Erik Bartell, ACE, a former Army officer and fitness trainer and creator of the new MH Military Muscle workout program, now available for Men’s Health MVP Premium members.


Bartell says crushing your first go at the Murph should be well within your reach—so long as you keep three essential tips in mind.

3 Tips for Crushing the Murph

Scale Your Workout

The Murph is going to be tough, no matter how you look at it. Just as a reminder, here’s what the workout entails:

The Murph Workout

  • 1-mile run
  • 100 pullups
  • 200 pushups
  • 300 squats
  • 1-mile run

All told, that’s 600 reps and two miles of tough running. If you’re doing the session in RX form (CrossFit terminology for performing the series exactly as the workout is written), you’ll also be wearing a 20-pound weight vest.

That’s probably going to be too much for beginners, so you should scale the workout. Skip the weight vest and split up the rep structure instead of going all out in RX order.

“Do 10 rounds of each [exercise],” advises Bartell. That breaks down to:

  • 10 pullups
  • 20 pushups
  • 30 squats

You can also build your own breakdown—if you need fewer pullups per set, for example. “It’ll keep the workout from feeling daunting,” Bartell says.

Start With a Half Murph First

The full version of the Murph is, again, a ton of volume. To work your way up to those 600 reps, Bartell suggests taking on a practice run with half that number first. This session will be:

  • half-mile run
  • 50 pullups
  • 100 pushups
  • 150 squats
  • half-mile run

Bartell says that this structure should still push first-timers as they build up to the full version of the workout (and it should give anyone a good dry run of the Murph, too).

Train for Double Your Pushup Scale

The toughest part of the Murph is undoubtedly the 100 pullups. Almost everyone—not just the first-timers—will need to scale the pullups in some form to be able to knock out all the reps. To make your official run at the Murph more manageable, Bartell suggests making your training sessions even tougher and doubling the number of pullups you’re planning to attempt per set.

If you’re taking on the workout with the 10 round structure, that means you should be attempting 20 consecutive reps in your practice sessions. If you cut that scale down to five reps, your training rounds will be 10. You get the picture. Even if you fail, you’re prepping your muscles to push through when it counts.

Want more workouts from Bartell to get into Murph shape and beyond? Check out his Military Muscle program, only available for MH MVP Premium members on All Out Studio. You’ll take on training that will build both physical and mental fortitude to take on the toughest tasks life can throw at you.


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