How to Prepare for the Murph Workout

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Airman flips tire during Murph workout.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Goins, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical services technician, flips a tire during a Memorial Day Murph and Pararescue Workout event at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 29, 2017. (Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Memorial Day Murph -- a workout created in honor of Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan 2005 -- requires an intermediate to advanced fitness level to complete.

The challenge is popular with many tactical athletes, CrossFit and other exercise groups and can be found at The Murph Challenge.

Here is a way to help prepare for the high repetitions of pull-ups (100), push-ups (200) and squats (300). Over the next several weeks, progress throughout the pyramid below a few days a week and see whether you score better each week by moving up the pyramid. See below:

Warmup

You should warm up well with this workout. In fact, the warmup/run pyramid works well not only to prepare you for higher-rep sets, but it also will help you slowly accumulate repetitions for the 100, 200 and 300 totals.

Warmup -- Pushups/squat pyramid: Run 100 meters, one push-up/squat. Run 100 meters, two push-ups/squats. Run 100 meters, three push-ups/squats ... up to 10/10. This warmup will yield 55 squats and 55 push-ups to add to the Murph Workout (100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats) below:

This half-pyramid has you starting at one and building up to level 10 in 10 sets.

PT half-pyramid 1-10 (*1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

  • Pull-ups x 1 (55 reps)
  • Pushups x 2 (110 reps) (*2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20)
  • Squats x 3 (165 reps) (*3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30)
  • Run 400 meters

For clarity, the sets of the PT pyramid breaks down like this:

  • Set 1: Pull-up 1, push-ups 2, squats 3, run 400 meters
  • Set 2: Pull-ups 2, push-ups 4, squats 6, run 400 meters
  • Set 3: Pull-ups 3, push-ups 6, squats 9, run 400 meters. ... Keep going up the pyramid until you fail, then go in reverse order after failing at two exercises.

Reverse PT pyramid with pull-ups and squats, with cardio of choice each set to recover from each set:

9-1. (*9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)

  • Pull-ups x 1 -- total for day equals 100 pull-ups
  • Squats x 3 -- total for day equals 300 squats

For more information on the PT pyramid, see the full article, The PT pyramid is what I call a foundation workout. It helps the user build a solid foundation of calisthenics and increases volume so you will improve your previous limits. Once you get to level 10 and back down to one again, you will have done 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats. You do this each set by doubling each pull-up set for push-ups and tripling each pull-up set for squats.

Finish the workout with a mini-mobility cooldown that has some form of non-impact/walking, stretching and foam rolling of sore muscles.

Repeat 2 times

  • Non-impact cardio 5 minutes
  • Foam roll/stretch 5 minutes

Good luck with preparing for this journey and a worthy reminder of our fallen heroes.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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