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MURPH Hero WOD: Workout Tips & Strategies

May 10, 2019

MURPH WOD Workout Tips & Strategies

Every Memorial Day, the CrossFit community gets together for “Murph”, an annual HERO WOD in honor of Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy who gave his life in battle on June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan.

This is a workout where people push themselves to the brink and realize that the sacrifice of fatigue, pain and sweat is dwarfed in comparison to those who gave all.  

For Time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-Ups
200 Push-Ups
300 Air Squats
1 mile Run
RX = With a 20lb Weighted Vest or Body Armor

Strategies For Murph:

The first thing to figure out is whether you will use a weighted vest or body armor.  While 20 pounds may seem light to some, keep in mind this is a force multiplier for every movement of the workout and prepare accordingly.

The 1 mile runs are done as is.  However, the pull-ups, push-ups & squats can be split up.  A very common strategy is breaking them up.  This breaks high volume which may be impossible for some, down into a grueling chipper but keeps you moving.  Doing the movements consecutively is more difficult and requires more rest to recover.  A few options:

Option 1:  20 rounds – 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 air squats

Option 2:  10 rounds – 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 air squats

Option 3:  5 Rounds – 20 pull-ups, 40 push-ups, 60 air squats

Option 4:  A mix of the above rep schemes as your muscles fatigue. 


Tips For Murph:

We are here to make sure your sacrifice stops at muscle fatigue and doesn’t lead to bloody hands, we want you back in the gym on Tuesday (ok maybe Wednesday at the latest).  

Pre-Murph Preparation:

  1. Hydration – You will sweat. A lot.  Drink plenty of water before, during and after.
  2. Pre-Workout Nutrition – Not the best day to skip breakfast…
  3. Rest – Maybe the worst day to be hung over or exhausted.
  4. Mobility – Get your stretch on!
  5. Callus Maintenance – 100 pull ups is no small number and the easiest way to heal an injury is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Rip free workouts should always be the goal because make no mistake – rips are injuries.

First things first, make sure your calluses are the same height as the rest of your hands.

Often the reason for a rip is that calluses/raised areas of your hand (where the most friction is) catch on a barbell or pull-up bar and tear off. This is especially true when your adrenaline is pumping and you’re pushing for every rep. There’s a common misconception that callus maintenance is getting rid of your calluses altogether, but this is not true. You NEED your calluses, but they are no good to you when they are overgrown. Here’s a couple of ways to maintain them:

  • With a Pumice Stone. Our favorite method of callus maintenance for both ease of use and effectiveness. Go with a natural pumice stone and avoid crushed-and-chemically-glued pharmacy versions. 
  • With a Callus Shaver. Another popular option, you can use a callus shaver with wet OR dry hands, we recommend trying both to see what works for you.
  • The Nuclear Option: You can always use household items for your calluses. Nail clippers, files, sandpaper, Dremel Tools, your own teeth (we all know a callus biter). Rarely effective and generally not optimal or sanitary.

Secondly, you want to make sure your skin is hydrated. Chalk, push-ups and touching equipment all zap moisture out of your hands.  Hands & skin in general function and recover much better when they are not dry and rigid. When you use  dry and rigid hands for a max effort set of pull-ups you’re pushing your skin to or past the limit.  Our advice:

  • Wash your hands. This is simple but here’s the thing; your skin does absorb some moisture when water is run over it, but too much washing or washing with hot water will do more harm than good. Definitely make sure all the chalk and dirt/debris is off your hands post workout.
  • Use a cream (or at least a lotion): The difference is lotions have a higher water content. So, which is best? The higher water content of lotions makes them thin and not able to provide as much moisture as a thick cream. The thickness of creams provides more moisturizing ingredients, better nutritive value and lasts longer. We recommend using a natural hand cream nightly before bedtime so that your hands wake up hydrated.

During Murph

Ok, your hands are in perfect shape heading in to the workout so let’s make this a great day and do 100 pull-ups without ripping. First things first make sure you have the correct grip

The second leading cause of callus tears aside from neglecting callus maintenance is an improper grip on the bar when doing pull-ups. Most of us have let go of the bar due to hand or callus pain.  A simple fix to your grip can help!

  • Move the bar up into your fingers. A common tendency is to jump up on a pull-up rig and lock the bar as deep in to your palm as possible. Doing pull-ups (kipping especially) causes friction between the bar and folded up palm skin and creates a nightmare for calluses as friction causes rips. The solution here is to keep the bar at the base of your fingers instead of your palm. When you hang from the bar with your hands in this position you will no longer hop off to see your calluses raised. Try it! From the starting position with the bar across the base of your fingers, you then roll the rest of your hands around the bar keeping either your thumb on top or underneath the bar whichever is more comfortable for you. Here’s an example from the blog Kill Fat Me.

Incorrect Pull-Up Grip

Incorrect Pull-up Grip

  Correct Pull-Up Grip

Proper Pull Up Grip

It may take some getting used to, but if you can get this grip down it will be much better for the overall health of your hands and help reduce ripping.
  • Keep a “light” grip. If you can’t (or won’t) switch grips, then at least keep a light grip during your pull-ups to minimize friction between the bar and your hands. While you’re thinking about the zillion other things that go in to a proper kipping or butterfly pull-up, think about keeping your grip light and not strangling the bar.
  • Listen to your body. The best thing to do during the workout to prevent rips. Most likely you know how many pull-ups you can do before you start to fatigue. The point of fatigue is where form gets sloppy, reps get aggressive and the chance of a callus rip increases. Whenever you feel it’s a struggle or painful to grip – let go and shake out your arms for a bit. Many times, people rip on the last rep or a rep they are pushing for.  This is where the rep options can save you.

Post Murph Recovery

Congrats, you did it!  Many gyms have BBQs or celebrations afterwards for some great community bonding time.  Many participants will have brutally sore muscles in the very near future.  Luckily, we are “Professional Recoverers” as well as skin care professionals:

  1. Replenish liquids & energy. Add some ounces of water with your beer consumption to avoid dehydration.  Yes, there is water in beer.  No, this does not count.
  2. Rehydrate your Hands & Skin. Yup, hand cream  
  3. Take a Recovery Bath. We recommend both Epsom Salt Bath Shots as well as Bath Bombs to help soothe and relax.  Alternately, hot tubs and massages are great.
  4. Apply a Muscle Rub. A great portable option for recovery and relieving muscle pain.
  5. Callus Maintenance. If you didn’t read this in time or for some reason you did rip your hands, we got you covered with our hand care kit options.


We hope you have a great workout and that these tips helped you for this and the workouts to come!

Your skin care friends,

The w.o.d.welder Team