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MURPH Hero WOD: Workout Tips & Strategies

May 10, 2019

MURPH WOD Workout Tips & Strategies

Every Memorial Day, the boxes across the country get together for “Murph”, an annual HERO WOD in memory of Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy who gave his life in battle in Afghanistan on June 28th 2005 .

The Murph Challenge is 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:

First, determine if you will use a weighted vest or body armor. While 20 pounds sounds light, keep in mind this is a force multiplier for every movement of the workout. This is standard for competitive-level athletes.

The 1 mile runs are done as is but the pull-ups, push-ups & squats can be split up. This common strategy breaks up high volume which may be impossible for some, down to a grueling chipper that keeps you moving. Doing each movement 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 effort 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 – Drink plenty of water before, during and after.
  2. Pre-Workout Nutrition – Fuel up accordingly.
  3. Rest – Maybe the worst day to be hung over or tired.
  4. Mobility – Get your stretch on!
  5. Callus Maintenance – 100 pull ups is a lot and the easiest way to heal an injury is to prevent it from happening. Rip free workouts should always be the goal because 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 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 gross pharmacy versions. 

With a Callus Shaver. Another popular option is a callus shaver with wet OR dry hands. We recommend trying both to see what works for you.

Secondly, you want to make sure your skin is hydrated. Chalk, push-ups and touching equipment all zap moisture out of your hands. When you use dry and rigid hands for a max effort set of pull-ups you push your skin to the limit. Our advice:

    Wash your hands. Your skin does absorb some moisture when washed but too much washing or washing with hot water does more harm than good. Make sure all the chalk and dirt is off your hands post workout. Use a cream, not a lotion: The higher water content of lotions makes them thin and not able to moisturize like 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

      Now that your hands are in top shape heading in to the workout, let’s make this a great day and do 100 pull-ups without ripping. 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. 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. When you hang from the bar with your hands in this position you will no longer hop off to see your calluses raised.

      From the starting position with the bar across the base of your fingers, roll the rest of your hand 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.

    • Keep a light grip. If you can’t or won’t switch grips, at least keep a light grip during pull-ups to minimize friction.

    • Listen to your body. You may know how many pull-ups you can do before you start to fatigue. The point of fatigue is where form gets sloppy and reps get aggressive. Whenever you feel it’s a struggle or painful to grip, let go and shake out your arms. This is where the rep partitioning can save you.

      Post Murph Recovery

      Congrats, you completed a Memorial Day Murph!  Most will have very sore muscles in the near future. Luckily, we are “Professional Recoverers” as well as skin care professionals.

      1. Replenish liquids & energy. Drink some water before you crack a celebratory beer to avoid dehydration. 
      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.
      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.

       Hope these tips help and we wish you good luck!