Memorial Day + MURPH!

Memorial Day + MURPH!

Every year on the last Monday of May, we recognize and honor those who have lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day is a holiday recognized nationwide. In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking that at 3:00pm the nation stop and remember those who gave their lives for our country. There are many ways that people pay their respects on this day; memorial services, parades, visiting graves and decorating them in flowers and so many more.

In the world of fitness, many choose to remember these service members by participating in a Hero WOD. A Hero WOD is a workout that is created to pay tribute to those who have died while honorably serving in the line of duty. Each Hero WOD is named after someone who has given their life in such a way. There are over 1000 Hero WODS but the most popularly participated in on Memorial Day is MURPH.

The Hero WOD called “MURPH” is named after Lieutenant Michael Murphy. He was killed in action on June 28th, 2005 in Afghanistan. He is credited with risking his own life to save those of his teammates by exposing himself to the enemy in order to transmit a call to headquarters in request for assistance. While making said call he was shot in the back which caused him to drop the transmitter. He picked it back up and finished the call all while the enemy was firing at him and moving in closer. He did make it back to his men, but continued to fight on allowing one of his team members to escape before he was eventually killed. After his death he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his sacrifice.

The WOD named after him was actually a workout he used to perform himself regularly. It consists of 4 movements and is done while wearing a weighted vest. When completing Murph or any other Hero WOD the idea is to reflect on the sacrifice that was made by that soldier or service member and reflect on how through their actions, we as a country are able to hold onto the freedoms we have. While enduring any Hero workout, think about the pain and suffering that these service members may have experienced. Learn about their stories, think about those who lost them, and remember them as if they were someone you would have known.

Lieutenant Michael Murphy

The workout MURPH is performed as written below.

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pull ups
  • 200 push ups
  • 300 air squats
  • 1 mile run

Since this workout is high volume in reps, it is not for the faint of heart. Many of those who participate in it already train at higher intensities and with more volume on a regular basis. In order to prepare for doing this workout on Memorial Day it is smart to increase your volume of these movements ahead of time. Start increasing the distance you run. Start increasing the volume of your pulling movements, your pushing movements, and your air squats. Adding some similar training into your workout routine will help a ton and could look a number of ways. Below are some simple MURPH prep WODS to try. Any of these can be scaled back by decreasing movement difficulty or made more challenging by adding a weighted vest.


If you struggle with pull ups, ring rows are a great option as are banded pull ups. If you struggle with push ups, you can modify them by doing them on your knees or on an incline like a bench or a box. Running can always be subbed out for biking, rowing, or any other cardio machine.


  • 10 rounds unweighted 5 pull ups
  • 10 push ups
  • 15 airsquats
  • 4min AMRAP x4 rest 1:00 between sets
  • 200m run
  • 5 pull ups
  • 10 push ups 15 air squats
  • 3 rounds of 400m run
  • 20 pull ups
  • 20 air squats
  • 400m run
  • 20 push up
  • 20 air squats

4) If you need to work specifically on your push ups. Test your max set and then do 30% of that every minute on the minute for 8-10 minutes. This is something you could add into your programming a few days a week leading up to Murph. You can add difficulty by increasing your percentage per minute or by adding weight.


By Maureen Medrzycki, CF-L1 

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