What Hero Workouts Are and Why we do Murph

“To the average CrossFitter, Hero workouts are symbolic gestures of respect for our Fallen. CrossFitters from all over the world, regardless of country or allegiance, throw themselves wholeheartedly at these intentionally gut-wrenching workouts that serve as a tribute to our lost protectors.

They serve as a way to immortalize the fallen and remind ourselves that even in their untimely deaths these fellow CrossFitters were committed to the safety and freedom of the rest of us.

For those of us who undertake these physical tests, the psychological effects of performing a Hero workout are tremendous. It’s easy to treat these prescriptions as any workout of the day, but for those who take the time to learn about the heroes they honor, the WODs can become as spiritual and emotionally demanding as they are physically grueling.

When keeping the stories behind the real-life heroes in mind, slowing down during a Hero workout becomes harder to justify. When the pain of pushing harder becomes too great, I am reminded of the sacrifice these men made for my freedom, and my struggle becomes laughable. And when I compare my temporary suffering to the lifelong sorrow felt by the grieving families of these men, dropping the bar becomes an embarrassment to my country.

The Hero workout is more than a test of physical ability. It bridges the gap between the body and the mind, emotion and experience, and gives us the chance to do more than just remember our soldiers. It gives us the chance to sweat, bleed, suffer and grieve for our fallen heroes one rep at a time.”

— Russell Berger, CFJ 2010

The Meaning Behind Memorial Day Murph

Among the Hero workouts, one holds a special place in the hearts of Crossfitters and patriots alike—the Murph. Named after U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, this grueling workout has become a Memorial Day tradition. But who was Michael Murphy, and why does his legacy live on through this particular workout?

Michael Murphy, affectionately known as “Murph,” was a remarkable individual who embodied bravery, resilience, and a relentless commitment to service. As a Navy SEAL, he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he displayed unwavering courage in the face of adversity. Tragically, during a mission in 2005 (Red Wings), Murph sacrificed his own life to protect his team, leaving behind a legacy of honor and valor.

What is Murph?

One of Murphy’s favorite workouts was one he called Body Armor that he performed while wearing his gear, today we know it as Murph.

Murph consists of a series of exercises that test the physical and mental limits of the individual.

The workout consists of:

-one-mile run

-100 pull-ups

-200 push-ups

-300 squats

-one-mile run

all while wearing a weighted vest.

Scaling Options

If you’re new to fitness or just beginning your journey, don’t be discouraged—Murph can still be within your reach. Here are some scaling options to help you in the workout:

  • 1/2 Murph: Instead of attempting the full workout, consider decreasing the total volume of the workout For example, 1/2 mile run, 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 150 air squats, 1/2 mile run.
  • Pull-upsAssisted variations: If pull-ups are not in your reach, use a jumping pull-up, banded, pull-up, or ring row.
  • Push-ups- Modified: If standard push-ups are challenging, perform them against an elevated surface, such as a bench or box.
  • Running Alternatives: If running is not an option, use a bike or row instead.

Scaling the Memorial Day Murph allows individuals of all fitness levels to partake in this powerful tribute. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete, there are modifications and strategies that can be tailored to your abilities. The key is to challenge yourself while maintaining proper form and avoiding injury.

Hero workouts, such as Murph, go beyond physical fitness—they serve as a meaningful way to remember and honor the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. By participating in Murph , we push ourselves, experiencing a small fraction of the challenges faced by those we commemorate.

The workout unites us in a shared mission of remembrance, gratitude, and respect.

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