The Murph Crossfit Workout – and why it Rips

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Today I am going to tackle most famous of all Crossfit WODS. The Murph Crossfit workout. This workout is part of a group of workouts called Hero WODS. These are workouts named after fallen soldiers or first responders. Now, I’m not on at all to give hero status to those who just do their job, instead I believe heroes are men or women who have fallen in the line of duty while doing something extraordinary.

The WOD I want to talk about today is named after Lieutenant Michael Murphy. Here is a bit about this amazing man who became a hero for what the did one day not for what the does.

The WOD is best illustrated by this picture.

About The Man and His Hero Status

LT. Michael P. Murphy
United States Navy (SEAL)
May 7, 1976 – June 28, 2005

LT. Michael P. Murphy (SEAL) was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where the could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, the knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, the was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, LT. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

LT. Murphy fought on, allowing one member of his team (Marcus Luttrell) to escape, before the was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007.


This WOD is done in the United States on Memorial Day, other days as well I’m sure as part of the Murph Challenge. I’m not American, I’m Canadian and we do it twice a year, but never know when we will do it so we can’t be prepared. A little spice.

This WOD is brutal. You don’t just do it to complete it in a day. It’s all about time so you push yourself to your limit and beyond for yourself and for the man who came up with it. He did it regularly while on deployment and called it ‘Body Armor’ and encouraged everyone to wear a 20 lb weigh vest.


Murph is a hand destroyer. We do 100 pullups, yes 100. I don’t know anyone who can do that many pullups and not rip their hands or come very close without hand protection. Hand protection that won’t over heat your hands so that probably leaves out the gloves option. A simple Crossfit hand grip would be the only option for me and is usually the norm.

The other issue is knees. You run 2 miles with a bunch of stuff in between included 300 air squats. Now that in itself may not require you to wear the Rehband 7051 knee sleeves which are geared to heave lifting, but a lighter simpler knee sleeve that will keep your knees warm without over heating, but very flexible for the running portion. If you have strong knees with no knee problems then you may not need them at all. For myself, I have a thinner pair around my ankles during the run and then pull them up for the air squats (equating with no weight) because for that many my knees tend to get a bit sore. With the sleeves I wear, no soreness.

When I first did Murph, I strategies and strategies having no idea how to tackle this beast. In the end, I just started and what happened happened. At that time I had know idea how difficult this was. I completed the first mile fairly comfortably and went on to the pullups. That went well for the first 60 when my hands begun to sting. It was very hot outside and hot in the box so the pullup bar was wet and my hands constantly sweaty. I chalked up frequently, but in the end at around the 70 mark I ripped left-hand first and then a few more pullups and my right hand followed. I had no grips at that time so it was my own fault. By the time I made it to the 200 pushups I was doing each one of them with my hands in partial fists to keep my palms from the floor.

That day I learned my lesson. My knees felt great, but my hands were a mess. My time was as good as I hoped it would be but one look at my hands and I knew I wouldn’t be back to the box for at least two days.

I guess I took the long way around talking about what you need to complete a workout successfully without ripped hands that will surely slow you down and make the next few days of your life that much more difficult.

Me, I’ve been an active fittness buff for as long as I can remember and 5 years ago I put all of my efforts into the great sport of CrossFit.  This sport has elevated my fitness to new levels through a lot of hard work and dedication and I want to share this with you. Fitness keeps us healthy so get out there.

28 thoughts on “The Murph Crossfit Workout – and why it Rips

  1. Hello Stew,  I couldn’t help but be a bit intimidated by your article (in a motivating way).  When it comes to a working out, I tend to overdo things. I’m one of the few people I know that have worked out, left the gym and decided to go back and work out some more.  However, I was stunned the first time I took and Ab Class.  I quickly realized that my method of working out was way outdated.  So hello to CrossFit.  Again, thank you for the inspiring message and I’ll be sure to check out the hand and knee protection.  

    • Awesome that it motivated you.  These workouts are designed to get the best out of everyone and to get you in the greatest shape you can be in.

  2. Murph! I’ve never not ripped my hands during this WOD. You hit the nail on the head when you said you don’t know anyone who can do 100 pullups and not rip there hands. I definitely learnt that the hard way. Thanks for sharing and great tip regarding the hand protection. If you’re reading this and haven’t done Murph before… but you are a Crossfitter, then make sure you have hand protection in your bag for the time when Murph unexpectedly appears on the board in your gym. 

    • Great tip and glad you have done this WOD before.  It is easy on just about every part of your body but your hands.  Keep it up and do it again.

  3. I enjoyed reading Murphy’s story about how he risked his life to save his fellow fighters. Although I must say his workout looks impossible for most people.

    Crossfit I see is becoming more and more popular and you see more and more ripped people now than ever before. 

    Crossfit is a whole other place in sports gear. A range has been especially developed for the sport to help one protect various parts of the body. 

    For a beginner just starting out what would be the most important thing to get first? 

    • Great! Thank for stopping by.

      First thing you will need to attend a Crossfit class are Crossfit shoes.  They are vastly different than regular running shoes or trainers.  They are wider in the toe and among other things have a flat sole.

  4. I love fitness and being active in general and haven’t touched base on too much crossfit and similar activities. With that being said, it was really interesting to learn about the Murph Crossfit Workout and how it’s about challenging yourself which is something I also enjoy as well. It sounds more brutal than people expect which is why I appreciate you including the safety aspect for your hands. Great read I hope to try it someday!

    • Great!  Thank for the comment and I appreciate you stopping by.

      Murph will challenge the best of athletes when challenging the workout

  5. I have been doing this workout but i didn’t know where it came from. I t is really difficult to do it but it helps to get my body fit.When i pass more than 2 weeks without doing workout i  feel sick that showed me how important workout is necessary to our health.

    Thank you for sharing with us

  6. Hey Stew, 

    First I must say amazing story, not one I had heard about. I think it is great to do something like this in Murph’s name and honour. When you say that you do this a couple times a year, do you mean as a competition? Do raise funds for charity?

    The exercise  is gruelling just to look at, I can’t imagine having the strength and determination for a workout that is this difficult. The workout I use to do and thought it was gruelling, but doesn’t come close to this. In saying this, I don’t think even when I was young and very athletic that I could have completed anything close to Murph’s workout.Because of the level of exercise that is done, I am sure it is a must to own both the hand protection and knee support. 


    • We do it as part of our regular gym workouts a couple of times a year.  In the US their is a competition on Memorial Day

  7. I have never personally tried Crossfit, but I have been interested for years. I love that they dedicated this WOD to a Navy Seal Hero. <3 That’s spectacular. I can definitely see why having the right gear is important. I’m doing boot camp at my gym which is probably not as all-out as crossfit, but I find myself so paranoid about my knees all the time. Maybe it would be a good idea to get some of the knee sleeves!

  8. Hi Stew,

    I have never done this one myself, but seems like it could be fun. The question I have for you is that…

    Do you think that such WOD is actually helpful for you? I mean obviously we are doing sports to be fit and healthy, but I feel like this is just purposely destroying your body. Why would you do a 100 of each exercise I mean what will it give you? Usually the amount about 40 per exercise is enough to make the part of the body grow.

    Personally, I like to do such things on time. Like minute each or so, because you know where you are with your performance and how you feel.

    Just want to hear your opinion..


    • Yes Crossfit is extreme and very intense.  It’s about how far you can take yourself and amaze yourself.  Doing Murph for example and bettering your previous time just makes you pump your fist in the air before you collapse to the ground.

      Marathon races take may athletes to their limit and beyond.  This is not much different really

  9. I am very glad I found your article. I have been thinking about trying out CrossFit an for quite some time but never knew where and how to start it. I liked very much that you also wrote about Murphy, his life really touched me. 

    So, do I understand it right (sorry if not 🙂 ), you train yourself with crossfit in order to be ready for WOD as a challange?

    It was very useful to read how important it is to use hand protection, honestly I did not think about it. Do you think it is also good to have if I am just about to start crossfit?

    • I train daily to keep fit.  Crossfit workouts are always geared toward compering because they are in groups, the coach say go and it’s all about time.

  10. I love this website ! I’ve really enjoyed your articles on the training equipment you’ve reviewed and I have put the rehband 7051 knee sleeves on my wish list already.

    This workout makes me tired just reading about it! I can’t even do three pull ups now! 

    Michael Murphy was a true hero and it’s been a privilege reading about his brave actions. It’s great that you have honoured him on your website. 

    Great work and I look forward to future articles! 

  11. I was looking for a new type of work-out for me and my husband, and I came across your article.  As I was reading, my husband started reading it with me.  I don’t personally do pull-ups, but he likes to, at least 2x a week, but his hands always feel raw and sore after the work-out, and he has tried different things before but nothing really helped him.

    He was happy with your advice about the hand grips, and he can’t wait to give them a try. 



  12. Thanks for sharing that awesome story! 200 push ups is a lot and I’m not surprised lol, I can’t even do 10 without falling to the ground, maybe that is an indicator that I need to workout more.

    I have always put off working out, sure I do go jogging most nights for fitness for football however I could do with improving my core as I’m quite week and skinny.

    I’ll have to try out this crossfit training and see if it works for me, it should help me become fitter as long as I put the work in.

    Do you recommend any other types of training for someone who plays football (soccer)?



    • We had someone recently who was having a hard time getting in the lineup of his University Football team.  Our owner who is an awesome trainer took him and coached him in Crossfit for a few months and he ended up getting in the lineup.

      For soccer I wouldn’t do Crossfit a whole lot.  You need to be quick and nimble on your feet.  Crossfit will naturally add a lot of muscle to your body very quickly.

  13. Well I know I cant even come close to doing all these feats but my God your article has to be an inspiration to everyone.  We dont honor our heroes enough.  Lots of times because they dont want the honor.  Kudos to those who can do all these exercises.  Kudos to you for taking the time to write this article.

  14. This was a great story told in a flowing manner that held my attention from the first paragraph (the images also caught my attention before the paragraph – good job!)…I like the way you tied the workout regimen into the need for protective gear that you recommend…

    This was done in a non-pushy manner, so it makes perfect sense to me that before trying such a vigorous workout, I would want to get the gloves and knee protection gear. They do look like they are designed for the job at hand (no pun intended). Great job with this article!

    I am a retired military member (over 20 years retired now), and I can definitely relate to the need for a regular exercise regimen. Although a LOT older now, I still get my 3-4 x a week workouts in. I no longer run marathons like 20 years ago, but I could if I had the time.

    The story of Lt. Murphy is inspiring, and one that can help motivate anyone to get involved in such a challenge. I had not heard of this before, but most certainly will look into being a part of this from here on out. The Murph Crossfit workout is something I want to be a part of!

    How often do you do these? Is it something coordinated at some level or just a when desired activity/workout? I am going to ask some of my workout buddies to see if they have heard of this (I think not) so it looks like we will have a new great workout to pull out once in a while! Thanks…

    • Our workouts are class based and competitive.  Each morning we find out what the workout will be and once or twice a year it’s Murph and it hurts a lot, but is very satisfying to finish in a better time than the previous

  15. Thanks for enlightening me on crossfit, WODs and Lt. Michael Murphy. I’m not physically able to be involved in that sort of thing right now, but I appreciate the way that the Murph WOD honors the Lieutenant (I’m an Air Force vet, so I appreciate almost anything veteran-related). What you’ve shared with me reminds me of former Army Ranger Lt. Nick Bare; he’s an absolute fitness fanatic who started a nutritional supplement company before he had even exited the military, video taping nearly his every move. I will definitely keep crossfit and your blog in mind, when I can return to regular physical (migraines have interrupted my life, at this point). Thanks for the post. 

  16. Interesting article. I appreciate what you had to say about Lt. Murphy. Reminds me of former Army Ranger Lt. Nick Bare, who had started a nutritional supplements company while he was still in the military, of all times. Bare is a huge crossfit guy who has taken fitness to the next level. Your article made me think that I’d like to take my physical condition to the next level, once I’m physically capable of doing so; for the time being, I’m facing a chronic migraine issue that has gotten me on disability. But, back to your article, your information helped me to think that fitness need not be boring, with one being faced with the same workout routine each day; the workout of the day concept has given me something to think about. Thanks for the post. 

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