Honor Your Body, Honor Your Country

Each year on Memorial Day weekend the fitness community comes together to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom...
Zac Ansaldo
May 14, 2021
Honor Your Body, Honor Your Country

Memorial Day Murph

Each year on Memorial Day weekend the fitness community comes together to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom with what the CrossFit community calls "Murph".

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, NY, who was killed in Afghanistan June 28, 2005. A United States Navy SEAL officer, Murphy was awarded the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. His other posthumous awards include the Silver Star Medal (which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor) and the Purple Heart.

The “Murph” Hero WOD was originally posted on the CrossFit Main Site as the workout of the day for Thursday August 18, 2005 (050818), where the post said “This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it ‘Body Armor.’ From here on it will be referred to as ‘Murph’ in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.”

Murph has grown popular and those outside the CF community take part as well. It is a big event and for good reason, it’s a grueling workout that tests physical and mental strength. The workout itself is:

For time:

1 mile run

100 pull ups

200 push ups

300 air squats

1 mile run

*With weight vest (20/14 lbs.)

I love this workout

It was my first experience participating in CrossFit, it opened my eyes to a new style of training, and much of it fall right in my wheelhouse. It’s a fun way to honor those who have served our country. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who have fought for us to live the way we do. Those soldiers’ assignment gave them purpose and intention in everything they do. For years I have drawn parallels to the lessons learned in the gym to places outside the walls of the gym as well. Live with intention, endlessly seek self-improvement, and be the best version of yourself. When we take care of ourselves we are able to better serve our own purpose no matter what it is.

What I don’t love about this tradition

Suffering seems to be worn as badge of honor. The more you beat yourself down the more high fives you will get from your friends. You can still honor your countrymen (and women) without punishing your body.

Torturous workouts go against my training/ coaching philosophies, work smarter. I’d love it if more coaches took a smarter way to celebrate. We can challenge ourselves and even push the envelope on occasion but for a large sector of the community this workout is above their ability to level.

Honor Your Body AND Your Country

If you have the capacity for all those reps with proper mechanics it’s a great challenge. If not it could be a recipe for not being able to walk for the next 3 days, or worse yet, an injury. Michael Murphy was a trained soldier trained for battle to fight for our country. You are a gym rat who serve yourself and maybe your family. Like every other day you should leave with a bit left in the tank so you can fulfill your purpose outside the gym.

The stimulus of the workout is to challenge our bodyweight strength and stamina sandwiched between two moderate duration cardiovascular work (running). Time domain should be roughly 35-55 minutes.

Working Smarter > Working Harder

A few ideas of how to modify this workout while honoring your body:

Modified Murph (volume)

For time (45 minute time cap)

Run 800-1000m

-then immediately into

  20 Rounds of-

  2-3 Pullups or Ring Rows (unbroken)

  6-8 Hand Release Pushups

  10-12 Air Squats

-then immediately into-

Run 800-1000m

Interval Style:

8-10 Rounds for time (45 minute time cap)

200-300m run

5 Pull-ups

10 Pushups

15 Air Squats

There are many ways you could rewrite this workout to stay within your capabilities, these are just two simple examples. I do believe anything over an hour should have been scaled. In my opinion, your coach is doing you a disservice if some of the athletes are finishing sub 40 minutes while others are allowed to go 70-80 minutes. Scale appropriately everyone will finish their variation in a relatively similar amount of time.

Each time you do this, or any workout, remember why you’re there. What is your purpose and who are you serving. Consider modifying your workout to honor your countrymen (and women), honor your body, and have fun!

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