Before you start your journey to successfully completing the MURPH Challenge, you should know how it came to be and who Lieutenant (LT) Michael P. Murphy was.
An absolute hero. A consummate warrior. A true leader. LT Michael P. Murphy, Navy SEAL, was those things and much more. In 2005, LT Murphy made the ultimate sacrifice while battling enemy forces in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings. An excerpt of LT. Murphy’s Congressional Medal of Honor citation reads, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan.”
The MURPH began as a CrossFit Hero Workout Of The Day (WOD) to remember LT. Murphy’s ultimate sacrifice and to simulate his workout. You see, Lt. Murphy created the workout he named “Body Armor” and did all the events while wearing his 20lb + armor.
Why should someone do the MURPH Challenge? I spoke to Shannon Cofield, a military veteran, and longtime MURPH participant. Shannon told me, “I always remind folks to remember the purpose: it’s not about how good you can do or how fast YOU can go. Murph is about remembering LT. Michael Murphy and his courage and sacrifice. In CrossFit, we like to struggle together- to build comradery and shared experiences. CrossFit has its roots in the military and SpecOps. Especially the older gyms (“boxes”) near bases.”
You do not have to be in the military or be a veteran to do the MURPH Challenge. Civilians are absolutely encouraged to take part. Everyone from Chris Pratt to John Krasinski to Dwayne Johnson has done it.
Do you want to complete the MURPH Challenge? Here are the events you need to complete in a row. Oh, and don’t forget to wear at least a 20lb vest or body armor! And yes, this is for time.
1. 1 Mile Run
2. 100 Pull-ups
3. 200 Push-ups
4. 300 Squats
5. 1 Mile Run
I know that is a serious list of events!
I spoke with Joshua Appel. Josh is a former U.S. Air Force Pararescueman. He was part of a rescue team during Operation Red Wings and one of the first major proponents of raising awareness of the MURPH. Josh told me, “You can really do it however you want. If you can’t do pull-ups, do ring rows or some sort of pulling exercise. You can make a MURPH for anybody, even if you are in a wheelchair. It’s not about the workout; it’s about the effort.” Josh told me about his 90-year-old dad completing a modified MURPH using an assault bike and other methods to complete the workout. It [the MURPH] is about effort and dedication.”
The goal of the MURPH Challenge is to complete the events, even if you have to scale the events down to complete them.
Michael Sauers, former Navy SEAL and Forged® founder, gives some great advice on preparing for the MURPH Challenge. Michael said, “It is an intimidating workout if you look at it. With a good two-month workup, you’ll be able to complete a MURPH Challenge.”
Michael gives excellent advice for preparing for the pull-up and push-up events. Michael says to keep your grip shoulder width apart. If you can’t complete a pull-up, start with a dead hang, meaning you let your body hang from the bar. Try to hold that for 20-seconds. As you work on your pull-ups, you can use resistance bands to assist you. Still can’t do a solid pull-up? Have a shoulder injury? Try doing ring-rows, using rings or TRX. For push-ups, make sure you keep your head up and back straight. Lower yourself to the “deck,” as Navy Veteran Mike says, and push your way up. If you are having a tough time with the push-ups, then you can do push-ups from your knees.
I also asked Shannon about how someone should prepare for the MURPH challenge. Shannon said, “Honestly, if you follow a good CrossFit program, you’ll be ready for anything. Nothing gimmicky, just consistency and putting in the work- in and out of the gym. It [the MURPH] is NOT easy. So, about a month before Murph, it’s good to do some longer workouts.”
I reached out to the Official MURPH Challenge, powered by Forged®. Registration for the upcoming 2023 MURPH opens on April 1, 2023, and if you want to host a MURPH, registration begins on March 1, 2023. There is also an Official MURPH Challenge Training Program that begins mid-March and includes a 65-day training program. You can find out more about the Official Murph Challenge at themurphchallenge.com
More Than A Workout
The MURPH Challenge is not only a way to remember the lasting legacy of LT. Murphy, but it is also a way to support the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. The challenge has raised nearly $2 million supporting educational scholarships and the LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum.