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The Murph Challenge and How to Train for It

The Murph Challenge and How to Train for It

The Murph Challenge is a fitness challenge that takes place every Memorial Day. Named after fallen Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, people pay to sign up for the challenge, with proceeds going toward the Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. The Foundation has raised over a million dollars and now awards 27 or more scholarships every year and keeps growing as more people sign up to honor Lt. Murphy. However, like the SEAL it was named for, the challenge is known to be tough. Even if you’re in top physical condition, you’re going to want to train for the challenge well ahead of time. But it’s doable if you start early enough with your training.

What Exercises are in the Murph Challenge?

You may be wondering what the Murph Challenge actually consists of. It’s a round of these exercises all performed while wearing a 20-pound weighted vest.

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

The vest obviously adds to the difficulty, even for the very physically fit. Even if you can do all of these things without the vest, once you add that in, you’ll have to do extra preparation.

Break Down the Workout

While you may hear someone say, ‘you have to do everything through exactly the way it’s written,’ that’s just not true. No rule says you have to do 100 pull-ups at once. The important thing is doing everything to honor Lt. Murphy.

running murph challenge

So, consider breaking up the workout to make it easier on your body. For example, you could do a 1-mile run, 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 150 squats, repeat the cycle and end with another mile run.

Depending on your fitness level, you may need more or less time to train. You’ll want to emphasize your endurance and not just your strength and power because the Murph is known to be tiring.

What if You Can’t Run or Do a Pull-Up?

Most people who work out can do a squat or a push-up, but many people struggle with running a continuous mile. Additionally, the exercise most people have trouble with is a pull-up. You can fix that in about a month, though.

pull ups murph challenge

1-mile Run Training:  If you’re not a runner, you’ll want to start slow. This program gets you to run one continuous mile over the course of 30 days. It starts with a combination of running and walking. Gradually you run more than you walk until you’re running the full mile.

Pull-Ups Training: Pull-ups are the most difficult of exercises for many people. You have to get used to moving your body through a vertical space instead of a horizontal and engaging the specific muscles necessary to do that. A female Marine, Maj. Misty Posey, created a program to help anyone do pull-ups. 

Training in Rounds

If you’re in good shape, a Murph training plan can be done in about three weeks. To do this, you’ll break down the exercises and increase your reps. There are multiple training programs you can look at, but the easiest way to train for the Murph is to do the exercises in rounds. 

push up murph challenge

If you’re already advanced in training, you can start with more reps. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

10 Rounds

  • 10 pull-ups
  • 20 push-ups
  • 30 squats

Or you can split up the Murph and do fewer reps with more rounds.

20 Rounds

  • 5 push-ups
  • 5 pull-ups
  • 5 push-ups
  • 15 squats

Add the Mile

After you’ve accomplished this, then add in a mile run at the beginning or end of your rounds. Then you’ll want to try it at least once with a mile run at both the beginning and the ends.

squat murph challenge

Note for the Murph Challenge Beginners

Give yourself plenty of time to master these exercises. If you can’t do this many reps or rounds, you can break down your rounds even further. 

For example, perhaps you can only do 2 rounds of these reps–keep increasing your rounds as the days go on until you can do the full Murph.

Best Accessories for Murph

Once you can do the Murph, it’s time to add the 20-pound vest. Look for one with adjustable straps. Most people find the kind that doesn’t cover their entire body to be the most comfortable, but some prefer full military-style coverage.

If you can’t do a full 20 pounds yet, start with a 12-pound vest and work your way up.

Furthermore, be sure to wear athletic clothes that will wick away sweat and not chafe under your weighted vest. Cotton isn’t a good choice for this because it keeps the moisture right next to your skin, and that will feel extremely bad in a few minutes under your vest.

Remember to Rest

Make sure you take time to rest between reps. It will help you not burn out too quickly. Drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty, too. Sleep and diet are also important to get the most out of training–be sure to get your full 6 to 9 hours and eat well.

What Should Your Goal Time Be?

So, what time should you aim for? It depends on your goal. SEALFit, a workout program modeling itself on the Navy SEALS’ demanding workout, lists 75 minutes as its standard. 

But when all is said and done, the Murph Challenge is for you. It’s a personal best workout. So, don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. When you focus on doing all the exercises and honoring Lt. Murphy, you can’t go wrong!

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