The Essence Of Murph: Looking Back After 10 Years

The start of Murph many years ago, back at the old spot!

“Murph” as it’s known, is a workout in the CrossFit world that has outgrown it’s roots and taken hold in the greater fitness realm as one of the toughest workouts there is … and for good reason.

This blog will break down the workout, the hero, and what it means to do Murph and how to approach it.

The Workout

As it was written by CrossFit back in 2005, it is:

1 Mile Run

100 Pullups

200 Pushups

300 Air Squats

1 Mile Run

If you have a 20lb vest or body armor, wear it.

The workout starts and ends with the mile, but the stuff in the middle, you can break that up however you want. Most people do 10 rounds of 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 30 squats. Some get more creative in their breakdown, but by the end, all the reps get completed before starting that next mile.

As with all CrossFit workouts, you are encouraged to modify appropriately so it’s a challenging workout but doable for your fitness background.

Some do “half” a Murph (half reps of everything), some opt for ring rows instead of pullups, or knee pushups, or rowing instead of running. The modification options are almost endless.

The workout for most people takes in the neighborhood of 45min to 90min.

Who Is Murph

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 he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he 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, he 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 he was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007. We honor his sacrifice and memory through The Murph Challenge. Find out more about Michael Murphy at the Memorial Foundation created in his name.

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Also check out the movie called Lone Survivor, highly recommend to get a better idea of the man and his actions.

Worth noting, the workout that we call “Murph” is the workout that he did EVERY Wednesday, just part of his training routine to stay fit and prepared for his job.

What Is The “Essence” Of Murph

Ok, so we know about the workout and about Murph.

What is the essence? What is the workout really about?

In my opinion, as a SEAL and as a gym owner, I would say two things.

First, it’s about remembering an American hero who selflessly laid down his life for his teammates and country.

“A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.” – President Abraham Lincoln

Second, it’s about making choices that lean into discomfort (and away from comfort itself)

…whatever that is for YOU.

The workout is NOT about:


Your Time

Weight Vest or Not

How You Modify The Workout

What Time Of Day You Do The Workout

What Obstacles May Be In Your Way

What Life Is Throwing At You At The Moment


This is different for each of us, for our fitness backgrounds and for our current stage of life.

You should do the workout in a way that challenges you. It should be uncomfortable.

You should do the workout regardless of life’s obstacles. Just warmup and modify accordingly.

Don’t let ego sabotage you.

The easy way is never the right way.

Some may have a new baby and are low on sleep, or kids/pets schedules to contend with, or social plans, or a heavy work demand with deadlines.

It may not be easy to fit Murph in … but easy is not our path.

Some may have an arduous job to do all day only to then do Murph after.

It may not be easy to do Murph after work … but easy is not our path.

As Jocko would say to any problem … “good”

Learning to navigate life by choosing the path of discomfort will lead to a richer, more fulfilling life.

10 Years Later

Both The Murph Challenge and ResoluteFIT/CrossFit Frogman are having their 10 year anniversary this year.

I’ve done Murph more times than I can count.

I’ve done it with a bunch of other hard charging Navy SEALs on a Navy base

I’ve done it with my wife and our son in a stroller

I’ve done it first thing in the morning in the summer

I’ve done it at midnight, with outdoor runs, in the winter

Each and every Murph has a memory for my life at that point in time. No Murph is better than any others, they are just different, offering a unique snapshot to my life at that point in time. I look back with fondness at both that hard chargin Murph with my fellow SEALs and at the Murph where my wife and I ran with a stroller. What matters is that each and every time, I leaned into discomfort.

How will you tackle Murph this year?



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