Michael Murphy

Today, May 30th, 2016, Memorial Monday, I attempted the infamous “Murph” workout. This workout is to commemorate a Navy SEAL officer by the name of Michael Patrick Murphy. I felt Memorial Day would be a great day to try this workout for the first time. Here’s a spoiler: I did not finish the workout 🙁

The “Murph” Workout

This workout is quite simple, and anything but easy. It goes like this:

  1. 1-mile run
  2. 100 pull-ups
  3. 200 pushups
  4. 300 air squats
  5. 1-mile run

All done with a 20 pound weight vest on.

The Warm-Up

I did a typical warm-up routine prior driving to the park. It consisted of “flossing” and mobility work of my lower body and shoulders. I took a walk around the mile long trail in the park as a warm-up. That also gave me an idea of which path I need to stay on since there were no dedicated trails for exactly 1 mile.

There was only one pull-up station at the park so I planned the mile run around it. After some leg swings and dynamic stretches, I put on my weight vest and started my first mile.

The First Mile

The first mile wasn’t too bad. I rarely run anything longer than 400 meters so I was surprised I wasn’t really winded. I used to be able to run sub-8 minute miles no problem without a weight vest. That was over a year ago however. Thesoldier-917922_640 first mile was 7:32, which I thought was reasonable given I hadn’t ran anything longer than a mile since mid-2015.

Where I Failed

Here is where I failed. My initial plan was to break up the sets into the following:

  • 10 reps of pull-ups
  • 20 reps of pushups
  • 30 reps of air squats

This way, I’ll do 10 sets of the above and move on to the last mile. Or so I thought.

The first 2 sets weren’t much of a problem. Then the 3rd set pull-ups showed me how weak I was at pull-ups. I started breaking them into 5 reps, while keeping the same rep scheme for the pushups and air squats. The pushups and air squats were grueling, but very much doable.

It got to the point where I completed my pushups and air squats but still had 50 reps of pull-ups left. I was so winded and my heart rate was so jacked I didn’t know if I could continue the pull-ups.

I started kipping into the pull-ups and although it helped at first, it didn’t last long. I didn’t feel kipping does this workout justice anyway so I didn’t count them. At this point it was muscular failure more than me being winded. I just wasn’t able to do the pull-ups unlesman-80086_640s I took very long rests between each rep. The arms felt like jello and the weight vest a million pounds.

The Last Mile

I stopped at 60 reps of pull-ups and went on to the last mile. This may have been the hardest mile I’ve ever ran. I was determined to not stop and walk at any point. The weight vest felt like a ton at this point and every step was harder than the last. I was able to finish the mile without stopping or walking.

I forgot to time the last mile and I couldn’t even give you a wild guess as to what it was. But it sure felt like forever.

Lesson Learned and Future Plan

My pull-up strength is definitely not where it needs to be for this workout. I feel it’s way too weak if the 3rd set was giving me trouble. Although I am disappointed in myself for not finishing the workout, I’m glad I got to know what it feels like. I plan to do this again before the Memorial Day of next year just to see my progress over time.

Also, I’m definitely going to have someone do the timing and rep counting for me. I feel I can concentrate on just doing the workout better if I didn’t constantly think about the time. Having someone count the reps would confirm my own count as well.

And last but not least, I’m going to go into it next time with a better plan. I think a lighter rep scheme for the pull-ups would serve me better, even though I feel I would be stronger at pull-ups by the next time I try this workout. And definitely not quitting even if I have to take a minute rest after every rep.

Have you ever done this workout? If not, tempted to give it a try? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Stay healthy,


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Written by 

I've just started getting serious about health and fitness around 2014. Since then I've learned the insider info on how to optimize athletic performance and healthy living through both nutrition and proper training. The most important thing I've discovered however, is the connection between the mindset of those that excel in athletics, and those that succeed in their life pursuits. I've spent the last couple years observing and drawing these connections and similarities, finally created a platform to share with you all what I've found, and how to apply them in your own life to get similar results.

6 thoughts on “My Murph Workout Attempt-5-30-16

  1. Hi,
    Man, Love you website and your way of thinking.
    You wroth everything that new trainer and veteran need to have to success: Eat, Sleep, Nutrition, and supplements.
    I was working out from age 23 – 28 4 days a week, now I have 2 kids, Home, and a Mortgage, so the Jim stepped a side for the last 2 years. I always have guilt that I stopped working out, but your website remained me how much I loved and missed it. I defiantly getting back to work out even 1 -2 days a week.
    Continue with your god work!

    1. Efi,

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m trying to promote well-roundedness and it seems I’m getting there! There will be much more content coming up.

      I understand life can hit us in a number of directions. But I’m sure with perseverance, there’s no way you won’t be doing what you love again!


  2. Hi Wing,
    What a great recounting of that incredibly tough workout regimen you attempted in honor of that Naval Seal officer. Let me tell you 35 years ago, (I’m now 58 years old) I could have finished those two, one-mile runs as I ran track and field for years starting in h.s. and on into college. Not any more unless I’m pedaling my bicycle. Push-ups maybe 200 bought divided in half. The pull-ups would have been impossible however. No way could I probably complete even 10. I’m also not quite sure about those air squats, I’d have to see them demonstrated by some athlete to see exactly the technique employed. We did squat thrusts on the track and field team and I’m not sure they were the same technique as required as part of this Murphy workout regimen.
    I still applaud you Wing for attempting such an incredibly difficult regimen. I seriously doubt that 99% of all human beings on Planet Earth could complete this regimen successfully.

    1. Jeff,

      Thanks for sharing your experience! Track and field definitely gets anyone in shape, I’m sure those runs would’ve been no problem for you. I wouldn’t sell myself short on the pushups and pullups. Just a bit of training and keeping a good pace, I’m sure you’ll get there.

      As far as the air squats, they are simply bodyweight squats (well with a 20 lb vest on in this case). Feet flat on the ground, toes forward or slightly out, shoulder width apart of a bit wider, and just drop your hips to parallel or below. I personally go til I “sit on my calves” lightly each time as it ensures that I’m going below parallel.

      Thanks for your kind words, Jeff. It does take physical and mental discipline to complete this and I plan to before the year’s end!


  3. I love this article. I like out you talked it out and sort of explained what you were thinking throughout the workout.

    Also, showing how determined you were can be very inspiring to anyone reading this article, including myself. After reading this I actually want to go work out!

    I think you should continue doing this with other workouts that you do because I’m sure it will inspire a lot of people.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Justin,

      Glad you enjoyed this article. It’s never been that difficult for me to recall how my workouts feel at various stages. I guess it’s due to my obsession with recalling how my last workout was during the current workout and comparing how my body is responding.

      I’m happy that I’ve inspired you to workout as wel!


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