Mastering MURPH: Tips from Julie Foucher
Top 5 MURPH Tips from CrossFit® Games Athlete Julie Foucher
Preparing for MURPH and Choosing a Weight Vest
Memorial Day is just a few days away and while most ordinary Americans will be relaxing at barbecues, eating hot dogs and enjoying a lazy day off, many in the CrossFit community will spend it mastering MURPH, in pain!
The reason for their pain; MURPH:
MURPH is aCrossFit workout that honors Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005. It is a Hero WOD, one of the many most intense workouts intended to be performed at max effort because anything less would fail to honor the hero bearing name of the WOD. In CrossFit, a fitness system known for its no-nonsense workouts, MURPH is considered one of its most brutal.
It is a timed workout that starts with a one-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats and finished off with another one-mile run.
Lt. Murphy created the workout himself and originally christened it “Body Armor” because he did it wearing his 20 lb tactical body armor.
Oh yeah, and did I mention it is supposed to be done wearing a 20 lb weight vest to honor the challenge of Lt. Murphy wearing his body armor while tackling his workout?
While it is simple in design, it is anything but in execution. The sheer volume of reps is daunting. Any one part by itself would be a tough workout. Put them all together, throw on a weight vest, race the stopwatch and you have yourself one serious trip to the pain cave.
This Memorial Day I will attempt my first MURPH. As a non-crossfitter and MURPH virgin, I asked 4x CrossFit Games athlete Julie Foucher for some MURPH training and survival tips.
HW: Will you be tackling MURPH this Memorial Day?
Julie: Absolutely! I do it every year on Memorial Day and it’s always a highlight.
HW: How many times have you performed it in the past?
Julie: According to my results in Beyond the Whiteboard, I’ve done MURPH eight times since starting CrossFit in June of 2009.
HW: What is your best time?
Julie: My best time with a vest was 40 min 7 seconds in 2014 and without a vest was 31:49 in 2013. (to put that into perspective anything around 30 minutes is in the elite category).
HW: Do you wear a weight vest?
Julie: Yes, I usually wear my Hyper Vest PRO. I have done it both with and without in the past.
HW: What is your strategy for completing it? How do you break up your rounds?
Julie: When wearing a vest, I usually do sets of 5-10-15. Without the vest sometimes I will do 10-10-15 until I am done with my pull-ups and then 10 more sets of 10-15.
HW: Do you take rest breaks in between or just go straight through?
Julie: I go straight through as much as I can. Although I often have to break up the push-up sets.
HW: With only a few weeks to go what do you recommend for training/practice leading up to the day?
Julie: I recommend adding more of the Murph movements to your workouts. Try different variations of the workout, for example; 5 rounds of 400 m run, 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 squats. You might also want to start wearing your weight vest in some workouts too.
HW: Do you have any good hydration/nutrition tips?
Julie: If I am doing a long workout, especially in high heat and humidity, I will add some electrolyte tabs to my water or make sure I recover with a drink like Formula O2.
HW: What’s the best advice you can give a 1st timer?
Julie: My best advice for a first timer is to just keep moving. This workout is much more difficult mentally than physically. At times, it may seem as if you are hardly making progress, but if you just keep moving forward one rep at a time you will get there! As with all hero workouts, focus your mind on individuals like Lt. Michael P. Murphy who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom.
I have been taking Julie’s advice in my training using 5 pull-up/10 push-up/15 squat rounds and it has been working pretty good. I have also been splitting my training, doing some with and some without a weight vest.
I plan on attempting the MURPH wearing my Hyper Vest PRO and will see how far I get. My tip for you? Only train for MURPH with an adjustable weight vest. Start with 5% of your body weight and build up each week by inserting additional weights until you hit the 20 lbs required for MURPH.
My best tip for building your endurance so that you can tackle MURPH with a weighted vest? Intervals of sets with and without your weight vest. A weight vest with a zipper allows for smooth and quick transitions.
Hopefully, I can just muscle through and complete it. As Julie said: just keep chipping away one rep at a time.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Good luck to everyone participating in this year’s MURPH.