Coach’s Corner: Prepping For Murph

Murph is just around the corner, and you’re terrified. Well, as the Chinese proverb says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” Let’s talk some tips to optimize yourself so you can be as ready as possible.

1 mile Run
100 Pull-Ups
200 Push-Ups
300 Air Squats
1 mile Run
*with a 20 lb Vest or Body Armor

Kipping Skill Practice

If you have been on the verge of getting kipping pull-ups or you can do some but your a little inefficient, Murph can actually be a good workout for you to deploy them. Most people break Murph up “Cindy-style” with sets of 5 Pull-Ups, 10 Push-Ups, and 15 Squats. While the total volume is large (100 Pull-Ups), sets of 5 are pretty manageable for most people. Spend a few extra sessions before and after classes working on your kip swing, recovery, and efficiency. Season and take care of your hands NOW so they aren’t baby soft on the big day. Invest in some gymnastics grips so you can make it through without a tear slowing you down and make sure you are actually strong and orthopedically stable enough to kip a hundred times under fatigue- you should be able to do at least 1 and preferably 3-5 strict Pull-Ups before even thinking about kipping.

(📸: CrossFit South Wake)

Run Prep

While neither run is especially long in Murph, they add up, especially the second one (after 300 Squats!) Try and get a few longer runs in before the big day- somewhere between 2 and 4 miles should be fine. This won’t necessarily make you faster, but may help with personal comfort by getting you a little more accustomed to some distance, as well as doing some connective tissue and joint strengthening in a longer time domain.

Also, unless you’re a naturally uncomfortable or challenged squatter who needs the proprioceptive help from firmer CrossFit-specific shoes (Nanos, Metcons, etc.) you should wear pure running shoes for Murph- your runs will significantly benefit, the Push-Ups and Pull-Ups won’t be affected at all, and the Squats are unloaded so, with a little extra intention, you should be fine.

(📸: SnoRidge CrossFit)

Push-up Volume

Ugh, the pushups. For most people, Murph is a story about lying in a pool of sweat on your face, waiting for your Push-ups to magically reappear. While it may be a little late to become a Push-up master, adding a little volume leading up to the day cann help. Add 10 in at the end of any warm-up round you are normally doing, or do 30 or 40 or 50 for time right after a workout ends. Pick a spot in your house and every time you pass it do 5- a trick from Pavel Tsatsouline called “Greasing the Groove.” Pay attention to how your shoulders feel- if they are getting hot and bothered, back off a bit and take a day or two of rest, but getting 50 extra Push-Ups a day will go a long way to being able to cruise through Murph.

Also, if Push-ups are definitely your limiting factor in the workout, consider taking the “cindy-style” strategy a step further. Instead of doing 20 rounds of: 5 Pull-ups, 10 Push-ups, 15 Air Squats, you can split the 10 Push-ups around your Air Squats. So you’d do: 5 Pull-ups, 5 Push-ups, 15 Air Squats, 5 Push-ups. This way, your Push-ups get a break while you bang out your Air Squats, making that 2nd half of 5 just a little bit easier. Once your Push-ups die out, banging out 10 in a row can be difficult and slower for a lot of people.

(📸: South Seattle CrossFit)

Vest Acclimation

Lastly, if you are considering doing Murph wearing a weight vest, please do not make it the first day you have ever trained with a vest on! There are two considerations when adding a vest, added joint stress and discomfort tolerance. First, your joints- the runs, squats, and especially the kip swing will all be subject to added velocity with the vest on. Make sure you are ready for it, or your knees, ankles, and shoulders will hate you forever. Second, vests are uncomfortable as heck, even the flashy 5.11 Games ones. Add in the late May heat, and the vest can psychologically be really tough as it makes a workout that is mainly about discomfort tolerance that much more uncomfortable.

So, pick a few appropriate workouts (bodyweight stuff, run intervals, nothing with barbells or box jumps please) in the weeks leading up to Murph, and wear your vest. They don’t have to be long and it’s probably better if they are sub 20 minutes- make it more about getting acclimated to the vest than crushing yourself with it. It’s still gonna suck, but at least you’ll be on a first name basis with The Suck.

(📸: CrossFit Games)

Stay Tuned

Now get out there and get after it! It’s gonna be (’cause it always is) a doozy!

(📸: CrossFit Games)

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