Memorial Day is for family, friends, and honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Beach days, bar-b-ques, and car dealership sales can take away from the true meaning, but if you are a CrossFitter, at least one thing is certain to bring you back to the day’s true meaning; Memorial Day Murph.
As tradition, the vast majority of CrossFit boxes around the world will complete Murph tomorrow, pushing our bodies through the grueling task of a 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and another 1 mile run. I remember the first time I completed Murph, pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible, with Lt. Michael Murphy in mind. And it’s a pretty great feeling to be able to revisit that both physically and emotionally each Memorial Day.
1 mile Run
1 mile Run
Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you've got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
Over the years, what exactly is RX in Murph has been a heated debate. One of the most popular ways to complete Murph is al la Cindy, with 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats for 20 rounds. Some will bump that up to 10-20-30 for 10 rounds. The CrossFit Games even did 5 rounds of 20-40-60 once. But, to truly complete RX, does the athlete need to go 100-200-300 straight through?
By definition, it says “partition as need,” so does that mean breaking it up by choice is RX? Do you have to wear a vest to make it RX also? This debate is an active thread on many CrossFit forums and comment sections. Personally, this answer has been up for debate in my head for years as well. It wasn’t until speaking with one of our Aspire Coaches, Victor, that he brought up the two greatest arguments of what is exactly RX that I’ve ever heard. First he asked if we want the most badass gym around, our RX needs to be 100-200-300 and if you have a vest you must wear it. Then, after I still had some slight skepticism, he asked me, “how would Murph do it? That’s RX.”
So there it was - RX is 100-200-300 and if you have a vest you must wear it.
This gives the opportunity to RX an incredible challenge and monstrous feat. At our gym, only some will do it. Many will strive for years to go RX. Some will never go RX. And that’s okay.
To Scale or Not to Scale
Often, our goal in metabolic conditioning WODs is to complete the workout as quickly as possible, pushing ourselves equally cardiovascularly and through the challenge of the movements - perfect movements with as little rest as possible. If “Murph” popped up as a Saturday WOD at the box, my goals for our athletes at the gym would be the above.
Memorial Day Murph however is another story. Once again, Memorial Day is about honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The primary goal of metabolic conditioning isn’t Memorial Day Murph’s goal. Rather it is about honoring, pushing yourself to new extremes, and completing a task bigger than yourself. The Navy Seals believe that we only work at 40% of our physical capacity. The other 60% is ours for the taking, we just have to unleash it. Memorial Day Murph is about digging deep mentally and physically, much greater than any weekday or Saturday WOD at the box.
If you have the physical capacity to complete 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats without ending up with rhabdo in the emergency room, you should be completing Murph RX. If you don’t have that just yet, going RX is a goal that with accountability to your fitness, will be completed in the years to come.
Additionally, if you have a vest and can physically complete the reps with a vest on, you should.
Time doesn’t matter in this one. Murph is bigger than that.
Sean Spire is the Head Coach of ASL. He was a competitive swimmer who discovered CrossFit and Ironman Triathlons. He has his BS in Exercise Science from Florida State University.