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Murph Challenge Tips from CrossFit’s Haley Adams and Noah Ohlsen

By Casey Meserve

Murph Challenge Tips from CrossFit’s Haley Adams and Noah Ohlsen

CrossFit athletes Noah Ohlsen and Haley Adams offer their strategies for completing every stage of the Murph Challenge.

The Murph Challenge takes place in gyms across the United States on Memorial Day weekend. It’s a tradition that honors Lt. Michael Murphy, a US Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. The workout began as a memorial to Lt. Murphy and now has worldwide participants. It consists of:

  • 1-mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 air squats
  • Another 1-mile run
  • All while wearing a 20-pound vest or body armor

Two of the world’s fittest athletes, Noah Ohlsen and Haley Adams, have completed the Murph in the past. Haley and Noah have some tips on preparing for the Murph, how to manage every stage, successfully completing the challenge, and recovering well.  

Preparing for the Murph

Noah: The last few years I’ve always had a qualifying event the weekend before Murph so it’s not the ideal preparation, but on occasion I will tackle it on Memorial Day anyway! Ideally, you’d be able to rest up the day before and make sure you’re properly fueled and hydrated. The day of I try to eat a small meal prior to, similar to a normal training day. Haley: Before Murph, I try to make sure I’m hydrated, have a solid workout plan, and make sure I remember why I’m doing it in the first place. READ MORE: 30 Murphs in 30 Days  

Strategies for Running, Pull-Ups, and Push-Ups

Running Haley: Start the first run conservatively. There’s lots of work to be done after that so making sure you’re feeling good after the first run is very important. Running with a weight vest fatigues you much more so it’s important to keep that in mind when deciding how to pace the workout. Pull-ups Noah: Because the pull-ups are at the front end of Murph, it can be tempting to do big sets while you’re feeling fresh. I’d recommend being conservative and breaking those up in a way that is sustainable to you because you’ll likely still have 30+ min of work when you get past them. I would like to do them in quick sets of 10 with short breaks. Haley: Start with small sets. Going to failure is not a good idea because these are big numbers of reps that need to be completed. Small and conservative sets are the way to go. Push-ups Noah: I’ve heard it said that push-ups are the toughest part of this workout, and I may have to agree. 200 reps on the isolated muscles of your chest shoulders and arms can cause you to burn out quickly. Similar to the pull-ups, you may feel good on your first set and want to come out big but that could catch up to you quickly! I’d try to choose a number that you think you’ll be able to maintain throughout and when those fall off, just keep chipping away. If you insist on starting bigger when you feel good, choose a middle ground number that won’t blow you up. If you’re capable of opening with a set of 30, maybe instead do a few sets of 15s, then drop it to 10s, and then 5s, because you’ll run into fatigue undoubtedly. Best of luck, friends!

crossfit's noah ohlsen whoop podcast
Noah Ohlsen says planning your pull-up and push-up sets in advance and sticking to the plan is the best way to ensure success in the Murph.

Fueling and Recovery After the Murph

Haley: I make sure I’m hydrated and have enough electrolytes and carbs in my system. It's a very long workout and I’m sure it is very warm in most places. After, make sure you drink lots of water, too, and enjoy a Memorial Day treat! Noah: Bring some cold carbs to sip on throughout. Murph always falls on a blazing hot summer day for us down here in Miami so finding ways to stay cool is key.