murph challenge

The Murph Challenge Workout

By on 19 August, 2015

One of the best exercise routines I have tried recently and really enjoyed is the Murph. Why do I like it? Well, for one you feel completely spent after this workout. But this is not the only reason. There are many ways to work yourself at a high intensity. The second reason is that this workout hits just about every muscle in your body, puts a lot of demand on your core and starts and ends with some decent cardio. Lastly, as long as you have a bar to hang on, you can perform this pretty much anywhere. It’s all dependant on body weight so no special equipment is needed.

The workout

  • 1 Mile Run
  • 100 Pull-ups
  • 200 Push-ups
  • 300 Squats
  • 1 Mile Run

Suggested: wear a 20 pound vest or body armour

The routine and other information can be found on the official Murph Challenge website where you can also find out about the Murph challenge which is an annual fundraiser, benefiting the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

Now, let’s break it down a little and see exactly what we need to do and which muscles are worked. It must be said that these types of complex body-weight exercises work many muscles to a smaller degree. Although I try to cover most of the muscles that are impacted by the exercises, there will inevitably be some that I don’t mention.


The push-ups mainly work

  • Chest (pectoralis major)
  • Shoulders (anterior deltoid primarily)
  • Triceps brachii (triceps for short)
  • Abdominals

Other muscles are also worked (including the back) to a lesser degree as they are used to help support the movement.

How to perform it
The closer the hands are, the more the triceps work whereas wider hand positions will use the pecs and deltoids to a greater degree. When the hands are closer, the elbows are kept closer to the body.

Some things to keep your form correct are:

  • Straight back
  • chest must touch the ground on the way down
  • Straighten arms at the top
  • Keep your feet close together


The pull-ups mainly work

  • Latissimus dorsi (Lats)
  • Biceps and Brachialis
  • Abdominals (most of them as well as the pelvic floor)
  • Shoulders (teres major, trapezius and rhomboids)
  • Forearms (especially the brachioradialis)
  • Hand strength

To a lesser degree, it will also work your deltoids, triceps and chest.

How to perform it
Like the push ups, the placement of your hands will determine the emphasis of the exercise. We do the pull ups in this routine using the overhand grip (palms of your hands facing away from you). The closer your hands are together, the more focus there is on the lower lats. Whereas the wider grip activates the lats more completely.

Some things to keep your form correct are:

  • At the bottom, make sure your hands are completely straight
  • Keep your back straight as much as possible
  • Chin needs to come over the top of the bar, that is the top of the rep

Note: In the Murph, you are permitted to do what is called the “kipping” pull-up. This is basically where you use the hips and the feet to “swing” yourself and help lift your body so that your chin comes over the bar. I’m not going to cover whether this technique is better or worse in this article. However, I will say that my personal preference when doing pull-ups is to use the classic strict form where you try to use minimal swinging of the body when pulling yourself upwards. However, completely up to you on which technique you want to follow.


The body-weight squats mainly work

  • The quadriceps (thighs)
  • And to a lesser degree – hamstrings and calves

body-weight squat

How to perform it

In this exercise we only use the body weight. No extra weights are added.

  • Feet should be shoulder-width apart
  • Turn toes slightly out
  • Bend you knees
  • Drop your hips until they are below your knees
  • Make sure the weight is on your heels, not your toes. Keep your heels on the ground at all times.
  • Maintain lumbar curve

Tip: Tense your abs/core (you should feel your core very stable at this point). Keep this tension all the way down and up until you complete the repetition, then relax and then tense again before the next repetition. This will help avoid you bending your back throughout the movement and prevent injuries.


As you can see, pretty much every single muscle has been activated to some degree. This routine also creates high intensity and incorporates some cardio. This is of course not the only routine you should be doing. Like in everything we talk about here, variety is key. But if used as a regular routine within your overall training program, you cannot go wrong with this one. It is very effective, high impact and can be done just about anywhere. Enjoy…and post your times below.

Keep growing and stay healthy!



Note: Featured image of the Murph Challenge logo is taken from the official Murph Challenge website and is the property of Forged ®.

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