Murph Training and Technique Guidelines: The Squat

Written By Jared Kauffman

Welcome to Fall!


It may, finally be here in Columbia.  Nevertheless, KORE members have begun training for one of our Fall traditions, the Murph Challenge.  Every year around November or December, KORE hosts an event called the Murph Challenge. 


This challenge was chosen because it requires participants to something that on the first glance elicts the thought “I could never do that”.  This Crossfit Hero workout involves Running 1 mile, then doing 300 squats, 200 push ups, and 100 pull ups (broken up if needed), and then finishing with another mile run.  We wanted to challenge our members (and ourselves) to embrace grit and learn how to overcome an initial gut reflex to ultimately complete this challenge with whatever adaptations needed to stay safe.


The Murph is named after a Navy SEAL named Lt. Michael Murphy who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan. He was an avid Crossfitter and this was one of his favorite workouts.  (Crossfitters usually do this challenge on Memorial Day).


Twelve weeks before the challenge we start posting a training protocol. Initially, these workouts are generally meant to supplement your regular workouts.  Over the twelve weeks you will work up in number of reps of each exercise and length of total workout to have the training become workouts themselves. 


Fun note: If you do every workout as prescribed, by the end you will have done approximately 1500 pull ups, 3000 push ups, 4500 squats, and over 21 miles of running!  In twelve weeks you will do more reps of these bodyweight exercises than most people will do in their lifetime. 


Because you will be doing so many reps in training as well as in the challenge, would going through some technique tips and common mistakes for these exercise is appropriate.  The set up is vitally important in each of these exercises to ensure we increase our volume of training with good form and stay injury-free. 


The Squat:

  • Your feet should be about shoulder width apart, maybe a little wider, and toes pointed forward or slightly turned out. 
  • Start the movement by pulling your hips backwards and engaging your hip flexors.  Descending should be an active move that is initiated by your hip flexors, not a controlled fall. 
  • As you descend keep your spine in line and don't let your low back arch or round excessively.
  • Your weight should stay in your heels, and knees need to stay back over the middle of the foot, and not slide forward out over toes.
  • Knees should be in line with the toes, and not caving in or out.
  • Abdominals should be engaged, using your breath to help this, breath in on the way down, and forcefully exhale on the way back up.
  • Coming up, start by pushing down through your heels, squeezing both glutes, and finish in a good stable position with hips all the way extended.  


  • If you have pain in your knees: Make sure you are sitting back into your heels, and not letting your knees slide forward. Also make sure you are engaging your glutes and not overusing your quads.  Maybe try to foam roll the quads and see if that helps 
  • If your knees are caving inward: Before you start, screw your feet into the ground in an outward direction, feel the outsides of your hip fire up, those are the muscles you need to be working. keep pushing knees out throughout the movement.
  • If you have pain in your low back: Check and make sure that your back is not rounding or arching excessively.  A neutral spine has a slight forward curve in the lower back region.  If you are struggling to hold this throughout the movement, you may need some mobility. A quick adaptation is to squat to a higher mark until you develop the mobility to do a deeper squat. Ask a KORE trainer for more help!


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