Murph Challenge 2018

Written By Jared Kauffman

Welcome to Fall!

It may, finally be here in Columbia.  Nevertheless, KORE members will begin to commence 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).

12 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.

If you want to sign up for our December 8th, 2018 Murph Challenge and receive our specialized training program to follow, Click here.

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.

  • If you have ankle mobility issues:  Begin your squat training with a 2x6 under your heels and start working on your ankle mobility to help gain some range of motion in your ankles to ensure you don’t compensate while squatting.  Ask a KORE trainer for more help!

If you want to sign up for our December 8th, 2018 Murph Challenge and receive our specialized training program to follow, Click here.

The Push up:

  • Set up with your hands under your shoulders, about shoulder width apart or a bit wider. Fingers should be facing forward.

  • Throughout the movement, there should be no arch downward in your low back, keep abs and glutes engaged to protect the spine.

  • Begin with the pits of your elbows pointed forward, this will externally rotate your shoulders and set the shoulders into a strong and stable position.  

  • As you descend, keep everything from your head to toes in one good line, bring your elbows back close to your sides, and don't let any part of your hand come off the ground.

  • When pushing back up, make sure shoulder blades stay pulled back together, and the rest of your body stays in a good stable position.  

Adaptations / Corrections

  • If you have pain in your shoulders: Make sure shoulders are in the correct position, lats engaged and shoulder blades picked back.  Too much retraction(pushing apart), and elevation(shrugging up) are usually what causes pain in the shoulders during push ups.

  • If you cannot keep spine from changing positions: Your core is what helps keep the spine braced. Without enough core strength or engagement, you cannot hold the proper position.  Grab a band and use the assistance to help keep proper form until you develop more strength. Ask your trainer for more help!

The Pull up:

  • Begin with palms on the bar facing forward.  For the most stable shoulder position, thumbs should be hooked around the bar, however, if you prefer you can wrap your thumb with the other fingers.

  • Lats should stay engaged throughout the entire movement.  That means that shoulder blades are shrugged down, and do not pop up at any point.

  • Again, spine should stay in a stable, neutral position, and abs and glutes should be engaged. This means that your back does not arch as you go through the movement.

  • Pull your chest up to the bar, without moving your head, or letting your shoulders shrug, lower slowly back to the starting position.  

Adaptations / Corrections

  • If you can't keep your shoulders from shrugging: Try a little lean backwards when you start the movement to help engage your lats.  Maybe your lats need more activation before you being your workout, ask your trainer for more help!

  • If you don’t have enough strength yet.  To work up pull up strength, use the resistance bands for help.  Keep track of what you do throughout your training so that you can systematically decrease the assistance.

The Run.

This is probably the most difficult, as there are entire books written about running technique.  You can talk to 10 different professionals and hear something a little different each time.

  • To start, focus on your posture.  Spine should be neutral, head and shoulders in line and not slumped forward.

  • The landing of the foot should be toward the toes, where the muscles of the foot and calf absorb the shock and not the joints.  The foot should also be close to the boys center of mass and not way out in front.

  • Forward propulsion should be done by pulling the foot back using hamstrings, not pushing with the quads.

  • Abs and the rest your core should work to integrate everything involved with the running stride. This is a full body movement, with lots of stabilization required.


  • If you have pain: The majority of pain caused by running weather its foot, knee, hip, etc, can be linked using the wrong muscles, or running in the wrong position.  First, focus on technique, and while your doing that, work on mobility. Use foam rollers, lax ball, Voodoo band, etc to release tight muscles and relieve pain. Ask a trainer for help figuring out which muscles to focus on!

  • If you have never really been a runner: Start slow, and work up by alternating walking and running during your workouts.  Just because in the past you haven't run much, doesn't mean you can't start now!

Like always, we are always here to help you. If you have a question, or need help with technique don't hesitate to ask!

If you want to sign up for our December 8th, 2018 Murph Challenge and receive our specialized training program to follow, Click here.

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