How to Use Spartan's 7 HARD Challenge to Train for the Memorial Day Murph

How to Use Spartan's 7 HARD Challenge to Train for the Memorial Day Murph
Presented by Spartan Training®

Thinking of taking on the Murph WOD this Memorial Day for the first time, or looking to set a new personal best time? It doesn't have to be complicated and your training doesn't have to take all day. With our evolutionary seven-day challenge, you'll be prepped in mind and body before the end of May.

Every year on Memorial Day, thousands of fitness enthusiasts and athletes forgo hot dogs and beer — if only for an hour or so — to take on what has become one of the most popular and challenging timed workouts in the world of fitness, the Murph.

The workout — a CrossFit hero WOD named after Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a SEAL team member who died in 2005 while serving in Afghanistan — takes most physically fit people around an hour (though former Spartan Pro and Murph world record holder Alec Blenis has done it in an astonishing 32 minutes and 41 seconds). 

But what are the components of the Murph workout, how well-trained do you have to be by Memorial Day to complete it, and what's the best way to train? We've got you covered. 

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The Memorial Day Murph Workout 

a spartan racer training for the memorial day murph workout using the 7 HARD challenge

To have successfully completed the Murph, you must finish the full WOD as follows — for time — while wearing a 20-pound weighted vest or ruck:

  • 1-mile run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 air squats
  • 1-mile run

Evidently, the Memorial Day Murph is an extremely high-volume workout that requires maximal muscular, aerobic, and even anaerobic endurance to complete each of the movements and miles in a reasonable amount of time. This means that to reap the best result, you'll have to train in a high-volume fashion that simulates the strain you'll place on your body the day of the challenge. 

Which Muscles Will You Need to Train the Most?

The Murph is a full-body workout, placing the most strain on your chest, back, and leg muscles and demanding hundreds of high-quality reps even as you fatigue. This means that those who train primarily to achieve an impressive one-rep max (1RM) won't fair well. Plus, if you consider yourself an obstacle course racer above all else, you'll likely have an easy go at the mileage and the pull-strength-based pull-ups, but you probably need some push work to really smash this WOD.

The truth is that while this workout is an extremely challenging test of mental and physical fitness, it's hard to totally fail the Murph if you train every day like it's the ultimate test. Good news: Spartan CEO Joe De Sena designed a cyclical, seven-day elemental challenge to help brave, committed souls around the world get familiar with commitment and get prepared for any hard experience life may throw at them. It's called 7 HARD, and if you're committed, it can be perfect training for the Murph.

Training for the Murph With Spartan's 7 HARD Training Challenge

the rules of Spartan's 7 HARD Training Challenge

7 HARD is De Sena's life-altering program designed to challenge both your mental and physical abilities and transform you into a modern-day Spartan warrior capable of taking on anything — including the Murph. Following the above seven rules for seven days completes one full evolution, but the true diehards don't stop there. 

Completing multiple evolutions of this elemental challenge will prep and prime your body to crush the Murph. Don't believe us? Consult the scientists. 

3 Ways That 7 HARD Helps Train Your Body for the Murph

1. Primes You to Perform High-Volume Functional Movements

Similar to the Murph, the 7 HARD Challenge consists of several simple bodyweight functional movements: running, pull-ups, and push-ups. (The only additional element in the Murph is air squats.)

The Murph may demand a higher volume of said movements, but by performing these movements every day during 7 HARD, you're not only building muscular endurance in your legs, chest, and back (among other muscle groups), but you're also increasing your anaerobic power and aerobic endurance. These fitness improvements allow you to go harder for longer when it's time to perform.

2. Optimizes Body Composition and Decreases Body Fat Percentage

You train to crush the competition and be ready for anything, not to "lose weight." However, if body composition upgrades ultimately help you climb the leaderboards, that's a win-win.

During 7 HARD, you're working out every single day, recovering and hydrating properly, and truly taking care of yourself. As long as you're not eating loads of processed foods between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., we can almost guarantee that as your muscle mass increases, your body fat percentage will decrease.

"Interestingly, the only physiological parameter that significantly correlated with Murph completion time was total body fat percentage," a Sports journal study author wrote. "Fat is noncontractile and does not contribute to force production, increasing the force and energy requirements of the muscles, particularly for bodyweight movements."

3. Improves Recovery and Readiness to Compete

Again, the Murph is a timed workout. The faster you can complete both miles and all of the functional movements, the better your benchmark time to beat becomes. When you're committed to completing 7 HARD's seven daily rules — including a multi-faceted workout and setting aside 8 hours for sleep — while also balancing a busy life schedule, you get good at time management fast. 

Plus, while you're constantly pushing your limits, you're also constantly recovering with proper rest, adequate hydration, and cold showers. One study showed that a daily cold shower drastically reduced employees' need for sick days, and our north star Joe De Sena has been preaching the value of cold-water therapy for years.


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