Mobility Prep for Murph

crossfit workout knees memorial day murph postpartum pregnancy pregnancyandpostpartumexercise pullups pushups running squat May 05, 2021

Murph is a workout performed every Memorial Day to honor Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy who was killed in Afghanistan June 28, 2005. 

1 mile run

100 Pullups

200 Pushups

300 Squats

1 mile run

The pullups, pushups, and squats can be partitioned in any way with an option to add a 20 pound weight vest. 

The fastest recorded time for this workout is currently 34 minutes and 38.83 seconds. On average, times can range from 47-57 minutes.

This workout has a high volume. To equate this workout, it is a marathon! Doing some type of ramping up is highly recommended to prevent injury. 

Even if you don't decide to partake in Murph this year, 

We breakdown the movements:





and ask,

1) What are the range of motion requirements for each movement?

2) How can you improve these fundamental movements to optimize your performance and efficiency?


We can spend hours/days dissecting running form, running shoes, joint mechanics, joint angles, ground reaction forces.....(Are you still reading?) We love keeping it simple.

Our 3 key tips for running:

1) Hip Extension

Hip extension, bringing the leg backward, is key piece for running. If one lacks hip extension, other muscles assist with stabilizing and absorbing the impact of running (ie knees, back, ankles, feet).

To test your hip extension, check out this video. This is not only a test, but an exercise to improve your hip extension.

If you've tried the couch stretch or haven't been able to improve the couch stretch, or the front of your thighs (quads/hip flexors) constantly feel tight/stiff, you might be going after the wrong tissue type. Try a banded mobilization to reach the hip capsule.

2) Arm swing

Shoulder extension, much like the hip, is required to have a natural arm swing. If one lacks shoulder extension, the motion for running/walking in the arms, will have a higher demand in another region (mostly rotation in the spine/hips). 

To test your shoulder extension, grab a broom or PVC pipe, and follow these steps.
1️⃣  Grip a PVC pipe with your palms up, with the PVC pipe/broom behind you, it should be close to your belt line. 
2️⃣  Bring the PVC pipe as far as you can up without rounding your back forward or letting your shoulders dump forward. 

How far can you bring it up?⁠

We are looking for about 60 degrees.

If you don't have 60 degrees of shoulder extension, here is how you can improve it. 

3) Breathing 

Nasal breathing is a technique we coach for more efficient breathing. There are numerous benefits to nasal breathing: filtered and humidified air, improved air flow into the rib cage, increased parasympathetic nervous system activity, better ventilation -> better respiration, to name a few...(a post just on breathing, specifically nasal breathing, warrants a separate blog!) 

To test your breathing. Find out if you use vertical or horizontal expansion as your strategy. 

If you feel like you are having a hard time getting air in. Grab a foam roller or your peanut (two lacrosse balls taped together) to work on some thoracic extension.


Whether you do butterfly or kipping pullups, the range of motion requirements are fundamentally similar in nature. There are many scaled options if you don't quite have a pullup: Eccentric pullups, jumping pullups, banded pullups, pike pullups with feet resting on a box, ring rows. What range of motion do you need in the shoulder to perform pullups? Shoulder flexion and shoulder external rotation. 

1) Shoulder external rotation-capsular mobilization. (Of note, this is different than a lat stretch)

2) Lat smash. If tissues are stiff, they can place the joint in a suboptimal position, and thereby the muscle contraction is sub optimally contracted. In other words, you can't use your lat to the best of it's ability if it doesn't move well. 

3) Bend the bar. Think about being incredible Hulk as you grip the bar. This will create tension in the lats (the muscle that spans from the shoulder to the back). You should feel your shoulders rotating outward towards your back. 


 1) Extension of the shoulder, the ability to bring your arm behind you without your shoulder rolling forward. We look for at least 45 degrees (60degrees is better, 90 degrees is best). Here is way to improve shoulder extension. 

2) Internal rotation of the shoulder. If you feel pinching at the bottom position of the pushups, try this banded mobilization.

3) Pec Smash. We will be using the chest muscles to perform pushups. If tissues are stiff, they can place the joint in a suboptimal position, and thereby the muscle contraction is sub optimally contracted. Test the pushup. Do a pec smash and then retest.


If you already have trouble when doing 10 squats with your hips, knees, or ankles, then doing 300 squats can probably be an issue. 

If you feel a pinching in your hip during squatting. Check out this video

If you feel pain in your knees during squatting. Check this video out.

1) Technique is a big piece for making 300 squats feel a bit more bearable for higher volume. Are you loading your hips or knees first as you squat down? Technique first.

2) Foot placement is a topic for discussion. Feet facing forward translates to more athletic movements especially what is needed for running, jumping, and cutting. We don't typically run with our toes out, right? Check this video out.

3) Grip the ground. A more stable base (surface area) will place joints and muscles in better positions so you can use them the best to the best of your ability. Check out this video for more information.

Pregnancy and Post-partum considerations for Murph

Depending on where you are in your pregnancy or post partum journey, the dynamic movement and stabilization requirement of running and kipping pullups can place a high demand on the abdominal region in general. 

Run Modifications:

Decrease distance 

Walk/run intervals 

Row or bike


Anyone past their 1st trimester, highly consider the above modifications, instead of kipping pullups. 


Consider incline pushups if pressure management is challenging for the high volume of repetitions. 


Maintaining abdominal pressure is challenging. Consider a lower range of motion squat or squat to a bench or box.

Other Thoughts

It is Memorial Day weekend and there are plenty of BBQs and parties going on. Remember to stay hydrated even several days before Memorial Day weekend. Hydration can take several days to catch up! Be mindful of the heat! 

Good luck! Let us know how your training goes! 


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