It should be no secret that I’m a big fan of full-body calisthenic sessions like Murph and Cindy. They are efficient, balanced, and offer a challenge to the cardiovascular system in addition to the full-body musculature.
But what about when you don’t have time for a full training session that will kick your ass? This is where time-efficient sessions, like the 1/4 Murph workout come in very handy:
How to do the Quarter Murph Workout
The Quarter Murph is simply a scaled-down version of the classic CrossFit hero workout, Murph. To complete the workout, simply complete 1/4th of everything you would in a normal Murph:
- 400m run
- 25 pull-ups
- 50 push-ups
- 75 air squats
- 400m run
Optional: wear a 20lb weight vest (or body armor if you’re tacti-cool)
Three good reasons not to sleep on the 1/4 Murph
If you’re used to doing longer sessions, you may be wondering why one would even bother with a Quarter Murph at all. I believe there are a number of reasons.
Despite the fact that this session is very short by comparison, it is still quite challenging and it’s perfect if you’re strapped for time. Done properly, it should also allow most of us to drive progress on our main calisthenic exercises by approaching failure earlier in the session.
Reason 1: It’s a good introduction to the weight vest
If you’re someone who has a hard time completing pull-ups and push-ups with a weight vest on, this shorter session is a great way to get acclimated to using it. If you’re acclimated to doing normal rounds of 5 push-ups, 10 pull-ups, and 15 squats without the weight vest, here are a few options to begin getting you acclimated to using the vest:
- Option 1: 12 rounds of 2 pull-ups / 4 push-ups / 6 squats
- Option 2: 8 rounds of 3 pull-ups / 6 push-ups / 9 squats
- Option 3: 6 rounds of 4 pull-ups / 8 push-ups / 12 squats
- Option 4: 5 rounds of 5 pull-ups / 10 push-ups / 15 squats
Before the math Nazis strike, I am aware that some of the options above don’t add up to 25. They are close enough. Finish with one set of one pull up, if you desire completeness.
The point is that this is a good starter session to develop strength and adapt to having an extra 20 pounds of body weight that we’re not used to.
As an aside, this introduction to the weight vest can be a great tool to develop your strategy for the full Murph challenge, should you decide to participate.
Reason 2: It’s a higher-intensity session
Longer sessions, like the half-Murph, Cindy, or Chelsea can cause us to put a natural “brake” on our pace since we need our muscular systems to be able to last for the whole session. Naturally, we will stay far away from muscular failure, since performance in these sessions is centered around our ability to keep going.
This is not so in the quarter Murph. This session is more of a “sprint”. So, if your strict pull-up max is 12, you may choose a “max effort” style of partitioning by doing:
- Round 1: 11 pull-ups (stop 1 rep shy of failure)
- Round 2: 8 pull-ups (stop 1 rep shy of failure again)
- Round 3: 4 pull-ups (getting tired)
- Round 4: 2 pull-ups (finishing the 25 reps)
In this session, we aren’t as worried about taxing the muscles early on, since we only have a few rounds to complete. In this way, a quarter of Murph could provide a unique stimulus if you’re just used to doing endless sets of 5-6 pull-ups far away from failure.
Reason 3: 1/4 Murph is quick!
If you’re anything like me, your life gets hectic from time to time. While I’d love to say I optimize my sleep and nutrition daily, we all know that … stuff happens.
On those days when we just don’t have the time for a “real” training session, here are the times we can expect from the quarter Murph workout depending on your fitness level:
- Advanced trainee: 7-9 minutes
- Intermediate trainee: 10-12 minutes
- Beginner: 12-15 minutes
While even a Half Murph may take 20-30 minutes from start to finish, this one is fast. What’s more, if you’re using a vest that can retain all it’s weights for portability, then you can easily pack the equipment and complete this workout anywhere that you find a pull-up bar.
It’s great to know that when time is running short, we can still get a legit training session in.
Fitting it into a training week
If you’re planning on utilizing the 1/4 Murph workout regularly, here are a couple of ideas to fit it into a weekly schedule:
Option 1: Use it as a “light” mid-week session.
Just as runners have “light” or “recovery” run days planned in the mid-week, this session is a fantastic light session for someone who is planning to do more serious workouts at the beginning and end of the week.
Option 2: Use it for weight vest base building
There’s no rule saying you can’t use this session a couple of times per week to build a base of proficiency on weighted calisthenics. The low rep counts make it easy to recover from, and you can easily swap exercises out in order to achieve some variation in the stimulus (such as walking lunges instead of squats, or chin-ups instead of pull-ups).
Also, if you’re someone who traditionally skips pull-ups during the Murph, this session is a great way to incorporate them without completely overloading the muscles.
Option 3: Use it as an “Oh, Crap” session
For those days where the kids kept you up all night, or your work schedule is too demanding to plan full training sessions, the Quarter Murph is a good ass-saver so that we can still get a legit full-body training session in.
Give it a try!
If you’ve never tried this one before, give it a shot next time you need a quick recovery session or you’re short on time. You may find that it begins making a more regular appearance in your training log!