4 Benefits of the Half Murph Workout (Mini Murph)

A man doing pull ups on a CrossFit style pull up bar.

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Whether you’re working towards preparing for your first Memorial Day Murph, or you just want a very complete “jack-of-all-trades” workout that covers a lot of bases, the half Murph workout is a fantastic tool in your fitness arsenal.

The half Murph, aka “Mini-Murph” workout, is exactly half of everything in Lieutenant Michael Murphy’s now-famous “Body Armor” workout: 800 meter run, 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 150 squats, followed by another 800 meter run, all while wearing a 20 pound weight vest (or body armor). This workout tends to take about 25-30 minutes for the average trainee, and it’s a fantastic way to train for a Memorial Day Murph Challenge or just to challenge your level of fitness.

A man trail running.

How to do the Half Murph

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how to do this workout, since this topic is covered more thoroughly in our Murph training plan article. But the basic Half Murph can be completed one of two ways:

Method 1Method 2
800m run
50 pull-ups
100 push-ups
150 air squats
800m run
800m run
50 pull-ups
100 push ups
150 air squats
800m run

Generally, the trainee will partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats, meaning you can break them up any way you see fit (for more information on how to break the reps up, see our guide to partitioning the Murph Challenge here).

There is a subtle difference between the two. The first method is everything from the original Murph Challenge, cut in half (aka, you’ll start and end with a run). Note, this is also the “technically correct” way to do the Half Murph WOD, according to CrossFit. The second method is just the first half of Murph (aka, starting Murph and stopping at the halfway point).

Which is better? Neither. You’re welcome to do whichever one you like more or modify the Murph workout even further if need be. Both will provide all the benefits we’re about to describe in this article.

Now, let’s discuss the benefits of the Half Murph, or the “Mini Murph”:

A man doing push ups at a park.

Benefit 1: Half Murph doesn’t take very long

While very elite individuals can complete a Murph Challenge in just over 30 minutes, people often take upwards of 60 minutes on their first attempt. Many of us mere mortals fall somewhere in between, at the 45-55 minute mark. Since we’re fresher for the first half of the workout, we can complete half Murph in less than half the time it takes to complete the full challenge while still getting a similar benefit. This means that most people could complete the Half Murph in:

  • Advanced trainee: 15-17 minutes
  • Intermediate trainee: 20-25 minutes
  • Beginner: 25-30 minutes

Note that if you don’t have access to a twenty-pound weight vest, or simply don’t want to use one, it’s possible to start and finish this workout even more quickly (or just use the Cindy WOD instead). Not too bad for a quick pump session that also doubles as a HIIT workout.

Benefit 2: It’s a form of HIIT training

There’s much ado about HIIT training in the fitness world these days, and for good reason – it’s a fantastic and time-efficient way to develop fitness and athleticism while inspiring fat loss in the process. For those of us who find traditional HIIT training a bit boring, a Half Murph style workout accomplishes a very similar thing. Doing a quick burst of pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats back-to-back, then resting for 20-30 seconds and getting back to it? Sounds like HIIT to me!

A man doing wide grip pull ups.

Benefit 3: The Half Murph will help you develop your pacing

Just like we need to develop our pacing when we’re planning for long hikes, runs, or triathlons, we need to do the same if we want to have a lot of “go power” in longer events that include calisthenics, such as Murphs, Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, etc. What better way to determine a sustainable pace than by using a scaled Murph workout as a “test” when leading up to the real thing?

This session can be particularly punishing for people who tend to take off like a rocket in the beginning. Just like you wouldn’t try to set a PR mile time on the first mile of a 5k training session, you’ll learn to pace yourself in a calisthenic half-session like the Half Murph. This can be super useful for those looking to develop a strategy for the full Murph.

Benefit 4: The Mini Murph workout is a great way to train for the full Murph

As I discussed in the Murph training plan, the Murph Challenge is an endurance event disguised as a strength event. Those of us who have spent time competing in endurance sports know – you don’t go all out on every workout.

Generally, a longer session is completed once per week (such as the classic weekend “long run”), and the rest of the week is spent doing shorter workouts with a specific goal in mind. In getting ready for a full go at Murph, I will often use the Half Murph (or even Quarter Murphs) during the week to build up a solid base of calisthenics and conditioning.

Time to Get Working!

Whereas the full Murph Hero WOD is known to be one of the most brutal CrossFit workouts, it’s possible to start and finish this session in around 20-25 minutes. Not to mention, pull-ups, push-ups, and squats have formed the foundation of many great programs for hundreds of years. Time to test yourself, and see how you do!