Michael “Murph” Murphy was the leader of a four-man team on a mission designated Operation Red Wing*. On June 28, 2005, the team was discovered and surrounded by Taliban forces. Murph stepped out onto a clear mountain top to make a satellite call to save his teammates. He willingly gave his life to make this call and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. This story was told in the book Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell.
Murph became a Navy SEAL in July 2002. He believed in physical fitness and loved doing a workout consisting of a one mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 body weight squats, and ending with a final one mile run. He would wear his body armor when doing this workout and hence named the workout “Body Armor.”
On August 18, 2005, crossfit.com re-named his Body Armor workout to memorialize Mike Murphy, and added it to their group of “hero” workouts. From that day forward it has been called the Murph.
TheMurphChallenge.com is the Official annual fundraiser of the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, presented by Forged®. Since 2014, Forged® has raised over $1,000,000+ for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation through The Murph Challenge campaign.
The Murph Challenge is an event held every Memorial Day to help raise money for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. It is also known as the “Memorial Day Murph”
For time: 1 mile Run 100 Pull-ups 200 Push-ups 300 Squats 1 mile Run
Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.
The “Murph” workout is tough…by design. Murph was a Navy SEAL and regularly did this workout as part of his fitness routine. If necessary, there are several ways to scale it down. The workout has you doing the exercises with a 20-pound vest or body armor. The first scale is to do the workout without the extra weight. You can also shorten the running and/or shorten the amount of reps of the exercises.
Scale the workout however you need to. The goal is to do this workout to memorialize Mike Murphy and help contribute to his scholarship foundation.
Nineteen men lost their lives during Operation Red Wing. They are,
Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy
Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson
Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton
Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy
Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh
Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz
Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan
Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Erik S. Kristensen
Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas
Lt. (SEAL) Michael M. McGreevy Jr.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor
With the rise of electronics and social media, the picture or definition of fitness has seemed to shift toward professional and elite athletes. One can’t help but notice their posts and their picture of professional fitness. And it seems that most of them have some sort of fitness plan for sale. That’s great for all the professionals out there, but what about the rest of us? What about the normal humans out there? Should we try to obtain professional fitness only to fail before we even begin? Instead of trying to obtain the impossible, we can work hard and obtain normal human fitness.
What is a Normal Human?
First of all, most normal humans have a full-time job. This job is forty hours plus, with a commute lasting anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes or even more. And that’s just one-way. Many of us work odd or unpredictable hours meaning we don’t even know what time we will be home. This job requires us to deal with stress, and uses a lot of our physical and mental energy.
Next, the normal human usually has a family, with a spouse and kids relying on them for their time, attention, and other limited resources. Getting the kids to and from school and to and from extra curricular activities is a major responsibility. The normal human must also help the kids with homework, projects, and remind them to complete chores and take care of themselves in general.
Having a family, or even living alone, the normal human has a commitment to care for their home, their vehicles, and other domestic responsibilities. Food needs to be prepared, laundry and dishes washed and put away. The carpet needs vacuumed and groceries bought, brought home, and put away. The vehicle needs gas, oil changes, air in the tires, and cracked windshields replaced.
The Normal Human Lifestyle
It is obvious that the normal human has a huge time commitment in just being normal. But everyone is afforded the same twenty four hours in the day. Whether we are normal humans, the Queen of England, or the President of the United States, we all get the same amount of time to work with. We have to be smart in how we manage our time and really concentrate on our priorities so we can schedule the things we need to get done.
Feeding ourselves, taking care of the kids, and going to work are high priority items. Meal prepping, working out, and sleeping eight hours should also be high on the priorities list. Helping the kids with homework, personal development, and building a side business are also things that we need to set aside time for. Watching television and browsing social media should be saved for when all the higher priority items have been taken care of.
The normal human lifestyle is not easy and requires discipline. It requires living with purpose and intent. Planning the day and executing the plan. It requires knowing what you want, what you want to accomplish that day, and sticking with the plan no matter how tired, worn out, or discouraged we may be. If you’re tired, you know you are doing something right. Life wants us to be comfortable, addicted to pleasure and instant gratification. But the normal human canchoose tokeep the end in mind; to take the path less traveled or even create our own.
Normal Human Fitness
The importance of normal human fitness puts it in a category by itself. Fitness gives us strength, energy, confidence, ability, and most importantly, health and longevity. The key to achieving and improving fitness is consistency. In order for something to be consistent, it must be a part of our lifestyle; part of our daily routine. The normal human can join a traditional gym, or workout at home. We should have a diversified fitness plan. This plan should include cardiovascular training which includes walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, or jumping rope. It should also include resistance training with multi-joint exercises such as squatting, bench pressing, dead lifting, and shoulder pressing. This should be done with a mix of barbell and dumbbell exercises. And a mix of low and high repetitions. One or two rest days, or low intensity days, should be programmed into the plan. But a walking and stretching plan should be maintained on a daily basis.
The normal human also sets fitness related goals. Goals such as signing up and training for a 5K run/walk or mud run. Other goals can be losing inches off your waist, or increasing your bench press weight. Regardless of what it is, a fitness goal will give you something positive to strive for. Something you can measure, track, and experience results from. This will help you to find a deeper appreciation for your fitness journey and healthy lifestyle.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, we are normal humans with many responsibilities. The way we prioritize and plan for these responsibilities can set us up for success or failure. We must choose to either be uncomfortable, beginning with the end in mind, or comfortable pleasure seekers taking the easy road that always leads to defeat. It is a simple process of deciding what we want, placing that in our heart, and adopting the mindset of achieving it. Whatever it takes.
Variety is the spice of life. The variety of physical challenges we come across in life, nature, and certain occupations are nearly infinite. What is the role that fitness plays? Being capable and prepared to withstand and conquer anything that life throws our way. This is called general physical preparedness. We have to be prepared to move our body alone and with external weight to accomplish everyday life tasks. Life will also throw random tasks at us that require general physical preparedness.
* lifting and moving heavy objects such as a 50 pound bag of dog food.
* carrying your child who has an injured foot.
* running from danger.
* squatting up and down from the toilet.
* cleaning the house.
* mowing the lawn.
* playing with the grandchildren.
* preparing for the later years of life.
The possibilities are infinite, and this is why we train for general physical preparedness. To improve general physical preparedness, there are three areas to focus on. This is solely my opinion, but the three focus areas are core strength, body weight mastery, and manipulation of external weight.
Core strength is the strength of your central being. It is what keeps you upright and allows you to move. Whether walking, running, swimming, carrying external weight, or moving the body from one plane to another, the core is always utilized. The muscles of the core are the abdominals and lower back, but I like to include the hips and glutes as well.
It is important to strengthen the core, because the core is what braces and protects the spine during movement. Exercises such as sit-ups are a good place to start when training the core. Hip/back extensions are great for the lower back. Planks are also a good exercise to train for stability. But the most effective movements to strengthen the core are power lifting movements such as the squat, deadlift, and their variations. Theses exercises require core stabilization and force improvement of core strength.
The eleven steps to take to implement and maximize your fitness are:
1. Decide on your why
2. Track your food intake
3. Begin a stretching routine
4. Block out a time and place for exercise
5. Begin a walking routine
6. Set a goal
7. Start an exercise log
8. Begin to change food habits
9. Find a community
10. Research exercises or types of exercises that interest you
11. Gradually accumulate equipment
Steps 1-8 are foundational steps in the importance of starting a fitness plan. Review them if necessary and see below to continue.
9. Find a community
Now that you have been exercising on your own for a while, it is time to find a community where you can share your fitness journey. Sharing your journey with other like-minded people will help you grow. It will give you support in reaching your goals, and it will help you stay on track when things get difficult or discouraging. A community can also act as a support system to help keep you accountable and keep you motivated.
Where can you find a community? There are many places to look. If you join a local gym, take a yoga or aerobics class. Sign up for a boot camp or martial arts class; this is your community. You can even find an online community where you can interact with like-minded people. There are also running clubs, walking clubs, hiking clubs, and many more. Try different groups until you find one that works for you.
10. Research exercises or types of exercises that interest you
A large part of your fitness journey is growth and change. You will not grow without change, and your progress will plateau if you continue to do the same things forever. The body is a well-designed machine and will adapt to whatever stresses are placed on it. It will learn your repeating physical habits and change its physiology to make itself more efficient. Granted, doing the same thing is better than doing nothing, but at this point in your fitness journey, your progress will only improve if you begin to make changes in your physical activity.
What types of activities interest you? Weightlifting? Running? Hiking? The options are nearly endless. Research whatever interests you. Information is very widely available. If hiking interests you, find a hiking store, and the staff will be able to answer any questions you may have. Your fitness community can also assist you in expanding your interests and opportunities.
11. Gradually accumulate equipment
The final step to take to maximize your fitness is to gradually accumulate fitness equipment. Regardless of whether you live in an apartment, a house, a condo, or whatever, you can accumulate equipment related to your exercise interests. Accumulate this equipment to use at home. Most equipment can be used anywhere, and requires very little storage space. For example, you can store a barbell and a few weight plates under a bed or couch and pull them out when you are ready to use them. You can store a jumprope in a drawer, or a bicycle anywhere in a home. Buy something that looks interesting, and then figure out how to use it and incorporate it in your home workouts. Think outside of the box. Don’t think fitness can only be achieved in a traditional gym. You can certainly get fit in your home with equipment that you have gradually accumulated.
This concludes the three part series The Eleven Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness. Fitness is a journey and requires work and dedication. Review the eleven steps and master each one. Even if you have to start at step one, master it to build the proper foundation. If you feel your progress has stalled, go back through the steps and take an honest assessment of each one to figure out where you are in your fitness journey.
Participating in a run/walk race event is an exciting experience. Here are some things to expect on race day.
The larger events usually begin with an expo sometime before the day of the event. The expo is an event in itself, and is where you will receive your event packet containing your race bib, t-shirt, chip timer, and other vendor related coupons, swag, and advertisements. Picking up your packet is a conformation that you will be at the starting line on race day, and your name is now officially in the system as a participant. If you have yet to do so, you can enter the event at this time.
The expo is also the place to find finalized race details and ask any questions that may have come up. Information on start times, parking, shuttle service, and the course map itself will be available. This is also an opportunity to browse the pre-race vendors displays and purchase any necessities such as t-shirts, sunglasses, gloves, or even partake at the oxygen bar if one is available. Double check to make sure you have your chip timer, bib, and four safety pins before leaving the expo.
Before the starting line
Race day is going to begin with an early wake up. It is important to go about a normal routine, so make sure to get up early and have your typical breakfast. Use the bathroom before leaving for the event, and leave with enough time to arrive at least an hour before your race start time. Plan on delays such as closed roads, traffic re-direction, traffic congestion, and crowds in general. Dress in layers so that you can remove clothing as the temperature warms. Parking will generally be far from the starting line, and this walk will help with a general warmup of your legs.
If there was no race expo for the event, packet pick-up will be available at this time. Some events may allow you to enter now if you did not pre-register. But make sure you know this beforehand.
At the starting line
Before you line up for the start of the event, check any gear you no longer need at the gear check area, if available. This is also a good time to use the bathroom one last time if necessary. When lining up at the start corral, be sure to line up according to the pace you plan on running or walking. This helps with crowd control on the course in an attempt to alleviate congestion of faster runners trying to pass slower runners. The pace will be identified with a sign in the start corral.
At this time, check your bib and make sure it is secured at all four corners. This will keep the wind from blowing the bib up and will maximize your aerodynamics. At most events, the chip timer that records your progress is contained in the bib. If it’s not in the bib, it will be something you attach to your shoe laces. Be sure this chip is present, secure, and ready to go. Next will be the singing of the National Anthem, and then the firing of the starting gun.
On the course
Regardless of when the gun goes off, your time for the event you registered for will begin when your timing chip crosses the start line. This doesn’t mean you can go grab a nap or a bite to eat, because there is a time limit from when the gun goes off and when your chip crosses the start line. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of the other competitors around you, but resist the temptation to push harder than you can sustain. Revert back to your training, and fall into a comfortable pace to begin using your race strategy.
Most events have participants of different race distances, so there will be walkers and runners moving at different speeds everywhere around you. Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure it is clear to pass or even clear to slow to a walk or a stop if need be. Depending on the race distance, most events have aid stations every two miles staffed with volunteers. These stations have various things such as water, electrolyte drinks, fruit, etc. The event would not be possible without these volunteers who hand out water and snacks, and clean up after the participants. This is another spot where it is important to be aware of your surroundings to avoid contact with other runners and walkers. There will also be portable bathrooms throughout the course and first aid support as well.
There are other things to be aware of on the course. Some events allow strollers and pets. Most events have event monitors on bicycles, and police sometimes patrol the course on motorcycle. The course is closed to traffic, however, traffic crossings are common but are controlled by police. Be sure to follow signs, cones, and cross any appropriate progress lines to avoid disqualification. On some trail runs, it is easy to get lost if you’re not paying attention to all the route markers along the way.
At the finish line
The finish line is an exciting place. It is also another place where congestion is common. Volunteers will be handing out completion medals and bottles of water. This is also a common area to link up with friends and family members. Enjoy the vendors that have set up for the event, and look out for any free swag being handed out. Most people don’t stay long post race, but there is usually an awards ceremony for the top finishers in each category. Before leaving the event, be sure to pick up your gear from the gear check area.
Later in the day, be sure and check the event website to see your official results. Reflect on your race performance. Could it have been better? Think about what you would change next time. While you’re at it, sign up for your next race and set a goal to make it an even better experience!
Losing weight or adding lean mass is a difficult task. Eating can be as subconscious or autonomous as breathing. Most of us go throughout the day knowing we need at least three meals, maybe some snacks, and are usually looking forward to the next thing we are going to eat. When eating in this random manner, do you know if you are getting enough or too many calories? Do you know if you are eating adequate amounts of protein? If you don’t document what you are eating, and how much, it is very difficult to eat with a purpose to reach your nutrition goals.
In the electronic age we live in, there are a multitude of apps that can help us track the food we eat. These apps record the serving size, the calories contained, and the macronutrients contained. If you dislike apps, however, a spreadsheet or even a pen and notebook can be used to log nutrition intake. However you do it, this log is definitely an advantage that will set you closer to your goals in only a short time.
There are at least five reasons why you should track what you eat. These five reasons are:
1. To learn your caloric intake and eating habits
2. To learn your macronutrient intake and set macro goals
3. To use as a tool to plan meals
4. To use as a tool to combat overeating by being aware of what you eat
5. To be deliberate about your food intake
The first reason you should track your food intake, is to learn your caloric intake and eating habits. This first reason may seem pretty obvious, but do you really know how many calories you eat if you don’t track them? It may come as a surprise to learn the amount of calories you take in once you begin keeping track.
You will also learn some of your eating habits. You will see which meal, or which time of day you eat the most. And which meal, or which time of day you eat the least. Learning your habits is a good way to bring awareness to your diet and nutrition intake.
The second reason you should track your food intake, is to learn your macronutrient intake and set macronutrient goals. Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your macros need to be set a certain way, depending on your goals. Whether for weight-loss, muscle gain, even certain diets, your macronutrients must be tracked. And if you are not tracking your nutrient intake, you will not reach your macronutrient goals.
The third reason you should track your food intake, is to use as a tool to plan meals. Looking over your food tracker will help you plan meals and make grocery lists. You will know exactly how much of a particular food to buy by plugging the macros into your food tracker. It can also tell you if you are deficient in fiber or any micronutrients, and you can adjust your meals accordingly.
The fourth reason you should track your food intake, is to use as a tool to combat overeating by being aware of exactly what you eat and how much. In this step, it is very important to be honest when entering your serving sizes. For example, the normal serving size for most peanut butter brands is two tablespoons. Most of us easily exceed this amount which can be catastrophic when logging high calorie-concentrated foods like peanut butter. It doesn’t take long to learn the proper serving sizes you need to reach your caloric goals. This also helps us become accurately aware of how many calories we are actually taking in. It may be surprising to learn how many calories are contained in our favorite foods. And it is very helpful to learn which foods we eat are high calorie-concentrated. This is just another step to help us to begin eating with a purpose, on purpose.
And finally, you should track what you eat to be deliberate about your food intake. Plan your daily meals one week in advance. Make sure your meals contain the calories and macronutrients you need for the goals you are trying to reach. Build the habit of planning your meals, and you will find that it becomes easier and easier to follow this plan as the habit is reinforced. But whether you stick to this plan or stray from it, make sure to honestly track what you are eating. This way, you will always have a record which can allow you to go back and analyze where you need to make adjustments if necessary.
Tracking your food intake is not difficult. It does take some work at first, but becomes easier the more you do it. It allows you to stop the mindless cycle of random eating, and puts you on the path of eating with a purpose, on purpose. Everything is more effective and efficient with a plan. Eating is no different. Tracking your food intake allows you to plan your meals to the very last calorie, even when eating in a restaurant. To make the most of your nutrition goals, be sure to start a food log immediately.
Powerlifting is an excellent way to train functional fitness. What is functional fitness? Doing work. Moving an object or your body over a distance to accomplish a task. Lifting a bag of dog food into the trunk of your car. Placing a large container of laundry detergent on a shelf. Walking. Swimming. Climbing a ladder. Running. The list goes on…
Powerlifting can be used by anyone to improve strength and fitness. But powerlifters train for strength. Their purpose is to put as much weight on the bar as they can. Many powerlifters compete in events called powerlifting meets. The meet is designed to find the lifter with the highest “total,” or the one who has the most combined one repetition maximum of three main lifts. Strength and technique are important in these three lifts, but accessory work is also utilized to improve upon the strength and mastery of the lifts.
The three lifts are:
• Back squat
• Bench press
The Back Squat
The back squat is a multi-joint exercise. It utilizes so many muscle groups that it is the king of all weight lifting exercises. It is an excellent way to develop leg strength and core strength. To perform this exercise, the bar is placed on the upper back, across the shoulders. With hands on the bar for stabilization, maintaining an upright posture and proper lumbar spinal curve, flexion of the hips initiates the movement. Flexion of the hips means the lifter decreases the angle, or “bends” at the hips. As the hips descend toward the ground, the knees and ankles begin flexion (bending) as well.
As this motion is occurring, the feet remain locked to the floor so that the knees and ankles can produce external torque against the floor. External torque is produced by sending the knees toward the outside of the body. Torque is a twisting or rotational force, so imagine the heels of your feet are twisting against the floor towards the outside of the body. It is important to create and maintain torque, because it stabilizes and protects the knee joint. It also sets the hip joint into an optimal position during the movement.
During the descent, the body needs to remain rigid. The core muscles should be tight, pushing the abdominal muscles into the spine. The calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lats fire and stay tight during both the descent and ascent. The descent ends when the quads go below parallel and the lifter is in the “hole.” At this point, the movements are reversed and the lifter ascends back to the starting position.
A power lifters goal with the back squat is to squat as much weight as possible for one repetition. This goal is achieved by practicing the lift in different, low repetition back squat workouts. For example, the lifter may choose a rep-scheme such as five sets of five reps, increasing the weight each set. Another example would be a back squat training session consisting of seven sets of three reps. Increasing the weight each set. And, of course, a workout consisting of one rep is important in training as well.
When the squats are complete, the lifter would continue the workout with accessory exercises. These exercises are limited only by the imagination. Leg extensions, leg curls, reverse-hypers, sit-ups, back extensions, front squats, overhead squats, body-weight squats, lunges, and stretching.
Just like the back squat, the deadlift is also a multi-joint exercise utilizing several muscle groups. It develops core strength, hip strength, and back strength. To perform this exercise, the lifter stands shoulder width apart, with shins touching the barbell. The knees are slightly bent, and the ankles and hips are in flexion so that the hands can grip the bar just outside of shoulder width. The arms remain locked, and they do not bend at any time during the lift. The core muscles and glutes remain engaged, squeezed, and locked as the lift is performed. The hamstrings, glutes, core, lower-back, and upper-back work together to move the bar from the floor to the fully upright, standing position. After a brief pause, the movement reverses, and the lifter lowers the bar to the floor.
As with the back squat, a powerlifter’s goal in performing the deadlift is to lift as much weight as possible for one repetition. A lifter trains for this also in a low-repetition workout. Similar to back squat training, one would perform five sets of five deadlifts, for example, with the aim of increasing the weight each of the five sets. Sets of three, sets of two, and single repetition sets are also utilized to increase deadlift strength.
Accessory exercises for deadlift training are also utilized. Rowing exercises with barbell, dumbbell, cables, and machines are common deadlift accessory exercises. As are pull-ups with different grip variations. Sumo deadlifts, and deficit deadlifts are different deadlift variations that can also be used to develop strength.
The Bench Press
The bench press is arguably the most popular weight lifting exercise that exists. Functionally, it simulates moving from a prone position to an extended position called the leaning rest. It is a multi-joint exercise that utilizes the chest, shoulders, and arms to move a barbell from full extension, to flexion, and back to full extension. The lifter begins face up on a bench with the barbell racked above them. A grip just outside of shoulder width, or wider, is used to un-rack the bar to move it to the starting position. The bar descends to the chest and back to the starting position in a smooth, fluid motion. A spotter and safety arms should always be used during this exercise. And, as with the back squat and deadlift, a one-rep maximum is the goal.
Training the bench press utilizes sets of low repetitions, just like the back squat and deadlift. There are many, nearly infinite accessory exercises that compliment the bench press. Incline and decline bench pressing with a barbell and dumbbells are most common. Dumbbell and cable flys are also popular ways to increase bench press strength. Body weight exercises such as the push-up and hand stand push-up are effective strength building exercises for the bench press.
Powerlifting can be intimidating. The name alone can instill images of very large animalistic men lifting unimaginable amounts of weight. But we are Normal Humans, and Normal Humans can utilize powerlifting to increase our health, strength, and fitness. Whether you are squatting, deadlifting, or bench pressing 10 pounds or 1000, work within your limits and compete only with yourself. This will always make you better, and is another tool we can use for our own personal improvement.