Murph 2020

Memorial day is early this year. With everything going on in the country it had almost slipped my mind. We have just 27 days before the annual Murph workout and challenge. If you don’t know what Murph is, it’s a CrossFit Hero workout named after Lt. Mike Murphy a Navy Seal who lost his life in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005 during operation Red Wings. You may have seen the movie Lone Survivor, detailing the events of that day. Every year CrossFit affiliates across the United States host a workout in his honor simply titled: Murph.

Murph is simply put one of the most grueling workouts known to man. It consists of the following movements and exercises. In this order.

  • 1-mile Run
  • 100 Pullups
  • 200 Pushups
  • 300 Air Squats
  • 1-mile Run

Traditionally this workout is done while also wearing a 20 pound weight vest or tactical plate carrier. Novices or beginners are encouraged to do the workout without additional weight though. It’s also traditional to do the movements as listed above but CrossFit has done the event twice at the Games now and the second time the Pullups, Pushups, and Squats were broken up into 20 rounds of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, and 15 Air Squats respectively. Either way is now acceptable and both hurt there’s just no sugar coating it.

If you’re planning on participating this year the time to start preparing for this beatdown of a WOD was a long time ago, but if you’re just starting today there’s plenty of time to build up to the workout by Memorial Day.

I would approach this training cycle as a 3 week buildup with the last week culminating with the actual WOD itself. Each week, increase the running distance and reps for the other body-weight movements up to but not exceeding 85% of the actual rep count. This is just a rough estimate but for example on the week of May 17th to 23rd, you want your last workout before the event to look something like this

  • 3/4 to 7/8 mile run
  • 75-85 Pullups
  • 175-185 Pushups
  • 275-285 Air squats
  • 3/4 to 7/8 mile run

I would also try to make my last workout before Memorial Day no later than Thursday the 21st. That will give you a few days to rest and recover and be ready for an all out effort for Murph on Monday. Murph itself should be your peak for this training cycle. The other thing to consider is taking care of your hands in the weeks ahead of Murph. Don’t do a mini-Murph everyday. You’re going to destroy your palms with that volume of pullups. Go strict form if you can, kipping will almost definitely rip some calluses off.

Most people will struggle on one of two sections, the runs or the pullups. You need to get running now and just put some miles in. 3 times a week should be plenty, but more if your feet and legs can take the abuse. When it comes to pullups there is no easy fix, you either have the strength and form or you don’t. If you need to scale down to keep it challenging but approachable do it. Also many of us won’t have access to a pullup bar for this workout so do the best you can with what you have. I will probably be doing cable pull-downs myself and try to add extra weight. The point is not to do the workout RX or but to do it in a challenging level that will still test you and your endurance. Some people will have to do a 3/4 scale version or even 1/2 scale and that’s okay. The point is to do something tough this Memorial Day and test yourself. Many have died protecting your freedoms in this nation. We remember and acknowledge their sacrifice on Memorial Day.

Good luck hard chargers and GET SOME!

Maximize Your Quarantine Workouts

With 3 out of 4 Americans now living under a stay-at-home order, a lot of us are working out at home. The good news is, it’s easy to get an effective workout at home, without weights. The key to achieving great results with your home workouts, is all about focus. You’re going to have to start thinking about what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

A fully stocked gym is a wonderful place. It’s also a place filled with distractions, too many distractions in my opinion. Back when I was coaching full time I frequently preached the need for focus and concentration to my clients. The same clients who were usually not listening because they were thinking about a hundred other things going on in their lives at that moment.

The average gym goer and client is there mostly out of a sense of obligation. They’re not blind. They see their physique in the mirror, they know they need to get in shape. Unfortunately getting in shape is a lot harder than letting yourself get out of shape. At the end of the day a lot of these well meaning people just don’t want to be in the gym. Yes they pay for it, yes they show up, but in the end they’d rather be anywhere else and their focus and performance in the gym reflects it.

If you have ever had the ability and time to realize you didn’t like the song playing in your gym or during your workout, you are not focused on your workout. Think about it for a moment. What is music really during a workout? Motivation? Inspiration? Distraction from an uncomfortable situation…yes. All too often people look at their workout as a period of time they must endure and get through. The music is a tool to help them pass the time.

Most of you are simply going through the motions of exercise. Your goal is simply to get through a certain number of reps and movements in an allotted time frame then to move on to other more enjoyable activities in your life. It’s time for you to stop. If you want to see maximum results from your home workouts you need to start thinking about what you’re doing and focusing on your muscles as they move. We call this the mind-muscle connection in the fitness industry. In other words you literally think about the muscle that is contracting and moving weight as you do the motion.

What does this do? For one it has been shown to increase the contraction of that muscle or muscles involved in a particular exercise. It also increases the effectiveness of the exercises you’re doing, meaning: more results from less reps. There’s a simple way to test this. Today or whenever you next workout, turn off the music. Now take a moment and think about the muscles you’re about to use. For instance before you begin a set of pushups, take a second to contract your chest muscles, tense your pecs, feel them squeeze, hold that squeeze while you begin. Now instead of just mindlessly dropping to the ground and pushing back up and knocking out as many reps as you can as quickly as you can, S-L-O-W down. SLOWLY lower yourself down to the ground, while you focus on maintaining that “SQUEEZE,” then push yourself back up again slowly, focusing on squeezing your pecs, your chest muscles as hard as you can. How many reps can you do before you start shaking from the effort?

This works just as well for squats, pullups, rows, situps, or whatever other bodyweight movements you might choose. I promise you if you take the effort to focus on maximum contraction and slowly go through the full range of motion for each movement, you will be pleasantly surprised on how few reps it takes to achieve muscle fatigue.

If you’re fortunate enough to have weights or machines in your home gym, the principle still applies. Slow down, focus on that squeeze and maintain that contraction throughout the entire range of motion for the entire set. Do you have to do this every time you exercise, of course not. However it should be a regular part of your routines. Slow count and pause reps have been a staple of exercise, body-building, and weightlifting since people first began lifting heavy stuff. Unfortunately it’s not glamorous, flashy, or cool. It’s a technique that requires discipline and mental focus. It’s not for people chasing instant results or shortcuts. If you’re serious about maximizing your home workouts during this quarantine though it may just be the single best thing you can do too achieve the results you want.

No Bullshit Strength

After 22 years of working out myself, using various tools and modalities and 12 years working as a professional strength and conditioning coach there is only 1 exercise I would recommend for those wanting the simplest most time effective workout: The Kettlebell Turkish Get-up. It’s a movement I both love and despise. I despise it because it kicks my butt every time I do it, and lays bare all my weaknesses and deficiencies. I love it because of what it does, it trains everything. It’s also possibly the single most neglected strength building movement in any gym I’ve ever taught or trained in.

I promise you this, were you to spend the next 6 weeks just doing the Turkish Get-up (TK get-up), you’d be strong as an ox and probably pleasantly surprised to see some of your other lift number increase as well. Why is this?

First if you’re in America and you workout regularly you’re probably confusing real core strength and stability for developing a pretty six pack. A strong core includes more than just the muscles of your rectus-abdominus or the visible six pack. A strong core is developed through exercises that resist flexion or bending under a load. Movements like the plank or TK get-up teach the entire spine and midsection to brace under load and support the trunk and by extension the weight being moved. Many people plateau in their heavy squats and deadlifts not because their legs can’t move more weight but because their core can’t stabilize the increasing load. This usually manifests itself with the tale-tale rounded spine during max effort lifts. Relying on a weight belt can also contribute to this issue when lifters rely on the belt for actual support instead of using it as a feedback tool to remind them to brace their midsection with proper breath control and muscle activation.

Second the TK get-up helps develop the nervous system through what it neurologically speaking a very complex movement requiring a multitude of smaller stabilizing muscle activation in order to perform correctly. Many of these smaller stabilizers just aren’t recruited as often or as strongly in a static lift where the load is essentially balanced at all times and spread evenly. A kettlebell by its nature is unbalanced and movements utilizing it require tremendous neurological recruitment. In effect it makes you a better coordinated and dexterous athlete. Real usable strength is not a static thing it’s the ability to use your body effectively and fluidly through a wide range of environments and situations.

Third, it’s so old school that it’s exercise gospel to those in the know. Fitness has gotten complicated and outright stupid. It’s time to return to the pursuit of strength. That means returning to what’s tried and true. The strength training is as old as civilization. The principles haven’t changed much and neither have the applications, overload your body with challenging movements that force it to adapt through a variety of responses whether growing more muscle or developing new nerve connections. Why do we treat this like rocket science, when it’s not. Why do we think we need a hundred gadgets, weird clothes, and crazy supplements, because we’re gullible that’s why. Those of us who don’t know, have put our trust in so-called health and fitness experts, who turns out are really just advertising and marketing specialists. We’re being sold products, not solutions. The solution isn’t flashy or particularly exciting: hard work and discipline. That’s a hard thing to sell in an age of instant gratification.

Whether you’re just beginning your own pursuit of strength or an old hand at the iron game I encourage you to reevaluate your program. Is it achieving the results you desire? Is it easy to follow and make sense? Less is more. Complicated routines are popular and sell magazines and gym memberships to the uniformed. What you need though are results and foolproof systems. Pick up a Kettlebell and train like you mean it, cut the crap, get rid of the flash and just get to work. The results will speak for themselves.

3 sets of 10 Turkish get-ups each side

100 Kettlebell swings

Use a weight that allows you to perform the movement correctly. Leave your ego out of it.

Today’s Workout 11/21/13 “Knuckle-Dragger”

Today’s workout has no met-con or crazy movements. It’s not meant to be exciting or fun; it’s about moving a lot of weight, building strength, and getting ripped. I’, going to go ahead and hazard a guess that the guys will really enjoy this the most but ladies if you’re struggling with Pushups or Pullups than I strongly advise you to focus on this workout and give it everything you have.

Very simple do 2 sets of 10 Pushups and 2 sets of max Pullups. If you just can’t let a day go by without doing some kind of “cardio” then you can also run a few laps or row for 8-10 minutes at a moderate pace.


Workout A: Barbell Bench Press

You will be dong a total of 5 sets. The first set will be the heaviest and you’ll use a competition grip for 8 reps, then you’ll drop down 20 lbs do 2 more sets of 10 with a wide grip, then drop another 10 lbs for a final 2 sets of 10 with a narrow grip. A competition grip is similar to the grip you’d use for a clean; extend both thumbs then grip the bar resting the tip of the thumb just at the edge of where the knurling begins on your bar on either side then move it out another half inch. A wide grip will place either the pinky finger or ring finger directly on the smooth narrow bands on either side of the bar; this might also be your snatch grip if you have especially short arms. A narrow grip will place both index fingers just at the inside edge of the knurling in the middle of the bar. Of course this assumes you have an Olympic bar with no center knurling for squats, if you’re using a power bar simply disregard the center knurling.


An example of the workout would be:

165 lbs x 8 reps Competition Grip

145 lbs x 10 for 2 sets Wide Grip

135 lbs x 10 for 2 sets Narrow Grip

That’s all you need to do. Don’t be tempted to hit it incline, decline, or with Dumbbells. Do this workout once a week upping your weight by 10 lbs each week and you’ll be benching 300 lbs in no time. You can work chest on other days in other workouts but only if its bodyweight movements like pushups or accessory moves like shoulder presses etc. Feel free to increase or decrease the starting weight to fit what you’re capable of.

Ladies this is a good workout for you to build up strength for pushups. If you can do Pushups but the bench press scares you, then use the same template but do Pushups; 1 set of 8 with a normal stance, 2 sets of 10 with a wide hand stance, then 2 sets of 10 with a narrow hand stance.



Workout B: Barbell Curl

We will follow the same template as above, for example:

95 lbs x 8 reps

75 lbs x 10 for 2 sets

65 lbs x 10 for 2 sets

I prefer to do drag curls, in which I bring my elbows back and drag the barbell up the front of my body in a straight vertical path. The range of motion is slightly less than traditional curls but the contraction is greater as is the time under tension. After you finish your 5 total sets you’re done. If you have an ez-bar you may substitute that instead of a barbell, especially if barbells give you wrist pain.

Ladies, this time there’s no getting out of this. Regardless of how you feel about this being a meathead move you need to be doing it once a week. Adding bicep strength is never a bad thing. Kipping Pullups are cool and fun to do but for sheer strength a strict Pullup gets real respect and it’s never going to happen if you have a weak grip and floppy biceps. You will notice a difference as the weeks go by in how much easier Pullups, Deadlifts, cleans, KB swings, and rows get with stronger biceps.

Core Finisher:

Side Planks with knee-to-elbow touch

Assume a side plank resting on your forearm. Slowly bring the knee of your top leg up to the elbow of your free arm, touch than return. Do 10 reps each side a total of 4 times per side.


AbMat Situps with Medicine Ball


Hold a 14 lbs Medicine Ball to your chest keeping your heels together and knees to the ground, (think frog legs). Complete 4 sets of 12-15

Today’s Workout 11/8/13

I usually post the workouts on my Facebook page for Modern Savage but since FB seems to be having some issues no doubt related to the NSA spying on me I’ll post it on here and hope it shows up.


Fridays are usually dedicated to working the rear posterior chain and shoulders. Today is no different. Thankfully there are literally hundreds of exercises you can use to blow up your glutes, hams, and calves and one of those happens to be my favorite; Cleans and Clean Pulls. Since we all know nothing goes better with Cleans than jerks and Presses will throw those in there as well.



I like to use the “Mike Burgener warm-up circuit,” anytime I’ll be doing Olympic lifts followed by 500 meters of medium intensity rowing. The goal is not to make your warm-up into it’s own mini-workout but to warm-up the joints and muscles and wake up the nerves and introduce them to the movement patterns you’ll be executing that day. It’s also a good idea to throw in about 5 minutes of Air Squats, hip, and shoulder mobility as well. Altogether a good warm-up should take around 20 minutes to complete.



Clean and Press/Jerk Ladder 5-5-5-5-5: (Increase weight each set until you’re approaching your 5 rep max)


Thrusters 3-3-3-3-3: (Do these out of a squat rack instead of cleaning them up for each set, again work up in weight with each set)


Power Cleans 5-5-5-5-5: ( Remember to receive the bar in a quarter squat and fully extend your hips to lock out and complete the rep)


Strict Press 8-8-8-8: ( Your first 2 sets should be lighter the final 2 heavy as you can go for 8 reps)


Push Press 5-5-5-5: (Your Push Press should be slightly heavier than your strict press; dip and use your hips to pop the bar up. Tip: if the bar is not resting on the front of your delt at the beginning of the rep then you need to bring your elbows forward and roll the bar back somewhat to a position approaching but not quite a front rack.)


Clean Pulls 6-5-4-3: (This weight should be significantly heavier than your max clean weight. The range of motion is very small and you’re only trying to bring the bar up to between your navel and lower sternum. Use wrist straps if your grip gives you issues. And increase weight as the reps decrease.)


Power Clean 5 minutes AMRAP: Using 75-95 pounds see how many cleans you can complete using good form in 5 minutes.


There it is your Friday Rear Posterior Chain and shoulder blaster. Scale as needed and be sure to use the heaviest weight you can while maintaining good form and following the reps prescribed. Have a great weekend!


Today’s Workout

Today’s Workout: Bend the Bar
Yesterday was about lightweight and body weight movements. Today we’re going to load that bar until it bends, yes folks its Deadlift day. As we move forward over the next several weeks you’ll notice that some days we will be doing what most people would refer to as “Body-Building” workouts other days will resemble something from a CrossFit box and still some days will be traditional “cardio” days with running, rowing, swimming or intervals. Finally some days will be a combination of these things, well welcome to CrossFit programming. I’ll understand if you’re not used to seeing this because most boxes don’t follow traditional CrossFit programming. In fact of all the 7 boxes I’ve personally visited in my area only two actually plan their workouts with any real consistency or forethought.

Our upcoming programming is going to be about building strength and developing a broad physical fitness. It’s also going to be about helping us all look and feel better. Any of the workouts I post here or on Facebook can be scaled or adjusted in time, weight, reps, or length to suit your own specific goals so please don’t treat my workouts as holy gospel; inviolate and unchangeable, if anything they’re just a guideline to point you in the right direction. So without further ado here’s Today’s Workout.

Try not to run or row today before the workout if you can help it and this is something I never recommend before a Deadlift workout. You could follow the Catalyst Circuit I frequently advise as this is a great all around warm-up for most types of lifting. Follow this with some Double-unders and 15-20 Burpees to get the old heart rate going.

The Workout:
Barbell Deadlift: Ladder starting at 155lb working up to your 5RM (5 rep max)
Once you find your 5RM, rest 5 minutes then begin your sets below

Barbell Deadlift: 5-5-5-5-5
Rest 2 minutes between sets and 3 after the final set

Romanian Deadlift w/ Snatch grip: 135-185lbs x 6-6-6-6
Rest 2 minutes

Barbell Dip Shrug: 185-225lb x 10-10-10-10
(Dip slightly with the hips then explode upwards, fully extending the hips and shrugging the bar straight up.)


Olympic Ring Pullups with False Grip: 5-5-5-5-5
(This is a biceps intensive Pullup in which the rings are pulled towards the bottom of the sternum with the hands turned inwards with the knuckles facing you. Search false grip on  for examples.)

Barbell Curls: 75lb x 8-8-8
95lb x 5-5-5
(Use a very shallow range of motion; keeping the elbows tucked back with a close grip and curl the bar towards your sternum pausing for a count of 2 before lowering the bar again.

 Here’s a great tutorial about the false grip for rings.

Today’s Workout 3/4/2013

Welcome back to Savage Fitness and living life outside the box. Today’s workout will consist of three couplets after a short warm-up. Each pair of moves will feature a bodyweight motion complimented with a weighted lift; in this case squats. The Idea is to either perform each pair as a super-set or to rest between moves depending on how heavy you choose to go. As always the method is simple: practice control, good form, and a full range of motion over simply gunning for the most weight. If you cannot reach bottom in your squats dial back the weight until you can. Also this isn’t a competition, be honest with yourself, if you need to do variations of the moves or scale them down do so.


The warm-up, this short series of moves will be recognizable as “Cindy” to CrossFit fans. I often use this as a warm-up because its a good way to activate  the most groups of large muscles in a short period of time. Of course we won’t be going for the maximum number of rounds in 20 minutes just 3 rounds focusing on good contraction and depth of motion.


Warm-up: 3 Rounds of

5 Pullups

10 Pushups

15 Air Squats

30 Seconds of Calf Stretching



Workout: 3 Couplets

1.) 3 Rounds of:

10 Pushups

6/6 Pistol Squats

Feel free to use a bench, box, or Medicine Ball to aid your progression on Pistols if you struggle.



2.) 4 Rounds of:

5-8 Strict Pullups

10 BB Overhead Squats (start with an empty barbell if needed and work up)



3.) 4 Rounds of:

5-8 Strict Handstand Pushups

10 KB or BB Front Squats



Extra Practice: 5 Rounds of

10 Light BB Snatch Balance into Overhead Squat