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Body Weight Circuit Training Workouts
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Body Weight Circuit Training Workouts

The other day I wrote about practical strength training programs and what you can do to mix up your workouts. That got me thinking about Michael Murphy’s favorite workout that has become legendary among high school athletes.

Michael Murphy was a U. S. Navy Seal who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2005. If he sounds familiar to you, that is because a Naval warship was christened in his name in May of 2011.

Anyway, it is said that his favorite workout was a body weight circuit training workout that consisted of running a mile, doing 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats, then running another mile. This is affectionately and painfully referred to as “The Murph.” This, of course, is scalable, and those that can’t complete a full Murph yet can do the half Murph – half mile run, 50 pull ups, 100 pushups, 150 squats, then another half mile run.

One would perform this torturous activity by sets. For the half Murph, run a half mile, then do ten sets of 5 pull ups, 10 pushups, and 15 squats, then half mile run. If this seems too daunting, scale it to your abilities.

For example, walk or run a set distance around your neighborhood, then do the circuit training exercises, then walk or run the same set distance. There are lots of ways to scale the push ups, pull ups, and squats to your abilities.

Push ups can be done from the knee position instead of the toe position. Picture in your mind the classic push position – hands on the floor, body straight, toes on the floor. Now, instead of toes on the floor, put your knees on the floor. In essence, you are shortening the plank and making the exercise easier. Or, you can do push ups against a wall or a set of stairs. The more parallel to the floor you are, the harder the pushup.

Similarly, pull ups can be scaled. If you are outside, you can do pulls from a tree or post. Stand next to the post with your feet at the base. Grab the post and lean away from it until your arms are extended. Then pull yourself back towards the post. Or, find a cross bar or some other support that will allow you to angle your body to the ground and pull your self up towards the support. Again, the more parallel you are to the ground will be more difficult.

Squats can be scaled as well. Grab on to a sturdy surface and bend at the knees. Go down as far as you can, or until your legs form a right angle. Then push back up. As you progress, go down farther and do more reps.

I refer to this as a body weight circuit training workout because different calisthenics that engage different muscle groups are performed one right after another, with minimal rest in between the exercises. Allow yourself a longer rest between the sets. In other words, Set 1: 5 pull ups, no rest, 10 push ups, no rest, 15 squats; one minute rest. Set 2: repeat.

If you have never worked out like this, you may find it very challenging. Scale it to your ability. Start easy, then change the exercise position to make it more difficult, or increase reps, or decrease rest time. Your overall endurance and strength will make substantial gains. Like anything else, you have to apply consistent effort.

So, let Michael Murphy be your inspiration. Take consistent action every day and watch as your fitness improves over time.


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