Memorial Day is coming!
As some of you may or may not realize we’re three weeks out from Memorial Day. With Memorial Day comes one of my favorite CrossFit Hero WODs- Murph. For those of you unfamiliar with the workout:
1 Mile Run
1 Mile Run
*If you’ve got a 20# vest or body armor, wear it.
I’m not sure if it’s the simple bodyweight movements, the volume, or the story of Lt. Michael Murphy that speak to me the most, but there’s something about this workout that I find endlessly appealing. Even when my training is at its emphatically most non-CF I’ll try to find a way to do Murph or a Murph-variant on Memorial Day. I want you all to get as much as possible out of doing this classic workout this year, so to that end we’re going to take the next three weeks doing something we almost never do in CrossFit- specializing. Not overly specializing mind you- we’ll still be doing plenty of snatching and jumping and maybe working on a few new KB skills, but there will absolutely be a focus the next three weeks on building your pull-ups, foot speed, leg endurance, and my personal favorite- push-ups.
The running, pulling, and squatting will all take care of themselves, don’t worry- just be sure to make it in regularly these next three weeks (esp. MWF), but I do request that you all put in some extra work on your push-ups. The push-up is a fantastic movement when done well, it’s versatile, ubiquitous, and is a great baseline marker for upper body strength and the ability to stabilize your midline during dynamic movement. That being said, I see a lot of push-ups done poorly. In an effort to erase those ugly push-ups from existence and pre-empt them from appearing at what’s usually the biggest push-up horror-show of the year, I highly encourage you to do some push-up homework outside of class.
In building strength-endurance in bodyweight movements one of the most useful training protocols I’ve ever used is a “grease-the-groove” style protocol. In short, you’ll be performing sub-maximal sets multiple times throughout the day, everyday, of a specific movement in order to build neurological efficiency (for more info research Pavel Tsatsouline).
What this will look like in a practical sense: Monday we’re going to test how many perfect full-ROM push-ups you can do. These can be full push-ups to the ground or push-ups to a box/bench/height of some sort. No knee push-ups, no banded push-ups, and no, you’re not so hard that you should be doing decline push-ups, one-arm push-ups, etc. Keep it simple. I recommend scaling to a level where you can get at least 8. However many push-ups you do, you’re going to take 50% of that number (rounding up) and do multiple sets of that many reps throughout the day. Multiple sets as in 10-15, and you’re going to aim to do that at least 5-6 days every week. Every day in class we’ll be doing at least 3 sets to help get you there. Each week we’re going to slightly increase this volume. The goal is for you to finish each set feeling like it was easy and wanting to do more. Space out the sets appropriately, at least 30-60 minutes between sets, and if at any point it feels hard or you start to strain, call it a day.
To spell it out a little more clearly- say on Monday you max out and do 15 push-ups to the floor. The rest of this week you’ll do a set of 7 push-ups every hour or so for 5 or 6 days of the week. Each set should feel fairly easy. Next week instead of 50% of your max effort set we’ll bump it up to 60%, and the following week we’ll do 70%. No need to retest and adjust that base number. Come Memorial Day you’ll bust out the push-ups in Murph like a total stud/studette without any worming around on the ground with me grimacing in the background.
For those of you scaling your push-ups to a box/bench- I’m sure you can find a desk/couch/countertop/set of stairs at home or work to do those reps on, be resourceful!
Thank you for reading through this long, slightly self-indulgent and poorly formatted blog post, hopefully this sounds like a reasonable and approachable plan to you. As always if you have any questions please ask, and get ready to crush some GD push-ups.