Murph Considerations for the Pregnant & Postpartum Athlete
Updated: May 11, 2022
With Memorial Day approaching, athletes from all over will join together with their communities to take part in the workout "Murph" to honor those that have fallen while defending our freedom. This one is named after Navy Seal Lt. Michael Murphy who was killed in Afganistan in 2005. The prescribed workout is as follows:
1 mile run
1 mile run
*while wearing a 20lb. weight vest
For the pregnant and postpartum athlete, we need to take a few things into consideration before jumping right into this one.
Let's first look at the overall workout-it is LONG with high volume of the movements. You may be used to pushing past discomfort in a workout-it's how we get better, right?!
Not so much during this season... This is not a time that I would suggest "pushing past the pain".
Just because you can (or someone that isn't qualified to give advice in these seasons is trying to convince you that you can), it doesn't always mean that you should, or that you have to.
Working at a pace and intensity that you can easily maintain will be important so you don't overwork yourself or become symptomatic.
You could even set yourself a timer for the full workout if you are not sure if you want to do the whole workout. For example, if you know you can manage 20-30 minutes of a workout, set a 20-30 minute timer and just work through the movements during that time.
To ensure that you are moving with quality and allowing yourself time to check in with how you are feeling, take rest periods (maybe even more than you think you will need).
With this, don't be afraid to cut the reps down; significantly if needed!
Depending on where you are located, the temperature outside may not be in your favor-here in Arkansas, it will likely be pushing mid-90 degrees and HUMID. If you are somewhere where it will be warmer, consider doing it earlier in the day when it isn't as hot.
Staying hydrated will be super important here. Drink water before, during, and after. And take water breaks!
With all of the movements, the following symptoms should be a sign that you should scale back a bit:
A growing belly
Coning/doming along the midline of the abdomen
Tugging/pulling sensation in the abdomen
Leaking (incontinence) of urine or feces
Pelvic pain, pressure/heaviness, or discomfort
Pain in the hips, back, belly, etc.
Cannot catch your breath or feel like you are getting overheated
Now, on to the movements and some modifications we can make.
Running in general is a high impact movement which will put a lot more stress on the pelvic floor than there already is during pregnancy and while still recovering postpartum or if you have any pelvic floor dysfunction.
Bike or row
Carries-farmer's, front rack, etc.
Sled pull or push
*Check out this blog for more on postpartum running and this blog for more on running in pregnancy.
Pull-ups require a lot of strength and they can be difficult to manage pressure in the abdomen and pelvic floor which can cause more stress in those areas.
Banded lat pull-downs
Banded strict pull-ups
Bent dumbbell row (I would suggest keeping the weights on the lighter end if you are keeping higher volume.)
*Read this blog for more on pull-ups in pregnancy.
Push-ups can create a lot of pressure in the abdomen that can press into vulnerable tissue if not managed well during these chapters. Also, as the belly grows during pregnancy, it will just become really difficult and uncomfortable to try to do push-ups from the floor.
Incline push-ups (wall, box, bench, rings/TRX, etc.)
Standing banded chest press
DB floor or bench press
If squatting below parallel is uncomfortable due to heaviness, pelvic pain, etc., adjusting the range of motion may help.
Squatting to a box
Shortened range of motion squats
As your pregnancy progresses, your movement patterns should be adjusted, as it should when earlier postpartum as well.
Don't be afraid to switch up the movements mid-workout if what you are doing isn't working. (i.e. Started with modified push-ups, put you start to cone through your abdomen? Change to a standing band chest press.)
HERE IS ONE example of a modified Murph for pregnant and postpartum athletes:
400m Sled push
5 Ring rows
10 Banded chest press
15 Squats (at a depth that feels good!)
400m Sled push
*For movement demo videos, check out Instagram @annaboltefitness.
This is just one example; make it your own and have FUN with it!
A quick note to add:
If you are at a point during pregnancy or postpartum where you don't feel like doing Murph, DON'T! Or, if you know you are a competitive person (I am right there with ya!) and when you see others doing it, you get a little carried away and might do more than you should, IT IS OKAY TO SIT THIS ONE OUT. You are much better off long term when taking a smart approach.
There is nothing that says you have to do this. Think about the risk vs. reward and how it can impact your long term athleticism.
Want more info on how you can navigate exercise, symptoms, and your journey? Fill out this form to schedule a FREE call with me to discuss how you can get better guidance with exercise and managing symptoms in pregnancy and postpartum!