Memorial Day Murph

May 28, 2021

 by Billy Bacarella

It’s that time of year again…Memorial Day Murph! I’m excited to do it with a group of people this year - & also not in my third trimester of pregnancy! I’m going to link to my Murph blog post from 2018 for scaling & modification options. This blog post is a reflection from my knowledge and experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, CrossFit Level 2 trainer, CrossFit gymnastics certificate, Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach (certified) and currently 10 months postpartum with my second. I’ve done Murph pregnant twice, I’ve done it twice postpartum (early (<1 year) & late (>1 year) & a few times before all of that - and now again early postpartum (<1 year).


Murph is a LOT of volume. “Rx” is performed with a weight vest on.

Controversial opinion? If you haven’t gotten a sub 45 minute Murph without a vest on, you don’t need a vest. IMO, no pregnant athlete needs to be wearing a vest- training mindset should be different! Postpartum athletes, I wouldn’t recommend a client wearing a vest unless they are at least a year postpartum & have built a solid foundation (read below). Injured athletes, if you have an upper body injury & want to wear a vest for the squats & run, and have a decent aerobic capacity built up, ok.

Also possibly controversial (though I really don’t think it should be), if an athlete cannot easily perform 10-15 kipping/butterfly pull-ups, there is no reason to wear a vest. If you struggle with movement standards (chin over bar on pull-ups, chest to the ground on push-ups & back up without “worming”"), there shouldn’t be a vest worn. Looking at longevity with training here.

If you don’t have access to a pull-up bar, doing ring rows or a similar type row would work or a bent over row with barbell/dumbbells/kettlebells/random object. DBs/KBs can be a nice option for injured athletes as well, as you can modify the weights more (depending on what you have access to).

You can modify the intensity of push-ups by going on your knees (my least favorite option), hands elevated on a step or box or wall, or even doing floor presses with DBs or KBs. Again lots of volume here, I would want to see my athletes stay moving rather than resorting to single reps.

Access to a bike or rower may be an issue for pregnant/postpartum/injured athletes. For my pregnant & postpartum athletes that are not cleared to run by a pelvic floor physical therapist (which you really should be before doing any running or jumping, IMO), there are a few options I would recommend:

  • Step ups or stairs- you could choose to do a certain amount of reps or for a certain period of time (I would recommend around 8 minutes) to sub for a 1 mile run. You can even carry a DB or KB to increase the intensity if all you have is one or two steps.

  • Sled pushes/pulls- if you have access to a sled, that’s awesome! Keep the empty sled or add light weight to it. I would alternate between pushing & pulling, again probably keeping for the 8 minutes of work I mentioned above.


If you made it this far, congratulations! Again, check out my 2018 post on Murph scaling/modifications here for more details.

Do you have specific questions regarding your training during pregnancy & postpartum? You can book a 30 minute virtual consult with me (we can talk Murph scaling, modifications, pregnancy & postpartum training considerations, injury rehab & considerations, whatever you want that is fitness, physical therapy, pregnancy, postpartum related or any combination of that!). This can be a one-time meeting or we can meet on a regular basis to discuss/review/modify your programming, address any symptoms or issues.

***This blog post is not meant to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis & treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or concern.


When considering scaling an athlete, try to keep in the mind what functional movement is being performed. Is it a variation of the squat, hinge, pull, push, etc.? Try to maintain the integrity of the functional movement, while modifying it a level that is appropriate for your individual athletes. If you would like to learn more about coaching pregnant and postpartum athletes, please look into Brianna Battles' coaching courses here. For questions regarding scaling/modifications for the injured athlete, please feel free to contact me and/or work directly with the athlete's healthcare provider.

***All pregnant and postpartum women should have their physician's approval to workout. If you don't, please do not workout. If you have any physician restrictions, to ignore them is placing you and your baby's health in jeopardy.

***I recommend all postpartum women get assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist. Find one by you here. I also highly recommend finding a Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism coach by you to go over strategy with specific exercises, programming and recommendations. Find one here.

***At any sight of coning with any movement, stop. Stop if you begin experiencing "leaking", sensation of something "falling out" and/or anything that doesn't feel right. Take more breaks as needed, if it's due to fatigue. Focus on your breathing and movement strategy. If you continue to have symptoms, scale the movement more or stop the workout. If you haven't consulted with a healthcare provider and/or postpartum fitness specialist regarding your symptoms, please do.

If you have specific questions regarding this post, please comment below or contact via social media or email. I'm happy to help- but remember my advice is not accompanied with a hands-on assessment, which is the best way to make recommendations. If you are interested in meeting with me, please contact me. If you're interested in finding an appropriate healthcare provider/coach, please contact me and I will do my best to help you find one.

- Dr. Katie PT