The elite mindset building workout I do every Monday to kickstart the week

by Brian Cain, MPM

Since September 2019 I’ve been commited to doing “The Murph” as part of my Monday morning routine as a way to kickstart my mindset for having a great week. The workout is in honor of US Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy.

Lt. Murphy was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan.

Murphy’s men came under fire and Murphy bravely put himself in the line of fire to give his men a chance at survival.

One member of his team, Marcus Luttrell, survived and tells the story in his book The Lone Survivor.

Lt. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007.

By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle.

This was the worst single-day U.S. Forces death toll since Operation Enduring Freedom began nearly six years ago. It was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.

The Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community will forever remember June 28, 2005 and the heroic efforts and sacrifices of our special operators.

We hold with reverence the ultimate sacrifice that they made while engaged in that fierce fire fight on the front lines of the global war on terrorism (GWOT).

There is a workout named after Lt. Murphy that he would do while deployed. He called it the “Body Armor Workout.” It’s now simply refered to as “The Murph” and consists of:

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pull ups
  • 200 push ups
  • 300 air squats
  • 1 mile run

The goal here with this post is to encourage you to take on this great workout as part of your Monday routine for an entire year. You can chop it up any way you want and take as long as needed to do the workout.

When I first started doing this on Monday’s in September 2019, I would run a mile, go to the office and then throughout the day do sets fo 5 pull ups, 10 push ups and 15 air squats and then finish the day with a mile run. It was never done for time, it was a great breakup of my Monday.

On May 7th 2020 in honor of Murph’s birthday which was May 7, 1976, I put on the stopwatch and got the following time:

1mile run (9:07)
20 sets of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups and 15 body weight squats (20:10)
1 mile run (8:40)
Total time of 38:17.

I encourage you to do this workout as part of your Monday morning routine to help kickstart you mindset on serving others and becoming the best version of yourself in the process. This workout is sure to build calluses on your hands and build calluses on your mind by doing something every week that can be modified to fit your personal fitness needs.


To learn more about Lt. Michael Murphy I encourage the following resources:

The Lone Survivor movie or book by Marcus Luttrell

Murph The Protector. Documentary about the life of LT. Michael Murphy.

The Murph Challenge to help raise funds for The Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation


I also wanted to share with you 10 lessons that I have learned studying the Navy SEAL teams and the mindsets that they create to succeed that you can use to build unbreakable mindset, self-control and discipline.


In competition and in training — never show weakness.  Never have bad body language and always project confidence.  Always have big body language and stand like you are 10 feet tall and bulletproof.  The time to be vulnerable is when you aren’t in the heat of competition. 

That is the appropriate time to reflect and be open and honest about where you are, to share emotions and share real-life personal experiences.  NOT IN TRAINING AND COMPETITION — that is where you flip the switch into the unbreakable mindset.  You never show weakness and you attack everything that gets put in front of you.

It doesn’t mean you become a robot.  It does mean when your feet are on that floor in the weight room or you’re on the field in competition that you eliminate the emotion and you strip it back to a stoic, locked-in competition machine, because emotion clouds reality and performance.  Emotion hurts you more than it helps you in athletic competition.

You have to get big with your body language at all times and never, ever show weakness.  When you’re conditioning — like I observed in watching UFC champions train — never put your hands on your knees, never fold your arms after a round.  Put your hands in the air like you won that round. 

It’s always hands on the hips BIG or hands up in the air or arms down at the side, projecting confidence, the willingness to fight another round and keep going.


Feeling sorry for yourself is a worthless, useless emotion that’s just going to zap you of any positive energy, making you an energy sucker instead of an energy giver.  It will turn you into a drain instead of a fountain.  Never feel sorry for yourself.  It’s counterproductive. 

Remember, you can’t control what happens to you or around you or even how you feel — but you can always control how you ACT and how you respond to what’s happening around, to and inside you.  Your attitude is a decision.  And your response to any event in life is a choice.  The greatest human freedom we have is to choose our own perspective and attitude.


The number one thing you can do to stay patient in the face of adversity is to breathe.  Oxygenate your brain by taking a good deep breath from your belly, commonly referred to as diaphragmatic breathing.  You see professional golfers do this before each shot, basketball players do this at the free throw line, field goal kickers breathe deeply before attempting the game winner, and UFC fighters also take a deep breath in the corner between rounds. 

You break it down to the next pitch, play or point, that next lift in the weight room.  Stay patient in the face of adversity by breathing and staying present and in control of yourself.


In this pursuit of excellence, every day is going to get harder than the previous one.  Every day is going to demand more of you.  As you become better, you will earn higher expectations from yourself and those counting on you and earn more demands for your time.  As you earn more demands for your time, you will also earn more demands on your performance. 

That’s exactly what you want but you must be able to process it properly.  Don’t expect it to be easy if you want it to be great.  No great accomplishment ever happened by staying in your comfort zone.


The more you win, the more expectation there will be for you to continue winning.  The more you win, the more pressure there will be put on you by yourself and others.  This is normal.  This is good.  I train my athletes to see pressure as a positive, pressure as a motivator, pressure as a privilege.

Pressure causes you to take your performance to another level.  It pays to be a winner.  Be a winner in everything you do.  Winning isn’t just an outcome; it’s much more than that.  Winning is a lifestyle — not an event.  It’s a mindset — not just a number on a scoreboard.


Winning is a journey and a by-product of your process over time.  This race to excellence has no finish line.  Once you think you’ve arrived, you’re done.  If you hike a mountain, you don’t live at the summit.  You can’t; you need to keep hiking.  You need to keep moving forward.  Keep resetting the bar on yourself and your performance because there is no finish line.

I love what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after winning the NFL Super Bowl:  “What we did was great, but in all actuality, we are already six weeks behind next season.”  That is the ultimate NO FINISH LINE mindset and a big part of why Belichick is considered by many as the greatest coach of all time in any sport.


As an athlete, you must realize that you don’t rise to the occasion; you sink to your training and habits.  I hear a lot of motivational speakers talk about rising to the occasion.  That might look good on a t-shirt and sound good on a podcast or from the mouth of someone that is a “speaker” but who has never been a coach.  However, the “rise to the occasion” mindset won’t help you to win… AT ALL.  Full disclosure… I used to say “Rise to the occasion” all the time as a college baseball player… and it never worked.

In competition, you will never outperform your self-image and you will never outperform your training.  Thus, your physical and mental training need to be elite. 

You’re not going to rise to the occasion.  You’re going to sink in competition to your levels of training and habits, so make sure you’re paying attention to detail, make sure you’re acting differently from how you feel when you are tired, and make sure that you’re out there every single day pushing the rock like Sisyphus (look it up… EPIC) to become more.  Remember:  If you want more, you must become more.


You’ve got one out left, one minute left, one breath left?  Keep fighting.  Keep fighting to the finish.  As Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the NFL Green Bay Packers, said, “The Packers never lost a football game; we just ran out of time on occasion.”  Not dead, can’t quit. 

You might run out of time but you’ll never be defeated if you don’t quit.  Just keep showing up and do the work.  Whether you “feel like it” or not is an average question and we don’t ask average questions in this program.  Nobody cares how you feel; they care how you perform. You can’t focus on how you feel.  You must focus on what you must do to perform.


Adversity causes some athletes to break and others to break through.  You can’t turn coal into a diamond without pressure and adversity.  No pressure, no diamonds.  You strengthen and sharpen a sword by pounding the ever-living, ever-loving heck out of it and then shoving it into a wicked (Hey, I am from Massachusetts!) fire over and over and over again. 

When you take the mindset that adversity is your advantage (the harder it is, the more you like it and if it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it), you are well on your way to an unbreakable and elite mindset.


Former US Navy SEAL commander and author of Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink, talks about a powerful ONE WORD response… GOOD.  Things don’t go your way?  GOOD.  Not getting the results you want?  GOOD.  Couldn’t sleep last night?  GOOD.  Ankles feel like they are getting hit with an axe as you run from mile 80 to 100?  GOOD.  Enjoy the pain because you are earning it and it will all be over when your training is done. 

Don’t get turned off by adversity; get turned on.  Don’t get frustrated; get fascinated.  Don’t get discouraged; get encouraged.  Make adversity your advantage and make sure you know it’s GOOD and is part of the process.

Where can you say GOOD to help you get back into a more positive and productive frame of mind?

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