Ahhh, the most feared and revered of CrossFit workouts. Simple enough that a beginner can give it a shot. Difficult enough to regularly appear in the final rounds of the CrossFit Games. Alright, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes (sweet potatoes that is).
What is Fran?
If you’re not familiar with the standard CrossFit style of workout notation let me break it down a bit more as well as explaining some of the movements. The following movements are performed with a running clock.
- Perform 21 barbell thrusters. A thruster is performed by holding a barbell in the front rack position, dropping down into a squat, standing up from the squat and then pushing the bar overhead. (There’s a quick video demonstration at the end of this post). Men should use a 95 pound barbell for the thruster and women should use a 63 pound barbell. The listed weight includes the weight of the bar. The bar should be on the ground, with the exerciser standing, when the clock is started.
- Perform 21 pullups. Immediately, upon finishing the 21 thrusters, begin the pullups. Any style of pullup/chinup is allowed, including kipping pullups. The exercisers chin must rise above the bar, breaking the horizontal plane of the bar, although the chin does not necessarily have to touch the top of the bar.
- Perform 15 thrusters. As soon as the pullups are completed, immediately, return to the barbell and begin the thrusters.
- Perform 15 pullups. Get back on that pullup bar and knock out 15 more.
- Perform 9 thrusters. You’ve got the idea now.
- Perform 9 pullups. Stop the clock as soon as the chin breaks the horizontal plane of the pullup bar on the final rep.
In the scheme of things, the workout is very simple, but it’s definitely not easy.
Need a little visual representaion of what Fran looks like? Checkout this video from CrossFit Albany showing CrossFit Games regular Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet knocking out the workout in just under two and a half minutes:
What To Expect
Although, Camille gets through this workout very quickly, remember that she’s one of CrossFit’s top competitors. For new CrossFitters, trying the workout with the prescribed weights, a 10 to 20 minute time is not surprising. Although, there are no official guidelines the following times provide a rough guideline:
4:30 – 3:00 Advanced
3:00 or less Elite
Tips and Tricks
For better or worse, the simplicity of the Fran workout means there is not a whole lot of opportunities for strategy. There are a few tips which can help:
- As ever, approach the workout with a plan. How will you break up your reps?
- Most people find the round of 15 to be the most mentally challenging. Be prepared for this. Negative self talk will not make this easier. Getting someone to cheer/encourage/taunt you through this section can be extremely beneficial.
- Want to push toward the elite ranks? One of the keys is getting through the thrusters “unbroken”. Take a look at our previous post: Fran Tip #1
- According to Mobility WOD’s Kelly Starett, one of the easiest, but least utilized, tips is performing some Fran specific mobility work prior to your workout. Review the video below for some Fran specific mobility tips from someone who has spent a lot more time thinking about Fran than you have. (Note: unfortunately the video quality is not the best on this one but you can definitely get the gist of what Kelly is suggesting).
That’s the extent of it. Fran remains the queen of CrossFit workouts (and if Fran is the queen then there is clearly no king). Good luck, go hard! And feel free to post to the comments if you found this useful or if you’ve got your own tip or trick!