Many of the CrossFit benchmark workouts, like Fran, have girls’ names. Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, figured that an incredibly demanding workout leaves you feeling like a storm hit you. So, just as the US National Weather Service uses women’s names to identify storms, he used women’s names to identify workouts.

The Workout

Thrusters (95/65 lb)
For Time

Complete all 21 thrusters before moving on to the 21 pull-ups. Then do 15 thrusters, then 15 pull-ups. And finally, 9 reps of each. The prescribed weight for men is 95 pounds and 65 pounds for women. Your score is the time it takes to finish all 90 reps.

The History

Now that you know what Fran is, you might be wondering, “…who is Fran?” While some of the CrossFit benchmark workouts are named for real people, this workout’s namesake is more fiction than reality.

Early on in his gymnastics training days, Glassman was looking for an effective way to supplement his gymnastics training with weights. Only he wasn’t interested in lateral dumbbell curls or biceps curls. He wanted to create a workout that tested not only strength but also stamina.

By combining thrusters (a front squat with an overhead press) with pull-ups and completing the 21-15-9 couplet as quickly as possible, he created just the type of workout he was looking for. Rather than repeatedly explaining the workout and its movements, he gave this workout the name “Fran.”

Breakdown, Strategy and Scaling

The goal of Fran is to go fast. It’s designed to be physically taxing, so if you finish and feel like you just got run over by a truck, then you nailed it.

For a workout like Fran, it’s best to go into it with a strategy. While some athletes can do this workout unbroken, the majority will favor a different approach. For us in this latter group, the trick is figuring out how to strategize by breaking up the reps.

You’ll probably need to do Fran a few times to figure out the best rep scheme for your strategy. Control your heart rate and breathing rate while pushing yourself to go faster than you did the last time you completed this benchmark workout.

Strategy Suggestions to Get You Started:

  • Try to keep a higher number of reps in a broken set. If you’re doing sets of 3 or 4 reps, then consider scaling.
  • For example, break the 21 reps into 3 sets of 7, the 15 reps into 2 sets of 8 and 7, and complete the last 9 reps unbroken.
  • Find a rep scheme that keeps you moving quickly at an intensity you can maintain while keeping good form. If you feel things are getting slopping, it’s probably a good idea to re-strategize or scale.

As far as scaling, scale for speed. This is a workout meant to take 2, 3, or 5 minutes – not 10. If your Fran times are nearing double digits, then it’s a good idea to scale.

  • Drop the weight on the thrusters or use lighter dumbbells instead of a barbell.
  • Use a band for your pull-ups or replace pull-ups with ring rows.
  • Modify the rep scheme so that you’re completing fewer reps.

If you do scale, remember that this is a benchmark WOD. Keep notes on how you modified the workout so that you have measurable and repeatable data for the next time you do Fran.

A Few More Tips for Fran:

  • Try not to put the bar down.
  • Rest with the barbell in the front racked position.
  • Never “rest” with the barbell over your head.
  • Don’t forget to breathe.

To learn more about Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston and our range of programs, get in touch with Team Rhapsody today.