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Fran – Tips for Completing This Benchmark Workout

Fran – Tips for Completing This Benchmark Workout

School Bus Drag Racing a Truck

School Bus Drag Racing a Truck. Your Fran workout will feel like it’s going from 0-100mph. A proper warm up beforehand is necessary.

The workout “Fran” is used in CrossFit as one of the benchmark workouts for athletes.  It is performed the same way for across all of the CrossFit community, and occurs at semi-regular intervals.  This workout, part of a series of “Girls” workouts with names like Angie, Cindy and Diane, is a particularly popular workout for its relative simplicity and ability to take the fittest of athletes and challenge them both physically and mentally.  No matter how many times one has performed this workout, it does not ever get “easy.”

The workout, done for time, is arranged as such:

  • 21 thrusters, followed by 21 pull ups…
  • Then 15 thrusters, followed by 15 pull ups…
  • Then 9 thrusters, followed by 9 pull ups

The workout is considered a benchmark because completing it gives you a perspective on how your fitness is progressing.  After completing this workout multiple times, you can see the progress you’ve made, and get a sense of your overall abilities in relation to CrossFit programming.  Beginners are expected to complete this workout in 10 min or more, with elite athletes completing this workout in 3 min or less.  Most intermediate athletes are expected to finish between 10 min and 4:30.

This short series of moves, intended to be performed as a sprint, does not allow for much strategy.  However, there are certain physical and mental preparations that you can do in order to get the best time possible.

  1. Approach the workout with a plan for breaking up the reps.  Unless you are in the advanced to elite category, you should plan for breaking up the reps in some arrangement.  This might mean splitting your rounds in half, and doing 11 thrusters, followed by 10 thrusters (for a total of 21), 11 pull ups, 10 pull ups (for a total of 21), 8 thrusters, 7 thrusters (for a total of 15), and so on. Whatever your strategy, you will not have a clear head while performing this workout, so try to stick to the plan as much as possible.
  2. I know this is a definitive statement, but I’ve yet to meet someone who says otherwise – the round of 15 is the hardest round mentally.
  3. This workout is extremely oxygen-intensive.  Maybe you learned in high school about cellular respiration and how your muscles go from anaerobic to aerobic energy production.  This is that process turned up to 11.  Your muscles will need oxygen in order to complete this workout and you will start breathing heavy.  Anticipate that occurrence by practicing your breathing during the movements.  A turning point for me was learning how to properly breathe during thrusters.  A heavy front squat movement is a move that can cause you to clench your stomach, flex every stabilizing core muscles, make you squeeze your face – don’t do that.  Relax. Breathe. Stay loose.  Get in a rhythm.
  4. Break your first sweat before picking up the bar.  Since this workout shoots off like a drag race, you’ll want to make sure that your heart is pumping blood at an elevated rate beforehand.  Get some physiological momentum by doing a light, low-intensity workout before that allows you to do warm up your joint and muscles and perform the movements at low or no weight.
  5. Practice your pull-ups.  This is a tough one for beginners since we’re doing the workout today, but a performing a kipping or butterfly pull-up that allows you to transfer your energy use from being 100% in your back, shoulders and arms to one that is distributed throughout your body with a kicking motion allows for a more efficient and faster series of pull ups.  Time is the measuring factor here, so being able to move fast is the key.
  6. Get mobility in your arms and hips. Watch the video below and make sure that you do some of the stretches performed to loosen up your shoulders, wrists, hips and back.

Good luck today!

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