One of the most well-known WODs in CrossFit is Fran. The workout looks simple; consisting of just thrusters and pull ups.
Nearly every CrossFit gym does the Fran workout a few times per year. It’s also a part of the level 1 program that all certified CrossFit coaches must complete.
This is a great benchmark to test overall fitness and improvement.
What is Fran in CrossFit?
21-15-9 Reps For Time
- Thrusters (95lb/65lb RX)
- Pull ups
What Are Good Fran CrossFit Times?
According to the WODtime calculator, these are considered average times for Fran:
- Beginner: 7-9 minutes
- Intermediate: 6-7 minutes
- Advanced: 4-6 minutes
- Elite: <4 minutes
How To Do Fran Faster
Fran is meant to be a quick workout, with beginners finishing in under 10 minutes. In order to speed up your workout time, start by breaking down the movements.
Try to complete all of your thrusters unbroken.
If you can’t do all of the thrusters at once but you’re coming close, rest the barbell on your shoulders for a few seconds rather than setting it on the ground. Having to pick up your barbell from the floor will cost a considerable amount of time.
If you can only complete a few thrusters at a time, avoid burnout! Break your sets up into small but manageable chunks of 3-5 reps. Do not do as many reps as possible and then gas yourself for the rest of the WOD. Keep your breaks short. Do a few reps, count to three, then get back on the bar.
Control your barbell. If you have to set it down, avoid letting the bar bounce around or roll out of place. That includes the last rep of each set. You don’t want to have to get off the pull up bar then reset your barbell.
Don’t pause during a thruster. Thrusters are meant to be continuous movements. It’s not a squat-pause-push-press. If you can’t get the bar from floor to overhead in one movement you should break for a second or two and shake out your arms. The same thing goes for the way down. Begin squatting as soon as the bar reaches your shoulders. It’s the fastest way to cycle through the movement.
Control your form. Try your best to keep your feet flat on the ground and shoulder width apart during the movement. If you start to roll onto your toes or fall back on your heels you’ll end up losing balance. That’s going to make the movement slower and fatigue your other muscle groups as well.
Butterfly pull ups are the fastest way to complete Fran.
If you haven’t mastered the butterfly pull up yet, do kipping pullups and work on learning how to do butterfly pull ups outside of the WOD. No matter what kind of pull ups you do, keeping a tight body and not swinging too far in either direction will help you complete the movement faster.
Just like with thrusters, if you can do all of your pull ups unbroken you’ll be way ahead of the game. If not, the same rules apply. Break up sets into reasonable chunks to avoid burnout.
Take care of your hands. Rips and tears will undoubtedly affect your Fran time. Use your time at the gym to figure out what works best for your hands when doing large sets of pullups. For some people that means gym chalk, for others grips work best. Often times this will come down to the individual and the environment. You’ll know your body best.
Elite athletes can complete Fran with every movement unbroken. So what separates the best from the very best? Transition times.
Place your barbell near your pull up bar. If you have the ability to set your own equipment, keep everything located next to each other. Avoid having to step over your barbell in-between sets.
Control your bar. As stated earlier, don’t let your thruster bar run away when you set it down.
Avoid taking breaks between sets. If you can get away with hopping straight on the pull up bar after thrusters do it. Bonus points if you can skip the chalk.
Strength To Improve Fran Times
Outside of the workout, concentrate on gaining strength in your front squats and strict pull ups. Both of these movements are going to help you do more repetitions at a time.
Remember, Fran is a fast workout and it will be done before you know it. Don’t dwell too much on the cardio aspect; focus on the movements. The repetitions get noticeably shorter as you move on so push yourself as fast as safely possible.