CrossFit Workouts 101: Fran WOD

woman performing a pull-up during a crossfit workout

There are dozens of CrossFit workouts, but only a handful that lay claim to the few foundational WODs. Fran is one of the originals.

For newcomers, Fran is deceivingly simple since it’s only two exercises: thrusters and pull-ups. However, this 90-repetition workout is anything but easy. It requires all-out effort as you race the clock and a nine-minute time cap.

Let’s breakdown the Fran WOD, including how to perform the exercises, how many repetitions you’ll have to complete, and the best completion times according to experience level.

 

Fran WOD: Exercises

The Fran WOD consists of two popular CrossFit exercises: thrusters and pull-ups. Don’t worry if you can’t perform these two exercises because we’ll cover scaling and substitution options below.

We recommend starting with a few warm-up sets. For the thrusters, you can use a piece of PVC or an equivalent piece of equipment. For pull-ups, you can perform jumping pull-ups or ring rows.

The following CrossFit exercises make up the Fran workout:

Thrusters

To perform thrusters, wrap your hands around the bar just outside of shoulder width. 

If you have wrist issues, you may want to consider using wrist wraps as they offer a great level of support and protection.

Pull your shoulder blades back and down as you bring the bar to shoulder level. Breathe in as you bend your knees and push your hips back into a deep squat. Keep the chest up as you do this.

Immediately drive your hips forward and push the barbell straight above your head, locking out your elbows. Carefully lower the bar back to your collarbone and go right into the next repetition.

Tips and Tricks

The Fran WOD is all about time, which means you need to safely crank out 45 of these with time to spare for the counterpart exercise, pull-ups.

In order to optimize your performance, we recommend selecting a weight that will allow you to go unbroken. This could mean going with the intermediate option below, and that’s okay. Better to do it correctly and safely than to risk injury for your ego.

Also, with how prevalent the squat is in CrossFit workouts, it’s important that you perfect your form. One of the best ways to do this is by placing a hip resistance band around your legs just above the knee. Get into a normal squat position and perform a few sets per day, focusing on pushing the knee out. You won’t believe the difference this makes in your squat.

Pull-Ups

Pull-ups in CrossFit – called kipping pull-ups – use a swinging motion that allows you to get into a productive rhythmic movement. This makes it possible to finish your workouts under the time cap.

Place your hands just outside of shoulder-width on a pull-up bar. Begin in a hollow body position. To initiate the movement, move into an arch position by kicking your feet behind you and moving your chest forward.

Close yourself back into the hollow body position, using the momentum to hinge your shoulders back and pull yourself up towards the bar. Carefully descend and take advantage of the momentum you’ve built to go into the next repetition.

Tips and Tricks

If you’re serious about mastering the CrossFit essentials like the kipping pull-ups, we recommend investing in quality pair of hand grips. These things will ensure a tight grip on the bar without damaging your hands. You’ll find that you’re able to perform more repetitions when you use these.

The kipping pull-up takes time to master. If you’re not there, that’s okay. Focus on a traditional pull-up that is slow and controlled. Sure, you’ll take a hit on your time, but you’ll also get an incredible workout.

 

Fran Crossfit WOD

Here’s the layout of how the sets and repetitions are performed.

Repetitions

No matter your fitness level, you will be using a descending repetition scale of 21-15-9.

This means that you will perform 21 repetitions of the first exercise, immediately followed by 21 repetitions of the second exercise.

From here, return to the first exercise and complete 15 repetitions, then 15 repetitions for the second exercise.

Finally, complete 9 repetitions for each exercise, then check your time.

As an example, if you’re completing the Fran WOD Rx or standard version of the Fran workout, here’s the breakdown:

  • 21 repetitions of thrusters
  • 21 repetitions of pull-ups
  • 15 repetitions of thrusters
  • 15 repetitions of pull-ups
  • 9 repetitions of thrusters
  • 9 repetitions of pull-ups

Time to Complete

Fran is a CrossFit WOD that focuses on completing the workout as quickly and safely as you can. Here’s a general guideline of timeframes and where you might fall, depending on your fitness level.

  • Beginner: 7 to 9 minutes
  • Intermediate: 6 to 7 minutes
  • Rx: 4 to 6 minutes
  • Rx+: 3 minutes or less

Remember that the time cap is 9 minutes. It’s good to have this as a goal, but not at the expense of your safety.

Scaling Options for Exercises

Here are some scaling options that might be appropriate if you’re just starting out or if you’re ready to really challenge yourself.

Rehabilitation

  • PVC thrusters
  • Resistance band rows

Beginner

  • Dumbbell Thrusters (15 lbs. for men / 10 lbs. for women)
  • Ring Rows

Intermediate

  • Thrusters (65 lbs. for men / 45 lbs. for women)
  • Jumping pull-ups

Rx

  • Thrusters (95 lbs. for men / 65 lbs. for women)
  • Pull-ups

Rx+

  • Thrusters (135 lbs. for men / 95 lbs. for women)
  • Pull-ups

 

CrossFit Workouts: Are You a Fan of Fran?

Have a video of yourself crushing the Fran workout? Tag us on Instagram so we can share!