The Fran Workout Guide: How To + WOD Scaled For Each Skill Level

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The CrossFit community likes to keep the workouts of the day (WODs) challenging and ever-changing. While some workouts are meant to test your true strength, others test your endurance, and some test a mix of both. 

If you know anything about CrossFit, then you know the Fran workout. This benchmark workout is a great strength and fitness test for beginners and advanced athletes.

This is one CrossFit workout you will want to revisit a few times a year because your progress can be truly surprising and extra motivating. Seeing how much progress you can make in so little time is one of the best aspects of CrossFit.

It is not unheard of to knock 3 minutes off of your Fran time from the beginning of your Crossfit journey to just a few months later. 

So, what is a Fran in Crossfit? In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to perform the Fran workout.

We will discuss the following: 

  • What Is the Fran Workout?
  • How to Do the Fran Workout
  • How to Scale the Fran Workout for Each Fitness Level
  • How Long Does It Take to Do the Fran CrossFit Workout?

Let’s get into the details!

A pull up.

What Is the Fran Workout?

What is a Fran in Crossfit? The Fran workout is a CrossFit workout designed to test your fitness level and motivate you to keep working hard to shave off time.

Both of the movements included in the Fran workout are fairly simple and do not require a lot of skill, so you likely won’t need to practice the movements a lot before trying the workout.  

This workout places a lot of demand on the upper body, so prepare yourself for back and shoulder torture. 

The Fran workout is a well-known CrossFit WOD, and all you need to complete it is a pull-up bar, a barbell, and a few weight plates.  

You do need to have enough skill and strength to complete some version of a pull-up. You also need to be able to successfully complete a barbell thruster. 

You will need to complete three rounds of the two movements (pull-up and thruster) for time. You start by completing 21 reps of each movement, then 15, then 9. 

The weight for this workout is moderate to heavy for most athletes. The number of reps is also moderate. 

The key is to be quick and because the last set has less than half the number of reps as the first many people get amped up and can finish rather quickly. 

A person holding a barbell.

How to Do the Fran Workout

To prepare for the Fran workout, you need to set up in an area where you have access to a pull-up bar, barbell, and weight plates.  

If you require assistance when doing pull-ups, make sure that your resistance bands or TRX system, or rings are set up and ready to go before you begin the workout. 

The Fran workout consists of 3 rounds of thrusters and pull-ups. You must start by doing 21 barbell thrusters first, then move on to 21 pull-ups. Repeat this two more times, decreasing the rep number by six each round. 

Here is the exact format of “The Fran WOD:”

21-15-9 Reps For Time

  • Barbell Thrusters 
  • Pull-Ups

Males: 95 lbs

Females: 65 lbs

Your score is determined by how long it takes to complete the workout. Any rest taken between sets will count toward your finish time.  

A person doing a pull up in a park.

How to Scale the Fran Workout for Each Fitness Level

The movements in the Fran workout should be doable for most athletes, though many athletes will likely need assistance with at least some portion of the pull-ups. 

The number of reps required is moderate but still taxing, and it may be beyond the ability level of newer athletes, which is why scaling for different fitness levels is important. 

Athletes new to CrossFit will likely need assistance when doing the pull-ups or may need to initially sub out the movement entirely. 

Even when using resistance bands, doing a large number of pull-ups can be too much and result in injury when you are not accustomed to the movement. CrossFit is a great way to train when done safely. 

For the Fran WOD, You can start out by doing a modified number of reps and eventually build your way up to doing the full workout if needed. You can also start by using less than the regulation weight. 

Even advanced CrossFit athletes can be totally crushed by this workout, especially if they are going all out to try to set a personal best.  

Doing this workout will test how good your muscular endurance and overall fitness are, even if you scale it down a bit. 

The purpose of this workout is to go fast, but you should also focus on completing the movements correctly to avoid being no repped and adding more time due to having to redo a movement.  

A person holding a barbell above their head.

The Fran Workout for Beginners:

The Fran workout can easily be scaled to accommodate all fitness levels. The best way to scale it is by decreasing the weight rather than reps. 

We suggest the following as the best option:

21-15-9 Reps For Time

  • Dumbbell Thrusters 
  • Pull-Up assisted or ring/TRX rows 

Males: 15 lb dumbbells 

Females: 10 lb dumbells

It is also helpful to chunk each set of reps into smaller sets and take brief rests when needed. Using a TRX system or a set of rings to do rows instead of assisted pull-ups is also a good idea. 

An assisted pull up.

The Fran Workout for Intermediates:

If you are an intermediate CrossFit athlete, you can probably do a good portion of the pull-ups without assistance. You should attempt to do as many as possible without assistance, but once your form begins to fail, you should add resistance bands for support.  

We think the following is the best option:

21-15-9 Reps For Time

  • Barbell Thrusters 
  • Pull-Up (assisted when needed)

Males: 75 lbs

Females: 50 lbs

Using this lighter weight, you will likely be able to complete all reps for each round without rest, but if your form starts to feel off, then consider doing two sets of 7 for the first round. 

Four people doing pull ups.

The Fran Workout for the Advanced:

The Fran workout should be completed as written, in perfect form, and at a fast pace for advanced athletes.

The workout should look like this: 

21-15-9 Reps For Time

  • Dumbbell Thrusters 
  • Pull-Up assisted or ring/TRX rows 

Males: 95 lbs

Females: 65 lbs

There is no specified amount of rest time between rounds, so if you are capable, make the rest as short as possible to cut down time as much as possible. 

A person holding a barbell.

How Long Does It Take to Do the Fran CrossFit Workout?

How long it takes to complete the Fran workout totally depends on your fitness level and determination.

As a beginner or intermediate athlete who is utilizing assistance or lowering the weight for the WOD, you still may take more time than an advanced athlete utilizing no modifications. 

For athletes who complete all of the reps, even with modified weight or doing assisted pull-ups, here is how long you might expect the entire workout to take: 

  • Beginner athletes completing the workout will likely take close to 10 minutes. 
  • For intermediate athletes, the workout will probably take 6-7 minutes. 
  • The advanced athlete should be able to complete this workout in around 5 minutes. 
  • Elite athletes who give the Fran workout may be able to slide just under the 3-minute mark. 
A person holding a barbell.

Takeaways

Whether you are a runner, ball athlete, or new to fitness, doing CrossFit workouts like these is a great way to motivate yourself to improve your fitness and try new things.

Many of the CrossFit WODs are accommodating and doable no matter what your skill level is or how new you are to lifting. 

The Fran workout is not complicated at all, but it places a lot of demand on the upper body, and given the little rest you should be taking, you will likely feel pretty torched even after just one round.

When all is said and done, you will complete 45 reps of each exercise and hopefully do it very quickly. 

This WOD is not very time-consuming, which makes it a great go-to workout when you are short on time and want to test your fitness out. It also is a fairly small workload, so doing it even weekly should not cause you any harm. 

If you are looking to increase your upper body strength, then you could add this to your list of key weekly workouts. You will be crushing more challenging WODs in no time. 

If you want to try another CrossFit workout that will destroy you in the best way, check out “The Nancy.” 

People doing deadlifts.
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I am a UESCA-certified running coach, psychology PhD student, and competitive obstacle racer and trail runner. Once 100 pounds overweight I found fitness and fell in love with an active and competitive lifestyle. My passion for inspiring others and fitness come together seamlessly in the world of writing where I get to share the thing that changed my life. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, my dogs, as well as baking and cooking.

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