Fran is one of the most, if not the most famous CrossFit named workout. One of “The Girls” of CrossFit, Fran is a short, tight couplet of thrusters and pull-ups.
Fran’s simplicity makes it challenging with top athletes completing the workout in less than two minutes. However, it is a WOD that athletes of all skill and experience levels can use to test their fitness.
Table of Contents
What is Crossfit Fran?
Fran is a CrossFit workout that includes two movements, thrusters and pull-ups, over three rounds. The repetitions in each round descend while the thruster weight and style of pull-ups remain constant. The flow of the workout looks like this:
With only two movements involved, CrossFit Fran is a simple workout. It is not uncommon for new CrossFit athletes to attempt Fran after only a few weeks of training.
Good Fran Times
Due to its popularity in the world of CrossFit, Fran has a lot of data points from people who have attempted it. Wodtimecalculator.com has compiled good Fran times for athletes of all ability levels.
CrossFit Fran Alternatives
Fran has sparked a large number of both scaled versions as well as advanced versions. Generally, scaled versions involve lowering the weight or simplifying the pull-ups involved.
Advanced Fran has crafted some challenging workouts, leaving even the most elite athletes wallowing in agony.
For those of you who are concerned about the weight of the thrusters (45 repetitions will take a toll on anyone!) or aren’t quite proficient in pull-up cycling, give one of the following scaled versions a try:
Even if you opt for a scaled version now, you’ll likely make enough improvement to tackle the “Rx” version in a few months’ time. Fran is programmed a lot in CrossFit and you will have ample opportunity to test yourself!
CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Fran
If you happen to find yourself in the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar at some point, you will almost undoubtedly participate in a variation of CrossFit Fran. When I participated back in August of 2023, my “class” did a version with a bunch of thrusters and burpees.
In case you’re wondering:
- No, this version is not nearly as difficult as the Rx version of CrossFit Fran (but it was still plenty tiring)
- I completed the WOD in around 4:27. Some guys in the class did it in around 4:05 and apparently the “world record” is around 3:30 (although in his HWPO book, Mat Fraser claims to have done a full 21-15-9 version of this workout in 3:00!)
More than double the total workout volume and increased pull-up difficulty. I remember finishing this workout and looking over at my friend Diego. He sighed, thought for a minute and said “Tom…I think this is the hardest workout I’ve ever done…ever.”
Then he passed out.
Everyone’s favorite Hungarian, Laura Horvath, shows the improvement that can be made in this workout. The video also displays the agony and fatigue one feels after finishing!
CrossFit Fran Stimulus
Among famous workouts in CrossFit, Fran is notorious for creating “Fran Lung”. The combination of high-intensity movements with the breathing challenge of thrusters will make you sick!
If you’re not properly spacing your breaths during the thrusters, you’ll feel like you’re drowning in a sea of barbells. This special kind of fatigue that doesn’t just make breathing feel impossible, it jacks your heart rate up to “11”.
Another thing that makes this fatigue unique is how quickly it comes upon you. You might be perfectly well rested before you pick up that barbell, but after those first sets of 21, you’re already in “redline land”.
And you’re not even halfway through the workout!
If you have never attempted CrossFit Fran before, be cautious of this phenomenon. You don’t want to spend more time staring at bars than working out.
How To Dominate CrossFit Fran
Fran is designed to be a sprint WOD and many athletes can complete it with few, if any breaks in their movements. However, this strategy isn’t appropriate for everyone. Breaks are encouraged and can even be planned into your workout strategy.
Maybe you plan ahead to set the barbell down after the 12th rep in the first set of thrusters and after the 8th rep in your second set.
If pull-ups are more of a struggle, you may opt for a uniform number within each set (7-7-7; 5-5-5; 3-3-3), giving you a consistent goal every time you jump up to the bar.
World Record CrossFit Fran Times
In late 2022, regular CrossFit Games competitor Noah Ohlsen set an unofficial world record, completing Fran in 1 minute and 49 seconds:
This is an unbelievable feat of speed and sprint capacity. However, it is not too surprising considering Ohlsen’s body of work as a CrossFit athlete.
Of course, any time an impressive athletic feat is posted for the world to see, critics weigh in.
Popular CrossFit commentator Andrew Hiller broke down a number of problem areas with Ohlsen’s video submission:
You be your own judge on whether or not Ohlsen should be crowned “Fran King”. I think his performance is impressive, regardless.
Ohlsen is not the only athlete to wow the world with his Fran performance. CrossFit Games Teen competitor turned adult athlete Rebecca Fuselier makes Fran look easy in a 2-minute sprint:
Craig Richey, Youtube CrossFit personality, does an incredible job, considering he doesn’t really “do” CrossFit. Fran doesn’t look TOO difficult for him, does it?
“Who” is Fran?
Unlike most of the other “girls”, CrossFit Fran is not named after an actual person.
Instead, according to CrossFit founder Greg Glassman “if a hurricane that wreaks havoc on a whole town can be Fran, so can a workout.”
Take that however you want!
Glassman has further expanded on Fran, stating that he created the workout while trying to discover innovative ways to develop strength. With some mad scientist-esque mixing and matching, he settled on the 21-15-9, thruster/pull-up combo.
He immediately gave the workout a try.
And proceeded to throw up.
Not trusting his own reaction to the couplet, he invited a friend to come over (his gym floor had mostly been cleaned up at this point) to give the workout a try. He proceeded to throw up, as well, and the CrossFit Fran workout was born.
Who are the “Girls of CrossFit”?
While CrossFit boasts a number of sensational female athletes, the “Girls of CrossFit” usually refers to something more specific.
A set of workouts, to be specific.
A set of hard workouts, to be VERY specific.
“The Girls” (like Karen!) are similar to CrossFit “Hero Workouts” (like DT!) as most of the workouts are named for someone specific. These are mainly athletes or member of the armed forces or protective services.
Hero workouts are added with regularity, now numbering in the hundreds.
The Girls are fixed at 27 workouts. Any additions are classified as “New Girls”.
Some of the names and workouts are probably familiar to you if you have done CrossFit for a period of time.
“Grace’s” 30 clean-and-jerks are legendary.
“Cindy’s” 5-10-15 AMRAP of pull-ups, push-ups, and squats is adored by bodyweight enthusiasts everywhere.
If CrossFit Fran gets you excited, one of her 26 other friends is certain to catch your eye, as well. Start with one of these 3:
Eva will make you cry.
As if the 2.5 miles worth of running isn’t enough, you gotta hoist that cannonball over your head 150 times! At least you can “rest” on the pull-ups.
Amanda favors a certain kind of someone.
That “someone” is good at muscle-ups and snatches…
Sadly, I’m not good at muscle-ups or snatches so that someone isn’t me.
I think I’ve done Nancy in CrossFit classes more than any other WOD (Fran included!)
Make sure you have a ride home after this one; that run/overhead squat combo creates pain…
Go Do Fran…Now!
CrossFit Fran is the undisputed “It Girl” of CrossFit and her 21-15-9 thruster/pull-up couplet is infamous in the sport. You are very likely to run across it, in some form or another, regularly in your training.
If you haven’t tried Fran, give it a try. Scale as needed and be sure to review the strategy tips mentioned earlier. For those re-testing CrossFit Fran, the gauntlet has been thrown. 1:48 doesn’t sound too fast…
Worried about the possibility of seething knee pain from all of those thrusters? Pick up a pair of the best knee sleeves for CrossFit and thrust your way to Fran domination!