Tag Archives: Fran

Fran, the Battle Between the Ears

Spoiler: I lost the battle today.

So Fran is one of those “famous” CrossFit workouts of the ages. It is revered and hated by crossfit athletes everywhere. And today we tackled it with an added, short time domain.

fran4letter_thumbI went with the girls today to Coach Drea’s 8:30 class. We were joined by Dave, Connie, and Bri. We started with an abbreviated version of yesterday’s warm-up — only one round of each of the two parts — and then we dove into warming up for thrusters and pull-ups.

Empty barbell. 75#. 95#. Backed off to 85# for the workout. Pull-ups, I’d do regular kipping pull-ups until I came off the bar and then do jumping pull-ups to fill out the round.

And then the clock started. 7 minutes. I didn’t get past 5 because I got lost in my head.

  • Fran
  • 21-15-9
  • Thrusters (Performance 95/65#, Fitness 65/45#)
  • Pull-ups (Fitness ring rows)

So my goal was to achieve all of that with an 85# bar and a combination of regular pull-ups and jumping pull-ups. Sounded easy enough until I started watching the clock.

  • 21 thrusters became 11-5-5
  • 21 pull-ups became 5-8-8
  • 15 thrusters became 3-2 and then I gave up

franThis had nothing to do with the weight. My thighs were hurting a bit from the thrusters and I was ok with adjusting my pull-ups to all jumping if I needed to. But I got mentally stuck in the round of 15 thrusters and couldn’t shake it off. I remember thinking “turn around” a couple of times, so I couldn’t see the clock, but I didn’t and I let it continue to spiral out of control.

It was not my finest hour. So I walked out the front door and ran halfway to the 100m mark and walked back and started cleaning up equipment.

It was all about my head. I’ve finished this before, but never in 7 minutes even with scaling. I don’t think scaling to 75# or even an empty barbell would have made a difference.

That said, everybody else in the class did awesome. So congrats! Sorry Drea.

Someday I’ll get this figured out. Maybe in another 5 years or so. 🙂


Fran with a Capital Eff

Some days I wonder what the heck is going through my brain. And other days I wonder what’s going on with my body. Today I think it was the latter.

fran4letter_thumbFran is one of the “benchmarks” of crossfit that shows up every now and then. You’ll even see people who wear shirts that say “For a good time, call Fran — 21-15-9.”

I can truthfully say that I’ve never had a good time with Fran in the 4 years I’ve known this workout. And later in this post we’ll get to my weird history with it over the last few years.

Today I made it in for my 3rd workout of the week on a Wednesday. Usually I skip Weds. But today was my friend Jonathan’s birthday and he in his youthful insanity chose Fran as his birthday workout. Yes, he’s an insane friend and today’s his birthday. You read that right. 🙂

I didn’t make it this morning with my wife, who got to see Jonathan blow through this thing in 4 minutes Rx. He smoked it. Instead I arrived at noon to work with Coach Larry and Joe. Things were fine until Fran began. 🙂

We started with 4 rounds of some row-bowling… Joe and I traded off on the rower trying to get to 100m and stop. For every meter we went above or below, we had to do a burpee. Turned out neither one of us was very good at it to start out, but by the end we were down to only a burpee or two here or there. And Joe even hit 100 once, so huzzah! (We did probably 25-30 burpees all together I think.)

After that we did a couple of rounds of:

  • 10 PVC pass-thrus
  • 10 slow overhead squats

We moved on to PVC snatch balance, which was today’s skill/strength work. And then continued to warm up with an empty barbell. This is not one of our usual movements. We’ve done it before, but only rarely, so it was a bit strange starting the movement in a back rack and pushing into an overhead squat. But we got a bit better over time.


The strength portion of the day was 7 rounds of 1 snatch balance rep, with the goal of increasing weight every round.  I did:

  • 65#
  • 75#
  • 85#
  • 95#
  • 105# (ugly, Larry had me drop back)
  • 95#
  • 95#

I think Joe got to maybe the 145# or 155# mark, so he was doing awesome.

And then we got ready for Fran… Fran, if you don’t remember, is:

  • 21-15-9, Thrusters (95/65#) and pull-ups

franeinsteinI of course went with Rx, because why wouldn’t I torture myself with thrusters at 95# and real pull-ups?

It took me 15:33 to finish. What’s funny is I was pretty much done with the first set of 21 in the same amount of time it took Jonathan to finish the whole damn thing (4 minutes) and the rest was me trying very hard to breathe while swearing like a sailor. Joe did a modified version (recovering from some injuries) and finished in just under 6 minutes.

Really it wasn’t the thrusters. They were uncomfortable, but doable. The pull-ups simply gave up and I couldn’t breathe worth a damn.

Previous Years

So in previous years, I’ve attempted Fran at various points:

  • 9-NOV-2015 — 16:49 Rx
  • 30-NOV-2015 – 17:45 Rx

check-list-hiIn August 2016 we did a time-capped version. 7 minutes – go as fast as possible. Yeah, I didn’t do so hot.

  • 1-AUG-2016 – scaled w/7 minute time cap – DNF (75#, pull-ups, jumping pull-ups – got through 21-21-15 pull ups-8 jumping pull-ups)

And in September 2016 we did a “freestyle” version of Fran, which meant we could break up the movements into smaller sets. I actually did really well:

  • 26-SEP-2016 – 10:17 Rx Freestyle

So today’s Rx attempt was actually over a minute faster than the last time I did it straight through. Given that, I should be pleased with my performance. 🙂

The Aftermath

But I wasn’t pleased. I was in pain. And then my body really wanted to vomit while driving home in the car. It took 20 minutes after the workout for the shakes to start and another 20-30 minutes before they were done. I never did throw up, but damn I wasn’t sure a time or two.


So am I happy with my performance? Yes — I was fast for me. Larry and Joe both provided a TON of encouragement in the last couple of sets. And I have a shiny new PR for myself. Woot!

But I’m not happy that I pushed my body hard enough that hit had a mini revolt. I don’t know what that means beyond the fact that I really need to breathe.

That said — thank  you Joe & Larry for all the support. I appreciated it all even if I was swearing like a sailor. 🙂

Happy birthday Jonathan! I did Fran for you. 🙂

Scaling isn’t a bad thing

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks. Hopefully you have a chance to enjoy a good workout with friends, loved ones, and family today.

We lucked into doing a lovely workout today courtesy of our trainer who was grinning ear to ear today on this one. Fran plus a mile run. Fran’s bad enough, so why add a run afterwards? So it hurts more, of course. It was Coach Drea who gleefully put us through this torture today. 🙂

fran4letter_thumbEv and I were joined by Jonathan, Jenny, Nic and Nichole, Todd, and Tionne. We started with some couch stretch, did a 400m jog to remind ourselves that it was chilly and windy outside, then came back in to do 3 rounds of:

  • 20 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 20 seconds of air squats
  • 20 seconds of push-ups

And when all of that was done, we started warming up on thrusters and pull-ups.

Apparently if our Fran time was 10 minutes or better, we needed to scale it. Drea seemed surprised that my best Fran time was over 10 mins. She seemed to think I was in the 7 or 8 minute range. HAHAHAHA! (ahem) According to my notes, my best time was 10:17 doing Rx Freestyle Fran on 26-SEP-2016. I was able to break up the reps and not have to do all the thrusters and all the pull-ups, so it worked better for me.

franSo today I definitely scaled.

  • 75# thrusters
  • pull-ups until forearms gave up
  • and then drop to ring rows

We had enough folks doing ring rows that we waterfalled in. I went in the second wave and started at the 7 minute mark.

  • 11 thrusters, then 10 thrusters
  • 7 pull-ups, 7 pull-ups, 7 pull-ups
  • 5-5-5 thrusters
  • 5-5-5 ring rows
  • 9 thrusters (unbroken)
  • 3-3-3 ring rows
  • 400m walk
  • 400m run/walk
  • 400m walk
  • 400m run/walk/run

Took me a bit over 24 minutes: 24:03. And I was ok with that.

Ev scaled a bit, but did awesome:

  • Fran – 65# thrusters, ring rows in 7:07
  • Mile run
  • Total: 19:49

b742e33b69b654adda63103b0732138b89c5e4886b3cc3e0a4d8e6763fc18bdfI think Jenny was done in around 15 minutes. She was flying. And Jonathan got through Fran in under 5 minutes, Rx. Not sure what his mile time was but he was chugging right along.

Really everybody chugged right along. The chilly wind on one side of the building for the run was a brisk reminder that we’re still in February in Colorado, but if you were in the sun and had the breeze behind you it wasn’t so bad.

Great work everybody!

Freestyle Fran and the Weekend Catch-all

Hope your Monday is going well and this week goes better than last, but we shall see on both counts I suppose. 🙂

Let’s do a quick recap of CrossFit-related events for the last few days.

Finding Hope Partner Wod #4

Friday night was the final event in the Finding Hope Partner series between CrossFit Continuum & CrossFit Pick it Up. We met over at Pick It Up that night and I went with my youngest daughter who was excited to be able to attend. (During soccer season she misses CrossFit!)

20160923_183702I got to the door and Matt, the owner at Pick It Up, hit me with the question – “Brian – Prescribed or Scaled?” I answered “both” to be a wiseass and then changed it to “Prescribed, I guess?” AJ was put in the hat for the Scaled side of things.

One of the folks from Pick It Up got up with all the names in a box (or hat) and pulled out random pairings. Shaun Blair and I were paired up, which was kind of funny. He worked out with me a few weeks ago on a Saturday with Isaac at a Team workout, so this isn’t the first time we’ve been put together for a workout.

The workout was a doozy however. “Hope” (done with a 95/65# bar across the board):

  • Fran 21-15-9 of Thrusters & Pull-ups
  • Isabel 30 Snatches
  • Annie 50-40-30-20-10 of DUs & Sit-Ups
  • Elizabeth 21-15-9 of Cleans & Ring Dips
  • Karen 150 Wallball Shots (20/14)

No nice, easy workout that night! We had a 25 minute time cap and wow that was a killer.

We got all the way to 25 wall balls into Karen. So looking at #s of reps we split 90 + 30 + 300 + 90 + 150 = 660 reps. And we completed 535 of them. Not bad for less than 30 minutes. 🙂

I think I pulled my own weight. We were supposed to split things 50/50 and I think Shaun did a few more of one movement and I did a few more of another, so I think it evened out. I can’t do double unders yet, so I doubled those as singles. And some of my reps were a little rough, but we just kept moving.


AJ worked with two of the ladies from Pick It Up and as a team of 3 they kicked butt. They finished all the reps, scaling where they needed to, and did awesome. Both my daughters were fun to watch during this community event. And it was great to work out with each of them at least once across the three nights I got to attend.

I think the whole event raised somewhere around $1500 for Suicide Prevention, which went to a group at District 20 who is helping work on prevention in schools as well as providing counseling services. We had another suicide just a couple of weeks ago at a high school, so they have their work cut out for them.

It definitely raised my awareness of how big an issue it is in our community, so hopefully the money we raised will do some good.

A big thank you should go out to Matt & Andrea for putting the series together. I think we had a great turnout and the money raised speaks to how much folks care about the topic.

Back Squats and Freestyle Fran

The rest of the weekend was spent bouncing around. The girls had soccer. My wife had soccer. My eldest had a homecoming football game and a dance. It was the usual crazy.

And that leads us to today…

I arrived to find Coach Bill setting us up. We had Sarah, Carrie, John, and Anne, plus myself. Started with a 400m jog, then did some one-armed thrusters (35# kettle bell for me), wall squats, mountain climbers, and sotz press to warm up…

400px-Squats.svgFrom there it was right into back squats. Going for a new 1RM today. I did:

  • 135#
  • 185#
  • 225#
  • 275#
  • 295# (fail, old 1RM)

Honestly I was good with 275# – that’s the heaviest I’ve done for quite a while.

Then it was time for Fran… freestyle? Normal Fran is 21-15-9, thrusters (95/65#) and pull-ups. Freestyle Fran is simply 45 thrusters (95/65#) and 45 pull-ups however you want to break it up.

franeinsteinI had to go back a ways after the workout today to even see what my old Fran time was…

  • 9-NOV-2015 – 16:49 Rx
  • 30-NOV-2015 – 17:45 Rx
  • 1-AUG-2016 – scaled, 7 minute time cap – DNF with 75#, pull-ups, and jumping pull-ups

I’m not fast. Never will be. But breaking it up however the hell we wanted was an interesting twist.

So I did:

  • 10-10/5-5/5-5/5-5/5-5/5-5/5-5/5-5

A few of my pull-ups probably should have been no-repped. Got my forehead above the bar, but not my chin.

But my time? Considering what my older times were, I was surprised.

  • 10:17 Rx

Definitely my fastest by a long while. And I’ll take that. As Bill pointed out, I didn’t have nearly as many long pauses. I’d move from the bar to the rig, take a breath, and start. Move from the rig to the bar, take a breath, and start.

I’ll take it. Again, some of the reps weren’t the prettiest in the world – but I did ’em.

Great work everybody – Carrie did Rx and wanted to drop weight but Bill wouldn’t let her. She did AWESOME. And Carrie, John and Sarah all PR’ed on their back squats today, so there were a lot of good things happening today.

Thanks for the encouragement today Bill!

What the Fran?

When I saw we were going to be doing Fran today at CrossFit Continuum, a number of words came into my head. Some of them may not have been appropriate for public consumption. As a result, I think “What the Frak?” is now going to become “What the Fran?” WTF for the win.

franFran is one of those workouts that I have come to strongly dislike over my three plus years with CrossFit. It’s touted as one of the “girls” and as a benchmark in the community, but all it does is show me how my cardio sucks. Every time.

Mickey and I walked in for the 8:30 class this morning and saw Drea, Larry, and Stacy chatting – a trio of trainers. 😉 Stacy had us under her wing today. It was Mickey, me, Anna, Ellen, Carrie, Larry, and Jenny. A solid group to tackle this fickle Fran.

If you don’t remember Fran it’s 21-15-9 reps for time of:

  • 95/65-lb. thrusters
  • pull-ups

We began with a lovely 400m jog around the parking lot and came back in to do one-armed thrusters with a kettle bell (I used a 35#), then some hollow body & superman holds on the rig, some ring rows, and some lunges with a twist. After that it was some thruster warm-up with an empty bar and discussing scaling.

Scaling was the operative word. The goal? You have a 7 minute hard cut off. Scale until you can get it done in under that.

Yeah, I’ll let you stop laughing before you continue.

fran4letter_thumbIn November 2015 we did Fran twice during the “In the Zone” challenge. I did it Rx in 16:49 the first time and 17:45 the second. (See “Fran is a Four Letter Word.”) This is not one of my better benchmarks. Inevitably I run out of wind.

When I walked in, I didn’t know about the 7 minute time cap. I had a 10 minute target in my head. And I think I would have made that. Once I knew about the 7 minute time cap however, it got in my head. I scaled to 75# on the bar and set up so I could bail to jumping pull-ups if I needed to. Guess what? I did.

When the timer started, I went pretty well for a bit. I think I finished the 21 thrusters in under 2 minutes and that was with a brief pause after 15. Got to the bar for pull-ups and did sets of 5 with long breaks in-between. I could not calm my breathing and get past the pain point on the pull-ups. By the time I got back to the thrusters, we were near the 5 minute mark and it took over a minute to get 15 of them done 5 at a time. I even dropped the bar a couple of times. And when I got back to the rig I had maybe 40 seconds so i started doing jumping pull-ups. I got 8 in.

dnfSo that was:

  • 21 thrusters 75#
  • 21 pull-ups
  • 15 thrusters 75#
  • 8 jumping pull-ups

64 reps in 7 minutes. I would have needed another couple of minutes to get done in the time we had, even scaling to jumping pull-ups.

It sucked. I ran out of time. And I consider it a DNF.

Meanwhile my daughter Mickey did it with a 35# barbell and ring rows and knocked it out in 5:11. Other folks also did well.

When we were all done, we did a #romwod. I am neither “swole” nor “flexy” (#swoleandflexy) but I did a lot of child’s pose and worked through the positions as best I could.

Not my best day – and apparently it’s not the only benchmark we’re doing this week. Um. Yay?

Great work everybody! And thanks Stacy for the encouragement. I got stuck at that pain and breathing point and just couldn’t move past it. Maybe next time.