In the past, my physical preparation would have (foolishly) included less strength work and more met-con. Not this time. I'm sticking with my 3x5 strength program, shorter, heavier met-cons and focused skill work. The only modifications I'll make is to the skill portion. I probably won't be working Sots press pistols and DUs, in favor of really hammering all the squat variations and kipping pull-ups. Which brings me to Fran.
I've been CrossFitting for almost year now, and I've never done Fran. I'll give you a moment to wrap your heads around that one, because when I tell people this in person, they usually react with a mixture of shock, disgust and confusion. As if I've just punched a baby or something. I'm not going to get into it now, but let's just say that Fran has never been, and probably will never be, an important benchmark in my program.
However, I'm pretty sure they're going to make me do it at my Level I. First, Guerrilla is home to the current Fran leader, Jason "Rhabdo" Kaplan. Second, they have about 17 miles of pull-up bars hung throughout the gym, which makes Fran the ideal workout to perform with 70+ people at once. Third, I'm jus paranoid enough to believe that this entire certification is nothing but a giant conspiracy designed to peer pressure me into finally doing Fran. I have nightmares about a gym full of shirtless men in board shorts and Pukie masks throwing packets of red Kool-Aid at me and menacingly taunting, "What's your Fran time, Byers?" until I finally break down and pick up the barbell. So you can see why I would really rather NOT go through this workout for the very first time at my Level I. Which means I'm going to have to do it in the coming month.
The workout itself isn't giving me anxiety. PLANNING for the workout, however, might be. I have no idea how I should scale this one. I could do it as Rx'd... but it would probably take me well over 20 minutes. Those 65# thrusters are heavy and my pull-ups aren't consistent yet. To keep to the spirit of Fran, I could do 45# thrusters and jumping pull-ups in about 5 minutes. I could. But let's be clear - I am NOT going out like that. So I decided to ask my new friend Jonathan Sabar of CrossFit DEFY!(in Broomfield, CO) for some help. Below is Jonathan's response.
"This is one of the things I played around with quite a bit here. What I finally decided was that each workout would have a max time range, a minimum "scaled" time, and a minimum "Rx'd" time (with exceptions). For Fran I set those at 15-20 minutes, 10 minutes, and 4 minutes.
- Everyone should be knocking Fran out with good technique in less than 20 minutes. If someone is scaling, shoot for mods that allow a 15- 20 minute time-to-completion. If it takes much longer than 20 minutes, scale one or both movements.
- If scaling down, stick with the weights and/or bands (or jumping pull-ups) until you're getting under 10 minutes, then come closer to Rx'd
- If you can knock out Fran as Rx'd in under 4:00, we're scaling up. I have one guy using 115# and chest-to-bar pull-ups. This rule can be suspended anytime he wants to try for a new Rx'd PR.
I've found this works really well with my people, so hopefully it helps you. Keep me posted - I'd love to hear how it goes!"
Brilliant. Jonathan's outline gives newer CrossFitters (and those veterans with a sub-4:00 Fran goal) a plan of attack. It takes the guesswork out of how to scale this workout. And the best part is, this strategy can be applied to ANY CrossFit benchmark. Christine, Jackie, Grace... decide your acceptable time frames, identify your limiting factors and create your plan.
Personally, I don't care if I ever get my Fran time to 4:00. That is not at all important in my fitness goals, short OR long term. My immediate goal (which will probably take me a good number of months to accomplish) is to be able to complete this workout as Rx'd for women in 10:00. Which means my scaling and progression changes, based on that. (As soon as I can work a scaled Fran in 8 or 9 minutes, I'm scaling up towards Rx'd.) But the bones of the plan still work for me, and regardless of your Fran goal, they'll work for you too.
My first Fran is going to be unassisted pull-ups and 55# thrusters, and I'll do my best to finish in under 20:00. I'll probably wait another week or two before I give this a shot - I want to make sure I'm really feeling good first. But as much grief as I've given Fran over the past year, I'm pretty excited to give her a shot. I think having a plan made all the difference for me. Thank you, Jonathan!