This month we examine “Fran,” one of our benchmark workouts. The opportunity this affords for insights into human performance, programming, and ways of measuring and motivating progress is strong.
First and foremost, Fran is a couplet of barbell thrusters (front squat/push-press combo) and pull-ups. More specifically, her structure is 21 thrusters followed by 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters followed by 15 pull-ups, and, finally, 9 thrusters followed by 9 pull-ups. We score the workout by time to completion. Our notation for this, and other similar workouts is, “Three rounds, 21-15- and 9 reps, for time, of 95-pound barbell thrusters and pull-ups.”
First exposure to this workout reveals Fran’s penchant for throwing a beating. Repeated exposures, where the goal is improved time, demonstrate a ferocity that speaks to the painful cost of elite fitness. Considering the thruster’s position as the most draining of all exercises and the pull-up’s reputation for winnowing athlete pools, there may be little surprise in Fran’s effects.
Coupled, the thruster and the pullup work all major muscle groups, are perfectly complementary in that each contains exactly what the other lacks, and constitute three superfunctional core movements-the squat, push press, and pull-up. But a closer analysis offers even greater appreciation and understanding of Fran’s character.