The thruster is a serious compound (utilizes more than one joint) exercise that combines a clean, front squat and push-press.
Because the exercise comprises multiple movements into one, you get multiple benefits. The thruster works all of the major muscles in your legs (glutes, hamstrings and quads) during the squat portion of the movement. The power that you generate from your legs when you drive out of the squat is transferred to your upper body through your abdominals and lower back before finally reaching your shoulders, upper back and triceps to help propel the bar over your head. Damn. Needless to say, the thruster is very much a whole-body exercise—much like our friend the burpee. And, much like the burpee, the thruster is metabolically demanding and dramatically elevates your heart rate, which in turn helps to improve your cardiovascular performance. But, unlike the burpee, the thruster can vary in weight (unless you wear a weight vest for your burpees, which is just a sickening idea). By adding weight to make the thruster heavier, you will develop muscular strength and power.
Making your thruster lighter will be more taxing on your muscular endurance and aerobic capacity. Finally, the thruster is a versatile workout. Though it is usually performed with a barbell, it can be easily swapped out for dumbells, sandbags, kettlebells, medicine balls—there really is an extensive list for potential alternatives. Truly, the thruster is an incredibly valuable movement, great on it’s own or paired with another exercise, such as …burpees, for example.
How to do Thruster:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your lower back tightly arched, and the barbell racked on your shoulders with your hands no wider than the outsides of your shoulders, and your elbows up in the front rack position.
- Keeping your chest up with your head in a neutral position, push your hips back and descend into a below-parallel squat.
- From the bottom position, explode back to the start position as hard as you can, using your momentum to simultaneously press the bar over your head.
- Finish in a standing position, with the barbell over and slightly behind your head, with your shoulder stacked over your hips and your hips stacked over your ankles. Then smoothly lower it and descend into another squat in one continuous motion.