The Thruster

This is one of the movements that I hate the most, along with the burpees.

It is a very complete exercise, since it combines two movements and makes the heart rate accelerate a lot.

The pattern of movement is very similar to that of a wall ball.

In this post we are going to analyze the technique to perform it in the most efficient way possible.

What is a thruster?

A thruster is a movement used extensively in CrossFit that combines a front squat followed by a push press (shoulder press) performed without a pause in between.

What muscles does it work?

As expected, it works the muscles involved in the squat and push press. Mainly quadriceps and deltoid. In less intensity, hamstrings and glutes.

person doing crossfit thruster

Step-by-step technique

Starting position

The athlete has the bar placed on his shoulders in front rack position, with hands gripping the bar outside the shoulders and elbows elevated.

The feet are outside the shoulders, in the position in which a squat is started.

Front squat

The athlete descends until he/she breaks the imaginary line of the hips with the parallel of the knees.

front squat thruster

When recovering the position, the athlete performs a more explosive push than in a front squat, to take advantage of the hip strength in the next step.

Push press

In the ascent, and without stopping, use hip strength to simultaneously raise the arms to full extension.

push press thruster


When the knees, hips and elbows are fully extended, the repetition is completed.

If more repetitions need to be added, the athlete lowers the bar, seeking to rest it on the shoulders as he/she begins the descent of the squat in a continuous manner.

Common errors and solutions

Lack of mobility

When the front rack position is very uncomfortable, the athlete already starts fighting the posture, causing more fatigue.

Lack of mobility is very common, as is the absence of work to improve it.

In this video we propose some specific exercises to improve mobility:

YouTube video

Do not use the hip

In this movement, as in other weightlifting movements, the hip plays a fundamental role.

It is not the same to lift a weight using pure strength, as it is to use the energy generated by our muscle chains when they are used together.

In this case, the leg thrust and the explosiveness of the hips makes the weight lift much lighter than if we do it as a strict press. Think of it this way, you can lift more weight with your legs than with your shoulders.

do not extend hip in thruster

If you waste the energy generated by our legs and use only shoulder strength, you will quickly reach failure.

Practice the movement with less weight, or with a medicine ball to emphasize hip extension.

Absence of elbow extension

One of the most common mistakes, not so much in beginners, but precisely in advanced athletes.

When the goal is to go as fast as possible and the loads are not very high, it is easier for the athlete not to fully extend the elbows at the end of the movement.

do not extend elbows in thruster

In this case, the repetition is not valid. The way to avoid this error is to secure the elbow lock well before starting a new repetition.

Types of thruster

With a barbell

This is the most common WOD.

Therefore, an Olympic bar is used to carry the weight.

With dumbbells

This variation is somewhat more complicated than with barbell. In fact, if you want to check it, try to use the same total weight on barbell as on dumbbells and you will see that it is more difficult.

thruster with dumbbells

The reason is that with dumbbells you must balance the weight and coordinate the movement.

With kettlebell

As in the previous version, kettlebells require more concentration to keep the weight balanced overhead.

With medicine ball

Coaches often teach this exercise with a medicine ball, as the weight is relatively low and it helps to understand the movement pattern and the importance of the hip.

medicine ball thruster

The athlete grasps the ball with his hands and replicates the barbell thruster.