Squat thrusts with straight legs are an intense cardio and strength-training exercise that requires agility and strength to move between a squat and a plank position in one smooth movement. If you are not yet at the correct fitness level for this exercise, consider substitutes that will build your strength until you can do a squat thrust safely and correctly. As with any new fitness routine, consult your doctor before beginning especially if you have joint problems or other health concerns.
Squat Thrust Muscles Worked
The squat thrust is an intense exercise that works multiple muscle groups in quick duration. In the upper body, it works the arms, chest and shoulders. In the lower body, the glutes, quads, hamstrings and abdominals are worked. The squat thrust is primarily considered a strength-training exercise, but if you perform it for an extended period of time, you can get cardiovascular endurance benefits as you raise your heart rate.
Doing a Squat Thrust
To do a squat thrust, stand straight with your feet hip width apart. Lower by bending your knees and sitting back into a squat except your hands will come to rest on either side of your feet. Stabilize yourself at this deep bend and jump your legs back to a plank formation, pause momentarily then jump back to the squat position. Stand straight and repeat the movement.
The two deep moves of the squat thrust are the squat and plank. To build your strength practice these two exercises. To do a squat stand straight with your feet hip shoulder width apart. Place your hands on your hips and bend your knees to lower and sit back as if into a chair. Lower until your upper thighs are nearly parallel to the ground but do not let your knees extend past the tips of your toes. Raise and repeat. To do a plank lie on your stomach and lift your body by flexing your feet and raising your upper body onto your hands on either side of your shoulders. Imagine your body a straight line from your heels through to the back of your neck and do not let your middle drop. Hold this static exercise for 30 to 45 seconds and repeat.
Jumping jacks build explosive leg strength that will help you with the jump back required for a squat thrust. Perform a jack by standing straight, then simultaneously jump your legs out to wider than shoulder width apart and bring your arms from your sides up, completing an "X" shape with your body. Complete the move by jumping your legs back together and bringing your arms down to your sides. Repeat this move and build up a steady pace. Pushups will build upper-body strength needed for the plank in the squat thrust. Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you, feet flexed and hip-width apart. Place your hands next to each shoulder and use your upper-body strength, straightening your arms to lift. Keep your body in a straight line from your heels to the back of your neck. Lower by bending your elbows out to the sides and raise again slowly with control.
Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.