What Is a Thruster Exercise?

A thruster exercise is a combination of two classic strength-training moves.
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If you're looking for a new exercise to add to your weight-training arsenal, look no further than the thruster exercise. Made popular by CrossFit lovers, the thruster is a combination move of two exercises, making it a great way to work your entire body in a short amount of time.

What is a Thruster Exercise

    A thruster is a combination of two classic weight-training moves, the front squat and shoulder press. Considered a compound exercise because more than one group of muscles are worked at a time, the thruster can be performed with a set of dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebells or even a sandbag.

How to Perform a Thruster

    To perform a thruster, begin with your feet shoulder-width apart with your chosen weight held in front of your shoulders. Your elbows should be below your hands, pointing down. Keeping your chest up, push your hips back and bend down into a squat. Once your legs are parallel to the ground, explosively drive out of the squat. Once you reach the top of the squat, use your momentum and press the weight over your head. Lower the weight back to the starting position, and repeat the move for the desired number of repetitions.

Muscles Worked

    The thruster is the king of the weight-training world because of all the muscles it works. Since the thruster is a compound exercise that is made up of two exercises, this move actually works the entire body. During the squat portion of the move, the hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes are being targeted. On the shoulder press portion of the move, the shoulders, upper-back and triceps muscles are worked. This move takes it a step further by also working the cardiovascular system. When the major muscle groups are targeted, such as the legs are in this move, the heart rate skyrockets, making the thruster more than a simple strength-training move.


    The thruster should not be performed by those who are new to strength training. This move uses two basic exercises, and those two moves should be perfected before combining them. The thruster requires balance and core strength to maintain proper form throughout the move and can result in injury if not performed properly.

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