Weightlifting Wednesday: Thruster

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Weightlifting Wednesday: Thruster

With a long line of action against the normal force of gravity with a load plus bodyweight, the Thruster is one of the most profound accelerations possible. The movement works from full flexion to full extension at the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and arm.

We coaches always say that the burpee is to calisthenics what the thruster is to weight-lifting. Able to be performed with multiple reps at a fairly light load this movement will have you crawling on the floor cross-eyed after you’re done if you’re not careful.

This movement combines so much of what we love about fitness. First off, it’s a difficult squat – the Front Squat, which generally gives the novice exerciser a difficult time just because of the way the bar is positioned. But, it being a squat that’s being performed there really isn’t anything more functional for your core, hips, and legs. Then the explosive action that occurs at the peak of the squat is where this movement is really applicable for sport performance. The hip drive required to move even the lightest of loads should be thought of as impressive. Finally the lift ends with a press over the head. Athletes should always be sure to finish the lift with the bar positioned over their heels. Driving it too far back will result in a loss of technique and put the athlete at a risk of injury to their back generally. Finishing the barbell too far forward overhead will also reduce technique but also not allow the athlete to reach full shoulder extension.

Our athletes perform this movement regularly and they reap the huge benefits that the thruster delivers. If you try, just make sure you are performing it correctly!

Here’s how to execute the lift:

  • Shoulder-width stance
  • Hands outside shoulders in front-rack position (see 1st photo)
  • Hips travel back first followed by knees bending over toes.
  • Lumbar curve maintained
  • Front squat down until hip travel below knee level.
  • Then legs and hips rapidly extend upward.
  • The bar continues to move smoothly as the arms press the bar overhead.
  • Complete at full hip, knee, and arm extension.

Here is a great example of how to execute this movement from CrossFit directly.

A further look at the thrusters…..

“Taking a look at the front squat, you will recognize the need for a high elbow position. The push press requires a distinctly different elbow position: The forearms should be almost perpendicular to the floor with the elbows just in front of the bar to create an advantageous position for pressing the bar straight overhead.

How do we reconcile these two elbow positions in the thruster?

First, take a look at the grip. While a partial or fingertip grip is permissible in the front squat, it is less ideal in the thruster. The thruster is a hybrid movement, so use a hybrid grip: All fingers remain wrapped around the bar but are kept slightly loose in order to allow you to drive the elbows up as you squat.”

-Katie Hogan CF Seminar Staff – CF Journal

Want to learn more about the Thruster and need a “coach’s eye” to watch your form? Then, we’d be happy to be that eye for you.

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