Thrusters – A great compound exercise that combines a front squat and an overhead press. Simple. Effective. Yet technically challenging that people love to hate! They can be done with many different tools, dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells and sandbags…..but how do you make them better?

This month, we will give you some 3 simple drills and areas of performance that will add the kilos to your thrusters.

1. The Zombie Squat

Argghhhh, brainnnnsss…….Not quite, but probably the best starting drill for building a great front squat 🙂 It will also teach you balance and an upright torso during the squat portion of the Thruster.

Rack the bar onto the meaty part of you shoulders. Lift your shoulders up and slightly forward to create space between your throat and the bar. Now carefully lift your arms up straight out in front of (like a zombie) you and un-rack the bar and squat! I have put a small video demonstrating the zombie squat.

2. Front Squat Rack Mobility

Improving your mobility is key to a good thruster. The thruster is a hybrid rack with it half way between a front squat & pressing position. It requires good mobility through your thoracic spine, upper back (lats, traps and shoulders) and wrists. A combination of solid static stretching, foam rolling and rack position practice will get you into a better position, without the pain.

Some good stretches include:
– Archer Stretch – Can be done kneeling or standing. A great stretch for the shoulders. Lift one arm up over your head and then bend it at the elbow and place your hand on your upper back, palm facing in. The other hand will go back onto your lumbar spine, palm facing out. Slide your hands towards each other and attempt to touch your fingers together.

– Front Rack Stretch – Rack the bar or PVC behind the head with the same grip as your front squat, lift your elbows up to stretch out your upper back and shoulders.

– Foam rolling your Lats – Using a foam roller or lacrosse ball roll out your lats.

Each of these exercises should be for short bursts of 30s and attempt. Then go back to the bar and attempt to to hit a better front rack position.

3. The Press & Push Press

The second part of the Thruster is a strong overhead press. Practicing these two lifts in their own right will allow you to move more weight out of the bottom of the thruster. It will also teach you the timing so that you use the hips and legs to drive the bar upward, rather than just the arms.

We covered both these movements in previous articles:

Push Press

Overhead Press

It is worth working drills and stretches like this before you hit a work out that includes Thrusters in them. Remember the key to mastering a skill is to break it into manageable parts. Thrusters are one of the best exercises you will do for both strength and conditioning so take your time in mastering them!