The squat thruster is a functional exercise that combines the lower body power of a squat with the upper body strength of a strict press. When performed correctly, it will challenge your glutes, quads, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, lats, shoulders and triceps. This movement can be performed with dumbbells, a barbell or kettlebells, with each tool providing a slightly different load to the body. Performing the movement with kettlebells requires more tension in the abs and lat muscles due to the placement of the kettlebells in the racked position. The kettlebell variation allows athletes to perform this movement with weight loaded on one side of the body or evenly loses in both sides. Check out these tips below on how to perform the kettlebell squat thruster correctly!
1. The Set Up
Start by performing a kettlebell clean to bring the kettlebell(s) up to the rack position at chest height. If performing the movement with one kettlebell, the free arm should extend out in front of the chest to help promote good posture.
If performing the movement with two kettlebells, the kettlebells should be pulled in close to the chest with the handles touching or overlapped. Engage the lats and abs, keep your spine straight, and prepare to load the lower body muscles.
2. The Squat
Inhale and sink the butt down into a squat. Keep the kettlebell(s) at chest height and close into the body by engaging the lats and abs. Load the muscles in your flutes and quads to prepare the body for the thruster component of the moment.
3. The Thruster
Utilizing the power generated from loading the flutes and quads during the squat, exhale and power up from the squat while simultaneously pressing the kettlebell(s) above your head.
The kettlebell(s) should be fully locked out above the head by the time you have returned to a full standing position with the knees locked out. In the lockout position, almost all of the major muscle groups in the body should be activated to maintain proper body alignment and effectively hold the the weight above the head.
Once you have hit the full lockout position, return the kettlebell(s) to the rack position to repeat the movement.
The squat thruster can effectively work most of the major muscle groups and conditions the body to generate power. You can incorporate this movement into a circuit or work individual sets of 6-10 repetitions per set (and per side, if loading only one side of the body). Before incorporating this movement into your workout routine, have a fitness professional check your form to ensure safety and proper body mechanics.
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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