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The thruster strengthens your body from head to toe.
Exercises that activate multiple muscle groups at once are the most effective for optimizing endocrine system responses to resistance training, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. In strength training, the thruster is at the top of the list of the best exercises that combine the arms and legs. This two-in-one movement recruits muscles from your arms, shoulders, back, abdomen, hips, thighs and calves while generating a substantial amount of power.
Breakdown of a Thruster
The thruster involves a combination of two basic exercises -- the squat and the shoulder press. This compound exercise improves muscular strength and power while giving your cardiovascular system a good working over. You can perform thrusters using dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, sandbags or just about any other heavy object you can press over your head.
How to Do It
Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip slightly wider than your shoulders, and position the bar at shoulder level with your elbows pointed out. Adjust your feet to shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed forward, stabilize your abdomen, arch your back and look straight ahead. Push your hips back and lower into a squat until your thighs are horizontal, keeping your torso as upright as possible. From this position, explode upward. As you near the top, begin to press the bar overhead, using momentum from your lower body to move the bar up past your shoulders. Use your upper body strength to complete the shoulder press. End with your legs, hips and arms fully extended. Immediately lower the bar to shoulder level, drop back into a squat and prepare for another repetition.
The thruster gives you a full-body workout with minimal time commitment. The front squat portion of the exercise works the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors and calves. During the overhead press, you use your deltoids, trapezius and triceps. Throughout the duration of the exercise, the muscles of your abdomen and back work continuously to stabilize and support your torso.
Watch Your Back
When performing thrusters, it's crucial to keep your back arched and stable. Failing to do so will make it difficult to maintain your balance, which is already challenging when performing squats. Rounding your back can stress the vertebrae, ligaments and muscles, resulting in unnecessary soreness and possibly injury. Begin with weights that allow you to comfortably perform 15 to 20 repetitions as you learn the movement and technique, and gradually increase your weight as your strength and skill improves. Working with weight that is too heavy or working past the point of fatigue can cause you to break form, making you more vulnerable to injury.