Updated: Oct 12, 2022
CrossFit has a wide range of movements from a variety of sports and disciplines but none more painful than a CrossFit Thruster.
Our full guide details everything you need to know about a CrossFit Thruster, the benefits of a CrossFit Thruster, how to perform a CrossFit Thruster and CrossFit Thruster workouts.
How To Do A CrossFit Thruster?
A CrossFit Thruster is a combination of a front squat and push press in one fluid movement that takes the bar from the bottom of a squat in the rack position to overhead.
The thruster is part of some of the most brutal and most well-known CrossFit WODs like FRAN and JACKIE.
Here is how to do a CrossFit Thruster:
Stand with a barbell in the front squat rack position, holding the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows as high as you can as you lower into a front squat. Keeping your knees wide apart and your heels down as much as you can.
Lower into a front squat until your thighs are at least parallel with the ground. Try to keep your trunk as upright as you can to stop you falling forward.
Drive up through your heels using your quads and glutes to stand up in your front squat.
Maintain that momentum as you come to the top of the squat and use the power through your legs to help push the bar over your head until your arms are locked out.
Then bring the bar back down to your shoulders to complete one rep.
Check out this CrossFit Thruster video that talks through how to do a thruster from CrossFit.com
What are the benefits of a CrossFit Thruster?
Thrusters in CrossFit are classified as a compound movement, meaning that it uses many different muscle groups on the body, which can give you a great bang for your buck when working out.
A Thruster is also notoriously hard to do because it taxes your lungs as well as your muscles.
Here are our top CrossFit Thruster Benefits:
Because CrossFit Thrusters are a compound movement, when performing a thruster you focus on many muscles like your quads and glutes in the squat, your shoulders and chest in the push press and your core in the power of the movement.
As a result of the many different muscle groups, thrusters in CrossFit workouts will certainly raise your heart rate rapidly no matter if you're doing a light weight or a heavy weight.
The heavier thrusters will help build strength in your squat and overhead strength as it has some of the main functional fitness movements in.
Lighter thrusters will focus more on your cardiovascular capabilities by raising your heart rate and requiring more oxygen than say just a normal front squat or shoulder to overhead.
You also tend to have CrossFit thrusters in a workout where the reps are more than one and performing multiple thrusters requires skill and agility to string together more reps.
CrossFit Thrusters also can help include your barbell handling by forcing you to clean the bar into position and forcing the front rack position which require flexibility and the initial positioning.
CrossFit thrusters with a barbell can also be scaled and modified for more abilities. For example you can scale a barbell thruster to a lighter barbell or modify a barbell thruster to a dumbbell thruster.
CrossFit Thruster Workouts
As mentioned before, there are a few CrossFit workouts that are known for thrusters. Thrusters are a great way to raise your heart rate really quickly and deliver a super efficient, fat-torching workout.
FRAN Thruster Workout
Fran is one of those workouts that gets everyone on the floor and out of breath. Elite athletes perform all 45 thrusters and pull ups in under 2 minutes whereas us mortal athletes aim to complete Fran in around 5 minutes.
For time 21-15-9 reps of:
Thrusters (95lbs or 43kg for males or 65lbs or 30kg for females)
Fran is known by almost all CrossFitters for being so brutal but so short, really showing the effects that CrossFit thruster workouts have on your lungs and cardiovascular system.
JACKIE Thruster Workout
Jackie is another "Girl" workout that is known throughout the CrossFit world for absolutely destroying the lungs of anyone who tries it. This truly brutal workout combines rowing, thrusters and pull ups to give you a few minutes of hell.
1000 meter row
50 Thrusters (45lbs or 20kg for males & 35lbs or 15kg for females)
30 Pull Ups
Friendly Fran Thruster Workout
3 Rounds for Time:
21 Thrusters (115/85 lb)
21 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
Tips For CrossFit Thruster Technique
We might not all get the perfect CrossFit Thruster Technique right first time, but practice makes perfect. Don't forget the thruster is a difficult movement to master so training with the appropriate weights and modifications is imperative.
Try and perfect your thruster form before you start adding weight. Use a pvc pipe or broomstick to practice your thruster then move up to an empty bar.
Check your own form by filming your thruster and compare that to the instructional video and practice with a lightweight to make sure your form is perfect.
If you are in a gym, as a coach or fellow athlete to watch your form to make sure you're on the right path.
Don't forget if your form isn't quite there, to practice the movement until it is.
Alternatively, you can use the modified thruster like a dumbbell thruster or kettlebell thruster to avoid mobility issues and practice with some more weight.
Thruster in CrossFit Games
There have been a few thrusters in CrossFit Games workouts in the past.
Friendly Fran is a great example of thrusters in CrossFit which was a big hit with athletes. Mat Fraser finished in top position from this workout and you can see why. As an olympic weightlifting athlete, thrusters would have come naturally to him.
Open workout 19.5 was a chipper of 33-27-21-15-9 reps for time of: 95-lb. thrusters and Chest-to-bar pull-ups with a time cap of 20 minutes. This workout proved a tough one with so many reps and with that weight.
CrossFit Thruster FAQs
How many calories do you burn with one CrossFit Thruster?
According to healthyliving.azcentral.com CrossFit Thrusters should burn close to 300 calories every 30 minutes.
Do CrossFit Thrusters Burn Fat?
When you're trying to burn fat, you want to ensure that you're consuming the right foods at the right quantity to use the fat on your body as energy. Doing CrossFit thrusters will help you burn more calories than you consume and therefore help you burn fat and lose weight with Crossfit.
Can you do CrossFit Thrusters with a sandbag?
Yes, in CrossFit Games teams events, athletes will use a long sandbag called a WORM that each athlete will hold on one shoulder. A CrossFit Team Thruster is performed by having the WORM on one shoulder, all athletes will then squat in unison then stand up and use their momentum and arms to throw the WORM up over their heads and onto their opposite shoulder.
This thruster variation often requires some practice and teamwork!