woman performing the clean exercise https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

Squat Clean Thrusters

In this article, I am going to cover what squat clean thrusters are. How you can perform the squat clean thruster with proper form. The different muscles that this exercise will work. And including this move into a strength training or CrossFit program.

This lift is for intermediate and advanced lifters. So if you are new to lifting focus on overhead press, front squats, and cleans before you even think of attempting this lift.

Man performing the squat clean press exercise https://www.GetStrong.fit/Fitness

You are able to perform the Squat Clean Thruster in multiple variations. The exercise can be performed with dumbbells, a barbell, or the kettlebell. Depending on what weight type you choose the movement will have to be slightly altered mostly in the Clean portion.

When used with a dumbbell or the kettlebell you can perform the action with one or two hands at a time. By doing the exercise with one hand, your core will be more recruited to ensure you keep yourself stabilized. You will also perform twice as much squatting since you will have to alter the hand the weight is in and carry out the movement again.

Before you attempt to include this into your workout routine, you need to have a firm grasp on how to complete front squats, the clean, and the push press. If you are new to performing any one of these exercises, take a couple months and learn how to carry out each movement on its own before attempting to do squat clean thrusters.

Squat Clean Thrusters are for intermediate and higher lifters. You need a firm grasp on all of the core lifts before stepping up to the bar.

You really need to focus on selecting an appropriate weight to use. If your form begins breaking down in any way the weight selected is too much.

When you are using an exercise with so many joint movements, you have an extra high chance of injury occurring from improper technique.

The places with the highest chance of harm are your knees, lower back, and shoulders.

Since the squatting portion of this lift is a front squat, the chances of lower back injury are significantly reduced compared to a back squat.

Why You Should Be Doing Squat Clean Thrusters

Using Squat Clean Thrusters with a routine designed for progressive overload will give great strength gains.

The added time under pressure for your core muscles will usually carry over into improving other lifts. Many people find as they get better at this lift other exercises like back squats, lunges, and even deadlifting numbers increase as well.

The movements in this lift help you to develop functional strength. Practical training carries over into your everyday activities. This lift will train the muscles you use when you rise up and down from a chair, picking up objects off of the ground/close to the floor, and moving objects overhead.

This exercise requires coordination all the muscle groups in your body. In time, when you do Squat Clean Thrusters correctly it will add significant muscle density over your entire body

Having so many muscles used to perform this lift make it ideal for burning body fat and calories. This will help you to achieve a lean physique with impressive size and muscle definition.

The squatting portion is a front squat which is shown to have all the benefits of back squats with lower stress placed on a person's back and knees. You cannot cheat the squat by leaning forward like you could with a back squat. This helps to train your back muscles to keep your torso more erect and carries over to help promote proper back squatting technique.

The Clean portion is shown to build the shoulders while developing explosive strength. In the beginning, you may feel like your forearms are on fire due to how well cleans target those muscles. This helps you to develop your grip strength which is often is a limiting factor in one's deadlift.

Thrusters are a fusion of the front squat and overhead press. It works extremely well for intensity, hypertrophy, and fat loss. The amount you can push overhead is most likely going to be the limiting factor for the amount of weight you can perform with squat clean thrusters.

Pressing overhead will help improve your lockout since you must fully extend your elbows with each rep. This carries over to your bench pressing since most of the same muscles are used. Overhead pressing gives the benefit of improved shoulder health and protection against injuries when the lift is done correctly. Overhead pressing trains the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid quite evenly, this helps you to maintain proper muscular balance in your shoulders.

How To Do Squat Clean Thruster

Squat Clean Thruster Video


Squat Clean Thrusters Written Description

  • Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Squat down with your arms extended your arms should be on the outside of your legs. Grab the bar with an overhand grip (the palms of your hand should be facing you).
  • Now Position your shoulders over the bar tighten your back, you should have your upper body close to vertical.
  • Your body is now in the starting position to perform this exercise.
  • Pull the bar off of the floor by extending your hips and knees.
  • Once you have the bar off of the ground, raise your shoulder above the bar, well making sure to keep the weight close to your body.
  • Extend your body jumping upwards well raising your shoulder to pull the bar upward have your elbow bend out to the side.
  • Drop under the bar and rotate your arm under the weight your grip should now have your palm facing forward (away from you).
  • Catch the weight with your wrist straight while moving your body to the bottom of a front squat. Because you will need to perform the thruster, keep your elbows pointing down. Use the front of your shoulders to help you stabilize the weight
  • Explosively drive upwards with your legs the majority of your weight should be on your heels, start to push the bar up when you are about 3/4 of the way up on rising out of the front squat.
  • Press the weight overhead until your arms are fully extended, use your body's momentum to help lift the weight.
  • Lower your arm as you return to a squat position underneath the weight.
  • Reverse your arm movement from early by lowering weight to front side of body catching it on the side of arm with wrist straight while initiating squat position.
  • Decelerate the descent of your squat to help absorb the falling weight.
  • Drop the weight by pulling your elbows back. Continue to control the fall of the weight
  • Lower the bar to the ground while squatting down with tight lower back and your upper body close to vertical.

Squat Clean Thruster Muscles Worked

  • Front Squat Muscles Worked By Squat Clean Thrusters

  • Quadriceps
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Adductor magnus
  • Hamstrings
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Erector spinane
  • Anterior/lateral deltoids
  • Supraspinatus
  • Rhomboids
  • Upper/middle/lower traps
  • Levator scapulae
  • Serratus anterior
  • Rectus abdominous
  • Obliques
  • Clean Muscles Worked By Squat Clean Thrusters

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Forearms
  • Calves
  • Back And Shoulders
  • Over Head Press Muscles Worked By Squat Clean Thrusters

  • Triceps / Biceps (support only)
  • Iliopsoas
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Ventral hip muscles
  • Various adductor muscles
  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Lateral Deltoid
  • Posterior Deltoid

There is much overlap with the three movements used to complete this exercise. Many of the supporting muscles are required in all of the lifts.

This keeps your supporting muscles under tension for a much longer time. After a few weeks of performing this lift, many people will notice a substantial difference in their core strength because of all the additional time under tension placed on the muscles.

Squat Clean Thruster And CrossFit

The Squat Clean Thruster is becoming a very popular exercise to use in CrossFit WODS. This movement is well suited to a CrossFit routine since so many joints and muscles are used when performing this lift.

When using this lift in a CrossFit routine make sure you are using an appropriate weight to complete the squat clean thrusters portion of the workout.

Below is a video I found on youtube where the lifter is definitely lifting outside of their current capabilities. By the third repetition, their form has almost completely broken down.

You will also notice that he is not performing the movement in one full action. The goal is to use part of the momentum from the squatting portion and move into the thrust (overhead press). Not being able to do this is usually a sign that you are using too heavy of a load.

Do Not Do This


Besides the fact that he only does one Clean other errors I noticed are

Error One: Second Rep

If you watch closely, you can notice that on the second set his knees slightly begin to move in.

Error Two: Third Rep

On the pressing portion, his form is completely broken. He certainly cannot lift the weight, he arches his back and attempts to perform a split (jump lunge) to get the weight over his head. This puts his body into several positions with increased chance of injury. He should not have attempted to perform the press portion and lowered the weight to an amount he can handle.

Errors: Fourth Rep

Even after the third repetition with his form incorrect he continues for another rep.

His knees are clearly caving in. He is leaning forward, and his shoulders are hunching forward during the front squat. When your shoulders hunch in like this the lower back usually also begins rounding. We cannot tell from the video if this is happening or not but the chances of it is quite high. This is increasing the possibilities that he will suffer from a back injury.

He again needs to perform an incorrect split. He is also throwing the weight up in an uncontrolled manner his arms are no longer following the correct line of motion. So he is also setting up the right condition for a shoulder injury to happen.

Proper CrossFit Squat Clean Thruster


The next video is of Dan Pope performing Squat Clean Thrusters for his daily WOD. This is close to how you should look when performing the exercise. His reason for the video is to analyze and ensure he is using correct form.

It doesn't matter if it is only the bar or a wooden stick you use. Your form is the most important factor to doing this exercise.

Remember this is a multi-joint Olympic lift. If you lift outside of your capabilities and allow poor form sooner or later, you are going to get hurt.

CrossFit Thrusters


If you are having problems with the Clean portion, you can alter the training and just use thrusters. Well, you will not get the added grip benefits it is still a fantastic full body workout guaranteed to give you great results.

Well, the video does not include the Clean portion and is the thrusters exercise you will notice all three of the lifters have perfect form. Their feet stay planted throughout the entire lift, and they are moving the weight in a controlled manner.

Since CrossFit has a time component, you really need to watch and make sure that you are selecting an appropriate weight. If you know, the weight you are using is too large lighten the load. Getting your name highest on the board will not mean much if the next couple weeks/months are spent in rehab for an injury you could have prevented.


You may also like

The Bulgarian Deadlift Exercise
All About The Kettlebell Clean And Press
About The Bent Over Barbell Row

Looking to gain more strength or lose some weight? We offer free fitness tools to help you reach your fitness goals. Register for free while we are in beta and get free lifetime access to our fitness tools that include an easy to use Calorie Counter, High-Intensity Interval Timer, Multiple Fitness Calculators and our Exercise Logger.