Video Demonstration

Use this full body compound exercise to burn fat and gain strength.

The Kettlebell Thruster has gained popularity in many Crossfit, Mixed Martial Arts, and athletic training routines for a good reason.

The exercise combines the Front Squat and Shoulder Press into one movement. When multiple compound exercises get combined into a new movement, it is often called complexes action instead of compound one.

You will also have to perform the Clean exercise when moving into the starting position for the thruster.

While your Squat will get limited by the amount of weight that you can overhead press / Clean. It is a great way for your body to burn a high number of calories.

To build total body strength use a heavy weight where you can only complete 5 to 8 repetitions per set.

The exercise is also very efficient to burn calories. To burn the maximum number of calories with this lift lighten the load and use it in a High-Intensity Interval training routine.

We offer a free online HIIT timer. No registration is required to use it.

In this article, we will detail several different aspects of using this lift.

We will cover how you perform the exercise with video and image demonstrations. This article will include a step by step description detailing exactly how you carry out the movement.

Its difficulty rating, and the equipment required when you do this exercise. The different muscles of your body that get targeted when you perform it.

When performing the squat do not allow your knees to move forward past the toes. When your knees go past the toes, it increases the pressure on your knees ligaments and increases your chance of a knee injury.

Kettlebell Thruster How to Guide

Image Example

example how to perform the Kettlebell Thruster

Step by Step Description

Step 1: The Clean: To get into the starting position, you need to Clean the kettlebells to your shoulders. Place two kettlebells between your feet. Lower your body by pushing your hips backward while looking straight ahead.

Grab the handle of the kettlebell with an overhand grip. Extend at your knees lifting up and building momentum used to pull the kettlebells upwards.

When they reach chest level, rotate your wrists and move into the racked position (kettlebell resting on the forearm). You are now in the starting position.

Step 2: Now Squat down by moving your hips backward and bending at your knees. Keep lowering until the crease of your hip is below the knee.

Step 3: One you reach the bottom position quickly reverse direction by driving your heels into the floor. Extend through your hips and knees creating momentum to help lift the kettlebells overhead. While your body is rising, you need to extend your elbows and press the two kettlebells overhead.

Step 4: Now return the kettlebells back to the shoulders as you descend back into the squat position to perform the next repetition.

repeat for the desired number of repetitions or time you have selected.

Difficulty Level

Kettlebell thrusters are an intermediate level exercise.

Before adding them to your training routine, you need to have a proper technique with the Front Squat and Standing Shoulder Press.

Start with a light weight when you are first learning this movement. This will lower your chance of injury.

Equipment Required

As the name implies, you will need a pair of kettlebells to use this training method.

Muscles Worked

The primary muscles involved in this lift are you Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Triceps and Shoulders.

The secondary muscles in this lift are your Abdominals and back to keep your body stabilized throughout the movement.

The upper back is also required to help thrust the weight overhead.

Benefits of Kettlebell Thrusters

This exercise works best in programs that use progressive overload.

You can use the exercise as a way to help you develop strength and power. Alternatively, you can lighten the weight to work on your cardiovascular system.

If you use the training to develop power you need to have your technique down. Do to all the different joint movements in thrusters there is a high chance of injury when doing the lift incorrectly with a heavy weight.

To work on your endurance use the exercise in an HIIT program to burn the maximum number of calories.

Thrusters are shown to help increase flexibility in the hip area.

Using this movement in an HIIT training routine will create a strong metabolic effect. The metabolic effect will tune your metabolism allow your body to burn a higher number of calories for up to 36 hours.

Training Tips

Do Not let your elbows drop from the rack position. If your elbows drop your body is a lot more likely to lean forward. Leaning forward increases the strain placed on your lower back.

Make sure to keep your elbows up. Doing this will help to maintain the weight to run along the vertical plane.

You also need to keep the weight on your heels. If you drive up from the squat on your toes, it will cause your body to rock forward and backward. The rocking creates an inefficient movement and will make it harder for you to control the weight.

Use the momentum built from the front squat to help you press the weight overhead.

Focus on keeping your back as straight as you can throughout the movement.

Try changing the distance your feet are apart from one another to help target different parts of your leg muscles. The closer together you feet are the higher tension will be placed on your quadriceps.

The further away you move your feet from one another, the more the exercise will focus on working your hamstrings.

You need to combine the front squat and overhead press into one fluid movement.

You can do thrusters with both arms or alternate your arms between every squat.

By alternating your arms you will have to perform twice the amount of squats, This variation is useful when lifting heavy and you want to give your legs an extra challenge.

  • Variations of Kettlebell Thrusters

  • Dumbbell Thruster

  • Barbell Thrusters

  • Sandbag Thrusters

  • Alternate Exercises

  • Overhead Press

  • Front Squat

  • Push Jerk

If you want even more of a challenge try out the Squat Clean Thruster exercise instead. It involves a thruster, but you will also perform the Clean and an extra squat with every repetition.


When this exercise gets done properly, it is a fantastic full body workout.

It can be used to develop your strength and power or increase your cardiovascular system.

It is a complex coordinated movement that is not suitable for beginners. The more difficult an exercise is, the higher the chance of injury.

If your lower back rounds, you increase your chance of injury to the lumbar spine. So it is crucial to practice with a very light weight until you master the movements.

If you have been lifting for awhile and are looking for a new challenge thrusters are a great exercise for you to keep increasing your fitness level.

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