Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelAdvanced
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Shoulders, Traps, Triceps, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Barbell Thruster Overview

The barbell thruster is a combination exercise that combines the movement patterns of the front squat with the movement of an overhead press.

For this reason, the barbell thruster works the muscles of the legs and the muscles of the shoulders.

The barbell thruster has been popularized by the sport of Crossfit. The movement has a lot of application in building strength, size, and explosiveness. However, it’s extremely technically demanding and should not be attempted until other exercises and variations have been mastered.

Barbell Thruster Instructions

  1. Adjust the barbell to just below shoulder height then load the desired weight onto the bar.
  2. Assume a slightly wider than shoulder width stance and place your hands at (or just outside of) shoulder width with a pronated grip on the bar.
  3. Step underneath the bar and unrack it while keeping the spine in a neutral position.
  4. Take two steps back, inhale, and then complete a normal front squat with the weight by simultaneously flexing the knees and hips together.
  5. Press your whole foot into the floor and extend the legs.
  6. As you return to the starting position, utilize your momentum from the front squat to propel the bar upward into a push press.
  7. Exhale once the bar gets to lockout and reverse the movement slowly while controlling the bar back to your chest.
  8. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Barbell Thruster Tips

  1. Reach tall at the top and don’t worry about keeping the shoulders packed down and back.
  2. Allow the elbows to rotate and point outward at the top of the movement but tuck them tight to the ribcage at the bottom.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abs as you press. You shouldn’t be leaning back excessively as you press.
  4. Imagine you’re trying to look out a window at the top, your ears should be in line with your biceps.
  5. If your shoulders are bothering you during the movement, consider experimenting with a wider grip or utilizing some of the vertical pressing progressions listed on the site.
  6. If you find the bar falling forward in the bottom of the front squat, you may need to address a lack of ankle dorsiflexion by putting your feet on plates (or using squat shoes) or perhaps a lack of thoracic extension which you can address with a foam roller.