Golly, what could be more fun than a Squat? Hows about we hoist the weight over our head at the top of the Squat, you know, like a Military Press. Oh, did I mention that this starts with a Front Squat, not a Back Squat? That changes the game a wee bit. Raise your hands if you agree. Amen, brothers & sisters, we’re doing Thrusters. Yippee . . . <cue chirping crickets>
Enter the land of complex movement exercises. Wait, it don’t look so hard. Lace the bar across yer chest, drop yer bottom low, stand up fast and hoist that weight high overhead, like yer callin’ for help. Very beneficial, but only if we’re doin’ it right. If we’re doin’ it wrong, it’s very painful, and not very productive. I love workin’ out as much as anyone (maybe more), but if it ain’t productive, we ain’t happy, and we ain’t havin’ it.
Let’s step away from the big, bad, bodacious Thrusters for a minute and work on some exercises to make sure we have good body mechanics when doing Thruster duty:
- Goblet Squats– take a dumbbell, hold it by one end against your upper chest, and with a slightly wider stance than usual, drop down into a squat and touch your elbows to the inside of your knees. It’s a good idea to keep your elbows tucked in as close as comfortable for this. Now stand. Feel how having the weight in front feels different than a back loaded Squat? You have to incorporate more of your core stabilizing muscles to keep your back straight, and you probably feel this gripping at your quads. ’tis good, ’tis very good.
- Front Squats– now that we have the Goblet Squats dialed in, we can apply what we have learned to a full bar Front Squat. Same basic mechanics, but we don’t necessarily need to touch our elbows to the inside of our knees. In fact, our elbows should point straight out in front of us. Same core stability is needed, perhaps more since we’re likely getting into more and heavier weights.
- Military Press– stay away from the seated variation. All that weight you can muscle up in a seated position will not help or save us now. Again, core stability is king. Lower the amount of weight, initially, and get used to pressing high overhead with no seat support.
As an extra precaution, some people develop their Overhead Squat, just to maximize core stability and flush out any lingering flaws in body mechanics. The Overhead Squat is optional, not a bad option, but not a wholly necessary one.
Now, we’re ready to rock. Pick a moderate to light weight, clean it to the Front Squat position, drop into a squat, and just before your legs reach upward maximum potential, begin your Military Press. Once the weight begins its controlled descent and nears your upper chest, flow back into your Squat. Once you get the timing, the Thruster should look to gawking onlookers, and feel to muscular bombers, very fluid. No jerky, jerky here.
If you continue with the movement, or any portion of it, ditch the barbell and use dumbbells. If any issue still persists, fly solo with one dumbbell on one side, then the other, and work on any weak points before adding back in weight, size or style.
Now, back to Thruster duty.
Peace, and God bless.