Up, down, up and away!

There are whole body exercises and then there are Thrusters.

Never mind Exercise of the Week, this is a solid contender for Exercise of the Millennium.

Ask anyone – preferably someone who’s done Thrusters.

Want an exercise that works the whole body? Check.

Want to build strength and power while getting the heart rate up? Check.

Thrusters are an excellent combination of squatting and overhead pressing.

You’ll be using both lower and upper body muscles as well as the core to balance and stabilize throughout the movement.

They can be done with dumbbells or a medicine ball and for a real progression – a loaded barbell.

Plus everybody just looks cool doing thrusters – that’s a fact.

Show me how!


1: Start with dumbbells (or medicine ball/barbell) held at the top of the chest. Feet shoulder width apart, chest up, straight back, looking straight ahead.

Photo thanks to Skimble

2: Inhale and lower into a squat position, keeping the weights at the top of the chest position.

Photo thanks to Skimble

3: Exhale and explode up from a squat to the original position but in the same movement push the weights over your head.

Photo thanks to Skimble

4: From here you can either:

   A: return to the original position, pause then repeat. This is more ideal to ensure your technique remains tight and is also suited for strength and power.

   B: bring the weights back to the original position and instantly go into another rep without pause. This will tax your aerobic system more as it’s a continuous movement. Be careful to maintain correct technique.

For endurance and a higher rate of calorie burning, aim for between 12-15 reps, ideally with no pause in between repetitions.

If your goal is to build more overall body strength then lower the reps and increase the weight. Aim for between 8-10 reps and pause between each repetition.

Once you’re comfortable with the technique try for 3 sets.

Not only are thrusters the perfect whole body exercise, the explosive movement is also a handy stress releaser.

Forget about that pest who cut you off in traffic – squat then press!

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash


  1. Coincidence perhaps but this is one of the exercises to which I’ve recently been introduced & makes me feel I’m really working my body. My favourite Zoom class with my gym has a great upper body class which incorporates this among others…. AND you just need a pair of humble dumbbells which are very inexpensive & come in glorious colours.

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