How To Do Kettlebell Thrusters Properly

When it comes to getting blood pumping through every muscle in your body, it doesn’t get much better than kettlebell thrusters.

The kettlebell thruster of the KB thruster is a nice hybrid of the kettlebell squat and the kettlebell overhead press.

It makes  it a sophisticated full body exercise that, in theory, should be the bread and butter of all kettlebell related workout sessions.

That being said, kettlebell thrusters are considered an intermediate exercise since they need some level of endurance and skill. Here are the steps that will get you all set to do this great workout;

  • Requirements: 2Kettlebells.
  • The Clean: The starting position involves cleaning the kettlebells over your shoulders. Grip a kettlebell with an overhand grip with each hand and extend at your knees lifting and building momentum to pull the kettlebell up. Once they reach chest level rotate your wrists into a position where the kettlebell rests on the forearm.
  • Squat down by bringing back your hips and bending your knees. Keep going lower till the crease of the hip is lower than the knee.
  • Once you are at the bottom, quickly drive your heels into the floor and thrust your body up. Extend your knees and hips to build momentum to aid in lifting the kettlebells overhead. While rising, extend your elbows and press the two kettlebells overhead.
  • Finally, return the kettlebells back to your shoulders as you lower back into the squat position. Repeat this cycle for reps. Perform as many reps as you desire, so long as they allow your muscles to hit failure.

WHAT MUSCLES DO KETTLEBELL THRUSTERS WORK?

Kettlebell thrusters primarily work; the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, triceps and shoulders. The secondary muscles worked are the upper back and abdominals.

QUADRICEPS

The quadriceps or quadriceps femoris is in face a hip flexor and knee extensor. It is a group of 4 individual muscles; 3 vastus muscles and the rectus femoris.

Together they form a huge chuck of your thigh and are one of the strongest muscles in the body. Quadriceps are essential for mobility making this exercise great for athletes.

HAMSTRINGS

Hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles; semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris, that are responsible for knee flexion. They aid in mobility and general motion.

GLUTES

The glutes being the largest and longest muscle group are very essential to develop. There are 3 muscles that form the glutes; gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius.

Like other lower body muscles, they help in motion such as rotation and walking.

TRICEPS

The triceps are the muscles at the back of the upper limb. They consist of three parts; the medial, lateral and long head which are primarily responsible for extending the elbow joint (straightening the arm).

SHOULDERS

The shoulders are made up of 8 muscles including the largest of which is the deltoid. These muscles are used in a wide range of motion such as rotation, twisting and bending the arm. They bear most of the load of the arm.

UPPER BACK

The upper back is technically not a muscle but it is targeted in this exercise specifically in the thrusts.

ABDOMINALS

The abdominals more commonly referred to as the abs are made up of 5 main muscles; pyramidalis, rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques and the transversus abdominis.

They hold your organs in place and support your body during movement.

BENEFITS OF KETTLEBELL THRUSTERS

A STRONGER CORE

The kettlebell thruster requires stability from the obliques and abdominals to keep in perfect form during the press.

Since the kettlebells are independent of each other, the entire core and sides of the back are engaged during the entire exercise.

MORE OVERHEAD STABILITY

This applied to most overhead movements. When done correctly, they increase overhead stability. The kettlebell thrusters take this a step further and reinforce sound external rotation and build unilateral strength.

EASE OF ACCESS

This exercise may not be the easiest but it sure is convenient since it only requires a kettlebell and you are good to go.

STRONGER GRIP AND UPPER BACK

You will be gripping heavy kettlebells is various motions of varying speeds and intensity during this exercise naturally leading to a stronger grip. Additionally, the overhead thrusts will hit your upper back hard and the gains will come in just a matter of time.

ALTERNATIVES TO KETTLEBELL THRUSTERS

LANDMINE THRUSTERS

This is a great alternative to the kettlebell thrusters that can add considerably more difficulty depending on your weight of choice. They also do not have the same mobility demands as conventional thrusts thus even beginners can do this; using less weights. This is how you can do it;

  • Requirements: Barbell, weights.
  • With the barbell on the floor, place weights of your choice on one side of the barbell only leaving the other end as is.
  • Using the weightless end of the barbell as a pivot, lift the weighted end of the barbell with both hands having the weighted end of the barbell at chest height. This is your starting position.
  • Lower your body by pushing back your hips and bending your knees to a squatting position while gripping the barbell. From this position push your feet into the ground and push your body to a standing position and this time extend your arms over your head in the natural curve of the barbell.
  • Repeat this cycle for reps. You may also use a completely weightless barbell before adding weights to the barbell.

OVERHEAD PRESS

This is a more of a strength training exercise than a general fitness one. This only means that it allows for more customizability due to the variations in weight and form.

Nonetheless, it is a great alternative to the kettlebell thrusters. Here is how it is done;

  • Requirements: Barbell, weights.
  • Unrack the barbell and take a step back. Have the bar resting in your hands right at your collarbone.
  • To begin, tighten your core, squeeze your glutes, tilt your head slightly then drive the bar over your head at arm length.
  • At the top of the press, ensure your abs and glutes are engaged constantly and your back is not bent.
  • Slowly lower the bar to shoulder height while tilting your head back to make space for the bar. Repeat the cycle for reps. Do as many as you are comfortable with.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN DOING KETTLEBELL THRUSTERS

BENT NECK

Bending the neck downwards during the thrust is a common mistake which usually leads to straining in the neck. This is usually because of using a load that you are not ready for. Begin with manageable weights before moving to heavier ones.

NOT EXTENDING ARMS FULLY

The urge to cheat a little and extend your arms slightly during the thrust is very common. But doing this will significantly hurt your gains. Instead, you should extend your arms are full length during the thrusts.

CLOSING REMARKS

The kettlebell thruster is undoubtedly one of the best compound exercises out there. It hits multiple muscles at a time, over 600 of them! It almost sounds too good to be true.

All I can say is go get your kettlebells and ‘thrust’ your way to a healthier and stronger you.

Cheers!