The thruster is a compound movement that combines the front squat with the push press. While the mechanics of both of these movements apply to the thruster, there are two faults unique to this movement that you wouldn’t otherwise see in the front squat or push press alone.
These faults are: pressing the bar while still in a partial squat and descending into a squat before the bar reaches the front rack position.
The premature press happens when the athlete begins pressing the bar off of the shoulders before they fully stand up out of the squat. Similar to the push press fault of pressing too early, this fault results in a loss of power.
The middle frame in the picture above shows the bar off the shoulders with the hips and knees still flexed. The ideal position would be for the hips and knees to be extended with the bar still on the shoulders. The press then follows after reaching full leg extension.
The simple solution to solving this problem is to slow the thruster down. First complete the front squat. Then complete a strict press. As you start to go faster, your strict press will turn into a push press as power will be coming from the legs in the squat.
Ideally, you should be able to thruster what you can push press. This isn’t always true, but the numbers should be close.
The premature squat is found in frames two and three above. After successfully completing one rep of the thruster, the bar should return to the shoulders before initiating the squat again. You can see in the frames above that the athlete’s hips and knees are flexed before the bar is back on the shoulders.
The result of this fault is generally a loss in control. When I coach athletes in-person and see this fault, I usually see the bar crashing down hard on the athlete. This causes a loss in lumbar integrity, weight shifted from the heels on to the toes, and a low front rack position.
Avoid this fault by slowing the movement down slightly. Allow the bar to make contact with the shoulders before initiating the front squat.
You will learn quickly that thrusters are potent movements that will take your breath away. They are especially difficult with light weights in a metcon.
For that reason, they are my favorite. I hope they become yours, too.