How to Do Dumbbell Thrusters

How to Do Dumbbell Thrusters

Combine a front squat with a push press and what do you get? Dumbbell thrusters.

Also called dumbbell squat thrusters, this exercise works your entire body, giving you a metabolic boost in addition to increasing strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Maybe that’s why you see so many dumbbell thrusters in CrossFit workouts.

Ready to add dumbbell thrusters to your workout? Here’s all you need to know.


How to Perform the Dumbbell Thruster

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders with your palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your abs engaged, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
  • Drive through your heels, extend your hips, and, as you straighten your legs, press the dumbbells directly above your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbells to shoulder height as you return to a squat.


How to Make the Dumbbell Thruster Easier

Choose lighter weights and go at a slower pace. You still want the movement to be fluid, with no stopping, but after pressing into the standing position, you can first lower the dumbbells to your shoulders and then squat back down rather than doing both actions at once.

How to Make the Dumbbell Thruster Harder

Use heavier dumbbells or move at a faster pace. Just be sure to use good form:

  • Keep your core engaged and your back flat.
  • Try to keep your weight in your heels so you don’t tip forward
  • Keep your elbows up in front of your body to keep your posture and chest square.
  • Drive through your legs—not just your arms—to lift the dumbbells overhead.

Variations on the Dumbbell Thruster

Rather than dumbbells, use kettlebells or a barbell.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Thruster

“Dumbbell thrusters are a compound exercise, which means it involves more than one joint,” explains Alexa Cohen, a personal trainer at Crunch Union Square in New York City. “Thrusters elevate your heart rate, thus improving your cardiovascular fitness and performance. They also help boost your metabolism, increase your muscular endurance and strength, and improve coordination.”

What Muscles Does the Dumbbell Thruster Work?

The dumbbell thruster is a total-body exercise. It works your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, shoulders, core, and triceps.


dumbbell thruster - pin image

brittany risher


Brittany Risher Englert is an accomplished content strategist, editor, and writer specializing in health, mental health, and mindfulness content. After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University, she worked at Men's Health, Prevention, Women's Health, Shape, and Greatist before going freelance three years ago. Today she works with brands and publications, helping them create content that engages their audience and builds brand loyalty. Considered a "Swiss Army knife for content," Brittany helps with all things content, from editorial strategy and project management to editing and writing. Her clients include Sonima, Men's Health, Women's Health, SELF, Elemental, ZocDoc, Yoga Journal, Everyday Health, My Fitness Pal, and Centennial Media. Follow her on Twitter.