How to do thrusters: this squat variant is a leg day staple AND a one-move full body exercise

Strengthen your quads, glutes, shoulders and triceps with this amazing compound exercise

squat variant bum exercise booty exercise tones bum shoulder exercise
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to do thrusters properly can not only save you from embarrassment in the gym but it can also help building leg definition and – well – a nice big butt too. Your glutes might be the largest muscle in your body, but they definitely don't get the love they deserves.

Enter the thruster. This glute exercise will strengthen and tone your bum and work your quads, triceps, shoulders and your core too. Ready for some leg day action? Let's get right into it.

On nutrition and safety

As with all resistance exercises, performing the exercises with the correct form is way more important than lifting heavy. Whilst doing thrusters, you will lift weights way over your head and if your core isn't engaged properly, you risk swaying your body too much in one direction and potentially falling, which can result in injuries.

You won't impress strangers in the gym trying to lift heavier weights than you actually can, injuring yourself in the process. Be safe and sensible and always do a couple of warm up sets with smaller weights, so your muscles are properly primed for the heavier weights.

Also, to aid muscle repair and building, take some protein within half an hour after you finished your workout.

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If you want to push more, you can also consider taking creatine monohydrate, a supplement proven to increase performance. You won't need more than 3-5 grams per day and it can be mixed into anything you drink, including water, juice, or a beverage of your choice.

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There are loads of training plans available online – we have quite a few here at T3, too – and apart from following a plan, the next best thing you can do to stay motivated is to get a training buddy. They can spot you and make sure you hit the gym regularly, which is the best way to build muscle, after all.

thrusters squat variant bum exercise

Thrusters can be performed with a dumbbells

(Image credit: Future)

Thrusters – how to perform and muscles worked

Thrusters muscles worked: shoulders, quads, glutes, triceps, core

How to do thrusters: Start off with the dumbbells in your hands, raised to shoulder height, legs shoulder width apart, core engaged.

First, perform a squat with without moving the dumbbells away from your shoulders, so how you would perform a weighted squat. Go deep with the squat and push your bum out to keep the centre of mass above your feet.

Then, stand back up and after you fully extended your legs, push the weight up so your arms are extended fully upwards. If you are using dumbbells, feel free to rotate the dumbbells slightly, sort of like a half Arnold press.

After this, return to the starting position by lowering the dumbbells back to shoulder height. Make sure you pay attention to the weights as they come down so you don;t hit them against your head.

As with most resistance exercises, try focusing on doing the negative movement slowly for maximum muscle activation.

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Dumbbell thruster variations and alternatives

Thrusters can be performed with a variety of equipment, let it be the a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells or even resistance bands.

  • Barbell thrusters: this works pretty much like a combination of a front squat and a military press. Mind your head as you push the barbell up in front of it.
  • Kettlebell thrusters: this version is very similar to dumbbell thrusters, but instead of those, you hold a kettlebells in each hand.
  • Squat hold trusters: as you perform the squat part of the thruster, pause for 3-5 seconds halfway down, scorching those quads like you mean it.

T3's how-to exercise guides

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.