Master This Move: Squat Thruster

The squat thruster is a staple in many metabolic conditioning programs because it is a very taxing movement on your muscular, cardiovascular and nervous systems. This move is one of the most popular total-body movements being used today.

Beginner Considerations

You will need not only adequate ankle and hip mobility for the lower body but also adequate shoulder overhead mobility. Before adding this move into your training regimen, make sure you have experience with both a loaded squat and a loaded overhead press since you are essentially combining these two movements.

Best Practices

This is a squat and press. Use moderate weight because the positioning can potentially break down form if too heavy and/or feel uncomfortable on the arms, wrists and shoulders. Perform a very thorough warm-up beforehand, ensuring all major joint systems have the prerequisites to perform this movement effectively and efficiently.

Master This: Squat Thruster

Make it easier: Use one weight for both hands (medicine ball, dumbbell, kettlebell).

Make it harder: Increase load or rep, alternate the pressing arm with each squat or use a heavy barbell.


“Master this Move: Squat Thruster” model Jiji Pollock is a Personal Trainer and Group X instructor at 24 Hour Fitness in Northern California. Pollock, who teaches Les Mills BODYPUMP, cycle and RPM, and also works for Institute of Motion, took time out of her busy schedule to answer these burning questions from 24Life.

24Life: Why did you become a personal trainer and Group X instructor?

JP: As a trainer I love helping individuals customize workouts to improve their health and feel strong within their bodies. Everyone is strong in their own way. It’s a beautiful thing to help them find that strength. As a Group X instructor, I got started in college because I was always in the front row of the class. My Group X instructor (college professor) was also a triathlete who couldn’t teach all of her classes and train for triathlons, so she asked me to teach for her when she trained. She taught a group fitness cert course at Cal Poly. I got certified and it became my part-time college job. I found I enjoyed helping people sweat and see how fantastic they felt after their workouts. I enjoy coaching proper movement so they don’t get hurt and they can feel strong in their own skin.

24Life: Favorite and least favorite workout move?

JP: Favorite, burpees with or without the jump or the push-up because it works. Least favorite, bicep curls—boring!

24Life: Finish the sentence “When I’m not working out, I am…”

JP: Currently writing lots and lots of papers for my PhD program and reading research articles. Otherwise I like to create in the kitchen.

24Life: Your favorite fit tip?

JP: Proper nutrition and sleep will make a world of difference in your workouts.

24Life: Your power/pump-up song?

JP: AC/DC’s “Thuderstruck.”

24Life: Favorite memory as a trainer or instructor, so far?

JP: My forever favorite client, Toni. She had double knee surgery, double hip replacement anda lung transplant. Sometimes she would only have one-fourth the capacity of a normal person. That’s like breathing through a straw. She was determined but also knew when she needed her breaks. She knew when to push and to hold back. We worked through her hip and knee replacements. The sweetest lady. Never ever complained and just kept forging forward. (She passed away August 9, 2017, before her second lung transplant. She contracted an infection in her lungs.)

Photo and video credit: Tom Casey,
Model: Jiji Pollock, 24 Hour Fitness