Double Kettlebell Thruster – Exercise Guide and Benefits

In an earlier article we discussed the powerful impact the thruster movement (squat into overhead push press) can have on leg and upper body strength, core stabilization, metabolic conditioning training, and as a functional movement for nearly every athlete.

The thruster is typically performed with the barbell, however usage of different loading instruments, such as dumbbells, different bars, and even kettlebells can help to increase fitness, joint stabilization, and overall strength in a wider range of motion.

Therefore, in this article we will discuss the double kettlebell thruster, the benefits coaches and athletes can expect from adding them into training programs, how to properly perform them.


Double Kettlebell Thruster Exercise Demo

In the below video Jeff Martone demonstrates the proper positioning and execution of the kettlebell thruster.

As you can see, the movement is nearly identical as the barbell and dumbbell thruster variations, with the lifter assuming the proper front rack position with the elbows under the load, maintaining an upright torso in the downwards aspect of the squat, and forcefully driving out of the squat into a forceful overhead pressing motion.

Why Do Thrusters with Two Kettlebells?

Below are just a few reasons why coaches and athlete should program kettlebell thrusters into training regimens if and when concerned with maximal injury prevention, conditioning, and/or overall functional performance.

1. Increased Range of Motion Demands

By increasing the range of motion (depth of squat and overhead extension) and necessity for better control of two independent pieces of load, you challenge the ability of the neuromuscular systems to develop greater proprioception and control to effectively perform the movement.

2. Shoulder Stabilization Improvements

Due to the increased demands of control and stabilization of often unused muscle fibers, the kettlebell thruster can effectively develop shoulder joint stabilization, specifically assisting with injury prevention at the rotator cuff, upper back, and shoulder capsule. Increased neural control and muscular strength can often aid in injury resilience throughout an athlete’s range of motion.

3. Upper Back and Core Strength

As with most front racked positions, the upper back, scapulae, and core muscles are challenged to a very high degree to remain contracted and coordinated with integrity. Because the kettlebells are independent of one another, any asymmetries ad imbalances are more pronounced, leading to increased demands on control and coordination on the lifter.

4. Unilateral Training Adaptations

At this point you should know everything you need to about unilateral training, but if not check out this article. Unilateral training has the ability to increase performance by addressing single-sided muscular and movement asymmetries, increase muscular activation, and enhance neuromuscular patterning.

5. Anaerobic and Aerobic Conditioning

The kettlebells are a very good tool for performing longer duration work sets to increase anaerobic and aerobic fitness and stamina. The kettlebell thruster is a great movement to increase endurance and challenge the lifters strength and mobility while then transitioning into more basics movements such as swings, walks, etc.

Want More Kettlebell?

Take a look at more of our kettlebell training articles below!

Featured Image: @crossfitbell on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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