6 Benefits of Kettlebell Thrusters

In previous articles we discussed the dumbbell thruster, single and double kettlebell thruster, and how each can offer coaches and athletes unique training outcomes that can be applied across fitness sports, athletics, and injury prevention. In this article, we will take a look at six benefits you can expect to be rewarded with after you become consistent and progressive with the kettlebell thruster movement. 

Scapular Stabilization

The front rack positioning in the kettlebell thruster is one that demands upper back control and scapular stabilization. The ability to individually contract and reinforce sound posture under load unilaterally will drastically increase bilateral abilities; such as in the front squat, pulls, etc. By using the kettlebell for a thruster, you are able to train scapular retraction, protraction, and movement often throughout the fullest range of motion as well.

Core Strength

Front loaded positions are extremely challenging on the core and back strength, with the kettlebell thrusters offering additional demands onto the abdominals, obliques, and deeper muscles. Due to the kettlebells being independent of one another, both sides of the body must work together to stay upright and in a contracted and supported position, one that can often be altered when using a barbell.

Increased Bracing Abilities

Bracing is the ability to contract the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine and increase intraabdominal pressure, often through the Valsalva maneuver. The kettlebell thruster requires an athlete to brace properly to withstand the front loaded movement, while cycling between contractions to allow for rhythmic breathing as well. Much like higher repetition heavy back squats can train an athlete to brace properly, so can kettlebell thrusters (double or single).

Overhead Stability

Most overhead movements done correctly can increase overhead stability, however kettlebell thrusters take it one step further. With the kettlebells, there should be a slight external rotation at the shoulder joint to secure the load when it it overhead. Movements like the kettlebell thruster can work to reinforce sound external rotation as well as develop unilateral strength, balance, and proprioception that a barbell would otherwise leave untrained.

Improved Squat Patterning

If you have ever done thrusters with a barbell you know how the constant up and down movement can either make or break you, often depending on how strong and healthy your legs are AND your ability to find the squat groove to not waste unnecessary energy. Kettlebell thrusters help to increase all of the other aspects throughout this article which in turn with strengthen a lifter’s ability to brace, stay upright, and maintain proper contractions in the legs and back. The front loaded movement can also aid in squat patterning, as it forces a lifter to stay upright and open the hips to descend vertically into the squat.

Grip and Upper Back Strength

Kettlebells are a great tool to increase unilateral grip strength, postural control, and back strength. The lifter must maintain rigidity throughout the body, yet still allow for fluid movements, all requiring a strong grip to secure the kettlebell. During heavy sets and/or prolonged movements, the kettlebell handle can become very difficult to hold making this a good exercise for increasing grip strength and enhancing wrist joint integrity throughout the fullest of range of motion.

Enhance Your Functional Fitness!

At the end of the day, kettlebell thrusters are a great way to increase your fitness from a broad sense (strength, functional movement, neural function, etc). Check out the following workouts and articles below to upgrade you fitness!

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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