Sunday, June 8, 2008


What's all the fuss about Front Squats and Push Presses?

I remember the first time that I ever saw these two combined, in Mark Verstegen's brilliant Core Performance (2004). Obviously, the Crossfit guys had been waxing poetic about Fran already by that time, but I was blissfully ignorant up until this encounter from the renowned strength coach of Olympian Mia Hamm amongst others.
They performed the 'squat and push press' with a pair of dumbbells, and so did all of my clients, starting in 2005. Anyone that ever worked with me in a commercial gym setting, such as Gold's Gym (lovely experience that was), was always first introduced to the squat. Then the press. Then the push press. And then, off we went. A pair of dumbbells. 10+ feet of open space. How we must have appeared to almost anyone still satisfied with their combination of bodybuilding on machines and endless steady-state cardio, as we lunged around the room, performing single leg RDLs and 'pressing with our legs'. Cheating, as it were, until we almost puked.

It is with this in mind, that I must know, that you too know the 'Thruster'. The humble squat AND push press. Both worlds unto themselves, but when combined... otherworldly.

When people tell me they don't have time to work out, I tell them they're lying. If they somehow convince me that they indeed don't have much time, they are introduced to pukie*, by way of thruster.

So, here's some takes on a staple, not only of Crossfit, but of intuitive performance minded training the world over.

Here's one from Crossfit Victoria; Featuring KBs.

I would have liked a better rack position with the KBs, but most Crossfitters tend to support the barbell, DBs or KBs in a 'press ready' position, rather than the more traditional Front Squat 'rack' which is also ideal for the jerk. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. With speed, making the transition over and over again from the rack to launch might be a little awkward. I guess it depends on what you learn first/what you are more comfortable with. I learned to jerk long before any of this other stuff came up, so for me it's 'the rack' all the way!

I hope you see, after examining their constituents in isolation, that when combining the two to create the 'thruster' you may experience an exercise greater than the sum of its parts.
With the sheer volume of work done, the metabolic and cardiovascular potential of the thruster should become obvious to anyone that attempts a moderate weight for anything more than 5 reps.
For further research, consult Catalyst Athletics' Physics Department.


1 comment:

Gregory K said...

I agree with the rack position. It's more stable (especially with KBs) and you can move more weight using it.