6 Tips on How to Improve Your Thrusters

Thrusters and Burpees - I don't know which one I hate more... I personally think burpees are worse simply because it is body weight only and I love having a barbell in my hands... Then CrossFit Football have to take it a step further and program Kalsu - Every Miunte On the Minute (EMOM), you start with 5 burpees and then complete thrusters at 135lbs/60kg until you have completed 100 Thrusters. It sucked and I only did it at 95lbs - took me 10mins of lying down to recover from that one! Read more about Kalsu here...

In the CrossFit Open, it is more about Fran variations that you have to worry about...Chest-to-Bar Pullups and Thrusters have appeared together in each Open as a workout.

Read on for my Top 5 tips on how to improve your thrusters!

me and Annie T1. Wear a T-Shirt

I have no problem these days of doing some thrusters at 95lbs - I can't do 21 or 15 in a row but I get more than 5 done 😉 I used to train in a singlet because my eczema was bad and I couldn't wear synthetic fabrics (only cotton!). When I significantly improved my Eczema, I was able to wear T-Shirts, especially my new Reebok CrossFit GCS shirts for my new clinic location. That was when I discovered that I didn't just suck at Thrusters because I was unfit and weak...it helps to wear a T-Shirt!

I and countless thousands need the extra help that a T-Shirt provides - it basically allows the bar to sit on the shoulders without sliding off.

Lindsey V Clean2. Practice Your Cleans

A "full squat clean" - aka "a clean" - is a great way to decrease time and increase efficiency.

Every time you drop the bar, clean it into a deep squat and then straight into your press overhead.

When practicing your cleans, make sure you practice standing it up with power and a solid Front Rack Position...



2013 Open workout descriptions with Julie Foucher3. Improve Your Front Rack Position

A good front rack position will help you enormously. Athletes burn out their arms all the time when they support the weight on their vertical forearms.

Not only is tiring your arms out unnecessary, it is also riskier. With your elbows pointing down and with you no doubt under fatigue, your downward-pointed elbows can make contact with your knees and you can sprain or even fracture your wrist.

A good front rack position will also allow you to use the body driving up and "float" that bar off your shoulders. This results in less effort to press that bar overhead.

Nice parallel forearms are what we want to see!

4. Practice Perfect Technique

I know I say this all the time but it is true.

Have a look at the following video of Rich Froning and Jason Khalipa doing 13.5 together (it starts at around 7:50mins)

Jason starts more powerfully (harder and faster) but as time goes on, he becomes a bit inefficient and his technique is slightly degraded compared to Rich's. Rich has maintained a good pace and takes smart rests. He knows what he has to do to get the work done and sets out to complete it...and he does so with great technique and no failed reps - Jason didn't fail any either (from memory) so part of the reason why Jason didn't get to the 3rd round was because of the tiny inefficiencies that made the difference over time...

5. Improve Your Ability To Perform Faster

Also, try to practice your thrusters with good technique but just a fraction faster - film yourself and be very careful. This will start to teach you when YOU become inefficient - you can see it on video and link what you see to how you felt. Start with 1 thruster at an easy weight but a bit faster than you normally do them - film and watch it on video. Then, if it is good, remember that feeling and do 2. Rinse and repeat until you can do 15 Thrusters that look perfect at that weight. Then, go up a bit in weight. Approach it as training for your nervous and cardiovascular system - developing the coordination to move faster and cope at a higher heart rate 🙂

Get a ball into that hip NOW!!

Get a ball into that hip NOW!!

6. Take care of your mobility/flexibility/stability/strength

Only you really know what you feel like today. You can ask your coach what is going on with your technique but if you have persistent pain or tightness or you have to spend 30mins rolling out just to get through training, then you will need to see someone like me who can help solve the problems...FAST!

You will have to get your mobility and flexibility right to press overhead as well as squat deeply...start practicing now to determine what works best for you!


6 Tips Common to All Movements 

Basically similar to my blog on preparing for the Open...

1. Practice your technique NOW

  • Feel comfortable in practice with competition technique and Range of Motion (ROM) and it will feel comfortable in competition.
  • Good technique is the most efficient way to complete the reps. For most movements, keep your back straight for crying out aloud!!
  • Motor patterns are strengthened with perfect practice - the more reps you do perfectly, the more likely you will do them

2. Continue your strengthening program (or start NOW!)

  • There are still 5 weeks before the Open starts and 11 weeks until it ends - there is time to make gains!
  • If you just get one more rep out because you are just a little bit stronger or you get a PB because you improved enough to achieve it, there is no better feeling in the Open. Last year, I got a 135lbs snatch 4 times - I got my first the day before I did 13.1. I also got my first CTB pullup during the Open. Strength helps!
  • If you are a Regionals athlete, the Open should just be a speed bump in your training program.
  • I have never heard anyone say "If I was only a bit weaker for that workout, I would have done better"!

3. Get your Coach to help identify and rectify your weaknesses

  • Most coaches are happy to tell you what to work on and will give you accessory (additional) exercises to do after your workouts.
  • Most coaches will have some form of one-on-one coaching sessions they can do with you - these are worth it for beginners and experienced athletes alike
  • If you do ask your coach for help and you DO NOT do what they say, then please DO NOT ask them for more help until you have done what they told you to do already!! Nothing is more frustrating to a coach than someone who asks for help but then doesn't do it.
  • If you have done everything you are told to do and your coach doesn't want to help you, ask yourself if you are in the right box or asking the right person...this should be extremely rare...in general and basically every box I have been to (over 20) and coaches I know (well over 50) have had coaches that are willing to help the athletes and care about their safety.

4. Sort your niggles out

  • One of the most common comments I hear is "If I had known how much better I would feel, I would have come sooner"
  • 'Nuff said!

5. Don't push to failure

  • Rich Froning rarely fails a rep. Don't waste your energy on failed reps. Rest and just concentrate on making good reps. Pushing to failure is a waste of time and energy and significantly increases your risk of injury...

6. Lose the "sins of Christmas" - get that body fat% down!

  • This one is for my friend John Z - all the bodyweight movements in the Open will get better if you are carrying less fat.

I am always keen to hear tips from other athletes, coaches and health professionals. Leave your comments below!