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Thrusters…The Best Exercise for All Around Fitness?!

sandbag workout equipment

When it comes to looking for solutions to get a great workout fast, many people tend to default to drills like burpees. While I think burpees can have their place, I think they are often overused and overvalued. They really don’t do much for strength, they require mobility/stability but you have to have that FIRST to even do them right without risking your low back. Often times, they are simply used to make people tired. So, is there a better choice that many people overlook for all around fitness and has better carry over to more things? Obviously my answer is yes and the solution I believe is thrusters.


The name thrusters refers to a squat and press motion that was used for decades by weightlifters. Crossfit popularized the idea and even came up with the name “thrusters”. If you think about it, there is a lot of commonality between the actions of thrusters and burpees. They both require the ability to have great hip mobility, they need good core stability, and they force us to have good shoulder and upper body strength/stability. So why choose thrusters over burpees?

They Are More Progressive

While it is possible to modify a burpee, let’s face it, they often become awkward and really uncomfortable for people. You might think the same for thrusters that many people have issues going overhead so aren’t thrusters just as challenging? Well that is where our DVRT ideas really come into play.

sandbag thrusters

For one, we can always work on increasing depth of our squat. The deeper we squat the better mobility we get, but also the greater impact we make on the strength of our lower body especially the glutes. Okay, that may seem obvious, but this is where things get good!

I’d prefer to use tools like kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags because both in different ways offer us the ability to go overhead in safer means but also build our upper body mobility. Kettlebells allow us to work just one arm at a time which helps for those with limited mobility but also for something else people overlook that we will hit upon soon!

Ultimate Sandbags can be used to press different ways, but in any of these cases, the position of the arm is far more friendly to the shoulder than a barbell. Plus, that position makes it easier to connect our lats and core to the movement.

By getting MORE out of our core, we can help the upper body mobility by using that core stability. So many upper body mobility issues can be traced back to core stability problems so the fact we can use thrusters for so many different purposes it becomes immensely valuable and easy to scale for people.

Not to mention, typically with burpees all we can do is do more of them. Now we can increase load, change our position (as you see in the video above), change how we use the load, and more! You start to see that if we can BUILD mobility, stability, strength, and endurance at once, thrusters so be in your “go to” toolbox.

We Teach More About Movement

While there are variations of burpees, after a few, most become a REAL stretch in how effective they are! With thrusters, our progressions allow us to increase focus on different fitness qualities so we just don’t smoke you, we can actually make you better!

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe shows some of the progressions we have been discussing. So, when would I use a kettlebell versus an Ultimate Sandbag? Kettlebells work well when our focus in more unilateral. That means if I have mobility issues, or want to work on making my body to resist more of the other planes of motion (there are three I use in every day life), I would probably choose a kettlebell (however, there is an exception I will show you). Ultimate Sandbags are friendlier on the shoulders if you have the mobility and the instability requires greater strength and accuracy of our movement. The best thing to do is simply cycle different versions in your programs that way you get the best of both!

Is what these DVRT coaches show just silly? No! In fact, it is really smart! We can change the plane of motion and our base of support to actually use more muscles and increase the intensity of thrusters. We can also use very intentional use of our tools to create very specific progressions. Since pressing a single kettlebell requires us to resist movement to the side (which is what makes it good) we can help the strength of the core by loading the other side with an Ultimate Sandbag on the shoulder to create forces on the other side of the core. Basically amplifying our press and core strength!

Watch DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki’s videos above and you will see how many different ways we can build thrusters to solve different movement needs and build amazing all around fitness. I can’t say loudly enough how much better thrusters are for most programs than burpees. It doesn’t mean you can’t use burpees, but when it comes to being MOST effective with our time, it is hard to beat thrusters!

Physical therapist, Jessica Bento, shows what I call reverse thrusters which requires more reactive strength and stability which are more sophisticated forms of strength, but man, they deliver on results!

Sarah Gwynn helps us show another unique way to use our Ultimate Sandbags with thrusters by adding our Arc Press. This is basically a one arm press but a better shoulder position for many people and forces us to use more core and lats to help resist the increased lateral forces the movement of the Ultimate Sandbag creates so it really builds impressive strength and stability all at once!

I know we have talked a lot about DVRT training ideas for home, but in reality this is how we train even in a gym. That is a big mission of ours, that achieving great fitness shouldn’t be a result of how much equipment we have, but our ability to use powerful tools smarter!

This week don’t miss saving 25% on Ultimate Sandbag packages and when you do you will ALSO get a FREE mini band and get a 16 workout mobility training program for FREE! Just use code “movebetter” HERE