Top 26 Thruster Workouts

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First, you got a push press.

Seems simple enough, right?

Then, you got a front squat.

Might be a little bit more difficult for some, but not the most technical of lifts.

Congratulations: you have the two components of the thruster!

However, anyone who has done more than…I don’t know…2 and 1/4 thrusters in their life knows that this exercise is a lot harder than front squatting and push pressing. These same people, when presented with any type of thruster workout, feel the life drain out of their faces, knowing that they are about to venture where “boys fear to tread”…

Today, we’re going to cover a couple of quick “survival tips” for performing thrusters before jumping into our list of the Top 26 thruster workouts of all time!

Thruster Survival Tip

There are probably a million different ways to break down a thruster as well as countless tips and cues to get better at them. However, in my experience with thrusters, there is one main tip that is immediately actionable that will improve your thrusters.

Actually Front Squat the Bar

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point, likely early on in our CrossFit careers. In a misguided attempt to make the bar “easier” to press out (or something like that), it is held slightly away from the body…

…meaning your arms are supporting it for the duration of every set.

If you do this…and I write it like that…doesn’t it just…hurt thinking about it?

(yes, yes it does)

Get in the habit of waiting that extra split second on each rep for the bar to hit your shoulders before descending into a front squat. During this portion of the lift, the legs will take on more of the load and this positioning of the barbell will allow them to more effectively assist in the push press to come.

thruster workout

It is worth practicing this movement pattern with an empty or (preferably) a light barbell, slowly ingraining. I can assure you, your arms will thank you!

You’ll also get a lot better at thrusters!

The Top 26 Thruster Workouts


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up/rack

You know we had to start with Fran…possibly the most famous CrossFit metcon (definitely the most famous thruster workout). To be honest, Fran has probably scared more people away from CrossFit than any other workout, being programmed early and often for new athletes. However, for those able to gut it out, Fran times always come down with continued effort and work.

2019 CrossFit Open WOD 5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

We go from one famous CrossFit workout to another, although 19.5 is a bit more “infamous” than anything else. Sure…there are other thruster WODs with a lot of reps, but there is just something…sinister about those first big sets of 33 and 27.

To be honest, I’m surprised more people even attempted this one to close out the 2019 Open (maybe if it had been the first programmed workout, nobody would have started!)


Equipment: Gymnastics rings, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

So…I obviously have a bit of bias with this one, although a muscle-up and heavy thruster combo is going to challenge even the most accomplished CrossFit athletes. You just know it’s rough when the decently-sized sets of toes-to-bar are the easiest parts of the workout.

The best (worst?) part of this one? No matter what happens, you’re going to be working for 25 minutes…25 whole minutes…


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, plyo box

From one AMRAP to another, “Black Mamba’s” version is a bit more manageable than Tom above.

That being said, this is one of those workouts that looks harmless enough, but I can guarantee you that those box jumps are going to be more and more difficult each round. Be mindful of the first rep of each set or…well…every true CrossFit athlete has a gnarly shin scar; may as well get yours!

CrossFit Open Workout 17.5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, jump rope

Unfortunately, we only have the preliminary data for this one from way back in 2017, but you get the point. That being said, I can distinctly remember doing this one down at CrossFit Circus (now CrossFit Fibonacci) as perpetual CrossFit regionals and semi-finals contender Lea Schmidt judged me.

Poor Lea

Let’s just say the thrusters were really easy for me relative to the double-unders and I was nowhere close to making it into that bottom 20th percentile.

Sorry Lea!


Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, air runner, barbell, bumper plates

Running, pull-ups, and thrusters…what a combo! To be fair, 42 light-ish thrusters and a total of a mile run are pretty manageable. However, those big sets of book-ending pull-ups really “make” this thruster workout. Don’t go out too hot on that first one, and make sure you have enough in the tank at the end to survive the last one!


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

One could consider this one to be a bit of a burner or even a “sprint.”


Truth be told, worst case, you can probably break this into 6 sets of 10 with the thrusters and just will yourself to keep moving with the bar-facing burpees. However, at the end of the day, 60 thrusters and 75 bar-facing burpees are going to smoke even the most accomplished athletes!

2018 Crow Games Final WOD

Equipment: Jump rope, kettlebell, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

I’ve talked about this partner WOD a time or two before, and it holds up really well, particularly as a thruster WOD. Unfortunately, our strategy (particularly on the thrusters!) is what doomed us (too many thrusters for me when I was expected to knock out all of the handstand push-ups). As such, plan ahead! Don’t blow out your arms and, ensuingly, blow the workout (and, for some, blow the competition…like me).


Equipment: Dumbbells

Little by little, we’re going to start seeing thruster variations in these thruster workouts. First up: dumbbell thrusters! Sleep on these bad boys all you want, but if you do, you’ll regret it when they show up in the Open (like they did in 2020…as we’ll discuss shortly). Be ready, though; the stimulus is quite different than with the barbell variety.

The good news? You have some flexibility with how you hold the dumbbells (I do not suggest a pronated grip for these!)


thruster workout

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Of course, the most daunting thruster workout of all time had to make the list! Kalsu is one of the most infamous CrossFit workouts of all time (it ranks pretty high on our list of the hardest CrossFit WODs) for a couple of reasons. The thrusters are certainly heavy, but those 5 burpees at the start of each round….simply haunting.

Finding data on good times isn’t easy, but if you’re able to knock out 5 thrusters each minute with consistency, you’re doing pretty good. If not, don’t worry; simply surviving this one is impressive enough!

Ruck at Home #11

Equipment: Ruck

Rucksack thrusters…now we’re talking!

This thruster workout was featured in the GoRuck “At Home” series, where somewhat familiar CrossFit WODs were tailored to include rucksack movements. For those of you licking your lips, thinking about how “easy” 30-pound thrusters would be…well…I can assure you that when you’re performing them with a heavy bag, they’re anything but easy!


Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

Another perennial favorite, Jackie, doesn’t get as much attention as she used to, but there is still a lot to be learned from this CrossFit benchmark WOD.

On the surface, nothing looks too difficult: a reasonable row distance, barbell thrusters, and a manageable pull-up set. However…take a peek at those times to beat above.

Or at this guy!

You’re expected to do these “easy” movements fast. Make sure to log your time; Jackie will definitely be coming around again!

Painstorm XXV

Equipment: Barbell

If you thought the empty barbell thrusters from Jackie seemed reasonable enough, I present to you that same weight…for 10 times as many thrusters!


The number of thrusters is so…odd…that even our friends at couldn’t calculate most of the times. I guess you have to perform ~25 thrusters per minute and go “elite or bust”! on this one.

(don’t shoot the messenger!)

CrossFit Open Workout 22.3

Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, jump rope, barbell, bumper plates

One of the more recent open entries, this is one of those…well…I think this gif suffices:

Although those sets get smaller each round, the decrease is nowhere close to being relative to how much the weight increases (not to mention how the difficulty in the pull-up bar movements increases!)

Make sure you have a (trustworthy!) friend to help you switch out the weights. Also…no shame in getting time-capped in this one!

Battleground 24

Equipment: Assault Bike, barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack

Assault Fitness has put out a whole series of workouts that allow you to test your mettle on everyone’s most…”beloved” fitness machine…the Assault Bike!

Rule number 1 of all thruster workouts: don’t mix Assault Bikes and thrusters…at least if you want to be able to walk anywhere for the remainder of the day. Granted, on this AMRAP, you probably won’t be pushing as hard as you would with some set number of reps in mind, but the fact remains the same.

As it is, be ready for your legs to feel a bit…jelly-like as you move from each Assault Bike set to the thrusters.

The Seven

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, pull-up bar/rack, kettlebell

One of the great CrossFit hero WODs, The Seven, has something for everyone to get really excited about…and to get really frustrated about. Big, strong guy? The bodyweight stuff might be a little tough for you. “Bodyweight ninja”? Good luck with the heavy barbell movements.

Worst case scenario? You get 7 rounds to figure out your best strategy!


Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

All you need is a barbell and a couple of 25’s to knock this one out!

A pretty straightforward thruster WOD with some power cleans and squats thrown in for good measure. Being a relatively short workout and with limited space requirements, I would say that this one could have even been added to the best hotel CrossFit workouts list. However, if you do decide to go this route, please don’t drop the barbell!

Andrew Desperito

Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell, bumper plates

A lot of rowing. A lot of…thruster-ing.

This one’s for you, Lt. Desperito!

For the “elite” guys out there who are essentially pulling a 7-minute 2K row (twice!) and knocking out 50 heavy thrusters at about 18 reps per minute…I salute you! To be honest, I’d be content pulling a couple of 8-minute 2Ks and hitting something like 11 thrusters a minute to sneak into the “advanced” category!

Chuck Heavy

Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell

It seems like we’re going to keep the rowing theme going, although this time, we’ll throw in some running while significantly increasing the thruster reps while significantly lowering the weight.

Seems more than fair to me!

Chuck Heavy certainly puts out some Jackie vibes, although you’ll have much more time to agonize over the 100 thrusters during that mile run!

2023 CrossFit Age-Group Quarterfinal WOD 4

Equipment: Concept2 rower, barbell, bumper plates

People thought they were going to die during this one… seriously. I mean, if you’ve made it this far in the CrossFit Games qualification process, there is no slowing down.

Now, I know this may look familiar to some of you…and….you’re right! This is a repeat of CrossFit Open Workout 15.5

Looks at those faces….pure anguish!

Sneak Attack

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, Assault Bike

Yeah…sneaky indeed! I mean, who doesn’t think 10 calories on the Assault Bike, 10 light-ish thrusters, and 10 bar-facing burpees make for a manageable workout?

Well…when you have to do all of that for ten rounds….yeah. 100, 100, 100 of each sounds…not manageable.

…it sounds more…sneaky.

2014 CrossFit Open WOD 5

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

This is another one of those CrossFit Open classic workouts. I mean, just check out the line-up they had doing this one back in 2014.

I mean…if “Iceland Annie” and Jason Khalipa are having that much trouble with it, you know it’s a tough thruster WOD!

Dumb and Dumber

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates

Unpopular opinion: I think this movie is highly, highly overrated.

I understand if you are currently in the process of clicking away from my page…but you’ll be back

That being said, 30 rounds of anything is anything but “dumb.”

“Hard and Harder” or “Tough and Tougher” or “Ahh and AHHHHH!” might be better names for this one!

CrossFit Open Workout 23.2A&B

Equipment: Pull-up bar/rack, barbell, bumper plates

Yeah…I know 23.2A doesn’t have anything to do with thrusters, but you can’t really separate these two. Plus, for fun, attempt a one-rep max thruster fresh and again after you’ve run and burpee pull-up-ed for 15 minutes straight.

Different beast, entirely!

As it was, there was a bit of strategy necessary with this one. Do you go hard in Part A, fighting for every last rep, or did it make sense to save a little “umph” for that push in Part B?

Don’t be like me: top ~7th percentile for Part A…and ~ top 55th percentile for Part B!

2019 Atlantic Games WOD 1

Equipment: Barbell, bumper plates, climbing rope

My wife and I teamed up for this one. I got the lion’s share of the thrusters and rope climbs, and she tackled most of the handstand walking (which actually appeared to be much further than 10 meters!)

A few points to consider:

  • 110-pound thrusters feel much heavier than 95-pound thrusters
  • rope climbs with a skinny rope are hard
  • if you perform this workout with your wife, she will yell at you

2020 CrossFit Open Workout 2

Equipment: Dumbbells, pull-up bar/rack, jump rope

A great thruster workout to close out our list. We, of course, talked about this one in our article on CrossFit clusters, and if you’re smart, you’ll take our advice and cluster every first rep of dumbbell thrusters in this one. Now, if you have trouble with double-unders or toes-to-bars, that fraction of a second you save with each rep probably isn’t going to make a ton of difference…but…at least you’ll look cool clustering every first rep!

Thruster WOD…Thruster WOD…Thruster WOD!

With 26 WODs to choose from, no really don’t have an excuse not to do a thruster workout…like…tomorrow. Of course, work on that front rack/front squat portion I mentioned earlier in the article, and you’ll probably want to start with something like Fran as opposed to, Kalsu or Painstorm XXV (shudder).

…but remember, as a wise man once said, “If I wanted to get, or stay, in good shape, and I only had two exercises to choose from…thrusters and burpees would do it.”

(I can’t remember where I heard that quote, but I promise it’s real….and it’s true!)

Look, if you’re on the fence about your next thruster workout, I’ll get things started with one of my own…

What a guy!

Not quite ready to jump directly into a tough thruster WOD, but still want to do some CrossFit? Check out our list of the top CrossFit beginner workouts. With this list in hand, you really don’t have an excuse not to get out there and get after it!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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