How to Do a Squat to Shoulder Press


The squat to shoulder press is one of the most comprehensive exercises, working your upper and lower body in one movement. Often called a thruster, it can be performed using heavy weights to develop full-body strength or with light weights to develop cardiovascular fitness and endurance. The main muscles involved in the squat to shoulder press are the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals -- the thighs and butt -- and the deltoids and triceps -- the muscles of the shoulders and backs of the arms. This exercise also works the core muscles of the torso.

Things You'll Need

  • Barbell
  • Weights
  • Collars
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the barbell across the front of your shoulders with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Your elbows should be directly below your hands or pushed slightly forward. Look straight ahead and brace your core muscles.

  • Inhale, push your hips back, then bend your knees. Descend until your thighs are roughly parallel to the ground. Make sure your lower back remains slightly arched.

  • Exhale, drive your feet down into the floor, extend your legs and stand up straight. With help from the momentum generated by your legs, push the barbell up and overhead until your elbows are straight but not fully locked.

  • Lower the bar back to your shoulders and prepare for another repetition.

Tips & Warnings

  • When learning this exercise, break it down into a front squat followed by a shoulder press to make the exercise easier.
  • Move your feet inward to place an extra emphasis on your quadriceps, or outward to emphasize your adductors of the inner thighs.
  • Perform squats to shoulder presses using dumbbells, kettlebells, a sandbag or a medicine ball for variety.
  • Wear shoes with low, firm heels to avoid lifting your heels, which can cause you to fall forward and lose your balance.

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