The Rogue Landmine
Those with a considerable amount of training experience will remember what it was like shoving a barbell in the corner of the room to do T-bar rows. You knew you were at a good gym when the drywall had a designated hole for the bar.
Fortunately, the landmine takes care of this problem. Unfortunately, gym-goers assume that’s all it does. You might see the odd standing one-arm press or Russian twist (180s), but nothing close to what this device is capable of.
"The landmine is an inexpensive, convenient piece of equipment that offers challenging variations for high-value training movements (push, pull, knee bend, hip extend)."
Instead of continuing to watch this fantastic piece of equipment collect dust at facilities across the country (while there’s a lineup at the Smith machine), I decided to compile a list of its many uncommon, but extremely effective uses.
The main advantages of working with the landmine are the fatter grip, the ease of adding heavier weights (compared to dumbbells), and the ability to hit abnormal angles in standing and kneeling positions. I hate to use the word functional, but after reviewing some of the movements I’ve outlined below, I think you’ll agree it’s appropriate.
1. Two-Handed Landmine Shoulder Press
This can be performed standing or kneeling, and from mid-chest or either shoulder. The kneeling option is the superior choice for shoulder work and early training phases. It’s also quite useful during power or explosive workouts when you add the hip extension (performed at the end of the video). The standing varieties seem better suited as an add-on to some of the leg options listed below.
2. Landmine Front Squat (Lumberjack Squat) + Press
I’m a huge fan of this exercise because it forces you into an ideal squat position. Even newcomers have trouble messing up the form on this one, as the landmine naturally pushes you onto your heels with an upright upper-body position.
Try playing around with the shoulder transfer I perform in the video. It transforms this movement into a challenging core exercise.
3. One-Arm Bent-Over Landmine Row (Meadow’s Row)
Since I discovered the Pendlay row (bent over barbell rows with a pause on the floor), it’s been a go-to exercise for myself and my clients. The pause on the floor gives you the brief recovery necessary to maximize pulling power, while challenging more than just the upper back.
Until recently, I didn’t think there was a one-arm equivalent. But that was before I discovered the Meadow’s row:
I suppose this can be accomplished with a dumbbell, but it’s nowhere near as comfortable as the landmine. Not to mention the fat grip, better range of motion, and potential for massive loads (yeah, I know what I just said).
As I do in the video, you can play around with your angle to the bar. I prefer being perpendicular, as I feel I get better range at the top.
You may also notice I keep my stance square to mimic the Pendlay row, as opposed to split stance used by John Meadows. Personal preference, but I’m assuming staggered gets more power — or maybe John Meadows just gets more power?
4. Half-Kneeling One-Arm Landmine Press
I give Tony Gentilcore credit for introducing me to the half-kneeling one-arm landmine press. I’ve found this exercise to be exceptionally useful in teaching clients to press with a properly positioned elbow and a stabilized core. Hand an internally rotated client a light dumbbell to press over his head, and it looks excruciatingly painful, but set him up with a landmine, and he’s an instant success.
5. Landmine Lunge + Optional Press
I have to admit I thought I invented this exercise. But that was before my Internet search popped up that Tony Gentilcore character again (does this guy ever get out?). That being said, I will take credit for the alternating lunge and the shoulder transfer.
Other than converting this into a full-body exercise, the different press options can help you forget about the legs during higher rep protocols. For instance, 8 reps with alternating shoulder presses and 8 straight-ahead presses is 24 reps or 12 reps per leg – a challenging feat for most.
Similar to the lumberjack squat, this exercise forces proper form. It pushes your torso upright and doesn’t let you get away with improper positioning of the legs.
6. One-Arm Landmine Clean and Press
These are a great addition to a HIIT or metabolic conditioning workout. I suggest keeping the weight light and performing multiple reps for speed, as this movement can put the shoulder in an awkward position. The second clean and press variation is preferred, as the press is more natural and you have the option of alternating between arms.
Worth mentioning in this category is Dr. Jim Stoppani ’s alternating landmine deadlift:
7. Landmine Sumo Squat
After watching the next video, I’m guessing you’ll be as confused as me as to why this exercise isn’t more popular. In my opinion, it’s the perfect exercise for a beginner and an interesting alternative for an experienced lifter. Compared to using a dumbbell, there’s no restriction on weight, and to say it’s easier to perform than a barbell sumo squat would be an understatement.
When first attempted, you’ll notice a ton of glute activation and little tension on the low back (if any). Interestingly, it allows for a bit of a forward lean, which I’d argue makes it more conducive to athletic performance.
8. Supine One-Arm Landmine Press
Ben Bruno deserves all the credit on this one, as he’s been experimenting with landmine floor presses for some time now.
As you’ll see from my video, I prefer being perpendicular to the bar. Plus, I take it one step further and put myself on a Swiss ball.
(For the record: I’m well aware that we go to the gym to get strong, and not prep for Cirque Du So Lame. The Swiss ball is simply an interesting alternative that offers a superior range of motion to the floor. If you’re anti-unstable surface, a bench could accomplish the same goal.)
Aside from the fat grip, and the potential for heavier weight, the advantage of using a landmine instead of a dumbbell, is the ability to hit an uncommon, but favorable pressing angle. This makes it useful for bodybuilders attacking specific muscles and athletes requiring strength in non-standard positions (like in football or MMA).
Speaking of MMA fighters, take a look at this unusual floor pressing variation from Martin Rooney :
As Rooney says, “When everyone shares, everyone wins.” The one-arm Danish floor press is definitely worth sharing.
9. One-Leg Landmine RDL
This move is once again courtesy of Ben Bruno, a.k.a. the Lord of the Landmine. Ben has been popularizing different maneuvers with this apparatus for years, and this is one of the best.
With a dumbbell, the single-leg Romanian deadlift can be quite challenging. Not only because of balance, but because most people are too concerned with touching the ground instead of getting height with their back leg. Fortunately, the landmine addresses both of these challenges.
The variation in the video above is quite effective (especially if balance is a challenge), but I prefer being perpendicular to the bar as Ben is here:
10. Half-Kneeling Landmine Trunk Twist
Standing landmine trunk twists are challenging if you’ve had a short lifting career. It feels natural to bend the arms, bring the bar close to the body, and power it with everything other than the core. These problems are exactly why the half-kneeling option is such an attractive alternative.
Benefits of this movement:
- No cheating with the legs
- Easier to maintain straight arms
- Forced to keep bar away from your body
- Isolates one side at a time
Landmine = Goldmine
The landmine is an inexpensive, convenient piece of equipment that offers challenging variations for high-value training movements (push, pull, knee bend, hip extend). Although I think you should try all of the exercises discussed (along with those T-bar rows, standing one-arm presses, and Russian twists), I recommend starting with these three:
- Tony Gentilcore’s one-arm half-kneeling landmine press
- John Meadow’s one-arm bent-over landmine row
- Mike Sheridan’s landmine sumo squat
Kidding! I’m only putting my name on the rollout, clean and press, and half-kneeling trunk twist.
Check out these related articles:
- Do You Know What the Core Really Is and What It Does?
- Lunges Are For Sissies — Or Are They?
- Single Kettlebell Ballistic Complexes — How to Save Your Shoulders
- What's New On Breaking Muscle Today