The landmine training method was invented a long time before the landmine base came in vogue. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger sticking a barbell in the corner of his gym to do heavy sets of T-bar rows in 1975’s Pumping Iron? Thanks to the minds of creative coaches, landmine training has become even more popular. After all, it is a great way to train your muscles from multiple angles and positions.
To help you sort through all the landmine moves out there, we dive into the benefits of landmine training, programming suggestions, and list the six best landmine exercises. These include:
Best Landmine Exercises
- Landmine Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
- Meadows Row
- Landmine Tall-Kneeling Core Rotation
- Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
- Landmine Goblet Squat
- Landmine Floor Press
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The traditional single-leg Romanian deadlift exercise is a unilateral exercise that uncovers asymmetries between each side of the body, better engages the hamstring muscles, and improves balance and stability (since it challenges these modalities). Due to the long lever and fixed bar path, the landmine variation is easier to do and allows the lifter to go heavier instead of dumbbells or kettlebells. As a bonus, gripping the thick sleeve of a loaded barbell recruits more forearms muscles for improved grip strength.
[Related: Find the Best Barbell for Your Landmine Training]
Benefits of the Landmine Single-Leg Romanian deadlift
- It’s easier to perform than the dumbbell or kettlebell variations.
- The heavier load and fixed bar path better recruits the hamstring muscles.
- Strengthens muscular imbalances between sides.
How to Do the Landmine Single-Leg Romanian deadlift
Stand perpendicular to a barbell loaded in a landmine base or the corner of a wall. Hinge at your hips to bend forward until you can grab the sleeve of a barbell with one hand. Stand up. Lift the foot that’s the same side as the loaded hand off of the floor. Maintain a slight bend in your knee, find your balance, and then hinge forward until your torso is about parallel to the ground. Reset and repeat.
This isn’t an exercise that should be loaded up with a lot of heavy weight. Instead, stick with a moderate or light load and perform three to four sets and eight to 12 reps is a good starting point.
The Meadows row is the brain-child of famed IFBB bodybuilder and coach John Meadows. It has you assume a staggered stance, perpendicular to a barbell in the landmine base, and perform what’s essentially a single-arm row. Compared to other rowing variations, the Meadows row elicits more upper back activation. Also, because you’re rowing from a standing position, the range of motion is longer than that of a normal row. That said, be sure to use 10-pound, and 25-pound plates as the larger diameter of the 45-pound weight plate will hinder the ROM.
Benefits of the Meadows Row
- Increases grip and finger strength because you’re holding the fat end of the barbell.
- Adds size and strength to your upper back muscles.
- Strengthens pulling imbalances between sides.
How to Do the Meadows Row
Hinge your upper body forward with a staggered stance and grip the end of the barbell with an overhand grip, resting your forearm on your forward leg. Start this movement by driving the elbow behind the body while retracting the shoulder blade and pulling the barbell handle towards your back hip until the elbow is level with your torso. Then slowly lower down to the starting position and repeat for reps.
Do three to four sets and between six to 15 reps.
Core stability, hip mobility, and the ability to resist rotation are essential qualities for almost all your core lifts, And the tall-kneeling core rotation covers all three of these bases. The tall kneeling position gives you feedback on whether you’re flexing or extending the spine or unnecessarily rotating through your low back. You’ll also gain strength in your abs and obliques as you rotate (with control) while holding a light load.
Benefits of the Landmine Tall-Kneeling Core Rotation
- Improves your anti-rotational strength, which improves your core stability.
- Great accessory exercise for squats and deadlifts because of the core stability and anti-rotational benefits.
- A tall-Kneeling position helps to improve hip mobility, as those muscles are forced to support your torso.
How to Do the Landmine Tall-Kneeling Rotation
Place a pad under your knees with the end of the barbell right in front of your body while in a tall kneeling position. Grasp the bar with an alternating grip, the outside hand facing up, and lift the bar off the ground while staying tall — tense your abs and glute muscles. Rotate the bar up and across the body with the arms straight and try not to rotate the upper body or lean backward. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
Perform for three to four sets of six to 10 reps on each side.
The arc of the press with gripping the fat end of the barbell increases scapular stability, unilateral control and helps you to address shoulder/scapular instability issues for lifters who may not have the shoulder mobility to go overhead. This press variation, as a result, can be a more joint-friendly option for lifters that feel joint pain while overhead-pressing.
Benefits of the Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
- Trains the overhead pattern safely for those unable to press overhead pain-free.
- The half-kneeling position trains core stability, hip mobility, and the pressing of the bar provides anti-rotational core benefits.
- Increased scapular stability and control because of the pressing angle and loading of the barbell.
How to Do the Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
Get into a half-kneeling position with the knee under the hip, ankles underneath the knees and the ribcage down while in front of the barbell. Pick up the barbell on the same side of the downed knee with it just in front of your shoulder. Then press to lockout by extending the elbow and reaching forward at the end of the movement. Slowly lower back down and repeat.
Do either three to five sets of six to 12 reps with moderate to heavy resistance or two to four sets of 12-15 repetitions with moderate resistance.
The landmine goblet squat is a great beginner-friendly squat variation. The weight is loaded in the front, which forces your back to stay upright (otherwise, you’d collapse forward). The arc that the bar travels allows you to get into the bottom of the squat easier while staying upright in the torso, building and strengthening the quads. These are great for liters with mobility issues or for adding volume without the compressive load of the barbell.
Benefits of the Landmine Goblet Squat
- The arc of the barbell and the anterior load allow lifters with mobility issues to get into a good squat position.
- Less compressive load on the lower back allows the lifter to accumulate more volume with a lower risk of injury.
- The upright position allows you to emphasize the quads more.
How to Do the Landmine Goblet Squat
Set one end of a barbell into a landmine base and rest the other end on a training bench or a plyo box. Load the elevated end with 45-pound plates. Ensure that the box is low enough so that you can squat to at least parallel without the plates bumping into the box or bench. Do not start this exercise from the floor; it’ll strain your lower back. Grab the barbell’s sleeve in both hands, stand up so that it’s off the box, and then perform a standard squat.
- For strength: Do four to six sets of three to six reps.
- For more muscle: Do three to four sets of eight to 12 reps works well.
The dumbbell floor press is a great exercise that overloads the triceps and chest while limiting ROM, making it easier for the shoulder. But the landmine floor press takes the floor press to a new level. It allows for greater resistance and, because the barbell is elevated off the ground, makes it easier and safer to get in and out of position (if you need to drop the weight). Plus, you’re not hoisting heavy dumbbells or kettlebells into position, making for an easier transition between sides.
Benefits of the Landmine Floor Press
- Great loading potential than dumbbells and kettlebells.
- The neutral grip makes it easier on the shoulders.
- Overloads triceps to build lockout strength for regular bench presses.
How to Do the Landmine Floor Press
Lie down with your feet on the ground, landmine behind you with your head parallel to the weight plates. Roll to one side, grip the end of the barbell with both hands, press to the top position, and take one hand off. Slowly lower to the ground until your upper arm touches the floor, pause for a second, and press back up. Repeat on the other side.
Although you can load this for strength, this exercise is best used to strengthen pressing imbalances and build muscle in the triceps and chest. Do three to five sets of between six to 12 reps with a moderate to heavy load works well.
Benefits of Landmine Training
Landmine training makes for a nice change of pace and is great for accessory exercises for the big three — the deadlift, squat, and bench press — and hip or shoulder mobility limitations. Here are some other benefits of Landmine training.
Increases Grip Strength
Because you’re holding the fat end of the barbell, you’re working harder to maintain your grip, helping to improve your grip strength.
Easier On Your Joints
The angle and arc of the landmine give your spine a break from the compressive load on the spine that comes with squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses.
Trains Muscles From Different Angles
The angle of the lever means landmine training is a mix between vertical and horizontal, training your body in the in-between zone. Plus, the landmine gives you the ability to train heavily in standing, tall kneeling, and half-kneeling positions.
Ability to Load Unilateral Exercises
Since you generally lifter more weight during landmine training, you can also load unilateral (or single-side) movements more heavily. Usually, you need to choose between load and position, but now you can work one side of your body at a time while challenging yourself with more weight. This is beneficial for athletes who don’t want to compromise the benefits of unilateral training because they can’t use enough of a load.
Beneficial for Lifters With Mobility Issues
The barbell arc makes it easier to sit back and stay upright in the squat, making it a great alternative if you lack the hip mobility to get into a good squat. Plus, if you lack the shoulder mobility to go overhead, the mix between the vertical and horizontal arc of the landmine helps train the overhead pattern.
How to Warm Up for Landmine Training
In addition to performing a standard warm-up with mobility and core work, you’ll want to perform ramp-up sets. They will help you grease the groove and determine your working weight for the day by how easy or hard a certain weight feels. As a bonus, the extra volume is also helpful for fat loss.
Here’s an example of a ramp-up sets for half-kneeling landmine press:
- 10 reps — empty barbell
- Eight reps — Add 10 pounds
- Six reps — Add 25 pounds
- Five reps — Add 35 pounds
- Four reps — Add 45 pounds
Boom, you have just found your working weight for the day.
What are landmine exercises?
Landmine exercises entail using a barbell in a landmine base or placing the end of a barbell into a corner, then performing various exercises.
The main takeaway point that makes landmine exercises different than others is that one end of the barbell is anchored on the ground, while the other moves freely.
What kind of exercises can I do with the landmine?
There are a ton of different exercises you can perform with a landmine implement. Some popular options include:
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Rotational Core Exercises
Are landmine exercises safe?
Yes! Like every exercise, landmine movements are completely safe when performing them good form within your means of skill and strength.
More Landmine Training Tips
Now that you have a handle on the best landmine exercises to strengthen and add mass to your body, you can also check out these other helpful barbell training articles for strength, power, and fitness athletes.
Featured image courtesy of John Rusin’s YouTube channel