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
- Landmine Cossack Squat
- Landmine T-Bar Row
- Landmine Lateral Raise
- Landmine Side-to-Side Press
- Angled Landmine Reverse Lunge
- Unilateral Landmine Push 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.
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. Slowly lower down to the starting position and repeat for 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.
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.
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.
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.
The landmine Cossack squat is a squat variation that trains mobility, flexibility, and strength in the frontal plane — all at the same time. Exercising with the landmine provides an external load and acts as a counterbalance, which allows you to get into position easier.
Benefits of the Landmine Cossack Squat
- This move improves adductor strength and mobility all at once, which goes a long way toward preventing groin strains.
- You’ll strengthen the gluteus medius, which is important for promoting good knee health.
- Since you’ll be moving side-to-side, this exercise strengthens your movement in the frontal plane.
How to Do the Landmine Cossack Squat
Hold the end on the landmine in the goblet position. Set up your feet in a wide stance. Shift your weight to one side and squat down to a full deep squat on one side. Keep both heels on the ground. While squatting, externally rotate your straight leg so that your toes come up off the ground while your heel stays planted. Return to the starting position. Repeat.
The landmine T-bar row is a classic exercise — one of the first that many lifters learn using a landmine. This exercise does an excellent job of targeting your upper back, lats, posterior delts, and biceps.
If one of your goals is to develop your back muscles, this move is important. It’ll help you add a lot of thickness to your back. This is due to the close grip and a larger range of motion than other variations might allow for. The T-bar row works best with a V-handle, but you can also use a rope or towel if need be.
Benefits of the Landmine T-Bar Row
- Because of the grip angle and range of motion, this move can add thickness to your upper back.
- Spending time in the hinge position helps to build strength for the starting position for the deadlift.
- The external stabilization allows you to lift more weight compared to other barbell row variations.
How to Do The Landmine T-Bar Row
Stand over the bar with a wide stance. Hinge down into the bent-over row position. Keep your shoulders down and your chest up. Your feet should be positioned around eight to 12 inches behind the plates. Grip the V-bar with both hands. Keep your arms extended and pull the handle towards your upper abs. Pause for a moment. Slowly lower to the starting position.
Plus, the arc of this exercise, combined with its grip demands, gives the deltoids a new challenge to spark hypertrophy. These raises are harder than they look, so go easy on the weight, especially since you want to avoid injury. As always, perform these with precision and control.
Benefits of the Landmine Lateral Raise
- This lateral raise variation trains all three heads of the deltoids.
- Because you’ll be moving across the body, this move also trains your lateral core, or obliques.
- You’ll gain extra grip strength from holding the end of the barbell with one hand.
How to Do The Landmine Lateral Raise
Stand perpendicular to the landmine with the end of the bar in your right hand by your left hip. Keep your arm straight. Bring your arm up at a diagonal angle across your body until your hand is a little above your head. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
The side-to-side landmine press is another great landmine press option when you want to get more aggressive with loading. Holding the barbell with two hands in a close grip allows you to go heavier than other landmine press options.
Plus, the act of pressing and lowering from shoulder-to-shoulder trains anti-rotational core strength, too. That kind of strength translates into stronger, more stable Olympic lifts and other compound barbell exercises that require your torso to transmit a lot of force.
Benefits of the Landmine Side To Side Press
- The unusual movement pattern of this move trains both anti-rotational and pressing strength.
- Using both hands allows you to go heavier than other landmine pressing options.
- The increased weight and close grip can help improve triceps lockout strength.
How to Do The Landmine Side To Side Press
Hold the end of the barbell with both hands a few inches from your right shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and your chest up. Press the barbell up over the center of your body. Lower to your left shoulder. Press up from the center. Slowly lower down to your right shoulder. Keep alternating sides for an even amount of reps on each side.
The landmine angled reverse lunge offers the same benefits as the standard reverse lunge. It also punches things up a notch because of the dynamic knee drive at the end of the movement.
Being on an angle adds a high degree of anti-rotational work. You’ll be resisting rotation and lateral flexion with each rep. This reverse lunge variation will get your heart rate up and will improve coordination and flexibility.
Benefits of the Angled Landmine Reverse Lunge
- The unusual angle of this move will help train your glutes from a different angle, thereby giving you more full development.
- This move strengthens your obliques and anti-rotation skills.
- Since you’ll be moving in unusual ways, this exercise helps to improve your coordination and hip mobility.
How to Do the Angled Landmine Reverse Lunge
Stand perpendicular to the landmine. Lift the barbell and position the end of it in the crease of your elbows. With your other hand, hold your wrist on the loaded side. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Step back into a reverse lunge. Drive up from the heel of your front leg in an explosive manner. Simultaneously, drive your back leg up and forward. When you reach the standing position, your knee should be near the end of the barbell. Return to the starting potion. Perform all the reps on one side before switching sides.
The landmine press is a great exercise to train around shoulder mobility issues while still training the overhead press. The unilateral push press takes this up a notch by using a lower-body dip to explosively go overhead.
This leg drive trains lockout and grip strength by overloading your upper body. You’ll also improve core stiffness and the ability to transfer power from the lower to the upper body. Plus, training unilaterally allows you to iron out any strength imbalances you might have from typical barbell training and day-to-day life.
Benefits of the Unilateral Landmine Push Press
- The landmine provides external stabilization that gives you the ability to go explosively overhead in the absence of good shoulder mobility.
- You’ll improve pressing imbalances between sides by moving unilaterally.
- This move helps you overload a vertical shoulder pushing pattern without the same stress and flexibility demands on your shoulder joint.
How to Do the Unilateral Landmine Push Press
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the end of the barbell with one hand a few inches away from your shoulder. Engage your lats, grip, and core. Push your knees forward. Dip down into a quarter squat. Explode up and press until lockout. Reach forward at the end of the movement. Lower the barbell back to your shoulder. Reset and repeat.
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 Program Landmine Exercises
Since they’re not likely to be the lifts you’re training specifically for your sport, most landmine exercises are best trained as accessory exercises for hypertrophy and to strengthen weak points to improve your main lifts. With a landmine, lifters with shoulder or hip mobility issues can train hard and heavy while building muscle and improving mobility.
Generally, two to four sets within the six to 16 rep range work well for most landmine exercises. Programming them in supersets after your main lift is a great way to add volume to a body part without adding too much joint stress. For example, on if you’re working a full-body split, you might incorporate landmine lifts as follows:
- 1A. Angled Landmine Reverse Lunge: 12 reps per side.
- 1B. Landmine Unilateral Push Press: 8 reps per side.
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