The landmine is a seriously underutilized tool when it comes to building strength, size, and power. A lot of times the landmine isn’t left out of programs due to dislike of the implement, but simply not knowing and understanding how to use the implement effectively. After all, when someone says “shoulder press” most lifter’s minds go to barbell or dumbbell, and not landmine.
The landmine is unique because it can be used in so many different ways and it’s an amazing tool for building rotational strength. Additionally, the landmine is also great because it doesn’t take a lot of equipment to use and anyone can set up their own landmine station.
- How to Setup a Landmine Station
- Upper Body Landmine Exercises for the Shoulders
- Upper Body landmine Exercises for the Upper Back and Lats
- Upper Body Landmine Exercises for the Chest
But enough about all of the benefits that come along with the landmine, let’s dive into how to setup a landmine station and some upper body exercises that you can train with this implement.
A landmine station is the area on the ground in which the end of a barbell is anchored into. This can look like an attachment on a power rack, a floating station that stands alone, or a strategically made corner between two walls, dumbbells, or plates.
If you don’t have a landmine station, then there are multiple ways to set one up. For the sake of brevity, we’ll cover two of the most popular methods for setting up a landmine station for those without an attachment.
1. Rubber Dumbbell Caddy Corner
Rubber headed dumbbells are fantastic for creating a makeshift corner for landmine exercises. Their hexagonal shape creates a nice wedge for the barbell to sit in and since they’re rubber they don’t chip the end of the barbell’s collars.
In order to use rubber headed dumbbells with success there are a few things to keep in mind 1) don’t set your barbell on concrete, 2) try to use a pair of 35 lb dumbbells or heavier, and 3) angle the dumbbells at about 30 degrees.
2. Wall or Power Rack Corner
Probably the most popular method of creating a landmine station is the use of two walls or in the corner of a power rack. This is why you see damaged corners in every LA Fitness across the nation.
This is a fantastic and secure option, but it’s worth mentioning that putting a towel in-between the barbell the wall/rack is a good idea to prevent chipping the barbell or the wall.
1. Landmine Shoulder Press
The first exercise — and most popular — for training the shoulders is the landmine press. A lot of times this will be a variant used by lifters with shoulders that get aggravated from traditional barbell and dumbbell pressing.
Benefits: Fantastic alternative for training the deltoids and can take stress off the shoulder joint for those with habitual shoulder irritation when pressing.
- Position yourself in front of the landmine with a slight lean (5-10ish degrees forward).
- Grab the end of the collar and pack the elbow in tight to the body.
- Press up and through the barbell maintaining your starting position and think about “bringing the bicep to the ear” at lockout.
Popular Variations: Kneeling and half-kneeling
2. Landmine Lateral Raise
The landmine lateral raise isn’t just a movement to target the lateral deltoids. At various ranges of motion this lateral raise variation actually works the front, posterior, and lateral delts, which makes it a good option for those with limited equipment (stay light with this exercise!).
Benefits: Good variation for those wanting to work delts with limited equipment.
- Stand with the hand on the edge of the barbell’s collar. The arm should be across the body with the hand falling in-line with the pocket (left hand grabbing the barbell, left pocket).
- The arm should be tight with a soft bend in the elbow. Without creating momentum or rotational torque, bring the barbell upwards across the body into a locked out position.
- Brace at the top and control the eccentric until the barbell is back in its starting position.
1. Meadows Row
The landmine Meadows row was an exercise popularized by bodybuilding legend and strength coach John Meadows. This rowing variation is fantastic because it forces lifters to utilize the upper back and lats to move the barbell and it can be loaded heavily.
Benefits: Fantastic for training the upper back and lats, and can be useful for teaching lifters to limit momentum when performing rows (and can be used with momentum!).
- Stand with the feet in a 90ish degree angle with one another with the barbell perpendicular to the front foot. Grab the barbell with the open hipped hand.
- Set the back and brace as if you were performing a traditional dumbbell row.
- Row and think about bringing the elbow up relatively perpendicular with the shoulder. I like to think 70-80 degree angle and to flex the lats when doing so.
- Control the eccentric and let the hand come back to its starting position allowing the lat to stretch. Don’t reach with the arm, but allow it to travel far enough so you feel the lat tighten slightly.
2. Single-Arm Landmine Row
The single-arm landmine row is a great row variation that mimics the traditional dumbbell row, but it comes with a slight twist. This exercise puts the body in a taller position, so it’s great for teaching full lat contractions and it’s great for training the obliques to stabilize the torso.
Benefits: Great for training the lats and teaching efficient lat contractions.
- Stand with the collar of the barbell in one hand, then hinge forward creating a relatively upright position with the torso. Think about keeping the torso at about 45-60 degrees from the ground. You can stand at a slight angle from the barbell or side-by-side with it.
- Once in position, bring the elbow backwards and think about bringing it down, then elbowing someone behind you. You can also envision starting a lawnmower to correctly sequence the lats.
- After you’ve hit your full range of motion, slowly bring the elbow back to its starting position allowing the lat to stretch and resisting the urge to let the torso shift.
Popular Variations: T-bar landmine row, strap landmine row (attach a strap and perform the same movement)
1. Single-Arm Landmine Chest Press
The single-arm landmine press is a good floor press alternative for those with only a landmine. This variation is great because it provides the benefits of the floor press and can be loaded heavier than traditional dumbbell floor presses.
Benefits: Good option for targeting the triceps, chest, and anterior deltoid and improving lockout strength.
- Lie flat on the ground perpendicular to the landmine and barbell with the barbell in-line with the lower pec region (this can vary slightly).
- Extend the arm and bring the elbow to the floor, if the elbow feels like it can’t track properly, then you’re lying to close to the landmine.
- Once the elbow makes contact with the ground, press back to the starting position and repeat.
2. Landmine Press (Plate Pinch Variation)
The landmine pinch press is a great exercise for mimicking plate pinch presses. By forcing the hands to squeeze the sides of the barbell collar, the pecs are targeted and they can be isolated really well with this chest variation.
Benefits: Great for isolating and overload the pec muscles.
- Stand or kneel in front of the landmine and position the palms on each side of the barbell collar (make sure the bottoms are slightly angled down so the barbell doesn’t slide through) and forcefully squeeze together.
- Once you’ve squeezed the hands together, press the barbell upwards and focus on contracting the pecs to create the movement.
- At lockout, slowly bring the barbell back down and maintain the squeeze on the collars to keep the pecs engaged.
Popular Variations: Kneeling and standing
3. Landmine Fly
The landmine fly is a solid fly variation for targeting the pec and anterior deltoid when fly equipment isn’t available (cables, dumbbells, and machines). This variation may be of use to some because the landmine has a fixed path of movement so it can be good for those who want a slightly more fixed range of motion.
Benefits: Easier to track than doing normal flys and can isolate one arm at a time.
- Lie parallel with the barbell and extend the arm out to the side with a slight bend in the elbow similar to what your position would be with a traditional dumbbell fly.
- Lightly brace and bring the barbell upwards so it finishes perpendicular with the ground. Initiate the contraction with the pec and maintain the fixed arm position.
- Control the eccentric and return back to starting position maintaining the same arm posture.
The landmine is a fantastic implement that nearly everyone can benefit using in their training. Whether you’re looking for more variety or you’re short on equipment, try some of these upper body landmine exercises to build strength, power, and mass.