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September 07, 2021
If you want to add some freshness and variety to your workouts and give yourself a new challenge, give these barbell landmine exercises a try. It may look intimidating at first, but you will be thankful you learned them because the landmine is extremely versatile and effective for building functional strength through all planes of motion as well as packing on some serious muscle mass.
In this post, we cover everything you need to know about landmine exercises, including the benefits of using a landmine and how to set it up. We will provide you with 11 of the best landmine exercises that you can do, which are based on the most fundamental movement patterns (squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, and rotation), so you can target your shoulders, chest, back, legs, and core. For each exercise, we provide step by step instructions and information on the benefits and muscles worked. At the end of all that, we will teach you how to incorporate landmine training into your workouts and we even have a couple total body landmine workouts for days when you want to do something completely new.
If you’ve ever seen someone at the gym holding onto one end of a barbell at a diagonal angle with the other end stuck into a corner or slid into some contraption, then you know what a landmine exercise is even if you didn’t know you know it.
But here’s the thing, technically a landmine is just an attachment to insert one end of a barbell’s sleeve into (which is the contraption we were referring to). It is basically a short tube mounted to a swivel joint that allows a barbell to have 360 degrees of movement so you can apply force both vertically and horizontally at the same time.
The point is, a landmine is an apparatus that requires a barbell for use, but in effort to keep things short and sweet, when people mention a landmine exercise, it refers to the barbell landmine set up. You will also load plates on the free end of the barbell for most exercises.
Note: While the landmine attachment is best, you don’t actually need it to do landmine exercises. You can get a similar effect by just sticking one end of a barbell into the corner of a wall to stabilize it. For all intents and purposes, it's the same thing and is called a landmine exercise (even though it doesn't use the actual landmine attachment).
If we are getting particular, when you bring a handle attachment into the mix for the free side of the barbell, then there are other names for the exercises, such as the t-bar row, which involves a landmine set up with a T-Bar handle attachment placed just under the sleeve of the barbell.
The T-Bar Row was the precursor to the landmine attachment. Basically bodybuilders came up with the idea to stick a barbell into a corner to turn a barbell into a lever to do rows with, likely because they didn’t have access to a T-Bar machine. This dates back to the 60s and 70s. It wasn’t until the late 90s or even early 2000s (not quite sure) that the landmine attachment was invented. It ended up being an athletes dream...
The landmine attachment makes a barbell even more versatile. It’s a great piece of equipment for building muscle and strength. There are so many landmine exercises that you can do to hit every single muscle in your body and through multiple planes of motion. You can use the landmine to train through the most important fundamental movement patterns, which are squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, and rotation, as you will see further below.
Why is called a landmine?
For those of you who are curious to the name itself. The name "landmine" makes sense, considering a landmine is a mine dug into a hole in a ground. Essentially you are shoving a barbell into a hole.
There are various kinds of landmine attachments.
You have ones that are made to set up on the base of a squat rack...
You have “floating” landmine stations that are set into Olympic plates...
You have set ups that can be bolted into the floor...
How do you make a landmine without an attachment?
...and, of course, you have the makeshift options of just shoving the barbell into a corner, whether that be a wall or a squat rack, or in-between two stacks of plates or two rubber hex dumbbells.
Whatever set up you have or make, just be sure the barbell is secure at the bottom end and you can move it vertically and horizontally 360˚.
Obviously a landmine attachment is the best option. You can get them on Amazon for as low as $30.
How heavy is a landmine bar?
A landmine bar is a barbell. Most landmines are made for Olympic barbells, which weigh 20kg (or ~45lbs) and are 7 feet long. However, there are landmines for standard 1” barbells, which can vary in length and typically weighs 20lbs. Some landmine attachments offer both an Olympic size metal tube (for 2” barbell sleeves) as well as a tube for a 1” barbell.
So, if you are doing a landmine exercise with just an Olympic barbell, you are working with 45lbs. However, you can obviously load the barbell sleeves with plates as well to increase the weight load.
Does landmine ruin barbell?
Landmine exercises are not likely to completely ruin your barbell, but they can chip the finishing and beat it up, which can eventually expose it to rust. This applies to barbells being placed both in landmines and simply up in a corner wall.
The best bet is to have a dedicated barbell for your landmine exercise. You can use an old barbell. If you don’t have an extra barbell, you can find one on Craigslist for cheap and consider it your beater bar. Or, if you don’t really care either way, you can just use your regular squatting, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press barbell. Most commercial gyms goers just use whatever barbell the gym has and the gym never cares. After all, a barbell is a piece of equipment that is meant to be used and abused, not kept pretty.
Additional attachments for landmines
Although “landmine exercises” generally refers to exercise done with just the barbell and the landmine, it is common to use the landmine set up with handle attachments for back rows (aka T-Bar Rows), which come in different styles (different grip options):
V Shape Handle:
Straight Bar Handle:
Multi-Grip Handle (Neutral-Grip + Wide Grip):
Single Bar Handle:
You can get these landmine handles on Amazon for pretty cheap.
You might be wondering what landmine exercises are good for and if they are worth doing. The short answer is yes landmine exercises are certainly effective and worth incorporating into your workout routine. But, to give you more detail, here’s why...
1. Transverse Plane (Core Training for Rotation & Anti-Rotation)
First of all, rotational strength doesn’t just relate to the ability to produce force through rotation, it also relates to the ability to resist force that is trying to make you rotate. This is what the transverse plane is all about. The landmine is great at training you for both. This is because the landmine is on a swivel that can move 360˚ in any direction. Thus, when you are using it for unilateral exercises, like lunges or presses, you are resisting rotation and lateral flexion by simply moving and holding the bar, and conversely, when you want to rotate, there are plenty of exercises designed to create force in rotation because of the way the bar is able to move. This makes the barbell landmine one of the best pieces of equipment for training through the transverse plane. If you want a strong core, the landmine will help your in tremendous ways. This will translate to serious improvements in the way you move and your resilience to injury, which is great for athletes and your average Joe alike.
Related: Core Stability Training (Rotation vs Anti-Rotation)
2. Grip Strength
This one is simple. Many exercises using a landmine will have you holding onto the sleeve of your barbell, which is 2” thick. That’s like using a fat grip. It’s double the size of a barbell handle or dumbbell handle. This is great for building a strong grip, and a strong grip typical means a strong human.
Related: Benefits of Grip Strength
3. “Functional” Exercises & Multiple Planes of Motion
Back to the swivel. Because you can move the barbell in any direction, horizontally and vertically, you can train through all fundamental movement patterns (squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate) and through all planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, transverse). It doesn’t get more versatile than this.
It’s not just your core that needs to work to stabilize against rotation, your shoulders and other joints do too. This is due to the nature of the landmine’s design. You are working with a long lever that has a single pivot point 7 feet away. Needless to say, that requires your stabilizer muscles and joint complexes to work overtime no matter what exercise you are doing, especially unilateral ones (of which is the landmine’s speciality).
5. Half-Kneeling Position
The landmine is perfect for half-kneeling exercises as you are about to see. A lot of people underestimate the half-kneeling stance and don’t incorporate it into their training (usually it’s either seated or standing). This is a shame as the half-kneeling position is fantastic for building up pelvic and spinal stability and the muscles surrounding these joints (muscles of the anterior core, posterior core, lumbar, glutes, and even the lats). You are going to love the half-kneeling exercises we have for you because you can fill two needs with one deed - stronger hips and spine and whatever muscles you are targeting for strength and size.
Plus, the closer the bar is to the ground with a landmine set up, the harder the exercise will be.
6. Safer Overhead Presses
One of the most popular exercises for landmines is the overhead press. This is because it’s easily accessible and its way easier on the shoulder joint than the standard barbell or dumbbell overhead press. It’s easier on the shoulder joint due to the path of motion. It is at an angle rather than straight up overhead, moving you through the scapular plane, which is far less likely to cause shoulder impingement and it doesn’t naturally bring about common form issues like jerky movements with elbow and rib flaring like you see with traditional overhead presses.
What’s more, it brings other muscles like the lats and scapular stabilizers into play more, allowing you to get an even greater bang for your buck, and it does so without sacrificing activation of the deltoids.
While we highlight the overhead press, this same aspect of minimal risk, working around mobility restrictions, and avoiding sketchy movement patterns applies to many different landmine exercises, which is why smart trainers use this as a progression tool for their clients as well.
7. Loading & Activation
Put simply, the landmine is easy to load and you can do so in any increment you want since it’s plate loaded. You can add or take off plates in seconds, allowing you to get the appropriate load for the targeted muscle group. This makes it one of the more efficient tools in the gym. If all you had access to was a barbell landmine, you’d be able to get into fantastic shape.
All in all, you could ask any pro trainer or lifter what they think about landmine exercises and we guarantee they will give it props. The reason you won’t see many people at your gym using one is not because it gets a bad wrap (like smith machine exercises often does), but rather they just don’t know how to implement it effectively due to a lack of understanding and ideas for exercises. We are here to help with that. Below you are going to learn some of the best exercises, how to program it into your routine, and even a full body workout that you can do with just landmine exercises to get you into the habit and practice of using this truly underutilized tool that is fantastic at building strength, size and power in a safe manner.
Because you can do squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, and rotation movements with a landmine, you can target every muscle in your entire body. However, landmine exercises and workouts are especially effective at targeting your major muscle groups: deltoids, back, chest, legs, glutes and core.
We are going to show you 11 different landmine exercises that target specific muscle groups, as well as a few full body, multiplanar exercises. That way you can isolate muscles for hypertrophy and perform big compound movements for androgen hormonal boosts, strength gains, and fat loss.
You can use a barbell landmine for squat, lunge, hip hinge (i.e. deadlifts), push, pull, and rotational/anti-rotational exercises.
There are also ways to play around with training variables like load position and body positioning to create different variations for each aforementioned movement groups. For example, you could do a squat with the landmine held up at your chest and your feet hip-to-shoulder width apart (i.e. front squat) or you could do a squat with the landmine held low near your legs and your feet spread further apart with your toes pointing slightly outward (sumo squat).
You also have the ability to create complexes with landmines, which is basically just combining exercises into a sequence of movements.
The 11 landmine exercises below include squats, lunges, hinges, pushes, pulls and rotational exercises. Together, they will allow you to target your chest, back, shoulders, legs, glutes, core and arms with a landmine.
For each exercise, we are going to cover the muscles worked and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to perform the movement. After we run through the exercises, we will discuss incorporating landmine exercises into your workout and how to create a landmine-only workout for strength, hypertrophy and fat loss.
We will organize the exercises by muscles targeted, but first, we want to show you a killer total body movement.
The landmine squat to press is a big multi-joint exercise that targets pretty much every single muscle in your body. Your entire kinetic chain from your ankles up will be working on this one as it involves a squat and a press. The main movers of this exercise are your quads, glutes, core, triceps, shoulders, chest, serratus anterior and even lats, but all your other muscles will be involved as well to help stabilize. All in all, if you want a landmine exercise that’s going burn a lot of calories, build total body strength, and get those good muscle building hormones flowing, this is the one.
While this exercise can be done in a unilateral manner, using just one arm at a time, we are just going to show you the two handed bilateral squat to press. The good thing about using two hands is you can perform the exercise with a heavier load, allowing your leg muscles to get more activation, whereas with one arm, you get more core, anti-flexion work and you can hone in on one arm at a time. Both are good, but for the purpose of really building power and strength, we chose the two handed landmine squat to press.
How to do a Landmine Squat to Press:
The landmine half-kneeling shoulder press targets your deltoids, upper chest, triceps, serratus anterior, core, glutes, lats, and scapular stabilizer muscles.
This exercise can be done from a standing position, but it is harder from a half-kneeling position as a landmine will always feel heaver the closer it is to the ground due to the long lever and gravity. It’s also nice to add in the half-kneeling position for core and glute work.
Another great thing about this exercise, comparing to your typical overhead press with dumbbells and a barbell is the bar path is up at an angle rather than straight overhead, which is a lot easier on the shoulder joint. Moreover, it brings your scapula stabilizer muscles into the picture to a much higher degree as well as your upper chest. This landmine shoulder press is a bonafide full body exercise with emphasis on the delts.
How to do a Half-Kneeling Landmine Shoulder Press:
With the landmine shoulder press, you are emphasizing your front delt and upper chest due to the pressing motion acting on shoulder flexion and your hands being in a neutral grip. With a standard barbell overhead press, you have a degree of shoulder abduction, which means your middle delts will be more active. That’s not to say your middle delts aren’t activated well with the landmine press, but you may want to hone in on them a little more, especially if you feel they are lagging behind in terms of development, which is the case for many people...and that’s where the lateral raise comes in.
The lateral raise is a more isolated movement for your middle delts. However, due to the bar path of the landmine, things are a little different with this lateral raise than it is with a dumbbell. With a landmine lateral raise, the bar path is up and out from the inside, so you get shoulder abduction and shoulder flexion on the concentric phase, and some shoulder abduction on the eccentric. As such, all of your deltoids are going to be firing off significantly with this exercise. Nevertheless, your middle delts will be the main emphasis, with your front delts, rear delts, and serratus anterior a close, tied second.
You’ll want to stay light with this exercise.
How to do a Landmine Lateral Raise:
This is a fantastic exercise for your chest, but it is also going to work your front delts and triceps too. It’s sort of similar to an incline press in that regard, as you are pressing up at an angle. However, you will be using a close grip, which makes it similar to crush presses and Svend presses.
All in all, it’s going to do a great job of isolating your pec major, front delts and triceps. It’s also great for your serratus anterior and even your lats are going to put some work in.
To make this exercise even more effective for your chest, be sure to really squeeze your hands together like you are trying to crush the bar. This will significantly increase activation for your pec major.
Note: This exercise can be done from a standing or tall-kneeling position. Below it is demonstrated from the tall-kneeling position. Again, the lower you are to the ground, the heavier the weight will feel and the harder the exercise will be.
How to do the Landmine (Chest) Press):
The landmine fly is similar to a floor fly with a dumbbell. The landmine's swivel allows for an appropriate path of motion to activate your pecs via a fly motion.
Like any fly, this exercise is going to target your chest and front delts.
You’ll need to go light with this one as the angle the bar is at is going to make even light weights feel heavy.
How to do a Landmine Fly:
This one arm bent-over overhand row is known as a Meadows row. It works your rear delt, rhomboids, teres major, middle traps, lats, and biceps. It’s also a great anti-rotation exercise as you need to resist rotation by keeping your torso squared forward toward the ground.
It should be noted that there are other ways to do a single arm row with a landmine. This one positions the landmine to your side rather than parallel with your body. By positioning perpendicular to your body, you can use an overhand grip, making this more like a bent over barbell row rather than a close-grip single arm row. We are showing you this variation of the overhand, elbow out row because we have the T-bar row for you next, so with this variation and the t-bar row, you can target your back muscles in a more well-rounded manner.
How to do the Landmine Meadows Row:
Related: Meadows Row Exercise Guide
The T-bar row is the classic landmine exercise. It is going to do an absolutely stellar job of targeting your lats, traps, posterior delts and rhomboids. This is one of the best exercises you can do for pure back thickness. You will be able to use heavy weight and move through a full range of motion with maximum depth. The range of motion is so large because of the close grip.
Note: Ideally you will want a v-handle for this exercise, but if you don’t have one, you can just hold on to the bar underneath the collar (your hands to the actual handle of the barbell). That said, you won’t be able to go as heavy without the v-shaped handle.
How to do a Landmine T-Bar Row:
Related: Best T-Bar Row Alternatives
The landmine squat provides all of the same benefits as a traditional squat, but it also has some unique advantages of its own.
Landmine squats offer much less overall impact than barbell squats simply because you are not putting all that pressure on the spine.
What’s more, due to the angle of the load, the landmine squat is perfect for teaching form and technique. It is going to allow you to have a large range of motion when squatting, due to the load being positioned on the front side, and it does so without risk of injury, as if you can’t come out of the deep squat, you can easily bail by letting go of the weight.
The only real advantage a barbell squat has over the landmine squat is the ability to use a heavier load since you can rest the bar on your upper back, as well as more options for load positioning. With the landmine squat, you are essentially doing some form of a front squat.
All in all, landmine squats are very effective for building size and strength in your lower body in a safe manner. It is also a great metabolic movement.
As for muscles worked, like a traditional squat, a landmine squat will build muscle and strength in the legs and glutes, and it also does a great job of building up core strength and arm strength as you need to keep your torso upright and the bar in place. That said, the major emphasis will be on your quadriceps due to the loads positioning.
We have two variations of landmine squats to show you.
The first is a Landmine Front Squat and the second is a Landmine Sumo Squat.
Landmine Front Squat
The landmine front squat entails holding the barbell up at the center of your chest. This is going to place emphasis on your quads, core, arms, and upper back, and the deeper you go into your squat, the more your glutes will work due to stretching tension.
How to do a Landmine Front Squat:
Note: If you want to perform this exercise with a heavy load, you can prop a stack of plates or a bench under the loaded plates so that you pick up the landmine from pretty much the bottom position of the squat rather than the floor, where you’d have to deadlift it up and then move the barbell and your hands into the front load position.
Landmine Sumo Squat
The landmine sumo squat is sort of like a hybrid of a squat and a deadlift, but the movement pattern is that of a squat as you will have an equal balance of hip and knee movement and you will be lowering your hips more straight down with your torso more upright.
The landmine sumo squat is going to emphasize your glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip abductors, hip adductors, and low back, as well as your traps to keep the weight held in place and your core to keep stability.
How to do a Landmine Sumo Squat:
Similar to the landmine squat, the landmine reverse lunge offers all the same benefits as a traditional lunge. It is great for building lower body strength and size as well as core and hip stability. Similarly, it is also a great way to teach proper form and technique.
For reverse lunges, we want to show you three different variations, a front load reverse lunge, a side load reverse lunge, and a reverse lunge with knee drive just for a little extra metabolic burn.
Landmine Front Load Reverse Lunge
The front load reverse lunge positions the bar with your hands up near the center of your chest. The makes the reverse lunge, which is a unilateral movement, a little more balance by bringing the load to your centerline.
In terms of muscles worked, it is going to emphasize your quads, glutes and hamstrings, as well as your core and back to keep your torso in an upright position. Your gluteus medius and other hip abductors muscles will be also working hard to maintain hip stability. This is a very effective and dynamic lower body strength exercise with total body activation.
How to do the Landmine Front Load Reverse Lunge:
Landmine Side Load Reverse Lunge
The side load position is going to take your core and hip stability up several notches as you will need to keep your torso and hips squared forward with the weight to your side. Besides that, all the same muscles are worked. Essentially, if you want a more dynamic lunge variation that incorporates more side glute and core activation, this is the one.
How to do a Landmine Side Load Reverse Lunge:
Landmine Reverse Lunge to Knee Drive
The landmine reverse lunge to knee drive is a serious metabolic exercise. It offers the same benefits as the side load reverse lunge, but in an even more dynamic way, plus it adds a very high degree of anti-rotational work as you must resist rotation and lateral flexion with each rep.
The knee drive itself is good for engaging the core, strengthening your legs, getting your heart rate up, and improving momentum, coordination and flexibility. So, when done with a landmine loaded to your side, you are taking things to the next level.
All in all, if you want a very dynamic total body exercise that emphasizes the lower body and core, this is it.
How to do a Landmine Reverse Lunge to Knee Drive:
Here we have two deadlift variations for you, a landmine RDL and a landmine single leg RDL. These are your hinge movement patterns.
The landmine RDL offers all the same benefits as a traditional barbell RDL, but due to the bar path, it does a really great job of ensuring a high level of stretching tension on the eccentric phase, which is awesome for building muscle and strength in your hamstrings and glutes.
Landmine Romanian Deadlift
This exercise is going to emphasize your hamstrings, glutes and low back (erector spinae).
How to do a Landmine Romanian Deadlift:
You can also do a landmine RDL from the opposite side. With this variation, you can take away some grip demand by using a v-shape bar like you would with rows. This will allow you to go significantly heavier:
Landmine Single Leg RDL
The single leg RDL is a unilateral movement, so it is going to help increase the demand on your core and hips demand through anti-rotation. Overall, it’s a great exercise for increasing hamstring and glute health, reinforcing proper hamstring engagement during deadlifts, improving joint function at the hips, and enhancing bilateral strength and performance.
How to do a Landmine Single Leg RDL:
Note: You can also do this exercise with the landmine positioned perpendicular to your body.
While pretty much every landmine exercise is good for your core, especially the unilateral movements, the following exercise is specifically designed for core work. It is arguably the most famous landmine exercise and a movement that you can only do this effectively when using a landmine.
The landmine 180 is a core exercise that is similar to a Russian ab twist, but better. It is a rotational movement designed to target your entire core, including the deep muscles within, with emphasis on your obliques and the transversus abdominis.
The landmine 180 (aka Landmine Twist) is also good for your lower back (technically part of your core) and your shoulders.
The twisting motion mimics a lot of sporting scenarios, such as when baseball players swing a bar or tennis plays swing their racket. Overall, it’s a great exercise for any athlete who must deal with rotation in their sport, which is pretty much every athlete. It’s also great for non-athletes, as being strong through rotation is always ideal as it makes your body more resilient and powerful.
How to do the Landmine 180:
Note: If you feel that your arms are tiring out quickly, it means your arms are probably not extended enough, and likely your form is off, as you should feel this in your core. Go light and work on honing in on your core.
Although landmine exercises are relatively safe in terms of free weight equipment, you still need to take certain precautions.
Follow these tips when using a landmine and all will be stellar:
Talk to your doctor if you have any health conditions or pre-existing injuries. If you’re prone to certain injuries or healing from an existing one, you should adjust and accurate your routine for this. The exercises we have provided you are meant for injury-free individuals.
The easiest way to incorporate landmine exercises into your workouts is just like you would any other equipment. You can add one or two landmine exercises into a workout for 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions.
For example, here are some sample workouts at the gym that include landmine exercises...
Full Body Workout:
Just like any other exercise, you can slowly progress in load/reps. Typically working in the 8-15 rep range is best for landmine exercises. So, when you reach 15 reps easily, add another plate. Always be sure you form is on point though.
If you want to have some fun and do a landmine only workout, check out the full body landmine routines below. These could be perfect workouts to add to your routine if you like unconventional fitness or athletic type training.
Landmine Workout #1
Landmine Workout #2 (Circuit)
Landmine circuit workouts are great as even if you need to load or unload for the next exercise, you can do so in a quick manner.
Circuit 1 x 2 Rounds:
Rest 1 minute between rounds
Circuit 2 x 2 Rounds:
Rest 1 minute between rounds
Circuit 3 x 1 Rounds:
You can get super creative with your landmine workouts. These are just two examples.
Buy a Landmine on Amazon:
***This following are affiliate ads where we will receive a small commission on any purchase you make at no additional cost to you.***
We hope this post has inspired you to put that landmine at your gym to use or to set one up at your home. You don’t have to try all of these landmine exercises right away, but pick one or two that make sense for each of your workouts over the next few weeks and throw them into the routine.
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June 08, 2023
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