Anyone interested in building muscle, getting stronger, and improving their balance and ability to perform athletically and generate lots of force should consider training with the landmine barbell attachment. In my opinion, there’s no better fusion of free and machine weights. You get the freedom of free weights, but along a spectrum of available pathways. You have boundaries you can’t cross, but total freedom within those lines. Plus, landmine training introduces variety and fun into the weight room. Many people discount those factors, or even claim they’re actively harmful to a workout, but variety and fun can make training more consistent. And as long as the workouts are effective, consistency is king.
If you hate exercising, you’ll eventually find excuses to give up.
How to Set Up a Landmine Workout
There are two types of landmine setups.
You can stick one end of a barbell in the corner of the room, wedging it into the intersection of two walls. This leaves the other end free to load with weight and lift and move, using the end in the corner as a pivot point.
You can get a landmine attachment that attaches to the squat rack, power cage, or weight plate laying on the ground. You slot one end of the barbell into the landmine attachment and load the other end with weight, then lift it. Using an attachment allow you greater range of motion and better pivoting than using the corner, but both methods are effective.
Once you’ve got the setup going, you can start doing the landmine exercises. I recommend the following ones.
1. Landmine Press
The landmine press is a multifaceted exercise that serves multiple purposes, strengthening both the deltoids and smaller supportive shoulder muscles, improving shoulder stability and mobility, and even acting as a rehab tool. Depending on how you focus your energy during the movement, you can target the delta, triceps, traps, and your core musculature. For people with shoulder pain issues, the landmine press is a great way to strengthen the most common culprits—rotator cuff and serratus muscles. Many people who have trouble loading their shoulders with heavy overhead barbell or dumbbell work due to limited mobility or previous injuries find they can get a great shoulder workout with the landmine press. In fact, I’d say it’s the safest “open chain” shoulder exercise, a bit of a happy medium between free weights and machines. ,
There are two “main” variations of the landmine press. The strict landmine press aims to isolate the primary shoulder muscles, promote shoulder stability and build raw strength (including core strength). Get into a half-kneeling position with one knee down and the other foot planted flat on the ground in front of you. Hold the end of a loaded barbell (with the other end anchored in a landmine attachment or corner) in the hand on the same side as the kneeling leg. Keep everything tight and press the barbell upward in a controlled manner, keeping your elbow under your hand and minimizing torso movement. Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat the process for as many reps as you want, then switch sides.
The second variation emphasizes full shoulder extension to target the assisting musculature around the shoulder joint. You start the same way—kneeling, one foot on the ground in front of you, bar in hand on the kneeling side—but when pressing up you focus on fully extending your reach, upwardly rotating your scapula and really engaging the traps, serratus, and rotator cuff muscles in addition to the deltoids. the same half-kneeling position, but this time, focus on fully extending the shoulder overhead, allowing the scapula to upwardly rotate, and engaging the serratus anterior, trapezius, It’s a great way to get strong and get healthy. Go heavier for strength, lighter for rehab.
The two variations exist on a spectrum, and you can certainly incorporate aspects from both versions into your workouts.
2. Landmine Push Press
Push presses are a more dynamic or “athletic” version of the strict press that encourages power development and incorporates the lower body, including glutes, quads, and calves. By using the push, you can load more weight onto the bar and focus on speed and strength rather than just strength. Anyone interested in generating lots of force in a short amount of time can benefit from the landmine push press.
The landmine push press is p erformed standing in a staggered stance. Hold the barbell with one hand on the same side as the back foot. Slightly bend the knee of the back foot and then explode upward, pushing with the back leg and pressing the bar overhead.
The staggered stance is a more athletic stance, and using the back leg to push makes it a unilateral movement. In my opinion, unilateral lifts translate well to athletic movements—most dynamic movements in sports or the real world are unilateral rather than bilateral. Think running, sprinting, throwing a punch, swinging a baseball bat.
3. Landmine Curtsy Lunge
Like any other lunge, the landmine curtsy lunge is a nice unilateral movement that loads the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Where it differs is in the direction you’re lunging. Instead of just lunging up, you lunge up and against. You lean into the bar, pressing into it as you rise up from the lunge, creating an interesting stimulus for the glutes and quads you can’t get with other lunge variations.
Stand next to the bar, your body parallel to it, holding it with two hands or letting it rest in the crook of your inner arm. Keeping your elbows tucked in and your posture straight and upright, lunge by taking the inside leg and reaching it back and to the outside, as if you’re curtsying. Try to minimize the amount of weight the curtsying leg bears. Come back up by pressing through the ground. You may find it’s more natural to “lean” toward the bar, pressing into it. That’s by design and I mean you’re doing the exercise correctly.
4. Landmine Row
The one armed landmine row is a deceiving total body exercise. In addition to hitting the rear deltoids, lats, biceps, rhomboids, and erector spinae, it’s also a challenge for your grip, since the end of the barbell is so much thicker than a dumbbell. It’s almost as good a core and grip workout as it is a back and arm workout.
To perform the landmine row, face away from the bar with your feet about shoulder width apart, your hips hinged, your back flat, and the bar on the outside of your legs. Bend your knees slightly and hinge your hips and reach back with your butt until you can grab the bar with one hand, then row it up. To engage your back muscles, think of shooting your elbow up toward the sky. To make it more of an arm workout, think about engaging and flexing your bicep.
If you have trouble activating your lats and rear delts during traditional rows with barbells or dumbbells, you may find it easier to engage those muscles with the one arm landmine row. The “elbows up to the sky” cue really takes.
5. Landmine Single Leg RDL
The landmine single leg Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a classic hip hinge and hip extension movement. Depending on what you emphasize, you can target the glutes, the hamstrings, or all of the above. Whatever you do, the landmine single leg RDL will strengthen the muscles and movement patterns that make you stronger, faster, and perhaps even better at jumping. That’s because the hip extension is the source of human power. Any kind of jump, sprint, throw or swing involves a hip extension. And I’ll go even further. Unilateral hip extension is the key to human power; the single leg RDL on a landmine setup trains it.
It’s easy to do. Stand with feet shoulder width apart facing the bar. Standing on one foot, hinge at the hips to lower yourself and grab the bar with two hands (or you can try one). Keep your back flat and let your off leg drift behind you for counterbalance as you hinge. Pull through the foot to extend your hips and bring the bar up, really feeling the glutes and hamstrings. Keep the arms straight throughout the exercise.
The single leg RDL is also crucial for anyone worried about balance and avoiding falls. If you can lift a heavy barbell using one side of your hips while using the other side to stabilize, you’ll be less likely to take a spill.
6. Landmine Twisty Squat
Regular squats don’t work very well on the landmine. If you try to have the weight perfectly centered over the midline as you would in a normal squat, when you rise up the weight gets ahead of you, floats out in front. It’s all wrong. Enter the twisty squat. The twisty squat works everything a classic weighted squat works, but there’s a twist to it. You start from a slightly staggered stance with the bar situated over the back foot and instead of just going down and back up, you go down and on your way back up you pivot on the back foot to “twist” as you rise. If you like, you can even throw in a press at the top, maybe even with a calf raise. Again, this is the beauty of the landmine attachment: it opens up another plane of motion for business.
7. Landmine Twist
The landmine twist trains rotational strength, overall structural stability, and resistance to rotational forces.
To do the landmine twist, stand with feet hip shoulder width apart facing the bar head on. Grasp the end of the barbell with both hands, arms extended and elbows straight. Slowly rotate to the left, lowering the bar in a smooth, controlled arc while keeping your arms straight. Pivot on the ball of your opposite foot as you lower the bar. Return the bar to the starting position and lower it to the other side. Repeat.
The landmine twist is the ultimate rotational exercise. When you lower the bar in one direction, you’re resisting rotation with the other side. When you raise it, you’re training rotation. Every direction you go is a workout for both sides in different ways. While it is effective, that also means there’s no real “rest.” You’re constantly under tension, so exercise caution when doing this exercise. Go lighter than you think to start.
There are dozens of other landmine exercises you can do, but these 7 are the foundation for any good landmine training program. Start with those and see where they take you.
Have you ever tried landmine presses or landmine training in general? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know down below.
About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.