Most gyms have pieces of kit that are underutilised, in my gym such an item is the Landmine. For those unfamiliar, a Landmine is a short tube mounted to a swivel joint which in turn is anchored to the floor, a rack or a rig. The tube acts as a socket for the plate sleeve found at each end of an Olympic weightlifting bar, providing the bar with a pivoting anchor point. To cut down on the verbosity, here is an example.
Historically the predominant use of the Landmine was the T-Bar row, an exercise for the mid back, however, with a little imagination it is capable of so much more. Here are six of my favourites.
The beauty of this lift is that the arcing nature of the bar forces the participant backwards as they descend, this, in turn, promotes good form, which transfers well to the more traditional back and front squats. It is great for those that have limited mobility, injuries or are new to squatting.
How to do it: Position your feet as you would for a traditional squat and lift the bar from the floor such that its end is level with your sternum, your elbows should be tucked in and your hands cupped under the plate sleeve. Keeping your back straight, squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor (your elbows should touch the top of your thighs or go just inside). Once in full squat extend your legs, driving upward, ensuring that you engage your glutes, and as with the descent, maintain an upright posture.
Credit – mobiefit
Foot placement: You may find that the first time you perform the lift your feet are too far forward, which results in the sensation of falling backwards if this is the case move your feet further from the landmine until you can sit in the squat position without risk of going tippy tumble.
Pick up: Picking the bar up can feel awkward, I find an overhand grip coupled with a snatch style lift to be the best. If you have a gym partner get them to help you lift the bar into position but make sure they lift correctly, nothing worse than crippling your gym buddy.
Depth: If you have the mobility then as the American’s say go “ass-to-grass”, but keep your form, it’s very easy to fold at the hip and place extra stress on your lower back.
Double contraction: For a real challenge, try double contractions. Lower into a full squat, rise halfway up, lower back into a full squat, then stand all the way up; this counts as one rep. You can thank me later.
Raised heels: I have poor ankle dorsiflexion so I often raise my heels when I squat. If you feel this is appropriate for you then it is best to invest in some stacked heel shoes, Inov8 Fastlifts for example.
This lift predominantly targets the upper chest, but the shoulders and triceps get a good blasting too.
How to do it: Set your feet shoulder width apart and lift the bar from the floor such that its end is level with your sternum, your elbows should be tucked in and your hands cupped under the plate sleeve. Keeping your back straight, push the weight away from you until your arms are almost fully extended. Now lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat, maintaining correct form.
Credit – Buff Dudes
Kneeling: By kneeling you change the angle of the bar which in turn increases the perceived weight. So rather than upping the weight, try getting penitent.
Swapping sides: Rather than lowering the bar back to your sternum, lower it to your shoulder, left or right, just make sure to swap equally.
Lower back: Do not arch your lower back when the weight reaches the apex of the lift.
Ok, not really a separate exercise more a conjoining to the previous two, but it is a beast. Pretty much a full body workout, that if done correctly will improve strength and fitness in one fell swoop. CrossFitters call this movement a Landmine Thruster and as they outnumber me I shall do the same.
How to do it: Perform a Lumberjack Squat as described above, but just before you fully ascend from the squat press the bar away from you, such that you finish the movement with arms and legs almost locked out. Lower the bar back to your chest and repeat.
Credit – Evolv Health
Single Handed Press
You would expect the single-handed press to be the two-handed minus an arm, it could be, but changing your foot position opens up some options.
How to do it: Start as per the two handed press and lift the bar into place, now move the right foot backward so you are in a split stance. Once you are comfortable move the bar towards the right shoulder and remove the left hand, leaving the bar supported by the right hand. While maintaining good form, press the bar away from you and then lower back to the right shoulder. After you have performed an appropriate number of repetitions, put the left hand back on the bar, bring your right foot level with your left and move the bar back to your sternum. Now repeat the process with the left side.
Credit – Billie Savage
Core engagement: You can add a twist to the movement to engage your core. As you begin the press twist and drive from the hips, this engages to core muscles.
This is very similar to the traditional wide stance sumo deadlift, and is as equally effective at hitting the hamstrings and glutes.
How to do it: Facing the landmine take a wide stance, squat down, grasp the plate sleeve then stand up, as above keep your back straight. You should feel your glutes being activated and perhaps some tension in your lower back.
Credit – Ben Bruno
This lift is quite close to the suitcase deadlift I described in a previous article on grip training <insert grip article link>.
How to do it: Stand to the side of the bar with your toes just behind pale sleeve. Ensuring your feet are close together squat down and grab the bar with one hand (your thumb should be pointing forwards). Now, whilst maintaining good form straighten up, making sure your shoulders are level. Hold this position briefly then lower the bar by squatting back down, step over the bar and repeat with the other hand.
Credit – Always Strong Fitness
Grip: For extra grip effort hold the plate sleeve rather than the bar, takes a bit of practice to get the correct foot placement as the weight is now behind you.
Tension: Hold the standing position for as long as possible to increase the tension on the core, shoulders and grip.
Mirror: Facing a mirror is great help with this exercise as you can immediately see if your shoulders are not level
Sometimes called a Standing Russian Twist this is a great exercise, it hits the shoulders, the abdominals and the obliques all in one movement.
How to do it: Facing the landmine stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, pick up the bar and with your arms almost straight (always good to have a little bend in the elbow to avoid strain) hold the plate sleeve to the outside of your thigh. Now keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent (again protect the joints) move the bar in arc such it passes overhead and finishes against the outside of the opposite thigh.
Credit – Elliott Hulse’s Strength Camp
Hips: For added effort keep the hips facing rather than rotating with the movement, this forces the abdominals and obliques to do extra work, but be careful not to add extra strain on your lower back.
Control: As the bar passes through the apex of the lift gravity becomes your friend, resist the urge to let the bar fall, maintain tension and pick a fight with Sir Isaac Newton.
Credit – Buff Dudes
References and Further Information
I am not a fitness professional, this article is based on my own knowledge, acquired through twenty plus years of training, so basically I’m a “know-it-all”.