At your local gym, you may have seen a tube on the ground that’s attached to a swivel joint and pivots in all directions.
It’s called a “landmine” and looks like the picture above.
Even though you may have seen it around, and have a vague idea that you can insert a barbell into the tube and do exercises with it, you may not know exactly what to do with the thing. Consequently, you’ve left it alone.
But the landmine is a simple device that’s worth getting acquainted with. Today we’ll explain why, and how to use it to mix up your strength training.
The Benefits of Landmine Exercises
Old-school lifters have been doing landmine exercises way before the dedicated landmine device existed. They’d just shove the end of a barbell into a corner of a room and do rows and presses with it.
The landmine makes these lifts stabler and smoother, opens up new possibilities for really swinging a barbell around, and adds the following benefits to your fitness routine:
You can do pretty much any exercise imaginable with a landmine. With just a landmine attachment, a barbell, and a few plates, you can do a wide range of strength-training exercises: curls, lunges, squats, rows, presses, cleans, and more.
Adds unique stimuli to your workouts. Not only can you do a wide variety of exercises with a landmine, but you can also perform them in a unique way. Once inserted into the landmine tube, you can move a barbell vertically, horizontally, or in a full arc; push, pull, rotate and hit every plane of motion. The landmine allows you to work your entire body and stimulate muscles that don’t get much activation when you stick to conventional lifts.
Easier on the joints than traditional barbell training. If you’ve got banged-up shoulders and knees, consider incorporating landmine variations of traditional barbell lifts into your workouts. Landmine exercises use lever-resistance to stress your muscles, which research indicates is a bit easier on your joints than traditional barbell lifts.
The lever action also does a great job shoring up your stabilizing muscles, helping to injury-proof your body.
You can move from one movement to the next quickly. This allows you to make your workouts denser and more time efficient. A landmine circuit makes for a great conditioning workout.
Balances strength imbalances. Oftentimes, one of your legs and/or arms is stronger than the other, and when you perform exercises, the dominant half of your body can bear more of the exertion, creating strength imbalances and increasing your risk of injury.
Doing unilateral exercises, where you’re predominantly working one half of your body at a time, can even out these imbalances, as well as strengthen your stabilizing muscles all-around, allowing you to move more safely and effectively. The landmine offers possibilities for performing all kinds of these unilateral exercises.
You’ll get thick bar training. When you do landmine exercises, you have to hold onto the thick collar of the barbell. Doing so will help strengthen your grip.
Landmine exercises are fun. Landmine exercises are different from your typical barbell/dumbbell/machine exercises. Their novelty and dynamic nature make them fun to do.
The landmine is aptly named, as it can add a nice bit of explosiveness to your training.
8 Landmine Exercises to Try
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the exercises you can do with a landmine. To help get you started, here are 8 to try:
Landmine Half-Kneeling Press
One of the most straightforward landmine exercises is the standing one-arm press; just grip the sleeve (the end) of the barbell with one hand and push it up. This movement works your shoulders, triceps, and chest and is easier on your shoulder joints than a traditional press.
The landmine half-kneeling press is a variation of this exercise that also challenges your glutes and core.
Get into a half-kneeling position in front of the bar with your left leg forward.
Hoist the barbell with both hands to your right shoulder. Assume a neutral grip on the barbell with your right hand.
Press the bar up with your right arm until fully extended.
Slowly lower it to the starting position.
After you complete a set with your right arm, switch your half-kneeling position so that your right leg is forward and press the bar with your left arm.
Landmine Lateral Raise
This is a great way to isolate the middle part of your shoulder muscles.
Stand perpendicular to the landmine with the end of the bar in your right hand and down at your left hip.
While keeping your arm straight, perform a lateral raise motion, bringing your arm up at a diagonal angle across your body.
Switch to the left arm.
Landmine Meadows Row
This exercise was developed by the late bodybuilder John Meadows. It’s a unilateral rowing movement, so you’ll be working your lats, forearms, and rear shoulder muscles. But because you’re doing it in a hinged position, it also works muscles in your lower body, including your lower back and hamstrings.
Hinge forward over the barbell with a staggered stance and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip.
Keeping your back flat, pull the barbell up by driving your elbow back.
Lower the barbell in a controlled manner. Repeat.
Landmine Full Contact Twist
The landmine’s unique design allows you to do rotational movements that work your core muscles.
Stand in front of the barbell, feet shoulder-width apart. Using both hands, lift the barbell by its sleeve and hoist it to chest level. Press the weight above your head until your arms are nearly locked out. (Note that while my hands are staggered in the pic above, I’ve since come to feel that putting one hand on top of the other feels better and more intuitive.) This is the starting position.
Lower the barbell towards one hip. Allow your shoulders to rotate and your foot to pivot as the weight moves.
When the weight reaches your leg, forcefully reverse direction to raise the weight back to center and continue smoothly to the opposite leg.
Lowering the weight to each side (left and right) is considered one full rep.
Landmine Goblet Squat
A squatting movement that works pretty much every muscle in your legs.
Stand in front of the barbell with feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the barbell sleeve with both hands and hoist it to chest level.
Keeping a straight torso, lower your body into a squatting position.
When the crease of your hip gets to about 1 inch below your knee, drive up.
Landmine Reverse Lunge
A lower body workout that really hits your quads and glutes. This is a great movement for conditioning.
Position the barbell up at your chest with your hands at the end of the barbell collar, palms in and slightly under.
With your feet about hip-width apart, step your right foot back. Lower your body so that both legs are at 90˚ and your torso is completely upright.
Driving from the heel of your fixed front leg, come back up.
Alternate legs with each rep.
Landmine Squat to Press
This dynamic full-body movement combines a squat and press and will get your heart rate going.
Stand in front of the end of the barbell with feet shoulder-width apart.
Hoist the barbell to chest level.
Lower into a squat position, and drive up. When you reach a standing position, press the barbell above your head.
Lower the barbell and go immediately back into the squatting position.
Landmine Rotational Clean and Press
This is another dynamic, full-body movement. It’s a bit tricky to perform, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun.
Stand in front of the end of the barbell with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar in your right hand.
Clean the barbell to shoulder height by pivoting your feet towards it. This will cause your body to rotate towards the other end of the barbell.
As soon as the barbell reaches shoulder height, continue pressing up until your arm is fully extended.
Lower back down to your starting position.
The clean and press should be one smooth, continual motion. Practice it with no weight on the barbell until you get the movement down.
Programming Landmine Exercises
Landmine exercises make for great accessory lifts to a strength-training program. You can add weight plates to the end of the barbell to make the exercises appropriately challenging, and there are a bunch of ways to incorporate them into your workouts.
If you break up your training sessions into upper-body and lower-body days, you could do two upper-body landmine movements (like the half-kneeling press and row) on your upper-body days and two lower-body landmine movements (like the goblet squat and lunge) on your lower-body days.
If you do upper and lower-body training on the same day, pick one upper-body and one lower-body landmine exercise.
Do 3 sets of 10.
For more of a conditioning workout, do your landmine exercises in a circuit style.
Pick two exercises and do them back-to-back. Rest for 30-60 seconds. Repeat two more times. Pick two more pairs of exercises and do the same thing again.