Landmine exercises are a fantastic option for high school programs, and one that we use on a regular basis. For those who may not be familiar with these exercises, they use a barbell with one end resting on the ground with the athlete lifting and moving the other end.
Why are they so great? For one, they don’t require much equipment. All you need is a bar, some weight plates, and a corner somewhere. Landmine anchors are a nice upgrade and a cheap investment, but they aren’t necessary to perform the exercises. Gopher Performance makes some nice portable ones than you can move around and use anywhere. Along with those, we also have some that are permanently mounted on to our racks. Prior to getting those though, we just wedged the bar end into a corner of our platforms or a rack.
I also like landmine exercises because of the vast number of versatile movements it offers. You could train your entire body and all muscle groups with a landmine alone.
The landmine is great for beginners because the movements are quite stable. Its stability comes from anchoring one end of the bar instead of allowing it to move freely like a barbell or dumbbell. This creates an arc-shaped movement pattern for the free end of the bar, resulting in some riffs on traditional lifts that can’t be replicated with any other equipment.
The following are the landmine exercises that we use on a regular basis. I consider these all to be basic exercises, but they are highly effective for novice and advanced lifters alike.
Standing 1-arm Press
This is one of my favorites for several reasons. It’s a pressing motion done on your feet rather than sitting or lying on a bench, so it applies better to sports. It is an explosive movement with many variations and progressions.
- Strict – arms only, no legs
- Push Press – use the legs too, dip down and drive the weight up explosively.
- Push Press to split – start with feet parallel, dip down and drive the weight up, jump and split the feet front/back with the opposite foot moving forward.
- Pivot Press – start facing sideways, hold bar with outside had, turn/pivot toward the anchor while driving the weight up.
- Load and explode.
- Extend all the way out/up.
Bent-over Side Row
One of my absolute favorite back movements. The pulling angle is different from anything else that you can do because of the pivoting bar. Gripping the fat bar sleeves also works on grip strength.
- Anchor is straight out to the side that you are working.
- Stay bent over and keep your back flat.
- Rest outside forearm on knee to help maintain body positioning.
- Pull hand up and out to the side with elbow coming out wide.
Half-kneeling Shoulder Press
This lift is one of my absolute favorite shoulder exercises, period. The motion is easier to control compared to a standard dumbbell overhead press. For people with a history of shoulder issues, the angle of motion seems to be safer and better for the shoulder joint. And the half-kneeling body position activates the core stabilizers in a different way compared to standing.
- Opposite knee is up.
- Start at the shoulder and press up overhead.
- Lean forward as you press up, finishing in a straight line from the hand down through the shoulder and hip to the knee on the floor.
The traditional overhead squat with a barbell is extremely challenging, while the landmine version is a great introduction to the movement for beginners. The motion of the bar end forces the lifter to sit back which seems to be a challenge for a lot of people when they first start squatting. Overhead squats are not a natural-feeling movement so the landmine is a perfect way to start learning the exercise.
Goblet Squat Coaching Cues:
- Hold the bar end in front.
- Keep heels on the floor.
- Sit back as you descend.
Overhead Squat Coaching Cues:
- Keep heels on the floor.
- Keep arms straight with elbows and shoulders locked.
- Sit back as you descend.
- Keep pressing up the entire time.
This is a great exercise that trains rotation and core stabilization as well as the shoulders.
- Stand with feet parallel, toes pointed straight ahead, and about a foot apart.
- Keep arms long and straight the entire, don’t bend the elbows.
- Twist up, over, across, and all the way down to the side.
- Look at your hands and rotate your torso as you lower to the side.
1-arm Bicep Curl
I don’t typically program a lot of bicep work into our workouts, but this landmine exercise is a great option. The angle of movement is different from anything else, starting low to the outside but moving across the body as you lift up. You also get a grip strength benefit from holding the fatter bar sleeve at the end.
- Hold the end down to the outside with the bar crossing in front of the body to the anchor on the other side.
- Keeping your wrist tight, curl the weight on and across toward the opposite shoulder.
- Use strict form, only using the arm that is holding the weight. Keep your torso solid and strong.
Scott Meier is currently in his 19 year at Farmington High School (MN) where he is the Strength & Conditioning Coach. He is also a Physical Education Teacher at FHS and teaches Sports Conditioning, Weight Training, and 9th grade Fitness For Life classes. He coached Farmington’s competitive weightlifting for 9 years, and in that time, the Tigers earned four state team titles, over 40 individual state champions, and multiple state record holders. Prior to that he was the head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Lakeville (MN) High School and worked as a personal trainer for 6 years. Scott is featured in the award-winning documentary “My Run” which tells the story of his 56-year-old client who ran 75 marathons in 75 days. He continues to compete in track & field at the masters level where he is a nationally ranked sprinter and holds several state age-group records. Scott is the current Minnesota state director of the National High School Strength Coaches Association.