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Wait. What’s that weird contraption with a hole on the side of the squat rack I’m about to use?

That contraption, folks, is called a landmine. 

But don’t worry. You’re not in any danger. In the gym setting, a landmine is a piece of equipment that swivels a full 360 degrees. You insert a barbell into it, add weight plates to the other end, and you’re able to do multiple exercises with it. You may have even done an exercise or two using a landmine, but did you know you can get a full-body workout with it? Well, you can—and I’m going to show you how!

If you don’t know how to use a landmine, don’t stress. I’ll explain how to properly use one, then give step-by-step instructions on the best landmine exercises. And if you don’t have a landmine base at home or at the gym, I’ll give a couple ideas on how to mimic one. 

Ready to add some landmine exercises to your repertoire? Let’s get started.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

How to Use a Landmine 

If you’ve never used a landmine, or even if you have, here are some tips on setting one up before you begin your landmine workout:

  1. Get a landmine attachment. Although you can replicate a landmine without an attachment (more on that below), it’s easier to get a base. You can get free-standing landmine bases or one that attaches to your power rack. 
  2. Insert a barbell. Thankfully, you don’t need a special bar for most landmines. An Olympic barbell is all you need. Place one end in the landmine hole.
  3. Add plates to the other end. For some exercises, the bar will be enough. For others, you’ll need to add weights. 
  4. Use a handle (optional). Although most exercises don’t require one, a handle can help with some. If you need one, use one.

And that’s it, you’re all set up. Easy, right?

Best Landmine Exercises

Now that you know how to use a landmine, here are my 11 best landmine exercises for you to try:

Landmine Squat

Why Do It: Similar to barbell squats, landmine squats work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, and more. Because the weight is in front of your body, it’s a good exercise for beginners or inexperienced lifters because the risk of injury is lower, since you’re forced to stay upright throughout the landmine front squat. 

How To Do It: 

  1. Add the desired weight to the barbell.
  2. Stand close to the weight plates with one foot on either side of the barbell and with your feet shoulder-width apart. You should be facing the landmine base.
  3. Bend down to take hold of the barbell and deadlift it up to the starting position (this will be at chest height).
  4. Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, then squat down as you would a regular squat. Aim to go at least parallel to the floor, but even lower is better.
  5. Pause, then push through your heels to return to the top position.

Keep squatting for reps.

Landmine Squat

Meadows Row

Why Do It: To activate your upper back, lats, and biceps, this one-arm row exercise is a great addition to any landmine training program. It’s a unilateral exercise that can strengthen imbalances between each side of your body. You’ll increase your grip strength, too, which is great for other bodybuilding exercises.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand perpendicular to the bar, then move your left leg backward so you’re in a split stance position (with a slight bend in the knees).
  2. By bending at the waist, move your upper body forward so you’re able to take hold of the end of the bar with your left hand (an overhand grip will be needed for this exercise).
  3. With your right arm, place your forearm on your right quad to help with stability.
  4. Now, row the barbell up, making sure to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  5. Squeeze at the top of the movement. Lower the barbell down to the original position slowly to complete one rep.
  6. Keep going for the desired number of repetitions, then repeat with your right hand.
Meadows Row

Rotational Single-Arm Press  

Why Do It: You may have seen or even done rotational single-arm presses with a dumbbell or kettlebell in the past. The landmine version works your deltoids and may help to improve your overhead press. It requires a lot of core stability, too, especially when transferring from the lower body to the upper body.

How To Do It: 

  1. Face the landmine attachment and add weight to the bar. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  2. Squat down to take hold of the barbell with both hands and stand up.
  3. You’ll start off with your left hand, so let go of the barbell with your right hand and place it close to your left shoulder. 
  4. Breathe in to engage your core and keep your head neutral.
  5. Squat down slightly, then push up through your heels. 
  6. At the same time, move the bar across your body with your left arm, fully extending it. Your torso will rotate to the left and you’ll want to use your left foot to pivot (with your right foot staying planted on the floor). Bring the bar back down.
  7. Repeat for reps, then change to your right arm and do the same.
Rotational single arm press

Landmine Rotation (aka Landmine Rainbows or Landmine 180s)

Why Do It: Landmine rotations target the core muscles (obliques, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and lower back). It’s similar to a Russian twist and is a functional exercise because you perform rotations many times throughout the day in everyday life.

RELATED: Oblique Workouts

How To Do It: 

  1. Stand close to the end of a barbell, facing the base of the landmine.
  2. Adjust your feet so they’re flat on the ground slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lean forward to take hold of the bar with both hands. Then, stand up straight with your chest up and your arms extended in front of your body.
  4. By rotating your torso, bring the bar down to your left side so it’s close to your left hip. 
  5. Bring the weight up to the original position, then move the bar to the right hip, making sure your feet are planted on the floor at all times and your core is tight.
  6. Continue for the desired number of repetitions, alternating between the left and right sides.
Landmine Rotations

Half-Kneeling Landmine Shoulder Press

Why Do It: You’ll activate nearly every muscle in your upper body, including your shoulders, chest, lats, triceps, core, and more. With this exercise, you press at an angle rather than straight above your head as you would do with a dumbbell shoulder press or an overhead press. This is friendlier on your joints, so it’s a good exercise for those with limited shoulder mobility.

How To Do It: 

  1. With your right leg forward and your left leg behind it, get into the half-kneeling position (you’ll be facing the weight plates and the landmine base). 
  2. Pick up the barbell with both hands.
  3. Transfer the bar to your left hand and position it so it’s in front of your left shoulder. 
  4. Stick your chest up and breathe in to engage your core.
  5. Extend your elbow until your left arm is straight by pressing the bar upward at a slight angle. Pause.
  6. Lower the barbell to the original position.
  7. Press for reps, then change your body position so your left leg is the front leg and repeat with your right arm.
Half kneeling landmine shoulder press

Landmine Lateral Raise 

Why Do It: Landmine lateral raises target all three heads of the delts (lateral, anterior, and posterior). The bar path (and ultimately the range of motion) is greater than you get compared to lateral raises with dumbbells or on a cable machine, potentially resulting in hypertrophy benefits.

How To Do It: 

  1. Start by standing with your side facing the bar and grab the end of the barbell with your left hand using an overhand grip. 
  2. Stand up and place your left hand near your right hip slightly in front of your body to get into the starting position. Your left arm should be straight and your head neutral.
  3. Perform a lateral raise by moving the barbell across your body in a diagonal motion. Your left arm will be extended laterally around head height in the end position.
  4. Return the barbell to its original position in a controlled manner.
  5. Raise for reps, then repeat the exercise with your right hand.
Landmine Lateral Raise

Landmine Row

Why Do It: Some call this the landmine row, and some call it the t-bar row. Either way, it’s one of the most common landmine exercises. It works your lats, upper back, rear delts, and biceps. Compared to a barbell row, most people find they can lift more weight with a landmine row, making it a great exercise for upper body strength.

How To Do It: 

  1. Add weight plates to the barbell.
  2. Facing away from the landmine attachment, stand over the bar in a wide stance. The barbell should be in between your legs and you should be positioned between the plates and the landmine (but much closer to the plates!).
  3. Lean forward and take hold of the attachment with a neutral grip if you’re using one (technically, the landmine row doesn’t use an attachment but you could do a t-bar row which uses a v-bar attachment).
  4. Stick your chest up and engage your core. Pull the bar up toward your lower chest region.
  5. Hold for a moment, then lower down until your arms are fully extended.
  6. Continue for the desired number of repetitions.
woman doing landmine row

Landmine Reverse Lunge 

Why Do It: Similar to landmine squats above, landmine reverse lunges activate the quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, and more. You’re stepping back with one leg at a time, preventing overuse of the dominant side. You may find that you improve your stability and balance with this landmine exercise.

How To Do It: 

  1. Face the landmine base while standing at the end of the barbell.
  2. Position your feet so they’re slightly more than shoulder-width apart, then bend down to pick up the bar.
  3. Place the bar at chest height and engage your core and glutes. This is the starting position.
  4. With your left leg, step backward as far as possible and lower your body so your left knee is close to the ground.
  5. Pause, then use the heel of your right leg to come back to the original position. 
  6. Repeat, but this time step back with your right leg.
  7. Lunge until you’re finished, alternating between the left and right sides.
Landmine Reverse Lunge

Landmine Romanian Deadlifts 

Why Do It: Deadlifts are a staple strength training exercise. Similar to the barbell Romanian deadlift, landmine Romanian deadlifts work your hamstrings, glutes, core, and lower back. You can also do a landmine single-leg rdl if you’re comfortable with it. Although this requires more balance, it may activate the glutes and hamstring muscles more than doing the exercise bilaterally1.

How To Do It: 

  1. Add the desired plates to the barbell, then stand at the end of it (facing the base).
  2. With your feet hip-width apart, squat down to pick up the bar. You’ll want to cup your hands below the bar with this exercise.
  3. Stand up and position the bar around your pelvic region. Breathe in to engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and keep your head neutral.
  4. With a slight bend in your knees, perform a hip hinge to lower the bar toward the floor. Go down as far as possible, ensuring you have a straight back throughout.
  5. Hold for a moment, then push your hips forward to return to the standing position (contract your hamstrings and glutes as you do this!).
  6. Continue for repetitions.
Landmine Romanian Deadlifts

Landmine Press

Why Do It: Landmine presses target the chest, delts, and triceps. As we saw with the half-kneeling landmine shoulder press, the bar path with this exercise is at an angle rather than straight above the head, making it much easier on the shoulder joints.

How To Do It: 

  1. Load the barbell with the required weight, then position yourself at the end of it.
  2. Face the landmine and pick up the bar with both hands by squatting down (it’s easier to interlock the fingers with this exercise).
  3. Position the barbell so it’s at chest height by standing up.
  4. Engage your core, then press the bar upward (and slightly forward) until your arms are fully extended. Take it slow and feel your chest muscles working.
  5. Pause, then slowly lower the bar back down. 
  6. Continue for the desired number of repetitions.
Woman doing standing landmine press

Landmine Single-Arm Floor Press

Why Do It: I like this movement pattern because it can help to build muscle in your chest, triceps, and deltoids. By doing it regularly, you may find that you get better at compound exercises such as barbell bench presses. It’s also a single-arm exercise, which is ideal for fixing muscular imbalances.

RELATED: Inner Chest Workout

How To Do It: 

  1. Lie down on the floor near the weight plates with your feet flat (so your knees will be bent).
  2. Adjust your body so that the end of the bar is close to your left shoulder.
  3. Using both hands, pick the barbell off the floor and extend your arms so they’re above your chest.
  4. Take your right hand off the barbell (you’ll do this exercise with the left hand first).
  5. Bring the bar down slowly until your left delt and left triceps touch the floor. 
  6. Hold, then push the bar back up. Imagine you’re doing a dumbbell chest press with one arm! 
  7. Press for repetitions with your left arm, then switch over to the right.
GIF of a woman doing a single-arm landmine floor press

Benefits of Landmine Exercises

You’re probably thinking, “But what are the benefits of landmine exercises?” Well, there are many, but here are the most important:

  • Safer for the joints. Overhead presses with a landmine have a different bar path than dumbbells or barbells. Landmine squats and deadlifts force you to stay upright during the movement. Altogether, landmine exercises can be friendlier on the joints.
  • Variety to your workouts. The truth is, the same exercises over and over again can get boring when you’ve been training for a while. Landmine exercises add variety, especially because you can do exercises while standing, kneeling, or even lying down.
  • Improves your grip. With landmine exercises, you usually hold the sleeve of the bar rather than the actual bar as you would with other barbell exercises (the sleeve is thicker!). This means they’ll help to improve your grip, which is great for other exercises.

Landmine Alternatives

If you don’t have a landmine at the gym or in your home gym, don’t worry. Here are two ways you can mimic landmine training:

  • Use a dumbbell and a weight plate. Place one end of your barbell on top of a weight plate. Then, put a heavy dumbbell on top. This will allow the barbell to pivot but will help to prevent it from moving during your exercises. Then, add weights to the other end as normal.
  • Place a barbell in the corner of your room. Another way to replicate a landmine is by placing the Olympic bar in a corner. This will do the same job as a landmine base, but it may damage your wall in the long run (so try to protect your wall before you do this!).

Both of these work, but aren’t ideal. If you’re going to be doing landmine exercises often, I’d recommend getting an attachment. 

Landmine Exercises: Final Thoughts 

If you’re looking for new exercises to add variety and challenge to your workouts, consider trying some or all of these 11 landmine exercises. Landmine exercises can improve your grip strength, and because of the angle of the bar, can be friendlier on the joints.

  • Warm-up. As with everything else, warm up before doing heavy sets on any landmine exercise. Do some cardio, do some dynamic stretching, and even do some lighter sets of the exercise you’re about to do. 
  • Lighter weights first. The bar path of a landmine exercise can feel different compared to using dumbbells or barbells. If you’re new to landmine training, start with lighter weights and get used to the movement. Then, add more resistance.
  • Keep your core tight. Any standing, kneeling, or lying down movement with a landmine uses your core. Breathe in to keep it engaged at all times.

Landmine Exercises: Q&A

Are landmines a good workout?

Using landmines can give you a good workout. You’re able to use landmines for full body activation, and landmine exercises can be done while in a standing position, kneeling, or lying down.

If you’re looking for landmine exercises to try, I recommend the following: landmine squat, meadows row, rotational single-arm press, landmine anti-rotation, half-kneeling landmine shoulder press, landmine lateral raise, landmine row, landmine reverse lunge, landmine Romanian deadlift, landmine press, and landmine single-arm floor press.

What muscles do landmine exercises target?

Different landmine exercises work different parts of your body. Exercises like the landmine squat and landmine Romanian deadlift work the lower body. Meadows row, landmine lateral raise, landmine press, and more, are upper-body exercises. You can even get exercises that target the core (for example, the landmine anti-rotation).

What are the benefits of the landmine row?

The landmine row, also known as the t-bar row, is a variation of the barbell row. It targets your upper back, lats, rear delts, and biceps. The main benefit of doing a landmine row over a barbell row is that you can usually add more weight to the bar. It’s safe and easy to learn, and I like that you can use different handles to target your upper back in a variety of ways.

References

  1. Diamant W, Geisler S, Havers T, Knicker A. Comparison of EMG Activity between Single-Leg Deadlift and Conventional Bilateral Deadlift in Trained Amateur Athletes – An Empirical Analysis. Int J Exerc Sci. 2021 Apr 1;14(1):187-201. PMID: 34055137; PMCID: PMC8136577.

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