You've had your pre-workout snack, a good song is blasting in your headphones and you're ready to crush your workout. That is, until you realize every squat rack is occupied and all the useful dumbbells are taken (unless, of course, you're using the 100-pound weights).
Don't let the rush hour crowds kill your workout vibe, because chances are, there's a free landmine lying around the gym. Just wrangle yourself a barbell, and you have all the equipment needed for an excellent full-body workout.
What Is the Landmine?
You've probably seen a landmine lying around the free-weight area of your gym (or attached to a squat rack). Typically, the landmine looks like a metal tube or sleeve either attached to a weight plate or squat rack frame.
All you need is to fit a barbell into the tube and lock it into place. But if it's your first time using this equipment, ask a trainer or someone on the gym staff for assistance.
To use the landmine, load weight plates onto the open end of the barbell and secure the weight with a clip (if you're a beginner, you can start with no weight). Then, wrap both hands around the end of the barbell (one above the other), either behind or in front of the plate — if you're standing over the barbell, you'll hold behind the plate but if you're facing the barbell, then you'll hold in front of the plate.
Why You Should Be Using the Landmine
The landmine is an extremely versatile piece of gym equipment, giving you everything you need to work all your major muscles, whether you're a newbie or veteran in the weight room, says Mathew Forzaglia, certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness on the NEOU App.
"For beginners, this is a great tool to learn movements while taking the potential risks out of it because it is in a fixed position," he says. "Also, it can be less intimidating to someone who has never picked up a barbell."
As many beginners may struggle to use a barbell (as it requires a lot of back strength), using the landmine is an excellent alternative, says K. Aleisha Fetters, CSCS. "A lot of beginners see a barbell and think, 'nope, not ready,' but the landmine is actually very beginner friendly."
"Landmine squats don't involve anything on your shoulders or back — if that's something that freaks you out — unlike front or back squats," she says. "Landmine deadlifts force you to get your hips back so that you learn proper form. Landmine chest presses, unlike barbell chest presses, don't need a spotter to keep you from getting squished."
And for those who don't have great shoulder or spine mobility, certain exercises, like overhead presses, can also be safer using the landmine, Fetters says. Typically, a straight overhead press can put you at risk of compensation and overuse injury. But with a landmine, you're forced to lift the weight diagonally up and away from you, which reduces the risk of shoulder and low back injury.
5 of the Best Landmine Exercises
Now that you're fully convinced the landmine is one of the best pieces of equipment in the gym, it's time to give some exercises a try.
1. Landmine Squat
- Load the open end of the barbell with a challenging amount of weight.
- Standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hold the end of the barbell in both hands, holding it at chest height, elbows tucked at your ribs.
- Begin to push your hips back and sit into a squat, keeping your knees behind your toes.
- Lower until your thighs are parallel with the ground.
- Then, reverse the motion, pressing through the heels to return to standing.
To take your squat to the next level, turn it into a thruster (squat to press) by adding an overhead press at the top of the motion (see form below), Forzaglia says.
2. Half Kneeling Landmine Press
- Add a moderate amount of weight on the barbell.
- Get down on one knee in front of the barbell, keeping your right leg bent at 90 degrees, foot flat.
- Grasp the end of the barbell in both hands, holding it at chest height.
- On an exhale, press the barbell straight over your head, returning back to chest height.
3. Landmine Deadlift
- Load the barbell with a challenging amount of weight.
- Stand in front of the barbell, feet hip-width apart. Grab the barbell in both hands, holding it by your hips with arms fully extended.
- Hinge at your hips and push your hips back, bending your knees and keeping your back flat.
- Push your hips forward and straighten your legs to return to standing.
If you want to make this exercise more challenging, try an offset deadlift by holding the weight on either the right or left side of the body (see below). Or, make this a more hamstring and glute dominant move by turning the deadlift into a Romanian deadlift (see below).
4. Rotational Landmine
- With a lower weight on the barbell, stand with your feet at hip-width apart and hold the end of the barbell in both hands.
- Hold the barbell with arms fully extended above your head.
- Keep your body planted and with extended arms, draw an arc with the barbell, moving it hip height on the right side, pausing for a moment.
- Then, arc back over to the left.
5. Landmine Row
- Load the barbell with moderate weight and begin standing on top of the weight with the barbell on the ground between your legs.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grasp the barbell, holding it with extended arms.
- Hinge your hips back behind you and bend your knees, maintaining a flat back.
- On an exhale, row the weight up toward your chest, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Then, extend the arms again.
"The row can be progressed to an offset row where the weight is loaded either on the left or right side at a time again focusing on challenging the midline," Forzaglia says.
Now Try This Full-Body Landmine Workout
- Landmine Squat: 4 sets of 8 reps
- Half-Kneeling Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Landmine Deadlift: 4 sets of 8 reps
- Rotational Landmine: 3 sets of 20 repetitions (each side is one rep)
- Landmine Row: 4 sets of 12 to 15 rows
Between each set, take a 30- to 60-second rest.
Landmine Exercise Modifications and Variations
As with a free barbell, there are plenty of ways to tweak or progress exercises on the landmine to make them easier, more challenging or just different.
Offset Landmine Romanian Deadlift
Turning an exercise into a single-arm movement ensures that one side isn't stronger than the other. For instance, vary your landmine row by isolating one side of the body at a time, rowing with just one arm. Or deadlift with the weight on one side, using one arm.
- With challenging weight on the bar, stand above and to the right of the barbell, facing away from the base of the landmine.
- Grab the bar with your left arm fully extended.
- Hinge at your hips and with a flat back and slightly bent knees, lower the weight toward the ground.
- Pause once the weight hovers right above the ground.
- Using your glutes and hamstrings, raise the weight back up to about hip height, keeping the left arm fully extended.
Read more: 6 Deadlift Variations to Add to Leg Day
Landmine Split Jerk
You can also give your exercises an explosive twist using the landmine, Forzaglia says. By modifying certain moves, like your overhead press, you can practice your force production. Turning a press into a split jerk recruits your lower body muscles to help accelerate the weight over the head.
- Hold the barbell at chest height in your left hand.
- Take a small step back so that you're leaning slightly forward on your ankles, feet at hip distance.
- Quickly lower into a quarter squat, then explosively use your hips and legs to drive up, landing in a split stance, right leg in front of left, bent at the knee.
- Use the momentum from your lower body to press the barbell overhead with your left arm.
- Bring your legs back together at about hip distance and quickly move to the next rep.
Landmine Squat to Press
Try combining exercises into one movement to recruit several joints at once. Challenge your squat by adding an overhead press or offset your deadlift to make it more challenging.
- Add some moderate weight to the barbell and hold the weight at chest height, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Sit down into a squat, lowering until your thighs are parallel with the ground.
- Press through your heels and return to standing.
- Then, press the barbell above your head.
Staying Injury-Free With the Landmine
If you're using a landmine for your workout, there are a few safety precautions to consider. As the weight is free-moving, you need to focus on bracing your core with every exercise to keep the weight stable, Fetters says.
"Focus on actively squeezing your abs to make your ribs point straight toward your feet," Fetters says. "Don't let them flare out in front of you. Losing tension is a no-no for any exercise, but landmine exercises tend to be very total-body and/or performed from a standing position, so if you lose core tension, everything will suffer."
The foot placement with a landmine also involves a bit of a learning curve, Fetters says. As the weight is usually in front of your body, it'll probably take some trial and error with the foot placement until the landmine feels comfortable. Try a rep, readjust as necessary and test again until you find the proper distance for each exercise.
Another common mistake that both Forzaglia and Fetters mention is improperly securing the landmine end of the barbell. Depending on the landmine you have, there's typically a hook attached to the landmine's tube or sleeve that locks the bar into place. In other cases, you may hear the weight click into place. Ask a trainer for assistance if you're unable to secure the barbell into the equipment.
Similarly, a lot of gym-goers may forget to clip the weight plate onto the barbell. It may seem unnecessary to use the weight clip but as with any barbell exercise, securing the weight is necessary if you want to stay injury-free, Fetters says.