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Why you should try the landmine press for a full body workout

The landmine press is not just a great way to gain shoulder strength, you can also use variations to exercise all your muscles

Why the landmine press is an excellent exercise.
Why the landmine press is an excellent exercise. (Istockphoto)

While researching for a Lounge piece on the safest shoulder exercises, I came across the forgotten favourite of them all, the landmine press. The exercise is quite useful in the way it changes the angle of the overhead press as close as possible to the natural movement of the shoulder across the safe scapular plane. But there are so many variations of this exercise, to affect different muscles in the body. Which is why it is important to know what every version of it does.

The conventional landmine overhead press is the foundation to the variations. The first thing to understand is this isn’t just a move to isolate your shoulders. Landmine exercises will test your core and stability as well. “If the barbell shoulder press is the rugged granddaddy of pressing movements, the landmine press is the polished kid,” states the granddaddy of exercise sites barbend.com in an article titled How To Do The Landmine Press—Benefits, Variations, Common Mistakes, And More.

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The basic landmine press can be done in many starting positions, but getting into a low supported (by the floor) lunge is the best one. Lift on the same side as the one in which the knee is touching the floor. The barbell will be lodged in a corner of the gym or on a landmine holder, unless there is a machine which caters to this in the gym. Now lift with a slightly forward motion rather than straight overhead, and lean into the trajectory of the lift. The video below from Mind Pump TV is a good guide.

The standing landmine is the next challenge because it demands greater lower body control and involvement than the kneeling variation. There are two-handed versions of the landmine as well. The first is the basic one where you hold the bar at your chest and lift it up in the same angle as the one-armed version. The landmine shoulder-to-shoulder press is done with both hands where you lift up the barbell and bring it down with both hands to one side, then lift it up again centrally, and bring it to the other side.

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There is no reason why one should not add a squat to this. Whether you do it with one hand or both, squatting on the way down to starting position and coming up until the body is standing again, is a great way to combine a shoulder exercise with legs. The single-handed version of the same would be called a landmine thruster.

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We now shift to the core. This is where the landmine setup can really help with ab exercises, which are done without moving the abs from the braced position, by using anti-rotational moves. One could call this exercise landmine wipers where you hold the bar (you can use a smaller bar for this) at chest height and then shift them with both ends side to side like the wipers of a car. However, the fulcrum of your body at this point, which is your core, cannot collapse to the side that the weight is falling to, which means you constantly keep it switched on.

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This setup is so versatile that there is a 40-variation video posted by YouTube channel Citizen Athletics which goes through all of them in a 13-minute tutorial with excellent points on how to do them and for what. Even the title is perfect: 40 Best Landmine Exercises—Variations For Upper Body, Lower Body, Core, Strength & Power.

Some of the picks are interesting, like the side lunge, where you move with the bar to add more load to your adductors. The rotate and press with squat is another top move. You cradle the bar and squat with it across your body, and do a rotational lift while coming up from the squat, grabbing the bar with the opposite arm as you turn. The video below has been set up to start at this particular point but going through all of them is well worth it.

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“The landmine press can be used as an accessory movement to increase overhead performance and strength, and address any shoulder movement imbalances or instabilities. Lifters who feel pain in traditional overhead presses may find this angle less painful,” adds the barbend.com article we quoted earlier. If you were looking for one setup to hit your abs, shoulders, back, and make your presses stronger and your body more stable, then this is the one.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

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