Landmine training was in vogue long before the landmine attachment existed. Old-school lifters jammed the barbell into a corner to do T-bar rows and they still do. Now thanks to the minds of creative coaches, landmine training is a great way to train your muscles from multiple angles and positions. The most popular of these exercises is the landmine press.
The landmine press is great for lifters who lack the shoulder mobility to press a barbell overhead. It’s also a nice change-up from overhead and bench pressing also. Here we will go into what the landmine press is, how to do it, the muscles trained, the benefits, and how to add it to your programming.
What is the standing landmine press?
The landmine overhead press is a unique pressing exercise as it falls somewhere in the middle of being both a vertical and horizontal press. This is due to the angle of the barbell that’s either wedged into a corner or inserted in a landmine attachment. The angle creates an arch that allows lifters to go overhead without putting strain on the shoulder or compressive load on the spine, making this a godsend for lifters who lack the shoulder mobility to go overhead and for those with lower-back issues.
How to do the standing landmine press
Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding the end of the barbell with one hand.
Hold the end of the barbell a few inches away from your shoulder and engage your lats, grip, and core.
Press to lockout by extending the elbow and reaching forward at the end of the movement.
Slowly lower back down and repeat.
The standing landmine press is a predominately upper-body exercise. But due to standing and lifting unilaterally, this exercise challenges your balance and core stability. Here are the muscles trained by the standing landmine press.
Upper back (rhomboids, traps)
Pectorals (to a less extent)
Landmine press benefits
The landmine press trains the overhead pattern safely for all lifters and is a great variation for those who have shoulder or lower-back issues. Here are a few important benefits of the standing landmine press.
Increased grip strength: Because you’re gripping the fat end of the barbell, your grip muscles are working harder to hold the barbell in place. This engages the rotator cuff, which then gives you better shoulder stability.
Works around shoulder mobility issues: Due to the unique pressing path, this allows lifters with mobility issues to train the overhead press safely.
Reduces compressive load of the spine: For lifters suffering from lower-back issues, the angle of the landmine gives your spine a break from the compressive load on the spine that comes from pressing a barbell overhead.
Better core stability and reduces strength imbalances: Due to lifting unilaterally, your body becomes unbalanced and your core muscles engage to prevent your torso from rotating to the load side during the press. If you have a strength imbalance between sides lifting unilaterally will help improve this, which leads to pressing more weight with your bilateral lifts.
Trains muscles from different angles: The angle of landmine training is a mix between vertical and horizontal, training in the in-between zone. This angle and versatility of the landmine allow you to train heavily in the standing, tall kneeling, and half-kneeling positions.
3 common standing landmine press mistakes
The standing landmine press seems simple enough. You stand there and press the barbell away from your shoulder. But there are a few important things you need to do to get the best out of this exercise.
Gripping the bar incorrectly: Some either don’t hold the end of the barbell, or if they do, their wrist tends to roll back, causing wrist extension and energy leaks while pressing. Prevent this by holding the end of the barbell tight and placing your thumb at the end of the barbell to help stop the wrist from rolling.
Fixing your starting position: There’s a tendency to start with the end of the barbell too close to your shoulder and not engage your lats and upper back. This causes the shoulder to roll forward and makes the start of the press more difficult.
Going through the full range of motion: Some lifters rob themselves by just pressing and returning to the starting position. But when your press and reach forward with a slight torso lean you will improve shoulder mobility and train all parts of the movement.
How to add it to your routine
There are a few ways to program this depending on your shoulder mobility. If you’re using this as your primary overhead option because of limited shoulder mobility or pain, program this on a day when you’re not benching for either strength or hypertrophy. Pairing this with a carry, core, or leg exercise works well. For example,
1A. Single-arm standing landmine press: Six to 12 reps (each side)
1B. Farmer’s carry: 40 yards
When you want to add the landmine press for extra overhead pressing volume without the shoulder stress, program for higher reps two days after you overhead press. Pair with a triceps exercise for improved lockout strength. For example:
1A. Single-arm standing landmine press: 12 reps (each side)
1B. Overhead triceps extension: 12 to 20 reps
Weight set-and Rep Suggestions
Below are guidelines on how to program the landmine press for strength and hypertrophy. These are only guidelines and can be changed to fit your personal goals.
Hypertrophy: Time under tension and volume is the key to gaining muscle with any exercise including the landmine press. Performing three to five sets of six to 12 reps, resting a minute to 90 seconds
Strength: This is not the greatest exercise to perform for strength, but many people find this better for their shoulders and back than overhead presses. If this is the case for you and want to train for strength, do three to five sets of three to six reps with heavy loading. Rest two to three minutes between sets.
Landmine press variations
The beauty of the landmine setup is you can set up in different body positions to train your muscles at different angles for better muscle development. Here are three variations to up your landmine press game and to improve your hip mobility and core stability.
Half-kneeling landmine press
By lowering your center of mass, you can press without too much compensation from the pelvis and lower back. And this position further trains core stability, hip mobility, and anti-rotational core benefits. The press arch is more overhead than horizontal, making this more difficult than the standing landmine press.
Tall kneeling landmine press
Pressing in the tall kneeling position trains your glute strength because your posterior is engaged to keep you upright. Plus, it also acts as a form check, as it’s easier to see technique errors such as overarching the lower back while pressing overhead. And taking the lower legs out farther adds to the difficulty of the lift because of your inability to “cheat” the weight up.
Side to side landmine press
The side-to-side landmine press is similar to the standing variation about except it is performed with two hands while alternating the pressing angle by going from shoulder to shoulder. With the combination of close grip and being performed with two hands, you will lift more weight than the standing version.