Many of my clients come to me for a solution to their shoulder injury, and each one is different.
So, I had a discussion with a physical therapist recently, and we concluded the landmine press might be a good exercise for shoulder pain.
The landmine press is an overhead variation that effectively, and more importantly, safely builds upper body strength and stability.
In this article, we’ll show you how to safely perform the landmine press, its benefits, and some fun variations to add to your workout routine.
Summary of the Key Findings
- There are many landmine press variations, making it a highly versatile exercise.
- The landmine press is a safe and effective shoulder press variation that offers full-body conditioning.
- It engages various muscle groups, making it a highly-effective compound movement for building strength.
What Is a Landmine Press?
A landmine press is a weight-lifting exercise executed by pushing weights from the chest diagonally with both hands, standing or kneeling.
It’s called a ‘landmine’ press because it uses a piece of equipment called a landmine - a barbell fixed to the floor with the weight on the opposite end.
It is a safer alternative to the overhead press for those who lack shoulder mobility or had some prior shoulder injury because it falls between vertical and horizontal press due to the angle of the barbell.
By avoiding straight line press, you put a less compressive load on the spine and elbows, making this exercise more suitable for people with joint and lower back issues.
How To Do the Landmine Press
To do the landmine press, you'll need the following equipment:
- A 45-pound barbell
- A landmine base (a fixed contraption on the floor on which you can attach one end of the barbell and move it around the fixed position with the other end). If you can't find a landmine base, use the corner of a wall. Just make sure the free end of the barbell is flush against the corner.
- 25 or 45-pound plates
While there is no standard method of performing the landmine press, here's a step-by-step guide on how our top fitness coaches recommend you do it.
Note: We’re going to cover the standing landmine press.
Step 1: Find Your Starting Position and Establish Your Grip
After attaching the one end of the barbell to the landmine, place your feet shoulder-width apart.
Hold the free end of the barbell with a neutral grip. You can choose to place your left hand in front of the right or vice versa.
Keep your elbows tucked in.
The weighted end of the barbell should be between the top of your chest and the bottom of your neck (around shoulder height).
Make sure there’s enough space between you and the end of the barbell so you don’t hit your chin when pressing up.
Step 2: Keep Your Feet Firm and Core Tight
Don’t stand on your toes or heels. The entire surface of your feet should be firmly planted on the floor.
Bend your knees just a touch and lean forward slightly.
Engage your core muscles by packing your abs and lats. You should feel the tension in your arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs.
Quick tip: If you want to create full-body tension, drive your feet onto the floor and press down on your toes.
Step 3: Press
Press the weight up.
When you're at the top, lock your elbow while bracing your core and keeping your other muscles engaged.
Lower the load by pulling the bar down slowly. You should feel your shoulder blades wanting to glide along the back of your ribcage.
Quick tip: To ensure perfect form, think about moving your arms forward rather than pushing them up when you press the weight.
4 Landmine Press Benefits
There are various benefits of doing landmine press exercises, including developing many muscle groups at once and helping repair problematic shoulders.
Here are the benefits in more depth:
1. Engages Various Muscle Groups
This exercise is a compound movement, so it engages various muscle groups, making it highly effective for improving muscular strength .
Here is a list of muscle groups you engage during the press:
- Core: The core muscles work as stabilizers during the press, helping you keep balance.
- Chest: The double-handed variation of the press engages your chest muscles when pushing the weight upwards.
- Scapular Stabilizers: This muscle group helps retract the shoulders. The press forces you to push the weight from a shoulders-back position, engaging your scapular stabilizers.
- Shoulders: The shoulders are the main driving muscle for all variations of the landmine press.
- Triceps: While they're not the primary muscle group for this exercise, they are engaged towards the top of the press and assist the shoulders with locking out.
2. Builds Core Stability and Strength
All variations of this press demand strong core engagement. You have to keep your ab muscles braced throughout each rep.
Abdominal bracing during a lift is one of the best ways to engage and strengthen your core .
While doing the single-arm or kneeling landmine press, brace your abs to prevent your torso from rotating too far to the loaded side.
As a result, this builds core strength and stability.
3. Increases Pressing Strength
Scapular and shoulder strength are two essential elements for lifting heavy weight overhead.
When performing this movement, you address instability and imbalance issues in the shoulder and scapular region. This contributes to your overall pressing strength and gives you a balanced physique.
Some of the most effective shoulder exercises (like the bench press and military press) are the biggest culprits in causing shoulder injuries.
The landmine press might be a go-to exercise for people with shoulder injuries. It changes the angle of the press from overhead to diagonal, making it safer on your shoulder joint.
“When it comes to injury supplementation, athletes can use the landmine press in place of a traditional barbell press. If they have a nagging injury (such as shoulder impingement), they can use the landmine to maintain strength and movement patterns.” - Nicole Foley, Assistant Coach, East Coast Gold Weightlifting
Landmine Press Variations
Here are some variations of the landmine press you can use to increase muscle mass and overall fitness.
Single-Arm Landmine Press
To do the single-arm landmine press, follow the same instructions on how to do the standard landmine press. The key difference is that you’ll use one arm while standing in a split stance.
Single-arm landmine presses are a great way to fix any muscle imbalances on either side of your upper body. The split stance helps you engage the hip muscles.
The single-arm variation is a favorite among our clients with shoulder issues because the hip engagement takes the pressure off their recovering shoulder muscles.
Banded Landmine Press
The banded landmine press has you place a resistance band under your foot, with the other end around the shaft of the barbell, creating tension throughout the movement.
This variation is perfect if you find weight plates too heavy or if you don’t have any weights lying around.
Kneeling Landmine Press
This variation is for taller people. Follow the same instructions as a regular landmine press.
But in this case, kneel on the floor with your knees shoulder-width apart and press.
You can also do the half-kneeling landmine press for a more vertical push. To do this variation, get on one knee.
Then, press with the arm that’s on the same side of the knee. Repeat with the other side.
Landmine Squat to Press
This variation combines squatting and pressing.
Hold the end of the bar with both hands. Squat till your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then stand up and press the bar overhead in one fluid motion.
Who Should Do the Landmine Press?
Recovering strength athletes and beginner lifters should do the landmine press. It helps increase strength and stability in your core and shoulders.
Does the Landmine Press Work the Upper Chest?
Yes, the landmine press works the upper chest muscles, especially the double-arm variation. It engages the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles.
Are Landmine Presses Better Than the Overhead Press?
No, landmine presses are not better than the overhead press. The overhead shoulder press is one of the best upper body strength and muscle-building exercises for building raw strength.
Our Final Thoughts on the Landmine Press
Landmine exercises are safe on the shoulders and use full-body strength, and many of my clients reported it helped build their core and repair their shoulder muscles.
When it comes to post-workout muscle repair, which is the crucial step when it comes to all exercises, including this one, I always advise my clients to take BCAAs to help them with recovery.
BCAAs stimulate muscle-protein synthesis, reduce muscle fatigue, and increase muscle growth. Check out our guide on the best men's BCAA supplements currently on the market that we’ve tried and tested ourselves.
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