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The Landmine Workout: 14 Exercises with a Leaning Barbell

The Landmine Workout: 14 Exercises with a Leaning Barbell

The Landmine is a piece of exercise equipment consisting of a heavy steel plate attached to a pivoting tube – in which you can slide one end of a barbell and do lifting exercises.

Senior athlete doing the chest fly exercise using leaning barbells.

Technically, landmine exercises are really just movements done with a leaning barbell, so you don’t even need the plate and pivoting tube to do landmine exercises – you can just place the end of a barbell into the corner of a room so that it doesn’t slide around too much.

In fact, you can even create your own corner by placing two dumbbells (or two other heavy objects) on the floor and then sliding the end of a barbell into the center of that “corner” you created.

What follows is an effective and entertaining workout done entirely with the Landmine. The workout is for both women and men, and can be modified to accommodate almost any fitness level.

Landmine exercises have many advantages:

  • You don’t have to let your heart rate drop while you walk around the gym visiting various pieces of equipment. With the landmine, you can stay pretty much in one place – staying focused on the workout at hand, and working up a good sweat.
  • There’s something inspiring and fun about training with barbells as opposed to dumbbells or machines.
  • Landmines offer opportunities to do single-limb work, which helps correct muscular asymmetries.
  • Compared to a machine, a leaning barbell offers a freer range of motion to accommodate the unique trajectory of your joints and muscles (this can reduce risk of injury to, for example, your rotator cuffs).
 

Evolution of the Barbell

Barbells are a relatively recent invention:

  • In the days of yore, gyms were called “gymnasiums” and originally located in Europe and attended by men only.
  • The type of exercise that occurred within a gymnasium was mostly calisthenics – resistance-training movements using one’s own bodyweight.
  • Eventually, in the early 1800s, swimming laps in indoor pools was included – though still rare.
  • Around 1860, barbells were invented that had weights permanently affixed to the ends of an approximately 5-foot bar.

Even as late as the 1960s women were often relegated to “figure salons.”

At last, there arrived a day when genders exercising together in the same facility was commonplace – around 1970 when racquet clubs became more popular across the globe and emerged with shared weight-training rooms with Nautilus-style equipment.

It wasn’t until the 1980s when bodybuilding experienced a boom that barbells became much more popular for the everyday aspiring athlete.

The last two decades saw the advent of CrossFit and the return of olympic lifts – and today there are companies who are famous for making the highest-quality barbells and bumper plates available.

Tips for the Landmine Workout

A standard barbell weighs 45 pounds (20.4 kilos).

However, many gyms also offer shorter barbells that are 35 pounds. If you’re working out at home or in your garage, you may have a barbell that is a different weight or length than what I use in the photos and video below – and that’s fine:

  • Advanced athletes can add plates to the barbell for extra resistance and/or do more reps.
  • Playing with tempo is another way to make a movement harder or easier depending on the exercise.
  • Holding a peak contraction for 2 seconds before slowly releasing (eccentric work) to the starting point is a highly effective way to feel targeted muscles no matter what weight you’re lifting.
  • You’ll see in the images that in some exercises two barbells are used. Only have one barbell? No problem, just do one arm at a time. In fact, it’s probably even more effective if you do.

This workout begins with some abdominal exercises to gradually raise your body temperature and lubricate your joints for the exercises to come. However, if you have any sticky or problem areas that have been acting up recently – such as the neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, or knees – then I encourage you to do extra mobility movements beforehand to warm-up.

Older man doing a landmine exercise, using a barbell to develop core strength.

Landmine Straight-Legged Sit-Ups

The idea with this exercise is to initiate the movement from your core muscles (not your arms). Lying flat, face upward with straight legs, sit up while holding the end of the barbell directly overhead, then slowly roll back down, articulating your vertebrae along the way:

  • Pull your navel in as tightly as you can.
  • Breathe (it’s tempting to hold your breath – but don’t).
Landmine straight-legged sit-ups will strengthen your core muscles.
  • Keep your glutes active, like you’re sitting on hot coals (don’t just collapse onto the mat with a soggy bum).
  • If you relax your core and glute muscles, even for a moment, you’ll force your vertebrae to support the weight, which is want you don’t want. So be vigilant: core muscles stay activated!
  • 3 sets of 14 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between.
 

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Russian Landmine Twist

This barbell variation of the classic Russian twist exercise involves sitting halfway up at a slight diagonal, and this twisting. However, it only works if you initiate the movement from your obliques and rotating spine – not from the arms.

Russian landmine twist exercise using a leaning barbell.

As long as your lower back feels protected and proper form isn’t sacrificed, it’s fine to use some speed on this one. 20 reps (10 on each side).

Athlete demonstrates landmine shoulder chest press exercise with a leaning barbell.

Shoulder and Upper Chest Press with Leaning Barbells

With feet firmly planted and knees slightly soft, hold the end of the bar with both hands and press overhead. To protect lower back, keep your navel pulled in tightly. Exhale as you press.

3 sets of 8 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between.

Silver-haired man doing a landmine barbell fly exercise for the inner and outer chest.

Landmine Fly

Lying flat on a toweled mat with legs straight, move the ends of two barbells in a fly position to engage the muscles of your outer and inner chest.

As you bring your hands together over your chest, imagine your elbows rotating in a bit and coming closer to one another.

During the fly, your elbows are slightly soft and your pectorals stay expanded (think of your nipples touching the ceiling).

3 sets of 8 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between.

Silver-bearded athlete does one-arm overhead reverse lunge with a leaning barbell.

One-Arm Overhead Reverse Lunge

This particular exercise is great for your entire body, including your quads and glutes.

The trick is to keep your scapula your set. That means your shoulder blades should be together and down, and your shoulder caps should be pressed down away from your ears. Basically, you really want to feel braced with all muscles active.

Man doing one-arm overhead reverse lunge exercise with a leaning barbell.

Reach one leg back into a deep lunge, then return that back foot to the starting position as you exhale.

3 sets of 8 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between.

Man over 50 demonstrates landmine front squats.

Landmine Front Squat

Stand with feet wider than hip’s width apart and squat down to knee level (or below, if you have the mobility for it). It’s fine for your knees to come forward of your heels, but really make sure that the entire sole of your foot is pressing firmly into the ground.

Press your elbows in tightly to your sides as you hold one end of the barbell closely to your chest with interlaced fingers:

  • Set your scaps! Shoulder blades down and back, with a tall spine.
  • Keep glutes and lower abdominals active throughout the entire exercise.
  • Exhale as you return to standing position.

3 sets of 12 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between.

Man doing heel raises with leaning barbell at the gym.

Heel Raises with a Leaning Barbell

With a straight body and feet together – and the arms, hands, and barbell in the same position as front squat above – raise your heel as high as you possibly can as you squeeze your calf muscles and exhale.

Next, slowly return to the starting position.

TIP: resist the temptation to roll your feet onto one side – instead, really press through into the center of the balls of the feet.

3 sets of 20 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between. Emphasize full range of motion and a deep contraction.

Male athlete doing landmine deadlifts.

Landmine Deadlift

The trick to a good landmine deadlift is to set your scapula and move the bar using your posterior chain of muscles – namely your hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles.

Do not move the weight using your lower back and arms.

Keep your arms straight the entire time.

Though when squatting it’s fine for your knees to come forward of your heels, with the deadlift you do want to try to keep your knees directly over your heels.

Man doing Meadows Row exercise using the Landmine Barbell apparatus.

Meadows Row

The meadows row exercise is like a one-arm dumbbell row except that you use a landmine instead – and, your palm faces back (instead of in).

3 sets of 10 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between. Try to initiate the movement from the contraction of your lat muscle (the side of your back) instead of just pulling with your arm.

Dane Findley, age 54, demonstrates a shoulder press with a leaning barbell.

Single-Arm Landmine Shoulder Press

With feet staggered and knees slightly bent, press the barbell up with one arm.

Listen to the needs of your shoulder on this one. Go slowly, stop if you feel any pain in the joint.

1 set only on each arm – 8 repetitions.

Man doing landmine rotational chops exercise with leaning barbell.

Landmine Rotational Chops

Initiate the movement from the rotation of your spine and the contraction of your oblique muscles – it’s mostly your core that should inspire the bar to move, not just your arm and shoulder muscles.

3 sets of 8 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between. Remember to exhale fully with each rep.

 

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Mature athlete Dane Findley, age 54, using leaning barbells to do exercises that improve posture.

Rear Delt Reverse Fly with Leaning Barbells

Grab the ends of the barbell as you face away from them. Bend your knees, lean over, and do a reverse fly with soft elbows to engage your posterior deltoids. This is a very important exercise for improving your posture and preventing “texting slouch.”

Remember to keep your lower abdominals pulled up and in tightly while also engaging your glutes – this will keep the load off of your sensitive lower vertebrae.

3 sets of 6 repetitions, with only a 1-minute rest in between.

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A Return to Common Sense

Some of you are trying these exercises at home, but if you are in a gym environment, please be a gracious adult and allow others to work-in with you between sets if they request it.

There used to be a code among old-school bodybuilders to share equipment, but since the general population has entered the gym environment, I’ve seen an increase in poor manners over the last decade. Remember, strong people look for ways to demonstrate kindness – only an insecure person would not allow someone to work in on a piece of equipment.

As always, I invite you to consult with your own medical doctor or physical therapist before making any radical changes to your movement patterns or exercise habits. If you’re exercising and feel any profound dizziness or sharp pains, stop immediately.

Refer to the video above to see how the exercises appear in action. Give this workout a try and let me know how it went for you.

To dramatically increase your results, remember to pair your exercise routines with an anti-inflammatory diet.

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