The Landmine Press: A Unique Unilateral Exercise For Building Shoulder Strength
While the landmine press is not your conventional type of resistance exercise, it has the potential to develop serious shoulder strength.
Considering that the exercise is a unilateral exercise, it may also allow you to eliminate any asymmetries that exist and generally promote shoulder health and function.
This article will demonstrate how to perform the landmine press as well as providing detail on the benefits of incorporating the exercise into your training program.
Landmine Press Technique & Muscles Worked
While you may be aware of common shoulder strengthening exercises such as the overhead press, shrugs, and rows, the landmine press is not so well known.
The exercise involves the use of a barbell and a landmine holder. The landmine holder is a device that holds one end of the barbell and allows for 360-degree movement.
If you do not have access to a landmine holder, find a stable base to place the barbell against (such as the corner of a room).
With one end of the barbell in the holder, the other end of the barbell should be held in one hand. The bar is then pressed through the engagement of the shoulder and arm muscles.
The muscles that are primarily involved in the press are the deltoids and triceps.
The deltoids in the shoulder must concentrically contract to bring about extension at the arm whereas the triceps powerfully contract to extend the elbow joint.
Due to the fact that the exercise is unilateral, there are a number of scapular stabilizing muscles that are heavily involved in controlling the movement (1).
Furthermore, the oblique muscles must also contract to hold the spine in a neutrally aligned position and also prevent any rotation through the trunk.
To perform the landmine press, work through the following five steps:
Step One: Place the barbell into the landmine and add weight to the other end of the bar (if required).
Step Two: With the barbell in contact with the floor, set-up directly behind it. Kneel down and place on the right foot out in front of the body and keep the left knee in contact with the floor.
Step Three: Lift the barbell from the floor and place it in the left hand, holding it just in front of the shoulder.
Step Four: Before pressing, lift the chest and brace the core tight. Press the bar up and out until you have fully extended at the elbows before returning to the starting position.
Step Five: Upon completion of the reps on the left, swap sides and repeat.
Three Benefits of the Landmine Press
While there are a large number of benefits associated with the landmine press, this section will highlight three of the biggest benefits that you should be aware of.
1) Improved Core Stability
While improving pressing strength may be a fairly obvious benefit, improved core stability may not be the first benefit that comes to mind.
As a result of the kneeling position and the angle of the press, the core has to work incredibly hard to stabilize the body as the bar is pressed.
Therefore, by performing the landmine press frequently you can expect to see an increase in core stability and anti-rotational strength.
Having a strong and stable core is highly important for all athletes and lifters who are lifting heavy weights or move weight overhead regularly as it can significantly reduce injury risk and facilitate performance (2).
2) Enhanced Scapular Control
For those who perform overhead movements (like snatches, jerks, & overhead squats), it is imperative that you have efficient scapular control.
Having poor scapular control will not only hinder performance but may increase the risk of sustaining a serious shoulder injury.
The landmine press is a superb resistance exercise that can significantly improve scapular control.
This is primarily due to the angle of the press which highly activates shoulder stabilizers and is quite unlike the majority of other pressing exercises.
3) Increased Pressing Strength
Building strength in the deltoids and triceps will vastly improve the amount of weight that you can press. Therefore, the landmine press can be effectively programmed to improve pressing strength.
It’s also a highly functional exercise as, not only can it increase pressing strength, it can allow us to address any strength imbalances that exist between the shoulders.
Furthermore, the combination of improved core stability and scapular control will lead to a more efficient pressing motion.
By enhancing movement efficiency, you will also see a substantial improvement in your pressing abilities (3).
Who Should Perform the Landmine Press?
The following section provides detail on the benefits of the landmine press for specific goals and abilities.
1) Strength & Power Athletes
For those who perform overhead exercises, the landmine is an excellent accessory exercise that may help to improve overhead strength, stability, and rectify any existing imbalances.
Weightlifters may find the landmine press to be particularly useful for improving snatch and jerk performance whereas powerlifters may experience improvement with their bench press.
It may also be useful for those who have limitations when performing an overhead press or for those who are recovering from a shoulder injury.
The angle involved in the landmine press may reduce the stress placed on the shoulder joint and consequently allow the lifter to continue to develop their pressing abilities without any issues.
2) Functional Athletes
Those who participate in sports like CrossFit may also find the landmine press to be beneficial to their performance.
As highlighted in the earlier section, the landmine press develops many components of fitness – strength, stability, and movement.
Therefore, incorporating the landmine press into your training is highly recommended as it will bring about a range of functional adaptations.
3) General Fitness
For general shoulder health and function, the landmine press is one of the best exercises that you can do.
It may be particularly beneficial for beginner lifts as not only will it build shoulder strength and stability, it may also help to reinforce good pressing mechanics.
As touched on briefly, the landmine press may also be useful for those who are suffering with limitations as the bar is press in front of the body rather than directly overhead.
Landmine Press Variations and Alternatives
There are a number of landmine press variations and alternatives that can be used to alter the demand of the exercise.
This section will outline five excellent variations and three alternatives that you can consider using in your training.
Landmine Press Variations
1) Banded Landmine Press
For the banded variation, simply place one end of a resistance band around the front foot and the other around the barbell.
The band will increase the amount of resistance that is experienced during the press thus applying additional stress to the working muscles and causing strength adaptations.
2) Standing Landmine Press
Very simply move from the kneeling position to a standing position for this variation. Although the change is simple, the dynamic of the movement changes slightly.
By standing during the press, there is a greater need for total body control as the muscles of the legs become more heavily involved in stabilizing the movement.
3) Tempo Landmine Press
The tempo variation is the same as the conventional landmine press with the only difference relating to the speed of each press.
Manipulating the tempo in this way can significantly increase positional strength, muscle activation, core stability, and coordination.
4) Single Arm Landmine Thruster
This variation is an excellent full-body strengthening exercise that incorporates two exercises – the landmine squat and the landmine press.
To perform a single arm landmine thruster, start in a standing position with the weight in hand. Perform a squat and as you rise out of it, press the bar.
5) Single Arm Landmine Push Press
The difference between the landmine press and push press is that the push press requires movement through the hips and knees to assist in the press.
For the push press variation, start by standing and hold the bar in hand. Very rapidly dip and drive at the knees and hips and immediately press the bar out.
Landmine Press Alternatives
1) Single Arm Kettlebell Press
Like the landmine press, the single arm kettlebell press can be effectively used to develop scapular control, movement, and unilateral strength.
The Z-Press is another pressing exercise that is most commonly used to build positional strength and core stability – this makes it an excellent alternative to the landmine press.
3) Overhead Press
In terms of developing raw shoulder strength, the overhead press is one of the best exercises that can be performed. Nothing quite compares to driving a heavy bar up and overhead.
The landmine press is a highly functional strength training exercise that will significantly improve shoulder strength, core stability, scapular control, and movement. It is certainly an exercise that has proven to be highly beneficial for the majority of lifters and athletes.
1 – Schory, Abbey; Bidinger, Erik; Wolf, Joshua; Murray, Leigh (2016-6). “A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE EXERCISES THAT PRODUCE OPTIMAL MUSCLE RATIOS OF THE SCAPULAR STABILIZERS IN NORMAL SHOULDERS”. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 11 (3): 321–336. ISSN 2159-2896. PMC 4886800. PMID 27274418.
2 – Radwan, Ahmed; Francis, Jennifer; Green, Andrew; Kahl, Eric; Maciurzynski, Diane; Quartulli, Ashley; Schultheiss, Julianne; Strang, Ryan; Weiss, Brett (2014-2). “IS THERE A RELATION BETWEEN SHOULDER DYSFUNCTION AND CORE INSTABILITY?”. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 9 (1): 8–13. ISSN 2159-2896. PMC 3924603. PMID 24567850.