The landmine press is one of the few pressing exercises that uses the barbell vertically instead of horizontally. Unlike the bench press or shoulder press that rely on gripping the bar on either side, the landmine press takes a single end of the bar and extends it overhead. It is an excellent exercise for developing the muscles of the upper body. The different techniques of the can be used to target specific muscles such as the anterior delts, but in general it is great for working the shoulders, chest, and triceps. In this article we’ll go over the press, the muscles it works, and some of the alternatives that can be incorporated to boost results.
Landmine press muscles worked
Landmine Press: Muscles Worked
Pectorals (Upper Chest)
The chest (also known as the pectoralis major) is a large, fan-shaped muscle that covers the much smaller pectoralis minor. Because of its placement on top of the chest wall, the muscle works synergistically with the latissimus dorsi to adduct the arm.
There are two portions of the pectoralis major: the pectoralis major clavicular and the pectoralis major sternal. During the landmine press the clavicular pectoralis major (which inserts at the collarbone) works along side front delt to press the barbell away from the body. This motion is great for targeting the upper chest and creating the defined separation between the two portions of the chest.
The delts make up a group of muscles that pass over, in front of, and behind the shoulder. Since these muscles cover the rotator cuff, it moves in several directions and performs numerous tasks. The anterior (front) fibers create flexion and internal rotation of the humerus, while the posterior (rear) fibers extend and laterally extend the humerus.
As the barbell is pressed during the exercise, the anterior delt fires up to push the weight away from the body. This motion as peviously mentioned works in unison with the upper chest.
The trapezius is a large rectangular muscle at the base of the neck that helps to support the shoulder girdle. The trapezius along with the rhomboids an levator scapulae support the shoulder girdle by pressing and moving the shoulder blade along the back. Because the shoulder girdle has no bony articulation, it uses the shoulder blade as a stable point of origin for the muscles of the arms and shoulder to move the humerus.
The trapezius specifically stabilizes the scapula for deltoid movement. As you press the dumbbell away from the body the trapezius depresses the shoulder blades and drives them towards the centerline of the back, establishing the shoulders as a solid base for the arms to push off from.
The serratus anterior is a collection of lateral muscles attached to the rib cage that insert into the border of the scapula. Because of its connection to the shoulder blade, it is responsible for it’s stabilization, abduction, and upward rotation. These motions are essential for most actions of the shoulder girdle which is why the serratus is important for the landmine press. It is also activated during other exercises such as the push-up, incline bench press, and pullover.
Landmine Press Equipment
The landmine press is a very unique exercise, and it’s unique nature requires a different approach to the equipment used to perform it. Most of the equipment is pretty standard; a barbell, plates, etc. The piece that really stands out is the landmine attachment itself. You’ve likely seen it at the base of squat racks and seen it used to perform exercises like the landmine row.
For some of you reading this may seem like a problem, especially if your gym doesn’t have this device. No need to worry, there are plenty of landmine press attachments online that are both inexpensive and portable. Some of them only require a bumper plate or two to serve as an anchor like the example below.
Landmine Press Without Attachment
If you don’t feel like shelling out money, you can always make a makeshift landmine setup. The setup is pretty simple, but it does require a few important elements. First you’re going to need a corner or a very heavy object to flush the base of the barbell against. This will prevent it from sliding backwards while giving it the mobility to move freely as you press it.
If you don’t have access to a corner, the next best thing may be to use two very heavy dumbbells. If you lay them on the ground and angle their heads slightly so that they’re still touching, you can place the barbell in between. Essentially you’re just creating a makeshift corner. Remember to use a weight heavy enough to keep the barbell from sliding or the dumbbells from rolling apart.
I wouldn’t say these methods are foolproof, but they are the next best thing if you’re performing the landmine press without an attachment.
How To Perform The Landmine Press
- The first step to the landmine press is setting up the equipment properly. Whether you’re doing it with or without the landmine press attachment, make sure you have enough room on the gym floor for the barbell to move and rest freely.
- Slide the the barbell into the attachment or prop the barbell into a corner. Once the barbell is secure, begin adding bumper plates to the end closest to you. Any size will work; even if it’s the large 45 lb plate, it will rest far enough on the bar that it won’t obstruct your movements. No matter the weight you settle on, just make sure there is enough room on the neck of the bar to comfortably place your hands.
- Lay the barbell directly in front of you at the centerline of your body. This is where it should align through the entirety of the exercise.
2) Starting Position:
- Place your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed directly in front of your knees. Bring the barbell to chest height so that the end of the bar is level with the clavicle. Place your hands under the barbell on either side. The bar should rest comfortably on your palms with your hands open towards the ceiling.
- Take a slight step back away from the bar and lean your body forward. This adjustment will create an angle that favorably targets both the shoulders and upper chest. The new movement path will also allow for a greater range of motion, which leads to more substantial muscle contraction.
Tip: if you want more stability without making the exercise any easier, try doing the press kneeling.
- Keep your shoulders back, chest high, and your back in a neutral position. This will be your starting position.
3) The Press
- With the bar resting at the centerline of your body, begin to press the weight by extending your arms above you. Because of the slight lean forward, you should feel a nice contraction in your anterior delts and chest.
- As the weight travels higher, emphasize the squeeze on the centerline of the chest. Squeeze both pecs together towards the top of the movement to really feel the fibers of the chest working.
Tip: as the bar moves further away, emphasize the squeeze in your serratus anterior and lats. As you inhale, feel your lats spread as your rib cage expands. Over time this process will add some great definition to the muscles around the base of your chest.
- You should keep pressing the bar until your arms are nearly fully extended. There should still be a slight bend in your elbows.
- Pause at the top of the movement briefly, then slowly begin lowering the bar to the starting position. Fight the force of gravity as you control the weight down to your collarbone. Once at chest height repeat the process for reps
Landmine Press Single Arm
The standard landmine press is a great exercise, but the single arm landmine press may offer even more benefits you haven’t thought of.
Greater Range Of Motion And Stretch In The Chest
When lowering the bar during this version of the landmine press, you’re no longer limited to bringing the bar it to chest height. As the barbell travel towards the chest, rotating your torso allows the weight to travel further down the baseline of your body. This landmine rotational press creates a much deeper stretch in the chest towards the bottom of the movement.
Improves Unilateral Strength
If you happen to have strength or size imbalances in your chest or shoulders, the landmine rotational press is a good exercise to try. Because it’s single-arm, it allows you to target your weaker side much more effectively than the standard landmine press.
Helps Build The Muscles Of The Core
The rotation of the torso during this exercise is excellent for fine-tuning the muscles of the core such as the obliques and traverse abdominis. Because of it’s function as a compound exercise, the movement pattern of this landmine press is essential for developing functional strength, creating a solid bridge between the upper and lower body.
Single Arm Landmine Press For The Shoulders
As stated earlier, the single arm landmine press an exceptional exercise for developing the shoulders, specifically the anterior delts. The technique doesn’t vary much whether you’re trying to target the shoulders or the chest. The main difference is the angle in which you position body. To work the shoulders get into a staggered stance, bring the bar further to one side, and push all the way through. When pushing all the way through you’ll want to extend your arm even further than the standard landmine press, really leaning in to emphasize the shoulders.
I think seeing it done will make all the difference, and few people explain it better than John Meadows in this video no below.
There are a few options that you can add to your workout or substitute for the landmine press.
Incline Dumbbell Crush Press
The incline dumbbell crush press, otherwise known as the close grip incline press, is a great alternative to the landmine press. This is especially true if you don’t have immediate access to a barbell or landmine press attachment.
Like the landmine press, the incline crush press focuses on the inner and upper chest by positioning the dumbbells closer together. Studies have found that while flat bench exercises produce similar muscle activity in the chest and front delts, incline bench of 30 degrees produces higher activation of the upper chest. You can even perform the single arm version like the landmine by simply pressing each arm individually.
This exercise will deliver a great pump to the chest, but I advise one specific point: extend your arms during every rep. It’s easy to slip into partial reps when your arms start getting tired- it happens to the best of us. However when you press the arms overhead until they’re near full extension, you’ll get an enhanced contraction in the inner and upper chest. If you have a moment try it for yourself; feel the difference between pressing your arm half way and at the top of the movement. Press fully for every rep and I promise you will feel and see the difference.
- Adjust the bench to a 30 degree angle. Obviously it doesn’t have to be precise- just around 30, but less than 45 degrees.
- Once seated, take both dumbbells and lay back onto the bench. Adjust your hands into a neutral position and bring them close together so that both dumbbells are touching.
- The dumbbells should be hovering an inch or two above your upper chest. The highest point of the dumbbell should be level with your collarbone. Adjust your elbows so they are bent on either side of the bench. Keep your chest high, creating a deep stretch in the fibers of your pecs. This will be your starting position.
- With a deep breath in, begin pressing the weight overhead. Make sure the weights stay together at all times and remain parallel with your upper chest. Extend your arms until they are almost fully extended, only stopping with a slight bend in your elbows.
- As the dumbbells rise to the top of the movement, feel the squeeze in your inner chest. Push both pecs together as if you’re trying to hold a dollar bill between them. Hold this for a brief second, then begin lowering the dumbbells.
- Fight the force of gravity until the weights are just above your chest. Repeat this process for reps.
At first glance, this exercise doesn’t even look remotely related to the landmine press. While that may be true on the surface, dips are an excellent way to target the chest, delts , and triceps. Most gym-goers use dips to specifically target the triceps, but with a slight adjustment in form it will also blast the pecs.
The key is to targeting the chest during dips is creating a forward lean. When you dip straight up and down, it puts direct emphasis on the tricep. When you lean forward and cross your feet further behind you, your center of gravity shifts higher towards your chest.
If you can’t perform at least 8 bodyweight dips, I would recommend using the assisted dip machine or placing your feet on something to alleviate some weight. You’ll get the most out of this exercise if you do more reps with excellent form.
- Place your hand on either side of the bar. They should grip the widest part of the bar to specifically work the chest. Keep your elbows locked to keep the torso upright and arms fully extended. This will be your starting position until you’re ready to dip.
- Before dipping, lean your body forward so that your torso is tilted a few inches past your hands.
- Kick your feet backwards to aid in the forward tilt of the body. They should be positioned a few behind your hands.
- As you begin dipping flare out your elbows to target the chest. Let the weight of your body shift to the shoulder region as you slowly go down. Your body should continue to travel downward until the bend in your arms are at 90 degrees or a little lower.
- After pausing briefly at the bottom of the movement straighten your arms to return to the starting position. Continue lifting yourself until there is a slight bend in your elbows. Feel the contraction in your chest and triceps as you suspend yourself briefly. Repeat these steps for reps.