By Tony Gracia, Head Coach and Co-Founder at Industrial Strength.
This series of articles will highlight fifteen of my favorite exercises that I think are awesome and do not get the appreciation they deserve. The first week of installments focused on major lower body strength developers, and this week will focus primarily on upper body strength movements.
UNDERRATED EXERCISE #5 = Landmine Press
The landmine press is similar to the kettlebell BUP in the last installment of this series, in that I categorize it with the military press family. The landmine press is awesome because it is one of the only free-weight exercises to have the lifter in a standing position and press in a similar angle to an incline bench press (other options usually require cable machines or jammer arm attachments to power racks that can be expensive). The ability to stand and press at an incline offers a few benefits compared to a traditional incline press. First off, by standing the shoulder blade is free to move, rather than being pinned on a bench. This is critically important for people working towards developing (or retaining) optimal overhead mechanics, because now the shoulder blade can move freely, in particular into a position of upward rotation. When the lifter is laying on a bench, the shoulder blade is pinned and can not upwardly rotate well. Second, the lifter will be using more of the body’s entire kinetic chain in a landmine press compared to a traditional incline press. This is fantastic for teaching the lifter to integrate proper core bracing and lower body positioning to get optimal transfer into their upper body strength and power. Finally, as noted in the BUP installment, many people do not have enough shoulder mobility and/or proximal stability to press overhead well (especially bilaterally). The landmine press is a great solution to that, as it allows the lifter to work all those same muscle groups while staying within a range of motion that they have a better preparedness level for.
HOW TO DO THEM
- Place one end of the barbell in the landmine unit – if you do not have a landmine you can try wedging the end of the bar into the corner of the room, but keep in mind it will probably damage the floor
- Pick up the other end of the barbell and bring it to shoulder height. The start position should have your hand just barely outside of and in front of your shoulder. Someone standing behind you should see approximately a 30° angle at your shoulder joint (elbow wider than shoulder, and wrist directly above the elbow)
- I recommend standing in a split stance, with the leg of the pressing arm in the back (if you are pressing with your right hand, your right leg is back). Both knees should be slightly bent, your front foot flat on the ground, and your rear foot engaged through the toes with your heel off of the ground
- Press the bar to a lockout in such a way that it takes the path of half of the capital letter U, meaning the bar sweeps out as it goes up
- It is important to keep your core engaged and almost be in a slightly “crunched” position forward; the leverage of the barbell is going to try to tip you backwards and force your spine into hyperextension – do not let that happen
- Finish your rep by “reaching” your arm forward, encouraging your shoulder blade to glide around your rib cage
- Use an active negative to return the bar to the start position, meaning you should be “pulling” it back kind of like a row or a chin up
- One other great variation is to turn this into a push press. Perform this from the same stance as described above, and add a little bit of leg drive to initiate the press. In a traditional push press the weight goes straight up, so both legs provide power 50/50. However, with the landmine the bar is going both up and forward, so the rear leg needs to provide the majority of the power here. Make sure when you do these that the power is actually coming from your legs and NOT from twisting your shoulders (I see that as a common error from many people)
- As an alternative, you can perform this exercise from a half-kneeling position. If you are pressing with your right arm then your right knee will be down. All other instructions apply here too. The half kneeling version is often a bit harder because the press is now more vertical, meaning the leverage is less to your advantage. The benefit would be introducing the lifter to a more “overhead” position at the lockout. The drawback would be less integration of the entire kinetic chain than the standing version. Both the standing and the half-kneeling versions are great, and it is not a bad idea to include both into your training