It’s leg day and squats are up! You hit the rack, slide a couple of light plates on either end of a barbell and proceed to squat. It doesn’t feel that comfortable and you’re not totally confident in your form, but you know you’ve got to increase the weight if you want to reap the benefits. So you tentatively add more load and ready yourself for your working sets.
You unrack the bar, set the feet and take a deep breath. As you squat down, you feel a discomfort in the lower back. It’s not enough to stop the set, but you’re cautious of loading heavier. So you struggle through a couple more rounds and move swiftly on to the next exercise.
Whether it’s the lower back, knees, shoulders..or just general discomfort, this sums up the relationship many gym goers have with barbell back squats.
What is a landmine squat?
A landmine squat is a front squat variation. (There are no explosives involved.) You slot one end of a barbell into a landmine attachment and load the opposite end.
You hold the loaded end of the barbell against your upper chest and squat from there.
Why are landmine squats a good alternative to back squats?
The reality is, the barbell back squat is a complex exercise. It demands full mobility from your ankles, hips, upper back and shoulders. On top of that, you need excellent technique to do it well and safely.
Even if you tick those boxes, it just might not suit your body frame. (Also, you may just not like doing it)
The squat is not an exercise, it is a movement pattern. It can be loaded in different ways.
How experienced do you need to be to landmine squat?
If you are new to lifting, it’s a solid and safe way for you to learn the squat movement pattern. They will let make you good progress with your lower body and core without the worry of not having your barbell technique nailed down yet.
If you are an experienced lifter and have no issues with barbell back squats, it’s still a very good idea to get them into your programme.
Movement variability is great for joint health, functional strength and muscle gains.
What are landmine squat benefits?
They are joint friendly for your whole body
As the weight is on the front side of your body, you can squat with a more upright torso. This means less strain on your lower back muscles.
The arcing bar path forces you to sit back and load the hips. This takes pressure off the knees.
Holding the bar against your chest with the elbows tucked is a very strong, stable and safe position for the shoulders.
They are easy to perform safely
As there is a point of contact with the ground, you are very stable. The bar will naturally guide the movement. This will help you to squat safely with good technique, pretty much from day 1!
Landmine squats do not need nearly the same ankle, hip and shoulder mobility as their barbell cousin. This means there is less chance of you overworking some joints over others.
They build functional strength and muscle
The landmine can be loaded heavy, safely. This means you can challenge yourself across both lower and higher repetition ranges. This will effectively build muscle and strength.
What muscles are worked by the landmine squat?
It will primarily target your:
- shoulder stabilisers (to hold the bar in position)
How do landmine squats work your core?
As it is a front loaded exercise, it challenges your core and back to maintain a stable, upright torso. Those muscles will be screaming…in a good way!
How to landmine squat
This is a full video tutorial of the exercise that covers the set up through to execution.
Otherwise, here’s how you set up and execute the movement.
- Prop the bar up on a bench (You may need to place a weight plate under the loaded bar, so that you can get into the start position safely).
- Set your feet in your ideal squat stance.
- Squat down and cup your hands under the end of the barbell. Hand over hand. Palms pressed together. Elbows tucked (Hold the bar against your upper chest, just under the chin).
- Breathe in. Brace the abs and push through your feet to stand up.
- Adjust your stance if you need to.
- Squat down, bend at the hips and knees and keep a straight back.
- When you get to the squat depth (aim for hips just below knees) push through your feet and drive the hips forward to stand back up.
- Breathe in on the way down. Breathe out on the way back up.
How do you program landmine squats?
You can program these just like any other squat or compound exercise. It works well for both and lower set/rep schemes to target strength or muscle growth. Work it in to match your primary goal.
The landmine squat is a great alternative to the barbell back squat and a great exercise in its own right. They suit beginners as well as advanced lifters. Load it up and go make some pain-free gains!