In the gym, most of us are on an ongoing journey to discover as much as possible about the forms of exercise that combine relatively simple steps with the broadest range of benefits.
Whether you suffer from joint pain, knee issues that affect your mobility, or just prefer a safe, straightforward squat alternative to build muscle and vary your exercise routines, the landmine squat has the potential to tick all your fitness boxes.
Whether you’re a gym novice, working around an injury or a seasoned weight lifter, the landmine squat should be on your radar. If it isn’t just yet, here’s why it should be.
What is a Landmine Squat?
In short, landmine squats are the perfect introduction to the world of squatting.
They don’t demand the levels of practice involved with a front squat in terms of perfecting technique, and they don’t rely on the levels of injury-free agility which other variations such as the back squat or goblin squat demand. But that doesn’t make them any less worthwhile.
In fact, landmine squats aren’t just the perfect introduction to the wider world of squatting; their usefulness goes way beyond that.
Landmine squats are a squat variation that relies on anterior loading. In other words, they involve lifting the weight placed in front of us. That might not sound groundbreaking, but it offers a safer, lower impact squat variation that will improve balance, build lower body strength, and improve muscle mass around the upper back, glutes and quads.
Don’t be discouraged by the name. The ”landmine” part simply refers to the attachment on the gym floor where one end of the barbell is slotted to prepare for safe, effective, and low-impact weightlifting.
Most gyms landmines, but if yours doesn’t, then it’s easy to build your own. A safe gap or corner of the room works just as well; just remember to cushion it with a towel to avoid scratched gym floors and walls.
If you have your barbell, your landmine, and a safe space to get started, here’s how to do just that.
How to do Landmine Squats
The landmine squat is a great squat variation to hone technique and build confidence and fitness to go forth into more challenging squat variations. The weight you choose to squat is up to you. It’s usually best to start light and build up to bigger plates as you get used to it.
If you’re ready to challenge yourself with a heavier weight, it’s important to elevate the barbell using a bench. This will allow you to safely get into position with a neutral spine before lifting the barbell instead of snatching it from much lower down off the floor, risking injury to chest muscles, joints, and hips.
The reason for that elevated height is essential. With the landmine squat, you are lifting in an arc from the middle of the chest. Because of that, your grip is an important factor. There is space between the end of your bar and the plates, but don’t be tempted to hold the bar in that space as you complete reps. The only safe place your hands need to be is at the very end of the bar, heels of the hands together, directly under the bar with fingers interlocked safely together over the end of the bar. The hands should almost be touching your chest, with your elbows tucked in.
Position yourself in line with the bar because the opposite end remains on the floor, you will be lifting in an arc, upwards and slightly forwards as you rise out of the squat.
This means you’ll need to allow space for yourself as your hips shift backwards. Use your first squat as a gauge to see if you need to adjust your feet closer or further away.
After a few reps, you will feel the point where your stance feels at its strongest, with feet and knees most stable. When you do, then stick with it.
When you’re doing reps, keep the weight on your heels, going down to around ninety degrees with a solid, straight back and the weight kept safely in front of your chest. The top of each rep is the ideal place to focusing on breathing.
The fixed arc in which the barbell travels during the landmine squat is the key to its effectiveness. Remember, on the way up, your feet are planted (shoulder length apart, in a solid stance), but your torso should be leaning slightly forwards. That motion is reversed on the way down.
For many people new to the world of squatting, that is the challenge.
Coping with that challenge is the key to effective squatting form and technique, allowing yourself to sit back into the squat with hips pushed back to prevent the bar from digging into the chest as you squat down.
It can be tricky at first but stick with it because the benefits are worth it.
What Muscles Does the Landmine Squat work?
Landmines squats can be ideal for targeting quads, particularly in taller people who might struggle to target that area with traditional squats.
The overall impact of landmine squats for building lower body strength is excellent. They’re also a safer, lower-impact alternative.
Landmine squats target many different muscles in the lower body and core, including:
6. Deltoids and scapular stabilising muscles
They offer all the benefits of a traditional squat whilst also teaching form and technique.
What are the Benefits of Landmine Squats?
The most notable benefit of the landmine squat is its accessibility.
Front and back squat form takes time and confidence to master; the landmine squat doesn’t. But that doesn’t make it any less effective from engaging all the muscles you want to.
There are many benefits to doing a landmine squat, including:
1. The landmine squat helps to build lower body strength, muscle mass and eradicate muscle imbalance
2. The landmine squat helps to perfect technique and posture for those new to squats
3. The landmine squat works a broad range of muscle groups
4. The landmine squat is a perfect, low impact exercise for those working around injuries
5. Landmine squats are a joint-friendly squat form
6. Many taller people discover that landmine squats are the ideal squat form to improve their quads
7. The landmine squat is brilliant for improving your core, overall aesthetic and
8. The landmine squat offers transferable benefits for deadlifts and other squat forms
Other squat forms, front squats, back squats, goblin squats, and overhead squats, come with a reputation. They’re incredibly challenging and a bit intimidating in terms of technique, the practise required to master them, and the heavy weights used when lifting in this way.
The landmine squat is a different beast, one that isn’t overwhelming to the novice and offers something genuinely useful for everyone. The next time you’re in the gym, why not give that landmine ago. You certainly won’t regret it.