Required Equipment: Barbell
Optional Equipment: Free weights, landmine press device
Landmine Squat 101
So what’s a landmine squat and how does it compare and contrast to other squat variations? Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Landmine Squat?
A landmine squat is simply a squat using a landmine device. I know, that’s pretty helpful, right? So, let’s break this down a bit:
As for a landmine device, let me quote from my other article:
You can buy a dedicated landmine attachment device that you insert one end of a barbell in, or you can also simply just push one end into a corner. Since one end of the barbell is “fixed” in place, that means the curving path of the barbell – along with neutral grip – makes landmine exercises easier on the joints than other movements.
So a landmine squat is strength exercise in which the trainee lowers their hips from a standing position and then stands back up again while holding a barbell that has one end fixed in place.
The landmine squat is pretty simple to learn front squat variation and is ideal for beginners to more advanced lifters. Just because it’s simple, though, does not mean you should skip it. It can be used in a myriad of ways – as a progression from a bodyweight squat, to shift muscular emphasis to your quads, or just as a new squat variation to use.
Step-by-Step: How do I do it?
So what’s proper squat form for landmine squats? Well, performing the landmine squat is actually really easy and is one the simplest non-body weight squat variations you can learn.
Remember, you want one end of the barbell anchored into either a corner or with a landmine attachment. Once one end is fixed in place and you’ve added weight plates to the non-fixed end (optional), you’re ready to begin.
- Stand holding the weighted end of the barbell with both hands in front of your chest. Your feet should be level and shoulder width apart.
- Brace your core, lean forward slightly and grasp the end of the bar with both hands in a neutral grip. Bend your hips and with your knees slightly bent, get into a partial squat.
- The elbows should be bent and the bar held around chest height. This is your starting position.
- With your core braced and a slight forward bend, bend at the hips and begin your squat descent. Once you can’t bend at the hips, bend your knees to continue squatting down until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Ideally, your knees will be bent somewhere around a 90 degree angle.
- Stop your descent, push your feet into the floor, and drive thru your feet to stand back up. This can be done slowly or more explosively, depending on your goals. Don’t lock out your knees.
- That’s one rep. Go back to the starting position and repeat the process to perform another rep. Be sure to focus on proper form over weight.
What muscles are worked?
Landmine squats, like all squats, are a tremendous exercise for strengthening your legs and lower body. Since you hold the barbell out in front of your body instead of, say, on your back like in a traditional squat, the emphasis of the exercise changes. Traditional squats – by virtue of having the weight on your back – place more emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings.
A landmine squat – by virtue of having the weight in front of you – places more emphasis on your quadriceps. Additionally, because you are holding the weight at chest height, the core has to work to stabilize your body while your lats and upper back muscles work to keep the barbell up.
You’ll also get some additional work in your spinal erectors as you keep a flat back and tall chest 2 if you have a t-shirt with writing on it, someone should be able to read it easily as you squat while you squat.
Landmine Squat Benefits
Obviously the strength benefits are great and, by itself, is a reason to squat. But, there are some additional reasons to landmine squat.
For one, it’s easy to learn and can be performed by almost everyone. That shouldn’t be discounted, especially when it comes to inexperienced or younger athletes. It can serve as a bridge between a bodyweight squat and more advanced squat options. It’s rather safe since you can just drop the weight if on the floor if it’s too heavy 3 just watch your toes.
I also find the exercise great for those that have limited mobility. Most people are tight in the hips and ankles. That leads them to “falling back” on their heels when squatting. By having the weight in front, it shores up their squat form. And since you can control the squat depth easily, you can slowly work on increasing mobility over time.
It’s also safe and easy to make the exercise more dynamic. So, for example, you can explode out of the hole – the bottom of the squat – into a jump. While you can do that with a traditional squat, that also puts a lot of strain on your back which is something you don’t have with a landmine squat.
Lastly, it’s easy to modify the landmine squat. Obviously, you can add weight rather easily but what I mean is that you can add variations easily. For example, you can do a squat to overhead press by just extending your arms at the top. Or you can extend on your toes at the top to get some calf work.
The versatility of the landmine squat shouldn’t be overlooked and one of it’s biggest benefits.
Landmine Squat Variations
Landmine Split Squat
Split squats are an awesome variation where you have one foot forward and one foot back. In doing so, you shift the emphasis to primarily working one leg at a time. This allows you to correct muscle imbalances more easily as you focus on one leg.
There’s nothing special about a landmine split squat as compared to barbell split squats other than it’s much easier (and safer) to perform.
Banded Landmine Squat
A pretty esoteric version that can be a little tricky to setup, using a band (or chain) puts huge emphasis at the top part of the squat. These are particular great if you’re working on “locking out” the top part of your squat.
Landmine Squat to Press
I covered this variation in my landmine press article, but it bears repeating here. Basically, it’s a normal landmine squat but, as you reach the top part of your squat, you continue to press the bar overhead.
In doing so, you can some shoulder work. As an additional bonus, you make this really dynamic by “punching” the weight overheard.
Comparison to Other Squat Types
As I mentioned, there are quite a few landmine squat variations that we can come up with. But let’s do a quick comparison to some other variations.
Back squats are king of exercises – along with the deadlift – that probably everyone knows. And it’s the king of posterior activation for a reason — you probably won’t find a quicker way to get stronger or add mass. You should back squat if you can.
But…while it’s a simple exercise, it can be little more difficult to get correct squat form for beginners or those with restrictions as compared to the landmine version. If you have back issues, a heavy load on your bad isn’t always ideal either.
As compared to the landmine squat, you’ll get more glute and hamstring activation with back squats but less quad activation. It’s also more difficult to modify the exercise and can be more “dangerous” if you’re squatting to failure.
Traditional Front Squats
A basic front squat has a ton in common with a landmine squat. After all, the landmine version is really just a front squat variation. But there are some key differences between the two.
For one, you need better lower body mobility to front squat as your torso has be more upright when you squat. Not only that, but depending on how you’re holding the barbell, you need better mobility in your wrists and/or shoulders.
The weight loading is slightly different as well. While they’re both in front, it’s much higher on your shoulders in a front squat. This requires more stability and control in your core to keep the weight upright and from shifting.
Front squats (and back squats) are a great alternative, especially if you’re looking to add some muscle mass.
One of my favorite squat variations 4along with overhead squats, which are much tougher[/mfn, goblet squats are a great front squat variation. Similar to landmine squats, goblet squats are performed while holding a weight – typically a kettlebell or dumbbell – out in front your body.
The muscles worked as well as the mobility requirements are going to be similar as well. I look at goblet squats as a slightly more advanced version of landmine squats.
In terms of difficulty to perform, a landmine squat is easier than a goblet squat which is easier than a traditional front squat.
If you’re looking some other alternatives, see this kettlebell squat variation guide that I just recently wrote.
Landmine squats are a simple to learn type of squat exercise in which the trainee lowers their hips from a standing position and then stands back up again while holding a barbell that has one end fixed in place.
They are easy to learn with relatively low mobility needs that make them ideal for beginners to more advanced lifters. They are a lot of variations – from split squats to more dynamic versions – that can be easily incorporated to any workout routine.
Use can also use landmine squats as a progression or regression from other squats or just as a new squat variation to use. If you’re looking for something new, go ahead and give landmine squats a try today.
Landmine Squat FAQs
What is a landmine squat good for?
Landmine squat benefits are numerous. It strengthens the entire body with particular focus on your lower body – namely your quads and glutes. You also strengthen your upper back and core muscles by virtue of having to stabilize the weight that is out front of you.
They can also serve as “bridge” between bodyweight squats and more advanced squat variations.
Are landmine squats effective?
Yes! The Landmine Squat is a great variation which helps increase functional strength and allows you to improve your squat form. Additionally, there are easy to learn and can be done by almost anyone.
Landmine squats are also great for those with mobility issues and are more joint friendly. You can also perform it in place of heavier weighted barbell movements such as the traditional back squat or other options
What muscles do landmine squats work?
Landmine squats strengthen your entire body with particular focus on your lower body – namely your quads and glutes. You also get some upper back and core strength training by virtue of having to stabilize the weight that is out front of you.