Landmine Press, Sans Landmine

About a month ago, strength coach extraordinaire Eric Cressey published a blog post, which detailed the Half-Kneeling 1-Arm Landmine  Press.  As Cressey wrote:

First, with the trailing leg positioned appropriately, it’s a static hip flexor stretch that is even more effective because the athlete is cued to activate the same-side glutes and brace the core, so you’re effectively increasing stiffness at an adjacent joint to help “solidify” the newly acquired range of motion into hip extension.  As I’ve written previously, increasing stiffness can be a good thing.

Second, the core stability benefits occur in a number of contexts.  Because the load forces the athlete to resist extension, it serves as a great anterior core stability exercise.  And, because it’s loaded asymmetrically, it serves as a great lateral and rotary core stability exercise.

Third, I like all asymmetrical-loaded upper-body strength exercises because they train thoracic mobility and dynamic stability of the scapula, which you simply don’t get on the same level with push-up variations and bilateral upper body exercises (although those categories do provide unique benefits in their own right).

Fourth, because of the thicker handle at the end of the barbell, you’re getting a different grip and forearm stimulus.

I’m a big fan of pressing from a half-kneeling position for the same reason as Eric; it’s a static hip flexor stretch, can enhance hip stability, and I find that it encourages people to extend from the thoracic spine instead of hyperextending at the lumbar spine.  The landmine variety adds greater core stability requirements, as Eric notes, and I can see it as a good overhead pressing variation for those who aren’t comfortable going directly overhead with a dumbbell or barbell.

The only problem is, how often do you find a Landmine in a commercial gym?

Hopefully your facility has one, but the odds are that it doesn’t.  I’ve spent the past few weeks tinkering with variations of angled barbell presses, and discovered a helpful version of a single arm press in this YouTube Video from Matt of The Strength Shop.  I’ve combined Matt’s standing press and Eric’s half-kneeling press into a modified Landmine press that you can complete in any power rack with adjustable support bars:

As you can see in the video, the weight plate on the stationary side of the barbell is inside the support bar, providing a hinge that allows for pressing.  The weight of the 45lb plate prevents the barbell from slipping, but it limits side-to-side motion, so this press doesn’t move as freely as a landmine press.  What I’ve found interesting is that you can control the angle of the press a little bit better here than with a landmine, based on the height of the hinge side support bar.  A lower bar makes for a movement that’s closer to a traditional incline bench press, while a higher support bar makes for a press that’s closer to a true overhead movement.

Whichever way you decide to set it up, the cues are still the same:

  • Provide gentle tension on the hip flexors on the trailing leg, brace the glutes, and pull the toes in to the ground.
  • Pull the chest up and brace the core to resist movement.
  • Pull the shoulder blades down and back.
  • The bar should travel in a straight line from your shoulder to extension; not across your body.

If you’re looking for an overhead pressing variation that smokes your core, the half kneeling 1 arm landmine press is where it’s at.  Don’t worry about not having access to a landmine at your gym; simply set the support bars to the appropriate heights and press up, up, and away.

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