landmine press alternative

11 Best Landmine Press Alternatives

The landmine exercise as a whole is one of the most effective and efficient setups in the gym.  With only one barbell, a trainee can train a huge variety of exercises while seamlessly moving from one exercise to the other.  One of these exercises is the landmine press, a favorite accessory movement for upper body pushing exercises. 

Benefits Of The Landmine Press

The landmine pressing exercise has a ton of unique benefits that makes it a must for any program.  Here are a few of the top reasons that make the landmine press such an effective exercise.

Ton of Variations

When talking about the “landmine press”, that could really mean quite a few different exercises.  The first variation comes from performing the movement kneeling or standing.  The standing position will require more core stability while the kneeling position will allow you to use a heavier load.  The second variation comes from using both arms or a single arm.  One arm will create more activation to the core and stability muscles due to the unilateral motion while two hands allow heavier weight. 

Therefore, that’s four different variations for just the “landmine press”.  However, there are also “landmine punches” and “landmine throws” which are further variations that work the same muscles with a bit different activation

Provides A Neutral Grip

A landmine press provides a neutral grip which many trainees may find more comfortable when performing pressing exercises.  Using a barbell for overhead pressing can cause excessive torque on the wrist, especially when starting to use heavier loads.   In addition, some trainees have mobility issues with their shoulders that make it more difficult to press using a pronated grip.   These issues rarely come up, if ever, when using a landmine exercise due to the neutral grip.

Simple Technique

Landmine exercises in general are fairly simple when compared with regular free weight exercises.  This is because it lays somewhere in the middle of a machine and is free weight.  The landmine exercise still requires the trainees to stabilize the bar as there is free movement.  However, the trajectory path of the bar is somewhat fixed meaning if you stabilize the bar, all you must worry about is pushing the barbell.

Muscles Trained With The Landmine Press

The landmine press is an upper-body pushing exercise.  This means there are going to be three primary muscles that are being trained:

landmine press

1) Pectorals (Chest):  The pectorals are the largest muscles on the anterior portion of the upper body. 

2) Deltoids (Shoulders): The deltoids are also known as the shoulder muscles.  They are actually comprised of three different muscles; the anterior deltoid (front), medial deltoid (middle), and posterior deltoid (back).  Pressing primarily activates the anterior and medial deltoid.  The posterior deltoid is used for pulling exercises

3) Triceps:  The triceps sit on the posterior upper arm and are the main extensor muscles of the elbow

The Best 11 Alternative Exercises To The Landmine Press

While the landmine is an awesome movement, you want to have some great alternatives to do as well.  Maybe you just want some variety or perhaps you are unable to set up a landmine in your facility.  No worries, here are the best alternative exercises to perform for strength and hypertrophy of the delts, chest, and triceps.

1) Multi-Grip Bar Overhead Press

The multi-grip bar is an amazing bar as it allows a huge variety of handles.  What makes it most unique is the ability to perform regular movements with a neutral grip.  This makes it a great tool for overhead pressing.  One problem that may exist is that some trainees will find it too bulky to perform a traditional overhead press.  However, you can perform a pin press.  This merely involves pressing the bar directly off pins.  Set the pins to the desired height and rack the bar.  Now, just press straight out of the rack.

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Equipment Needed

  • Rack or Cage
  • Multi-Grip Bar
  • Weight Plates

How To Perform

  • Setup an appropriate height to rack the bar
  • Choose the appropriate grip.  Ideally, you arm will be straight out
  • Unrack the bar and start place in the rack position
  • Drive up with your arms and deltoids until directly overhead
  • Come down smoothly
  • Remember to keep a tight butt and core to keep the body as straight as possible

2) Multi-Grip Bar Bench Press

The multi-grip bar is back for some bench press action.  This movement is performed in the same exact manner as a bench press except using the multi-grip bar.  You will likely find that you are able to use a few of the grips and in reality, either is ok.  Keep in mind that the closer grip you use will result in more elbow flexion and tricep activation.  You can also perform pin presses with a bench as well.

Equipment Needed

  • Bench
  • Multi-Grip Bar
  • Weight Plates

How To Perform

  • Set up the bench and bar
  • Lay down on the bench
  • Keep your feet planted and butt and upper back on the pad
  • Unrack the bar and bring it directly over the chest. 
  • Let the bar come down and then drive up until full extension

3) Z-Press

The Z-Press is one of the best-kept secrets of the strength world.  It is commonly used by powerlifters, strongmen, and Olympic lifters.  It is basically an overhead press done sitting down…on the ground.  The trainees will sit with their butt on the ground and their legs straight out in front.  This increases the activation of your core significantly.  More so, it will increase your mobility while also taking out any form of leg drive.  These are hard but deliver fast results.  That being said, start light…

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell
  • Rack
  • Weight Plates

How To Perform

  • Sit down on the ground with your legs out in front
  • Make sure you are in a position to unrack the bar
  • When ready, unrack and bring the bar to your upper chest
  • Be sure to keep your elbows under the bar.  Do not let them fall back
  • Keeping a tight torso, drive the bar up directly overhead
  • Allow the bar to come down smoothly

Z-Press with Dumbbells

via Gfycat

4) Kneeling Overhead Press

This version of the overhead press is simply done by kneeling on one knee while using dumbbells to press.  This allows the movement to have a similar stimulus to doing a kneeling landmine press.  As mentioned, this movement usually uses dumbbells rather than a barbell due to the difficulty of unracking the bar.  You are also able to use a neutral grip while pressing, further simulating a landmine press.

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbell

How To Perform

  • Choose an appropriate size dumbbell.  You only need one.
  • Get on the ground and place one knee one the ground and the other leg propped up in front of you
  • Take a dumbbell with the arm of the leg that’s up
  • Choose an overhand or neutral grip
  • Bring the dumbbell up to your shoulder
  • Drive te dumbbell up overhead ad then let down smoothly
  • Switch sides

5) Kneeling Cable Press At An Angle (Low-to-High)

This cable crossover exercise is surprisingly difficult.  This is due to the increased activation needed to stabilize the pulley.  This is a unilateral exercise meaning you will perform one arm at a time.  The trainee will do a single-arm press by pressing up at an angle to mimic the same line of movement of the landmine press.  When setting up the pulley, be sure to set its location about 1/3 of the way down your back.  You may need to play with the height to find a comfortable height.

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Equipment Needed

How To Perform

  • Place the a cable at a low position with single handle attachment
  • Get in front of the cable facing away
  • Place one knee on the ground and one leg up
  • The leg that’s down should be on the same side as the pressing arm
  • Grab the attachment and then push upwards at an angle, similar to a landmine press

6) Arms Extended Sled Push

This is a surprisingly easy exercise yet surprisingly effective exercise.  It involved pushing a sled but doing so while keeping your arms extended on the posts (or whatever you push on for your specific sled).  By doing so, you are causing an isometric contraction in your triceps and shoulders as they must take the force without collapsing.  Not only does this variation kill your shoulders, but you’ll also get in the metabolic conditioning of sled work.

Equipment Needed

  • Sled or prowler
  • Weight plates

How To Perform

  • Set the weights up on the sled
  • Place your hands on the pushing poles
  • Keeping your arms extended, push the sled

7) Arms Extended Sled Push-Drag

Similar to above, but harder.  For this exercise, you will need to have some form of straps.  Something like these from Spud Inc. works great.  Unlike normal sled pulls where you face the sled and use your back muscles to pull, you will be facing away from the sled and pushing onto the strap handles by keeping your arms extended.  These are very difficult as you will need significant activation in the deltoids for stabilization.  Again, this will utilize an isometric contraction but they are extremely effective.

Equipment Needed

  • Sled or prowler
  • Straps
  • Weight plates
  • Chains (possibly)

How To Perform

  • Set the weights up on the sled
  • Set the straps up so that they are in front of the sled
  • If you only have short straps, use a chain to increase the distance
  • Grab the straps and pull the drag out
  • Extend your arms out in front
  • Now walk while keeping your arms extended to drag the sled behind you

8) Sled Press With Straps

This movement is set up exactly as above.  However, you will now perform an actual pressing motion with the straps rather than a constant push with arms extended.  After set-up, you will press your arms out similar to a landmine press.  Then, you will take a few steps forward and do it again.  Again, there is a significant increase in the deltoids due to the instability of the straps.

Equipment Needed

  • Sled or prowler
  • Straps
  • Weight plates
  • Chains (possibly)

How To Perform

  • Set the weights up on the sled
  • Set the straps up so that they are in front of the sled
  • If you only have short straps, use a chain to increase the distance
  • Grab the straps and pull the drag out
  • Begin by starting with your hands pulled back, similar to the bottom of the bench press
  • Now extend your arms which will drag the sled forward
  • Step up and repeat

9) Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press should already be a staple in your workout program.  However, it’s also a great alternative to the landmine press.  This is because the angle in which your pressing is in a very similar trajectory path; coming up from your chest an angle.  One benefit the incline bench press has is that you are able to use heavier loads compared to many of the other exercises on this list.

Equipment Needed

  • Incline Bench
  • Barbell Bar
  • Weight Plates

How To Perform

  • Set up the bench and barbell
  • Lay on the bench with the bar about midway up from your chest to you clavicle
  • Unrack the bar and bring the bar down to your upper chest
  • Once the bar taps the chest, drive the bar back up
  • If you have shoulder issues, you do not need to come down as far
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10) Decline Push Up

via Gfycat

The decline push-up is a great landmine alternative as you can perform it during home workouts.  It is performed by placing your feet up on a ledge and having your hands on the ground.  This puts you in a similar position as the incline bench press, except upside-down.  In fact, it’s basically the bodyweight version of the incline bench press.  This means that it will work the muscles in a very similar manner.

Equipment Needed

  • Nothing!  Just your body!
  • Some sort of ledge

How To Perform

  • Place your feet on a ledge to elevate your feet
  • Extend your body and place your hands on the ground
  • Your arms should be vertical
  • Lower your body down to the ground
  • Drive your body up
  • The higher your feet are elevated, the more emphasis on your shoulders (and they will be harder)

11) Wall Balls

Wall balls suck.  But they’re also effective.  Because you are throwing the ball up onto the wall, you are able to train a similar movement pattern as the landmine press.  You have a few choices with this exercise.  Usually, wall balls are used with high reps as a metabolic conditioning exercise.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  However, you can also use a heavier ball and work on power production.  Better yet, just do both!

Equipment Needed

  • Medicine ball
  • Sturdy wall

How To Perform

  • Stand back from the wall by about 6-12″
  • Grab the medicine ball and bring it up to your chest
  • You should hold the ball by cupping it and having your elbows as under the ball as possible
  • Perform a squat and then drive up (Depending on your goal you can choose the depth of your squat)
  • As soon as you pop up, throw the ball up and into the wall
  • The ball will bounce off the wall and come down
  • Catch it and immediately do down into your second rep

How To Program These Landmine Alternative Exercises

Just like any other exercise would.  Remember that if you want to train for hypertrophy, you should use reps in the 8-12+ range.  Better strength adaptations will come from loads that allow 4-6 reps. 

There are 11 different landmine alternatives listed.  You obviously don’t need to use all of them, nor should you.  Your best progress will come from gradually alternating your exercises over time.  This will allow a slightly different stimulus which is what’s needed for constant progression.

That’s All You Need For Some Powerful Delts, Pecs, And Tris!

This is more than enough to supplement traditional landmine exercises.  Perform these in a proper program with progressive overload and you’ll sure to grow some huge pushing muscles!

Frequently Asked Questions

What exercises can you do with a landmine?

A lot.  You can do a complete body workout by only using the landmine.  It is an extremely versatile piece of equipment.  A non-exhaustive list of exercises include:
Landmine squat
Landmine sumo deadlift
Landmine lunge
Landmine one-arm row
Landmine row
Landmine woodchopper
Landmine chest press

How heavy is a landmine bar?

A landmine uses a typical barbell.  These usually weigh 45lbs or some gyms may have a woman’s bar which weighs 35lbs.

Does landmine press work upper chest?

Yes.  It is equivalent to an incline press so it will hit the upper chest, deltoids, and triceps.  However, because the hands are more medial (closer together in the middle) it may actually activate the upper chest more so than the incline bench.

Garett Reid

Garett Reid is a sports and performance consultant. He has over 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry and has worked in virtually every field; strength & conditioning coach, gym owner, educator, and consultant. Garett also has extensive experience working in the international sector in China and Thailand. Garett currently has his Masters in Exercise Science and holds his NSCA CSCS and CISSN certification. He will begin work on his Ph.D. this year.

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