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How to Do A Landmine Squat: Videos & Variations (2020)

landmine squat banner image

The landmine squat is one of the safer squat alternatives and for us, it’s the best exercise for teaching the correct squat form. Whether you’re a complete beginner or training around an injury, landmine squats are a brilliant low impact exercise that still have plenty of benefits.

Check out our guide for a step-by-step breakdown of how to do the landmine squat as well as an exercise tutorial video. 

After that, we’ve covered: 

  • How Many Sets & Reps to Do?
  • Landmine Squat Benefits
  • Landmine Squat Variations
  • Goblet Squat VS Landmine Squat

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How to Do Landmine Squats

Landmine squats are an anteriorly loaded squat variation that mainly works the Quads, Upper Back, Glutes, and Core muscles. This exercise has a lower impact on your joints, so it’s a safer squat alternative but it still has a ton of benefits – all of which will be discussed shortly. But first, check out our guide for how to do landmine squats.

 

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Set-Up and Equipment 

Place a barbell in a landmine attachment and load the free end of the bar with weight plates. If your gym doesn’t have a landmine attachment, don’t worry you can still do the landmine squat.

If you don’t have a landmine attachment, the easiest thing to do is to fix the free end of the barbell in a corner of a wall. Wrap a towel over the end of the bar if you’re worried about damaging the paint. 

Alternatively, you can set up your own ‘landmine attachment’ using a barbell and a weight plate. This method is a little more secure. Put the free end of a barbell in the middle of a weight plate, and then put a dumbbell on top of the bar to secure it in place.

Whichever technique you use for the set-up, the execution will be the same. Here is our step-by-step guide and exercise video for how to get the right landmine squat technique.

Starting Position

man doing barbell landmine squat image

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold the barbell with both hands at chest height (You can secure the weight by interlocking your hands over the bar).

Execution 

man doing landmine goblet squat 

  • Keep the weight at your chest and squat down, pushing your hips back and bending at the knees.
  • Pause for a second when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Still holding the weight at your chest, push yourself back up by extending the knees and driving your hips forward.
  • That’s one rep. Check out our personal trainer recommended reps and sets below! 

How Many Sets & Reps to Do?

How many sets and reps to do is completely dependant on your, or your clients, fitness goals. Generally, exercise goals are based on strength, hypertrophy, and endurance. Check out how many sets and reps you should do based on what you want to get out of exercise!

Strength: 5 reps, 5 sets.

Hypertrophy: 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets.

Muscular Endurance: 12+ reps, 3 sets.

When it comes to how much weight you should use, select an amount of weight that is a real challenge when it comes to completing the last 2 reps of each set. Naturally, this means that if you’re training to gain strength and therefore doing fewer reps, you should be using more weight than you would if you were completing the recommended reps and sets for building muscular endurance. 

Landmine Squat Muscles Worked

The main muscles worked are the Quads and the Glutes, but this exercise also involves a lot of other muscles from the lower body, upper body, and the core. Those include:

landmine squat muscles worked image

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Scapular Stabilizers
  • Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Hamstrings
  • Trapezius
  • Deltoids 

Landmine Squat Benefits

Now that you know how to do landmine squats, let us run you through the benefits. After that, we’ll talk you through our favourite variations – you’ll definitely want to stick with us for those!

Forces Correct Form

graphic showing landmine squat range of motion

A lot of gym-goers and personal trainers use landmine squats to teach the correct squat form. When the barbell is in a landmine attachment, it travels in a fixed range of motion. This prevents you from leaning forward as you lower into the squat because if you were to lean forward during the landmine squat, the end of the barbell would end up digging into your chest.

For that reason, it’s pretty much impossible to not keep your torso upright through the movement. This ensures that you’re squatting properly, and you’ll feel the benefits of having good form when you move on to heavy barbell squats.

Not only is this a benefit for beginners who need to learn the form, but landmine squats also have a real advantage for taller people who often struggle with keeping their chest out, often ending up doing more of a good morning exercise than a squat.

Front squats are often a popular choice for taller lifters, but front squats can be difficult to get the hang of, landmine squats are a much easier alternative if being tall is getting in the way of your training.

It’s Joint Friendly

landmine squat proper form graphic

The main benefit of the landmine squat is that it’s a joint-friendly exercise that is still effective at building strength and muscle. Landmine squats are joint-friendly because you are essentially forced to squat with correct form.

During a free-weight squat, a lot of people make the mistake of mainly bending at their knees to squat down which means that their knees track too far forward. In these cases, the knees are further in front of the toes at the bottom of the squat.

With correct form, your knees should be directly above your toes at the bottom of the movement. To do this, you have to initiate the lowering part of a squat by pushing your hips back so that you ‘sit back’ into the movement.

When in the landmine, the barbell moves in a fixed arc motion which means that you have to sit back into the squat, otherwise the end of the barbell will drive into your chest.

By forcing you to sit back, the landmine ensures that your knees don’t track too far forwards, protecting the joints from potential injury or having a lower impact for anybody with an existing knee injury.

Variations

landmine squat exercises

One of our favourite things about the landmine squat is that there a couple of exercise variations that are equally as effective. Variations are a great way to stop you from getting tired of your regular routine and to keep challenging your muscles in different ways, both of which make for a really effective exercise routine. 

Not only are their squat variations, for example, unilateral exercises that have benefits for correcting muscle imbalance, improving coordination and challenging your core, you also have the option to involve the upper body by adding in the press movement (the landmine thruster).

The landmine is a really versatile piece of equipment that can work all of the major muscle groups so it can have benefits for full-body strength and improving your overall aesthetic.

Keep reading because you can find how to do our favourite landmine squat variations a little further on.

Can Train More Often

graphic of calendar

Another benefit of this low impact exercise is that you can train landmine squats more often than other squat movements. Because of this exercise doesn’t put as much pressure on your joints (specifically your knees and your lower back, but also the shoulders), you can train them more frequently than the likes of the barbell squat.

The barbell landmine squat is a good supplement or alternative exercise, which can either take the place of the only squat movement in your regular routine, or it can be an exercise that you use on rest days to compliment the rest of your training. We recommend the latter!

Because the landmine squat has a lower impact on your knees and lower back especially, you’ll be able to do this exercise on your rest days, where a heavy barbell squat would be too much of a struggle.

This is a huge benefit because you can get more of the benefits for building muscle and gaining strength that come with squats without putting your joints through excessive strain.

Build Strength and Muscle

graphic showing landmine squat benefits for quads

As with any strength-training exercise, of course, you want to know about the landmine squat benefits for building muscle and gaining strength. Although they have a lower impact on your joints, they’re by no means an easy exercise and certainly not ineffective.

You can load the landmine with a decent amount of weight so it’s a sure-fire way to build strength. Just as regular squats, this exercise will have strength and muscular hypertrophy benefits, especially for the muscles in your lower body.

Not only are there benefits of the landmine squat for building muscle and gaining strength, but they also have transferable benefits for other exercises. Building your strength with the landmine squat will allow you to lift more for the likes of back squats and deadlifts, which will result in further strength and hypertrophy gains.

This, combined with the fact that you’ll be able to train the landmine squat more often, means that this exercise is a good way to get stronger, and look it too!

Landmine Squat Variations

Now that you’ve mastered the landmine squat, why not try out these other landmine squat exercises? 

Each of these variations have some unique benefits, all of which will be explained before our OriGym trainer demonstrates how to do each exercise.

Thanks to these exercises, you’ll be able to keep some variety in your workout, stopping you from getting bored and constantly challenging your muscles in different ways. If you enjoy changing up your exercise routine regularly, then you’re in the right place!

For all of the landmine squat benefits and more, try out our favourite landmine squat variations.

Landmine Split Squat

For a unilateral variation of the landmine squat, try performing the exercise in a split squat stance.

Unilateral exercises have a number of benefits, including improved balance, coordination, and additional training for your core muscles. Not only that, unilateral movements like the landmine split squat can correct muscle imbalances, strengthening your non-dominant side which will allow you to lift more during bilateral exercises.

Unilateral training is most effective alongside bilateral exercises, so switching the landmine squat for a split-stance alternative every now and then is the best way to reap the rewards discussed above. Check out the exercise video below for exactly how to do this exercise.

Set-Up and Equipment 

  • Place one end of a barbell in a landmine holder or check out our landmine attachment solutions a little further on in this post.
  • Add weight plates to the free end of the bar.

Starting Position

man doing landmine split squat starting position

  • Use both hands to pick up the bar and hold it at chest height.
  • Stand in a split stance with one leg forward and the other slightly bent behind you so that your back heel is raised.

Execution

man doing landmine split squat

  • Lower yourself down, starting with your back leg to drive the movement.
  • Squat down until your back knee is almost touching the ground.
  • Check up on your form – your front knee should be in line with your toes.
  • Push yourself back up and repeat for the recommended reps on the same leg.
  • Swap legs for the second set.

Landmine Hack Squat

The landmine attachment can also be used for a safer alternative to the hack squat. Hack squats are a killer quad-exercise performed in a hack squat machine, and whilst they’re a great way to develop the quads, they’re not the safest exercise for your knees.

The hack squat with a landmine is a much safer alternative because it requires the support of the core stabiliser muscles and allows you to stand with your feet on the ground, meaning your ankles are in a much safer position for the knee extension.

During this variation, the weight is loaded onto your posterior chain muscles. This position forces the placement of the weight onto your heels which engages the muscles in your lower body, particularly the quads, glutes, and lower back.

Here’s how to do the landmine hack squat!

Set-Up and Equipment

  • Set up a barbell in a landmine attachment (or place it in a corner securely).
  • Load the barbell with weight plates.

Starting Position 

man doing a landmine hack squat 

  • Lift the end of the barbell and position yourself so that your back is facing the landmine attachment and lean against the weight plates so that your body and the barbell form a right angle.
  • Hold the end of the barbell on top of one of your shoulders.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Execution

man doing hack squat with landmine  

  • Lower yourself into a deep squat.
  • Drive through your heels to push yourself back up.
  • To maximise the benefits of this exercise for hypertrophy, don’t push yourself all the way up to keep your muscles under tension.

If you really want to push yourself, you can combine the two alternative landmine squat exercises discussed above and try a Landmine Split Stance Hack Squat!

Hack Squat with Landmine (Split Stance)

If you’ve mastered the landmine hack squat and fancy even more of a challenge, you can try the exercise with a split stance. This movement is more intense because it works one side of your body at a time. It also requires more stabilisation so there are added benefits for core development, too.

But enough chit-chat here’s how to do the exercise!

Set-Up and Equipment

  • Set-up the landmine and load the barbell with weight plates.

Starting Position

  • Standing with your back facing the landmine attachment, hold the barbell on top of your right shoulder.
  • Position your feet in a split stance, with your left foot in front of you and your right leg bent behind you with your right heel raised.

Execution

  • Lower yourself down until your right knee is almost touching the floor.
  • Push yourself back up and repeat the movement for the sets and reps (recommended above).
  • Execute the first set on the same leg and then swap your position for the second set.

Landmine Thruster

The final exercise in our list of landmine squat variations is the landmine thrust. This variation combines the two most popular landmine exercises: the squat and the press.

Incorporating the press movement means that the upper body also gets a good workout. Specifically, this exercise will have significant benefits for building shoulder strength and size.

As well as all of the muscles worked by the landmine squat (which you can find above), this exercise also requires a lot of work from the delts, as well as the triceps, traps, and obliques. For a full-body landmine exercise, give this variation a try! Check out how below.

Set-Up and Equipment

  • Set-up the barbell in a landmine attachment and load the free end with weight plates.

Starting Position

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold the barbell at chest height with both hands.

Execution

landmine thruster squat position

  • Holding the end of the barbell at chest height, lower yourself into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Pause for a moment.

landmine thruster starting position

  • Drive through your heels to push yourself back up to the starting position, keeping the barbell at chest height.
  • Do not pause in the starting position. 

landmine thruster press position

  • Continuing the movement, use both hands to press the weight straight in front of you until your arms are fully extended.
  • Bring the weight back to your chest.
  • Lower back into the squat and repeat the movement.


Goblet Squat VS Landmine Squat

Landmine squats and goblet squats are often compared because they are both safe and accessible squat variations.

Both of these exercises can be used to teach proper squat form and correct some of the common squat mistakes, for example:

  • Only doing partial reps
  • Driving the knees too far forward (past the toes)
  • Leaning the chest forwards

Any of these mistakes makes a bad squat, which is not only an ineffective way to train but also a risky practice. Poor squat form can lead to various lower back and knee injuries, so exercises that help you to get your form right before you progress to heavier weights are always a good place to start.

goblet squat vs landmine squat graphic

So, when it comes to trying to perfect your form or teach a PT client the proper way to squat, which do you choose? We’ve compared the goblet squat vs landmine squat, highlighting the similarities and differences between the two so that you can figure out which is best suited to you (or your client) as an individual.

But first, watch our OriGym trainer demonstrate how to do goblet squats so you can get a proper understanding of how this movement compares to the landmine squat.

Set-Up and Equipment

For this exercise, all you need is a kettlebell and enough space to perform a squat. A kettlebell is our preference, but a dumbbell works just as well.

Starting Position

man doing a kettlebell goblet starting position

  • Stand with your feet around shoulder-width apart.
  • With both hands, hold a kettlebell with one hand at either side of the handle.
  • For a dumbbell goblet squat, hold the weight vertically and hold on to the top of the weight.
  • Keep the kettlebell close to your body and hold it at chest height.
  • Tuck your elbows into your sides, keep them close to your body throughout the exercise.
  • Engage your core muscles.

Execution

man doing a goblet squat 

  • Squat down by pushing your hips backwards and bending at the knees.
  • Concentrate on keeping your chest upright throughout the whole squat.
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement – when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • At this stage, your elbows should still be close to your body and they should be positioned just inside your knees.

Goblet squat vs landmine squat  

  • Drive through your heels to push yourself up out of the squat and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended sets and reps.

Goblet Squat VS Landmine Squat: Similarities

Teach Proper Squat Form

Both of these exercises are squat variations, and both are regression movements that are mainly used to learn the correct squat form. Primarily, these exercises are used to help beginners learn the squat movement and avoid the common mistakes that most beginners make when they try and start off with a back squat.

These regression exercises are also used as a way to avoid any potential injury that could result from executing a barbell squat with poor form or to work around an existing injury without having to give up on squats altogether.

Nevertheless, regression doesn’t mean that this is an easy alternative. Both the landmine squat and the goblet variation will give you a killer workout for a range of different muscles as both have pretty much all of the same benefits as a regular squat.

Joint Friendly

graphic showing knee pain

Both of these exercises are joint-friendly squat variations that can protect you from injury or allow you to work around an existing joint injury.

A study by Gullet et al (2009) found that anteriorly loaded squats, like a goblet or a landmine squat, were just as effective as back squats for muscle recruitment but safer for your joints. Their study investigated the stress on the knee joints during different kinds of squats and concluded that:

The front squat was as effective as the back squat in terms of overall muscle recruitment, with significantly less compressive forces and extensor moments. The results suggest that front squats may be advantageous compared with back squats for individuals with knee problems such as meniscus tears, and for long-term joint health.

Therefore, both goblet and landmine squats are a suitable exercise for anybody who wants to gain all the benefits of traditional squats without putting excessive stress on the knees.

Anterior Loading

image of woman doing a front squat

The main similarity between these exercises is that they are both anteriorly loaded, the weight is held at the front of your body at around chest height. For that reason, you could say that they are more similar to front squats than they are to back squats (the most common version of the movement). The landmine squat is also known as a front squat with landmine.

Anterior loading has benefits for allowing the lifter to increase the depth of their squat, as well as activating the upper body and involving the core muscles more than posteriorly loaded exercises. Squatting to parallel is essential to properly engage the quads (especially the rectus femoris) and the back muscles (erector spinae). A study by Gorsuch et al. (2013) showed:

Rectus femoris activity and erector spinae activity were significantly higher during the parallel squat than during the partial squat condition.

They found that this was true even when less resistance was used during the parallel squat compared to partial squats and concluded that the parallel condition was more effective at engaging these muscles, preventing injury, and improving posture.

You can find the full study by Gorsuch et al. here.

Anterior loading also allows you to keep a better posture during the squat – not only does this help you to train the correct squat form, but it also means that this exercise is effective at engaging the core muscles.

By keeping an upright posture, the landmine squat and the goblet squat can both improve your core strength. Keeping your upper body upright better engages the muscles in your core, particularly the obliques and rectus abdominus. This is because your hips are not overloaded by leaning too far forward, so your core muscles have to work harder to stabilise your torso. 

Safer for Your Lower Back

landmine squat benefits for relieving lower back pain graphic

Another similarity is that both of these exercises can be safer for your lower back and spine compared to barbell alternatives. So, if you experience lower back pain during regular (back) squats, both of these exercises are an appropriate substitution.

The reason that these exercises have a lower impact on the lower back is that they make it is easier to keep your torso upright thanks to the anterior loading, as explained above.

Keeping your upper body upright – the proper squat form – reduces the pressure on your spine and lower back, keeping them safe from injury by shifting more of the load on to your rectus abdominus and obliques.

Goblet Squat VS Landmine Squat: Differences

Unilateral Variations

One difference between these exercises is that there are multiple landmine squat variations, some of which are unilateral exercises – for example, the split stance landmine squat.

Unilateral exercises are thought to be safer for your lower back because it’s expected that you will use less weight, and therefore there will be less strain on your stabilising muscles.

Whilst it’s arguable that split stance exercises aren’t strictly unilateral because the muscles in both sides of your body are involved to some extent, one side of your body will be working significantly harder than the other.

Because one side of your body is required to do most of the work, you won’t be able to manage as much weight as you would for a regular landmine squat (or a goblet squat) and therefore you’ll have to use lighter resistance, reducing the stress on your lower back.

Lift Heavier with Landmine Squats

graphic of weight plates for alternative landmine set-up

An advantage of the barbell landmine squat over the goblet squat is that there is the potential to use more weight with the landmine squat.

To do goblet squats, you’ll need a dumbbell or a kettlebell and so eventually you’ll be limited by how heavy the dumbbells or kettlebells are in your gym. On the other hand, you can load the landmine with weight plates which increases your potential to see serious strength and hypertrophy benefits.

Not only are you limited by the range of weights in your gym, holding the weight in front of your chest requires a lot more upper body and core strength than is required to use the same amount of weight for a back squat.

Typically, your lower body is stronger than your upper body so you might find that if you’re holding a lot of weight for a goblet squat, your upper body and core muscles will fatigue faster than your lower body.

If that’s the case, then you won’t be working your legs and glutes as much as you could be, meaning that you’ll miss out on the full potential of the exercise.

Nevertheless, there is potential for the problem of upper body fatigue with the landmine squat, too, because the upper body and the core are still involved more than they would be for the typical barbell back squat.

For that reason, both of these squat variations are best used as a tool to perfect the form of a barbell squat before progressing to heavier weights.

Landmine Squat is Better for Perfecting Form

graphic of man doing a landmine squat

During the landmine squat, the barbell moves in a fixed arc motion. For that reason, the landmine squat is more effective at ensuring that your upper body remains upright during the squat.

This is because the fixed position of the barbell means that leaning forwards as you lower into the squat would mean the end of the barbell digging into your chest.

Whilst goblet squats make it easier to keep an upright posture, they don’t force you to remain upright like landmine squats do. The difference with landmine squats is that it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong.

The fixed arc of the barbell also means that landmine squats force you to sit back into the squat which is the correct way to squat for knee safety. Because of this, there is less forward knee travel with a landmine, which means that the exercise is much safer on your joints without compromising the benefits for building muscle.

So, which is best?

graphic of trophy

In a lot of ways, these two exercises are very similar. Both are a brilliant way to learn proper squat form, and both are effective at training squats with a lower injury risk. Nevertheless, we’ve got to pick a winner.

Looking at the differences between the two, and considering the landmine squat benefits discussed above, it’s got to be the barbell landmine squat!

Landmine squats are pretty much a foolproof exercise but still really effective, plus there are a ton of variations to keep your workout enjoyable and challenging.

Before You Go!

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Other Exercises to Try

If you enjoyed learning how to do the goblet squat, then we’ll think you’ll love this full-body kettlebell workout.

For another variation of the traditional squat that is safer and will help you to achieve the perfect squat form, check out our exercise guide which explains how to do box squats. 

References

Gorsuch, J. et al. (2013). The effect of squat depth on multiarticular muscle activation in collegiate cross-country runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27 (9), pp. 2619-2625.

Gullet, J., Tillman, M., Gutierrez G. and Chow, J. (2009). A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 23 (1), pp. 284-292.

 

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Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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