Over the past couple years, I’ve grown to adore the barbell landmine; that often neglected tiny piece of cylindrical steel in every gym across the country; that swingy thing bolted to the squat rack that every new gym member walks by without notice (not that they’re going anywhere near the squat rack anyway).
I love landmines because they offer a machine feel (e.g., Nautilus, Hammer Strength, etc.) for a fraction of the price, and you can use them with your existing barbells. Unlike typical barbell exercises, landmine movements allow the user to move in a fixed pattern, worrying less about stabilization (only a little less) in order to allow greater focus on isolating the targeted muscle groups. There are also dozens of unique exercises that are very difficult to replicate without the tiny accessory, and they put a joint-friendly spin on all of the classics (e.g., overhead presses).
When selecting the equipment for my gym, I chose to purchase Black Widow’s landmine grappler core station because it offers the flexibility to use virtually anywhere. It’s specially designed to fit perfectly into a two inch Olympic plate, which serves as the foundation for the fulcrum. Yeh, in theory it kinda sucks that you have to burn a couple plates to use the attachment, but I’ve never actually run into an issue where I needed the extra plate in the moment of use (I routinely train four people simultaneously…I try to keep them weak, to save them from needing that extra plate).
Usage and Functionality
I’ve found that the best stable base configuration is a 25 lbs plate, sitting on a 100 lbs plate (I got a sweet deal on 100 lbs CAPs from Amazon). If I’m going particularly heavy, I’ll put a 40 lbs+ dumbbell or kettlebell behind the stack as well. I’ll admit, the set up and break down of this stack can be a little inconvenient, but having the option to set it up anywhere in the gym is a fine trade off.
If using heavy weight, you need to make sure your form is tight (you should anyway); specifically your tempo. Twice, while doing heavy rows (~250 lbs+), my eccentric (negative) movement was too fast, and the landmine base popped straight up. I didn’t get hurt or anything, since all the weight was in my hands anyway, but it killed the set prematurely. If the landmine was more traditionally mounted (e.g., to a squat rack), it wouldn’t have happened. That said, this has only happened twice out of hundreds of sets, and it was probably my own fault for getting sloppy.
NOTE: I talked to Dean from Black Widow, and he recommended placing a rubber bumper plate underneath the 45 lbs or 100 lbs to prevent it from sliding. I tried it and it worked like a charm.
As with all the Black Widow Training gear I’ve used, the quality is solid. The attachment itself is 10 lbs. of heavy powder coated steel. It’s a two-piece unit, capped on one side with a heavy plastic end, and separated by a fixed bolt to allow for the swivel action. The weld around the swivel bolt is tight, to match the rest of the impressive construction. I’ve seen a couple cheaper landmines break before, and I have no doubt this piece will have me doing rows and belt squats for as long as I want it to. The powder coating has a couple nicks and scratches on it, but I’m by no means careful with it, and I couldn’t care less anyway.
Bonus Landmine Exercises
The Minesweeper Complex
Great total body finisher to end a workout in a blazing glory. Perform 10 reps of the following circuit:
- Left arm: squat thruster > overhead squat > overhead press
- Both arms: squat thruster > overhead squat > overhead press
- Right arm: squat thruster > overhead squat > overhead press
Hip Belt Squat Finisher
Load about 10% of your 1 RM barbell back squat on the bar. Wrap a dip belt around your waist, and the chain around the barbell (note the “chain channel” in the video). Perform the following hip belt squat rep scheme:
- 1 rep > 3 second isometric hold
- 2 reps > 3 second isometric hold
- 3 reps > 3 second isometric hold
- 4 reps > 3 second isometric hold
- 12 reps > 3 second isometric hold
Increase the intensity by adding weight or holding the isometric portion for a longer period.
Check out the Exercise Complex Database for more complex workouts.