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Benefits, How To, and Variations

The landmine row is a classic exercise to build a strong back.

The landmine row is an incredibly effective exercise to work your upper body. It is a compound exercise that can help you build strength and add muscle mass to your back. 

Your back is the second largest muscle group (after legs). To train it optimally and ensure overall development, you need to perform a variety of exercises to ensure optimal muscle fiber recruitment

Since you only need a barbell for the landmine rows, you could do it even in a bare-bone gym. The anchored barbell also allows you to get maximum contraction and muscle fiber recruitment in your back while performing the exercise.

What is a landmine?

If the information above has you sold on the benefits of landmine rows but has left you wondering if you would be walking blindfolded across a landmine-ridden field, do not fret. We have got you covered. 

To set up a landmine row, you could:

  1. Place a weight plate at one end of the barbell to anchor it to the floor. 
  2. Anchor the barbell in the corner of a wall or squat rack in your gym. 
  3. Use a piece of specialized equipment like a landmine tube. 
  4. Ask your training partner to step onto the other end of the barbell while you complete your set. 

Must Read: How The Landmine Press Boosts Strength Training

Muscles Worked 

Muscle anatomy

Since the landmine row is a compound (multi-joint) life, it engages multiple muscles, including:

  • Rhomboids
  • Teres Major & Teres Minor
  • Erector Spinae
  • Posterior Deltoid
  • Trapezius
  • Infraspinatus
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Brachialis
  • Brachioradialis
  • Biceps Brachii
  • Lower Pectoralis Major

Benefits 

cobra back

1. Allows a Bigger and Controlled Range of Motion

Since the barbell is anchored at one end while performing the landmine row, the other end moves at an angle. The angle of the bar allows you to apply force vertically and horizontally. You use a steady, controlled speed to move the barbell in a natural arc instead of in a straight line. 

Since the bar follows a natural arc, you will feel more in control while performing the lift and might experience greater muscle fiber recruitment and better muscle pumps as you’ll be able to hold for longer at contraction points. 

But why is that, you ask?

Because… 

2. Changes in “Strength Curve

The strength curve of an exercise refers to how “heavy” an exercise is at different points. While using a regular barbell, you will experience the same amount of force whether you are holding it one foot or five feet off the ground. The landmine, however, varies at different points.

When you first lift a landmine off the ground (do not try this in a war-infested zone), it is a horizontal movement, and so you are fighting against gravity – making the movement harder in the process.

However, as you go further up, the weight moves in an arc, increasing the slope. Meaning – Even though there is the same amount of weight on the bar, the higher the bar is, the “lighter” it will feel.

Related: How The Horizontal Row Enhances Solid Back Development

3. Great For Beginners 

Since the landmine row has a pre-defined pattern of movement, it makes it easy for beginners to perform the exercise with the correct form. And because the bar moves in an arc, it increases your shoulder stabilizer muscle recruitment which can be very hard to achieve for a noob in exercises like the barbell or dumbbell row.

Check Out: 5 Tips For A Weight Room Beginner

4. Improves Muscle Balance and Stability 

The landmine row can be easily adapted into a unilateral exercise which can help improve your muscle imbalances, core stability, and overall body balance.  

Related: The Benefits Of Unilateral Training & Why It Matters

5. Reduces Chances of Injury

The landmine row is a great alternative for people with pre-existing back issues as it allows a greater degree of freedom to work around your injuries. 

This exercise also places less pressure on your shoulders and spine as compared to the barbell or T-bar row.

Must Read: 4 Golden Rules You Need To Follow To Lift For Decades Injury-Free

Technique 

This is how to perform the landmine row correctly:

  1. Secure one end of a barbell in a corner or a landmine attachment. 
  2. Load appropriate weight on the free end.
  3. Face away from the anchor point and stand near the shoulder of the other end.
  4. Stand over the barbell with one foot on either side with a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance.
  5. Bend down and grab the barbell with both hands. 
  6. Hinge at your lower back and push your hips back as you lower your upper torso until it is at a 30-40 degree angle with the floor.
  7. Slightly bend your knees and keep your back straight. Maintain this position throughout the exercise.
  8. Take a deep breath and brace your core. 
  9. Pull the barbell towards your chest while leading with your elbows.
  10. Focus on pulling back your shoulder blades as you elevate the bar.
  11. Pause and contract your lats at the top of the movement.
  12. While exhaling, return to the starting position with a slow and controlled motion.
  13. Repeat for recommended reps. 

Pro Tip: You could also use a V-handle bar attachment in this exercise as it can help you get a better grip on the bar.

Common Mistakes

Landmine row

Here are some of the most common mistakes that lifters commit while performing the landmine row:

1. Bending Too Low

Many gym-goers overdo the movement by bending over way too much. Bending over too low has a couple of drawbacks:

  • You cannot lift heavy as your center of gravity is off. This is a major setback as optimal back training requires both volume and intensity.
  • Makes your lower back vulnerable to an injury.

On the other hand, some lifters do not bend over at all. You need to be at a 30-40 degree angle with the floor to train your target muscles effectively.

Related: 7 Common (But Lethal) Fitness Mistakes You Need To Avoid

2. Flairing Out Your Elbows 

Bodybuilding requires optimal muscle fiber recruitment and annihilation that you can only achieve through a solid mind-muscle connection.

If you flair out your elbows while performing the landmine row, you will not be able to contract your shoulder blades and lats at the top of the movement. Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible to make the most of the exercise.

3. Incorrect Back Posture

You need to ensure that you maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Most lifters either make the mistake of arching their back or worse – hunching over.

The most common reason for a bad form is excessive use of weight. If you cannot maintain a neutral spine or cannot bend over to the 30-40 degree mark, you should drop the weight (and your ego) and try again.

4. Not Trying New Things

Apart from trying advanced training techniques like dead stops, intraset stretching, and varied TuTs, the anchored barbell allows you to try many variations to train your back from different angles. This point is also a perfect segue into…

Variations 

Trying different variations and alternatives of the landmine row is a great way to ensure you never hit a plateau. Here are some variations that you need to try in your next back workout:

1. Parallel One-Arm Landmine Row

parallel bar

Since unilateral exercises allow you to focus on one side at a time, they are a great alternative if you are dealing with muscle or strength imbalances.

Steps:

  1. Anchor a barbell in a corner.
  2. Stand on the right side of the barbell so that your left foot is a few inches away from the bar. 
  3. Assume a shoulder-width stance.
  4. Hinge at your hips and bend over while maintaining a neutral spine until your torso is at a 30-40 degree angle with the floor. 
  5. Grab the shoulder of the barbell with your left hand and place your right elbow on your right knee to help stabilize your lower back and pelvis. 
  6. Take a deep breath and pull the bar towards your chest. 
  7. Pause and contract at the top of the movement. 
  8. Return to the starting position slowly while breathing out.
  9. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.

2. Meadows Row

This variation was made famous by the late, John Meadows. Although the Meadows row primarily targets your back, it also challenges one’s grip and indirectly targets the bicep.

Steps:

  1. Position a barbell in a landmine attachment or the corner of a wall.
  2. Stand at one end of the barbell so that your body is perpendicular to the bar.
  3. Assume a split stance with the inside leg back and the outside leg forward.
  4. Bend forward until your chest is just above parallel to the floor.
  5. Grab the bar with a pronated grip.
  6. Begin the movement by driving the elbow behind the body while retracting the shoulder blade.
  7. Pause and contract your lat at the top of the movement.
  8. Return to the starting position.
  9. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.

Pro Tip: In the Parallel One-Arm landmine row and Meadows row, you could also use a bench to add variety to the exercise. Using a bench reduces your core engagement and allows you to focus on contracting your lats and shoulder blades during the movement.

3. Inverted Row

Inverted row

Inverted rows are one of those exercises that look super easy but will have you running on fumes by the time you are done with them – or they are done with you. 

Steps:

  1. Stand in front of a squat rack or Smith machine.
  2. Set the bar at the desired setting. If you are a beginner, consider setting it at your waist height as it will allow your arms to fully extend while keeping your body off the floor.
  3. Get under the bar and grab it with a pronated shoulder-width grip.
  4. At the start of the movement, your body will be suspended or just off the floor, with your heels being the only body part in contact with the floor.
  5. Contract your core and glutes and pull yourself up, leading with your chest.
  6. Your body should remain in a straight line throughout the movement. 
  7. Pause and contract for a second at the top of the movement and ensure that your shoulder blades are retracted (imagine squeezing a small ball between the shoulder blades) before slowly lowering to the starting position, with your arms fully extended.
  8. Repeat for recommended reps.

4. Seal Row

landmine row Variation

Seal row is an isolation exercise that will take your back gains to the next level. 

Steps:

  1. Elevate a flat bench by placing an aerobic step under each side. 
  2. The height of the bench should be adequate so that the weight plates do not touch the floor when your arms are fully extended. 
  3. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Inhale and pull the bar towards your abdomen.
  5. Pull the bar until it touches the underside of the bench.
  6. Pause and contract your shoulder blades and lats at the top of the movement.
  7. With control, lower the bar back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat for recommended reps.

Related: T-Bar Row Your Way To A Cobra Back: How-To, Muscles Worked, and Variations

5. Pendlay Row

Developed by Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay, the Pendlay row is a bodybuilding exercise that activates muscle groups throughout your body—including your lats, rhomboids, biceps, glutes, hamstrings, and rear deltoids. 

Steps:

  1. Stand upright in front of a barbell with a shoulder-width stance.
  2. Hinge at your hips and begin to bend your hips and knees to lower your body toward the barbell. 
  3. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and engage your back muscles by rotating your shoulders outward.
  4. Maintain a flat back and keep your chin tucked throughout the movement (as if you were holding an egg under your chin). 
  5. Initiate the upward movement by squeezing your lats and pulling the barbell toward your lower chest. Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
  6. Pause and contract your lats at the top of the movement.
  7. While maintaining your rowing alignment, straighten your elbows and allow the barbell to travel back toward the floor until the weight plates contact the ground.
  8. Pause for a second at the starting position.
  9. Repeat for recommended repetitions. 

Next Read: Annihilate Your Workout with These Landmine Exercises

Conclusion 

The landmine row is an effective back builder and should be a part of every lifter’s exercise arsenal. Switching up your time under tension and rep tempos while performing the exercises mentioned above will give you enough variations that will keep you busy for a long time. 


Which is your favorite back exercise? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.


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