Underrated Exercises: The Landmine Press


Shoulder pressing isn’t always what it’s cut out to be. Some people just don’t have the ability to do it well without making their shoulders feel cranky for a couple days.

You can read more about why that happens and how to deal with it HERE.

For today, we’re going to talk about a pressing variation I use frequently with my clients that I’ve seen work well over and over again.





Most people have the structural capability to create an extended thoracic spine (upper-mid back), but don’t have the necessary muscular strength or control to be able to create or maintain that position during a shoulder press, so they end up using their low back to create that extension and look more like this:

Photo Credit: painfreefitness.com

Photo Credit: painfreefitness.com

This version of the press relies on the lifter’s ability to maintain a neutral position while reacting to outside stress, as shown below.
Photo Credit: Ericcressey.com

Photo Credit: Ericcressey.com

It also requires less mobility in the thoracic spine and shoulders because the movement is happening in a forward motion instead of an upward one. Although the stress is pushing back and down on the lifter, the need for mobility is limited because the hands do not reach over the head, in turn, you’re less likely to pull the rib cage out of the neutral position.



Shoulder and chest training using the natural arc of the landmine while in standing posture.

Why is this version easier you may ask. According to the laws of physics:

The longer and more horizontal a lever extends away from the hinge point, the greater the load on the hinge as well the greater the load on the end point AKA the lifter.

#science, right?

Not convinced, here’s a graph one of my co-workers made illustrating load percentages during the movement.

Photo Credit: Deansomerset.com

It means if we are closer to the top position, the load is decreased to likely somewhere between 65-75% of the original weight. If you are struggling to manage the bar in the half kneeling position, try switching to a standing position and work on your strength there until you feel stronger. Then consider working your way back to the half kneeling position.

It is also much easier to use a higher weight in the standing position for the same reasons. Trying to impress the guy or girl standing next to you using 10lbs might a little more difficult than if you were using 20-30lbs. People are impressed by how much you can lift, right?


James Harris is the founder of Titanium Strength Systems, as well as the head writer and coach. He trains online and in person in Chilliwack, BC. You can find his writing around the internet on websites such as Muscle & Strength, The PTDC, Fitness Pollenator, PTBIZ, and Deansomerset.com. 

You can find out more about James by clicking on his image.