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Landmine Row – An Effective Way To Help Build A Strong Upper Back
The landmine row is one of the best unilateral strength-training exercises for targeting the upper back muscles, including the rhomboids, trapezius, and rear deltoids.
The exercise also engages the biceps, forearms, and core muscles for stability and support.
Landmine Row – Required Equipment
You will need the following equipment for the landmine row exercise.
To perform the landmine row exercise, you will need the following equipment:
- Landmine Attachment
A landmine attachment is specifically designed for the exercise and allows you to anchor one end of a barbell securely.
It typically consists of a sleeve or holder for inserting the barbell into. It helps provide stability and range of motion for the exercise.
You will need a standard barbell for the landmine row. The barbell should have a suitable length and weight for your fitness level and preferences.
You will affix the landmine attachment to one end of the barbell to create a pivot point for the exercise.
- Weight Plates or Bumper Plates
You will need weight or bumper plates of varying sizes to load the barbell. These will provide resistance to the landmine row exercise.
Ensure the weight plates fit securely on the barbell.
- Secure Anchoring Point
The landmine attachment requires a secure anchoring point. You can use a corner of a squat rack, a landmine post specifically designed for the exercise, or any other sturdy and stable object.
No access to a landmine attachment? Try the following:
Wedge one end of the barbell into a corner, use a landmine base or attach the barbell securely to a heavy weight plate.
However, note that these alternative setups may have limitations affecting stability and range of motion.
Steps to follow for the landmine row exercise
- Stand next to a landmine apparatus or securely anchor a barbell into a landmine attachment. The landmine should be on the side opposite your working arm.
- Place your feet at shoulder-width and slightly bend your knees for stability. Hold the landmine handle with the arm closest to the bar, palm facing inwards.
- Keep your back straight, engage your core, and hinge at the hips, making your torso roughly 45 degrees to the floor. Ensure you maintain a neutral spine.
- Retract your shoulder blade and pull the landmine handle towards your torso. Keep your elbow close to your body as you row and focus on squeezing your back muscles.
- Pause briefly at the top of the movement, ensuring you fully retract your shoulder blade.
- Slowly lower the weight back down to your starting position.
- Repeat 8-12 reps on one side, switch position, and arm, and go through the motions.
Avoid using momentum or excessively jerking the weight.
Landmine Row – Target Muscle
The landmine row mainly targets the muscles of the upper back.
These muscles are between the shoulder blades. They help retract the scapulae or shoulder blades toward the spine.
The trapezius is a large muscle that covers the upper back and neck. It helps with scapular retraction, elevation, and stability during the landmine rowing movement.
- Rear Deltoids
The rear delts, or posterior deltoids, are the muscles at the back of the shoulder. They assist in retracting the scapulae and shoulder extension during the rowing motion.
- Biceps Brachii
The biceps brachii muscles in the upper arms are secondary movers in the landmine row. They assist in elbow flexion during the pulling phase of the exercise.
- Forearm Muscles
You will need strength and stability to perform the landmine row. The forearm muscles, including the flexors, activate to help maintain a secure grip on the handle.
The landmine row also engages the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, to help stabilize the spine and maintain proper posture throughout the exercise.
Landmine Row – Common mistakes
Maintaining proper form is crucial to get the best out of landmine rows and minimize the risk of injury.
The following are some common mistakes to look out for.
- Rounded Back
Rounding your back during the exercise can place unnecessary stress on the spine and reduce the activation of the targeted muscles.
Keep your back straight and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
- Hunching Shoulders
Avoid shrugging or hunching your shoulders towards your ears.
Instead, focus on pulling the shoulder blades down and back to help engage the back muscles.
- Using Momentum
Swinging or using momentum to complete the rowing motion removes the emphasis on the targeted muscles and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.
For best results, perform the movement under control, and focus on squeezing the back muscles as you pull.
- Elbow Position
Ensure your elbow stays close to your body. Avoid letting your elbow flare out. That can shift the emphasis away from the targeted muscles and increase the risk of strain or discomfort in the shoulder joint.
- Range of Motion
Aim for a full range of motion during the rowing motion. Pull the weight or handle towards your torso until your shoulder blades fully retract.
Do not cut the movement short, as that will limit the engagement of the targeted muscles.
- Core Stability
The landmine row requires core stability for proper form and to help prevent excessive twisting or bending of the spine.
Ensure your core remains engaged throughout the exercise. Brace your abs and maintain a stable position.
Landmine Row – The Limitations
The landmine row is a valuable and efficient exercise. But it has some limitations.
- Limited Resistance
The available resistance in the landmine row is somewhat limited compared to exercises that utilize free weights or machines.
The range of available weight plates may also be limited, especially in home and non-commercial gym settings.
That can be a drawback for exercisers requiring higher resistance levels for maximal strength development.
- Core Stability
While core stability is essential for the landmine row, it can also be a limitation for some exercisers.
Athletes with weak core muscles or who struggle to maintain proper posture and stability may find the exercise.
In such cases, strengthening the core through other exercises may be necessary before progressing to the landmine row.
- Required Equipment
The landmine row requires a landmine apparatus or a securely anchored barbell.
Not all gyms or home setups may have this readily available, taking the exercise out of their reach.
- Shoulder Mobility and Injury History
The movement requires a particular range of motion in the shoulders.
Thus individuals with shoulder mobility issues or a history of shoulder injuries may find the landmine row uncomfortable or challenging to perform.
Using the wrong technique or excessive loading can aggravate existing shoulder problems.
Landmine Row – The Benefits
The landmine row offers several benefits for individuals incorporating it into their strength-training routine. These include
- Upper Back Development
The landmine row is one of the best upper back exercises for building and developing strength, size, and improved muscle definition.
A well-developed upper back can help with better posture, shoulder stability, and functional movement.
- Improved Posture
Landmine row strengthens the muscles responsible for scapular retraction. Thus it can help improve posture.
Strengthening the upper back muscles and promoting proper alignment of the shoulders can negate the effects of poor posture and sitting for prolonged periods.
- Upper Body Strength
The landmine row is a compound exercise that simultaneously works multiple muscles, especially those in the upper body. That can help build strength and stability.
- Core Stabilization
The exercise requires core stability for proper form and balance. Your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, must engage to stabilize the spine and prevent excessive twisting or bending.
That can help improve core strength and stability, which can help improve your performance in various daily activities and other exercises.
- Grip Strength
The exercise challenges grip strength as you hold onto the handle or barbell. Over time, regular practice of the landmine row can help improve grip strength, which is beneficial for various activities, exercises, and sports.
- Versatility and Accessibility
You can perform the exercise with different equipment setups, such as a landmine attachment or securely anchored barbell. That makes it versatile and accessible to various types of exercisers.
Variations are also available to help target different muscle groups or accommodate different fitness levels.
Changing your grip or performing single-arm landmine rows can also help emphasize different areas of the back and challenge your muscles in various ways.
Landmine Row Variations
You can vary the landmine row exercise to help target different muscles or add complexity and challenge to the movement.
Below are some well-known and prominent variations of landmine row to incorporate into your training regimen.
Single-Arm Landmine Row
This variation involves using just one arm for the exercise.
The variation allows for greater focus and isolation of the targeted muscles.
You can perform all the repetitions on one side before switching to the other side or alternate arms with each repetition.
Alternating Landmine Row
The Alternating Landmine Row involves alternating between the left and right sides with each repetition. That adds an element of coordination and challenges your stability as you switch sides.
It can also help you build a balanced upper back.
Wide-Grip Landmine Row
You can widen your grip on the landmine handle instead of using a standard grip.
That variation emphasizes the outer back muscles, including the lats. It can help develop a broader and more muscular back.
Bent-Over Landmine Row
While you perform the traditional landmine row from a standing position, you can modify it by bending over at the waist and performing the row with your torso parallel to the floor. The variation engages the lower back muscles and challenges your core stability.
Landmine Meadows Row
The Meadows row is a variation of the landmine row named after the bodybuilder John Meadows. It involves performing the row by straddling the landmine handle and pulling it up towards your torso while keeping a more upright torso position.
The variation targets the upper back and lats from a slightly different angle.
Landmine Row – The Alternatives
As stated above, you need the correct equipment for the landmine row exercise, which may not be available to all exercisers.
Fortunately, several exercises target the same muscles and provide similar benefits.
Below are some landmine row alternatives that can help you target your upper back muscles.
These alternatives allow you to target the muscles in varying ways with various equipment, allowing you to choose those that suit your preferences and fit into your home gym setup.
Bent-Over Barbell Row
You will need a barbell for the Bent-Over Barbell Row
The exercise involves maintaining a flat back and rowing the barbell toward your abdomen. It targets the upper back muscles, biceps, and forearms.
You can perform dumbbell rows with one arm at a time or both arms simultaneously.
You stabilize your body with one hand on a bench or other support and row the dumbbell(s) towards your torso.
The exercise targets the muscles of the upper back, biceps, and forearms, and it is one of the best for unilateral training and addressing any muscle imbalances.
Seated Cable Row
The seated cable row uses a cable machine with a rowing attachment. You sit on a bench or platform, grab the handles, and pull them towards your abdomen while keeping your back straight.
The exercise targets the upper back muscles, biceps, and forearms.
Using cables allows constant tension throughout the movement.
Also known as the bodyweight row or horizontal pull-up, the inverted row uses a barbell, TRX straps, or a Smith machine.
It involves setting up the bar or straps at about waist height, lying underneath and grabbing onto it, and pulling your chest towards the bar while keeping your body straight.
The exercise targets the muscles of the upper back, biceps, and core muscles.
You will need a T-bar row machine for the exercise. Alternatively, you can secure one end of a barbell in a corner.
You hold the other end of the barbell with both hands and row it towards your abdomen.
The exercise primarily targets the upper back muscles, biceps, and forearms.
Final words from LiveLIfe
The landmine row has limitations and may not be the optimal exercise for everyone. But it offers several benefits, making it worth incorporating into your training routine.
It is one of the best exercises for targeting your upper back muscles. It can also work and strengthen other areas of your body, including your arms and the core.
The landmine row is worth considering as part of your training regimen.
- Full body landmine workout. (2019).
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Weight training: Do’s and don’ts of proper technique.