Landmine Exercises: An Explosive Workout For The Core And Lower Body

There I was several months ago looking at my legs in the mirror, (yeah I’m kind of a narcissist). “Man, I really need to work on them differently.”

I was having one of my typical conversations with myself. I have to confess but my legs are my weak points in my body. Luckily I have found exercises and workouts that work for me and have helped my legs grow. Exercises like bodyweight jump squats along with sprints have been a blessing for me and have given my legs a boost for several years now.

Although these exercises have been a part of my workout routine I figured I wanted to include a new element in my workouts and something that would target not only the lower body but the core as well.

One workout that recently caught my eye for its muscle building and fat burning abilities are landmine exercises. I have been doing these exercises for several months experimenting and looking for a way that would give me the best results possible. The explosive nature of these workouts specifically work fast twitch muscles and as a result helps the body get a lean look. This type of workout is one that can be done using only a barbell and some weight using very limited space.

What Are Landmine Exercises?

Landmine exercises are named after a piece of equipment that is ground based and is rotational in its design. A popular version of the landmine is made by Sorinex (see picture above). This equipment is designed in a way that a barbell can be attached from one end allowing for the bar to move in a circular range of motion. The opposite end of the bar facing the person can have weight attached and a handle for easier grip.

Because of the mobility of this device it makes it easy to get creative with workouts. By using a landmine you can work virtually any muscle group in the upper body, lower body and in the core. The flexibility in its design makes it easy for anyone to set up and use.

In the previous article we discussed barbell Russian twists. This exercise is a good example of one can be performed using a landmine setup. If you have not read it you should go ahead and do it now to get an idea on how you can work the core muscles using a simple twisting motion with a barbell.

Make Your Own Landmine

If you are looking to get one of these pieces of equipment you will see that they are not cheap and will set you back a few hundred dollars. If you are not interested in paying a good chunk of cash for this equipment you can simply make your own at your gym or even at home.

The simple way of making your own landmine requires having the following pieces of workout equipment:

  • Barbell
  • Weight Plates
  • Weight Clip

Simply place a weight plate (preferably a 45 pound) on the floor, a weight plate on the end of the bar facing you (start with light weight) and the opposite end of the bar should fit in the hole of the weight plate on the ground. This setup allows for the barbell to move in a flexible and circular motion like the Sorinex device.

Why I Added Landmines As A New Element In My Workouts?

Well I think it is important to challenge your body to avoid having the same types of workouts. Sure, it helps from breaking a plateau but it is also good to keep your workouts interesting. The goal for me is always to keep my workouts interesting and as athletic as possible, incorporating multi joint movements in order to boost muscle building and fat burning qualities as much as possible.

Jump squats and sprints are still part of my workout routines and I use them twice per week but have added landmines once per week as part of my lower body strength training.

If you notice in the previous post on barbell Russian twists this exercise was pretty simple but was not very explosive. In fact, the exercise required very little mobility in the lower body thereby focusing all effort in the core and upper body. However, at the conclusion of the article I mentioned that there is a way to make this exercise explosive if done in a different manner.

Building Explosiveness With Lower Body Workouts

While doing research on using landmines for an explosive lower body workout I came across the following video.

The exercises used are:

  • Landmine Deadlift Curl Rotate Press: set up your landmine and begin by holding the bar with one hand and with the knees bent. Come up in to a standing position, curl the weight, twist and press the bar up. This is a total body exercise working on the core, legs, lower back, arms and shoulders.
  • Barbell Abdominal Rollout: focuses primarily on the abs. This can be done if you do not have lower back problems, otherwise skip it.
  • Barbell Get Up, Get Down: this is an excellent core and leg exercise. Begin with a barbell with light weight resting on your upper back behind your neck. Come down on the right knee and place it on the floor, then bring your left knee to the floor, come back up first with your right leg then the left leg. This is one rep. Complete the desired number of reps then repeat the sequence this time starting with the opposite leg. Bring the left knee down first, followed by the right knee to the floor, come up with the left leg and finally bring your left leg back to the standing position.
  • Hack Squats: The barbell is placed behind the feet and ankles. Grab the barbell with an underhand grip and come up by keeping the heels firmly planted on the ground and drive the weight up. Look straight throughout the motion.
  • Clean And Press: Start with the barbell on the floor, hold the bar with a neutral grip and in one quick motion bring the barbell to your chest and drop down to a squat position. Come up to a standing position and press the barbell to a shoulder press.
  • Landmine Barbell Twists: As you can see in the video this is like a Russian barbell twist but is done faster. When you twist to each side bend your knees as if you were doing a standing lunge, come up fast and repeat to the opposite side to complete one repetition. After completing the desired number of reps you repeat the same motion only this time much quicker and without pausing at the top of the movement.

In this video you can see that this simple set up works heavily on the lower body and core muscles but also the upper body thereby making it a total body workout. The explosive nature of the movements and the multi joint emphasis on the exercises makes it a perfect workout for developing fast twitch muscles which gives the body lean muscle and a more athletic look.

A Landmine Exercise Workout

Although the workout laid out in the video is extremely effective, it is one that is more for an advanced level of fitness. If you have never done exercises like squats, deadlifts or clean and jerk I recommend you first learn these exercises and develop good form before you attempt this workout.

Because of the high degree of athleticism and difficulty in this video I decided to create an easier version, yet still challenging version of the workout. The following workout incorporates power movements along with the landmine.

  • Traditional Deadlifts- 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Barbell Get Up, Get Down– 4 sets of 5 reps per leg
  • Front Squat– 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Power Clean– 3 sets of 3 reps
  • Landmine Barbell Twist– 4 sets (each set consists of 10 slower twists to each side and then 10 fast twists to each side as in the video)
  • Rest one minute between sets and exercises

In this version of the workout a traditional deadlift is used rather than the landmine version as I wanted to focus more on the power movement of the deadlift. The emphasis here is not on the arms but strictly on engaging the legs and back muscles.

Also, instead of doing a hack squat I replaced this with a front squat. Although hack squats are a great exercise they can be difficult for someone not used to doing them. Hack squats require a lot of strength to drive the weight from behind the legs in to an upward motion. Front squats are easier than a hack squat, make it easier to do a deeper squat and can be easier to control the weight.

Power cleans replaced the clean and jerk. Again, the emphasis for me was in the lower body and not in a pressing movement which would also target the shoulders. Also, for someone who is not advanced the power clean is easier to do and is safer to do as long as you do not have a bad back.

The landmine barbell twist as done in the video is amazing in working the core and legs. By the time you finish the sequence of twists you should not be able to get on a treadmill due to the demand that is placed on the legs.

Since using the landmine barbell twists I have noticed more development in my rear delts and side delts. The twisting motion engages the arms, shoulders, core and legs in a way that I have not seen or experienced with other workouts. It is the combination of this exercise along with the barbell get up stand up that makes the legs work harder than they are used to.

This workout consisting of  landmine exercises and power movements will take your body to a different level by helping it develop fast twitch muscle while getting simultaneous cardio benefits. In fact, if you are not sweating, breathing hard and feel like you can still get on a treadmill then sorry my friend but you are not doing it right.

Try this exercise if you are looking for a different way to get your body to look athletic. Let me know what you think.

Bodyweight Jump Squats: A Perfect Exercise That Builds Muscle And Burns Fat

When it comes to gaining muscle and burning fat one of the best bodyweight exercises are jump squats.  Although it is a rare exercise to see in any gym they are an extremely effective way of turning your next muscle-building program in to a cardio workout.

Although bodyweight workout routines are not very popular among typical gym goers, and anyone looking to lift weight, when these exercises are done right they can be a great complement to weight training or they can work independently and as effectively as any other strength training workout.

Benefits of A Jump Squat

  • Build Athleticism
  • Stimulates Fast Twitch Muscle Growth
  • Builds Explosiveness
  • Builds Strength and Speed
  • Builds Power
  • Is A Plyometric Exercise

Why Bodyweight Squat Jumps Burn Fat And Make You Lean

As you can see from the list above there are many benefits with this exercise.  When performing this exercise you are helping trigger muscle growth through explosive movements.  In order for the legs to adapt to explosive movements it has to adapt by creating lean muscle.

A simple bodyweight squat only forces the legs to carry the weight of the body through repetitive movements.  By adding a jump the legs have to carry the weight of the body plus get it to forcefully lift off the ground and land.  This exercise improves vertical jumping ability and helps increase speed as well.

When we add a jump to a squat it not only forces the muscles to work but also gets the heart rate elevated the same as any cardio workout.  When we combine both the muscle building and cardio benefits together the fat burning abilities increase greatly.

Make It Twitch For Strong Muscular Legs

You have probably looked at a football player, soccer player, basketball player or any other athlete who requires jumping in their sport.  Their legs are very muscular.  Due to the explosive nature of these sports their legs develop a higher degree of fast twitch muscle.  Fast twitch muscles are what give the body a leaner and muscular appearance.

Compare the legs of athletes who do movements and workouts in short bursts with those who train for endurance like a long distance or marathon runner.  Someone who exercises for endurance or distance has a thinner looking physique, as they do not require fast twitch muscles in order to be explosive.

In order to increase and stimulate fast twitch muscle growth the best way to do so is through burst training and plyometric exercises.

How To Perform A Jump Squat

If you have ever seen or performed a traditional squat using weights then you will know how to perform a bodyweight jump squat.

  • Begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart
  • Lower your body at the hips into a seated position
  • Jump as high as you can
  • Do not land with feet straight but rather come down to the seated position on landing

Weighted Jump Squats vs. Bodyweight Jump Squats

Although many athletes perform a weighted version of this exercise using dumbbells or barbells this is not something I see necessary or ideal for the typical person.  Athletes use weights in order to increase the load and demand on their legs.  However, for the average person it can be risky on the lower back when adding additional weight.  Simply use a bodyweight version of this exercise and you will be fine.

At What Point In Your Workout Should You Perform This Exercise?

These exercises can be done before beginning your leg workout, also as a warm-up doing lower body plyometrics workouts or at the end of your weight training.  There really is no ideal or perfect method. If you are doing weight training for your legs it may be best to leave the jump variations until the end as you may find yourself taxing the muscles too early which could affect quality of your weight training.

A Workout That Combines Squat Jumping For Fat Loss And Muscle Growth

The following is a workout I began practicing several years ago that incorporates weight training for legs, jumping squats and interval cardio that develops strong legs and also burns fat very effectively.

Deadlifts- 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions; rest 1 minute between sets

Squats- 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions; rest 1 minute between sets

Leg Press (optional)- 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions; rest 1 minute between sets

Sprint running for 15 minutes in the following sequence

  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute

Jump Squats- 3 to 4 sets of 10 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds between sets

The above workout sequence has been a favorite of mine for quite some time.  It is challenging on the legs but forces the muscles to grow through a combination of explosiveness and bursts of activity.  This workout should only be done once a week in order to allow the legs to rest and recover.

For a strictly bodyweight version of this routine you can simply eliminate the weighted squats, deadlifts and leg press and only perform the sprints and bodyweight squat jumps twice a week.

Include jump squats regularly in your lower body workouts and you will find that it is not only a fun exercise but also great at building lean muscle, burning fat and building athleticism.

Feel free to comment below and join in on the conversation.

Lower Body Plyometric Training Exercises Will Get You Fit Fast

One of the exercises I look back on and wish I had incorporated in my workout routine are lower body plyometric training exercises to get fit faster. Although I don’t see or hear many personal trainers using this in gyms I truly believe that including them in your workouts are an excellent alternative to cardio.

(Example of Plyometric Box Jumps)

Few people truly love doing steady state cardio exercises. However, ask someone if they want to do cardio that will get them to look like an athlete and train like an athlete and few will back down from the challenge.

Plyometric training exercises are in my opinion some of the most fun and most effective workouts for burning fat and developing muscle at the same time. Although it is often taught that the way to burn fat is by separating cardio and weight training workouts, the truth is muscle-building workouts can be combined together with cardio for quicker results.

What exactly are plyometrics exercises?

Plyometrics are exercises use fast movement in order to improve a person’s athletic performance. The goal is always to use high power and explosiveness in every movement by stimulating fast twitch muscles. The result of using these types of exercises is running faster, jumping higher, and throwing faster.

(Olympic Sprinter Linford Christie Doing Advanced Plyometrics)

As you can see this type of workout is important for any athlete in just about any sport. Work for explosiveness and you end up performing better all around. By working on the muscles in this way they then have to adapt and grow to perform better.

How does this help you?

By doing the same type of exercise as an athlete you too can get an improved body. Your goal is not to break records or be the fastest guy in your town, but by training in this way your body will react by looking lean and muscular and burn more fat.

Lower Body Plyometrics Workout

  • Bodyweight lunge: Perform a lunge one leg at a time. Keep your back straight and make sure the knee is in line with your ankle.
  • Squat Jumps: stand with your legs open at a shoulder width stance. Go down to a squat position and jump up in a fast and explosive manner. Perform each repetition without stopping.
  • Side to Side Hop:   Stand in the same position then jump to one side and land on foot then jump to then next side and land on the other foot. Pretend like you are a speed skater and you get the idea of how to do it.
  • Standing Jump and Reach: Stand in the same position and in front of a wall or a basketball rim. Raise your arms up and jump as high as possible. With each jump try to reach the highest point on the wall or the rim.

Perform 3 to 4 sets of each exercise and 10 repetitions. Do this exercise as a circuit with no rest in between. For example perform each exercise back to back. When you finish with the last exercise simply repeat the sequence.

This workout will help you get strong leg development and get your heart rate up for a great cardio workout. If you feel like you can handle more you can do a series of sprints for 15 minutes either before or after this circuit.

So there you have it, these lower body plyometrics training exercises will have you training like an athlete and have you looking like one too.

Squats On The Smith Machine vs. Barbell Squats: Which Has The Most Benefits As A Lower Body Workout

I am sure some of you have your preference already, squats on the smith machine and those who prefer barbells squats in their lower body weight training workout.  Maybe you have wondered which offers the most benefits when it comes to building muscle and wonder if you should chose one or the other.
Diddley Squat
Photograph courtesy of Paul Brooker

Well the good news is both are excellent to develop your legs.  Both types of exercises are performed by many weightlifters to get great lower body development.  It is not uncommon to see squats performed by all types of athletes, whether it is baseball, football, basketball and track, to name a few.

The most important thing to remember is that for any exercise to be effective it has to be performed properly.  I cannot stress this enough.  In fact this is one of the primary reasons why many people stay away from this lower body workout.

What are the benefits of squats?

  • Squats are a great multi-joint exercise.  Along with the deadlift, squat exercises are great in developing muscle, burning fat and getting lean and having better definition.
  • Squats elevate human growth hormone levels.
  • They increase overall body strength.

You can see that those few advantages I have listed are not bad at all if you want to gain muscle.  So which type of squat exercise is best for lower body workouts?

Benefits of Smith Machine Squats

  • The main advantage I see in this exercise is it helps with keeping great form.  By allowing great form it is much harder to become injured.
  • You are able to add more weight without fear of losing balance.  For those who like to go heavier on their exercises this is a good reason to use a Smith Machine.

Benefits of Barbell Squats

  • Using a barbell is a classic exercise in weightlifting.  A major advantage in using this exercise is that it allows for a more natural range of motion.  Often times people see a smith machine as too restrictive.
  • It is cheaper to have a barbell squat at home.  It is very common for homes to have a barbell and barbell rack as their only piece of equipment.  If this is what you have to work with then by all means keep using it. You are light years away already.

The important thing to remember is that either one of these lower body weight workouts is effective.  Each has its benefits and everyone has their preferences.  Some have a bias and prefer barbell squats while other prefer squats with a Smith Machine.  The important thing to remember is that either of these weight training workouts should always be performed with proper form and without overdoing it in the heaviness of the weight.

How To Build Muscles From Sprinting

When working out believe it or not there are ways how to build muscles from sprinting. In bodybuilding the common technique used to build muscle is by using weights to train our bodies consistently. However there is a different method there does not get mentioned very often in bodybuilding or in workout magazines.
Disappointing final sprint...
Photo courtesy of Stefanos

When we look at athletes, more specifically those who do short burst of running we can see a lean and muscular physique. For example look at an Olympic sprinter or a soccer player. These athletes are able to maintain a muscular physique despite running and doing high intensity cardio.

In bodybuilding cardio is often discouraged from a fitness regimen. Long periods of cardio like long distance running is counterintuitive in building muscle mass. However, short bursts of activity like running is the best way to burn fat and at the same time maintain muscle and even form new lean muscle. The use of short bursts of activity triggers testosterone that in return helps with muscle building.

One of the best ways to incorporate sprinting in a workout is by doing a two to one ratio, in other words a two-minute rest for every minute of running. This type of workout can be done on a treadmill or on a track.

· Sprint one: Run for one minute at 70 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint two: Run for one minute at 80 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint three: Run for one minute at 90 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint four: Run for one minute at 80 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint five: Run for one minute at 70 percent of your maximum speed

Rest for two minutes and no longer than that between sprints. The total time should be 15 minutes. You can add two more sprints to this routine with a maximum speed of 80 percent on the sixth and 90 percent maximum speed on the last sprint. This routine should be performed two times a week with 48 to 72 hours between days of rest.

The effects of doing this type of workout will lead to fat burning without losing muscle mass and gaining mass in the lower body specifically. This type of workout will also create gains overall in muscle gain.