The 4 Toughest Landmine Lifts for Leg Day

by Gareth Sapstead

A Challenging Lower Body Workout

Hit your legs and glutes with just a landmine setup and some plates. Here’s how.

A landmine device (on Amazon) provides a new workout challenge along with an element of stability, allowing you to better target a muscle. Even the smallest increases in load keep you progressing over time. And the landmine is a little heavier towards the bottom of the movement than at the top, which gives you quite the advantage, as you’re about to find out.

Here are four of the hardest landmine exercises for legs that you’ll love to hate:

1. Landmine Reverse Lunge, Shouldered

Place the load on your shoulders. This gives you more control than just holding it in your hands.

You can use an ipsilateral approach where the bar rests on the same side shoulder as the leg that bears the brunt of the effort in the forward position. Or you can use a contralateral loading scheme – opposite shoulder and leg. Feel free to try both.

To enhance comfort, place a squat bar pad or a towel on the end of your barbell since the substantial load on your shoulders can be quite uncomfortable.

With the bar hoisted into position, position it on your shoulders and lean in towards the plates as much as possible. Place both hands on the plates rather than the bar. This is the safest way to do it and permits you to use a more forward-leaning posture.

As you take a step back into your reverse lunge, push your hips back and slightly hinge at the torso. Despite the more pronounced angle of your shin, as the majority of the load is concentrated in the bottom position, you’ll feel these lunges hitting your glutes in their elongated state. That makes this a hip-dominant exercise.

2. Landmine Quadruped Hip Extension

You might know these as donkey kicks, but they isolate the glutes like nothing else. However, it’s important not to compare this exercise to your primary glute exercises. Instead, think of it as an assistance lift you can sprinkle into your workouts.

While the quadruped hip extension is effective with all loading schemes, adding a relatively heavy load to challenge your glutes and venture into lower rep ranges is a great challenge. The gains come fast.

Notice the plates. You can easily progress with weight as you get stronger. Additionally, the size of the bar and the support from the landmine make it comfortable to handle heavier weights.

Consider where the load is placed. The position of the load bypasses the distal hamstrings, which are primarily involved in knee flexion. As a result, your proximal hamstrings and glutes are forced to work harder, emphasizing the “glute-ham tie-in” area.

When performing quadruped hip extensions, you have the option of placing your hands on the floor or your elbows on a bench. Just establish a locked-in feeling during the exercise. Many lifters tend to prefer the feeling of stability that comes with using a bench.

Since you’re on all fours, there’s a substantial demand for stabilization from your core muscles. As you extend one hip and reduce your base of support, your core works to resist rotation. While your primary focus is on targeting your glutes rather than engaging your entire core, any hand or arm position that can aid in assistance is acceptable. In fact, as the load becomes heavier, consider adopting a super-wide arm position to provide additional support.

3. Landmine Crossover Lunge

Some people do crossover lunges with dumbbells, but this version may be a better option. While dumbbells load you straight down, the landmine encourages more sideways loading so the glutes and lateral hip stabilizers need to work hard eccentrically to tap the brakes at the bottom of the movement.

The Zercher position is another advantage. Most don’t have an issue, but if your arms are more bone than meat, then pad your elbows with elbow sleeves or wrap your hoodie around the bar.

4. Landmine Hack Squat

These are damn hard even with light weight. It’s essentially a hack squat but with some differences.

Like in the traditional machine hack squat, the shins remain more perpendicular to the floor or the platform. As a result, there’s reduced dorsiflexion, meaning that the knees don’t extend as far forward. This makes the hack squat a favorable alternative for those with cranky knees.

And check out its strength curve. The weight feels more challenging at the bottom due to leverage factors and gravity. This characteristic is true for all variations of the landmine squat, and something that sets it apart from the machine version.

Now, this one can be a little awkward to set up. So from a muscle-building standpoint, use this more towards the backend of a workout as a finisher with a lighter weight.


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