The Lumberjack Squat: 5 Ways to Do It

The Best Squat Variation You Haven’t Tried!

No squats, no gains. But you don’t have to put a bar across your back to do them. Try the lumberjack squat. Here’s how to do it.


Get Jacked with the Lumberjack Squat

If you struggle with squat depth or if your wrists, elbows, or shoulders hurt, try the lumberjack squat. Or just do it because it’s an extremely effective lower-body exercise. Though similar to the goblet squat, it offers the benefit of being able to go heavier.

If you’re familiar with landmine squats, you may be confused about why I use a bench for these. The bench minimizes the risk of getting hurt while picking up and putting down a heavier load. And it prevents you from tiring out while getting into position. You don’t want picking up the bar to be the hardest part of the work set.

You might think the bench setup isn’t worth it. Well, you’d be wrong. Try it and you’ll quickly figure out how comfortable the starting position feels. It’s safer too. (A plyo box may work too.)

Setting up in this way also helps standardize squat depth, and it makes for an easy way to bail out if you need to. It’s not necessary to train to complete failure, but if you’re going to, then the lumberjack squat makes it easy.

How to Set Up the Lumberjack Squat

1. Get a landmine attachment ready.

Use a portable post landmine or a rack attachment. Just don’t use the corner of your gym. With the loads you might get up to, it’ll likely drill a hole through the wall. It’s also less secure.

2. Use a standard-length 7-foot Olympic bar.

Even most beginners can handle the load of a 45-pound bar quite comfortably. And because of the fulcrum, you’re not truly handling the full weight of the bar anyway.

3. Get the bar up into place.

You CAN just whip the bar up into position, but a smarter approach would be to use a bench (or box), as shown in the video. That way, there’s no twisting or jerking of your back and no awkwardness while getting into position.

4. Adjust the starting height if needed.

If you’re tall, you can use a plyometric box or even stack a few plates on the bench to get the perfect height. A standard gym bench could be suitable.

As a 5’11" lifter, the bench height works well without any adjustments. If you’re shorter, you can use a step with risers to get the correct height. You can also use smaller plates on the landmine. Figure out what’s best according to your frame and squatting anatomy.

How to Do it Right

Like conventional squats, your foot position can vary depending on your own anatomy or what you’re looking to emphasize. At the bottom, try to drive your knees out with your elbows and keep your feet flat on the floor.

Get set, get tight, and start your first rep by overcoming the inertia of the weight in the bottom position. As you fire out of the hole, you’ll move slightly forwards. The landmine will determine the angle; just keep the bar close to your chest throughout (in cupped hands), and don’t let it inch down.

You’ll probably find you need to stand further behind the bar than you initially thought. There’s a sweet spot, but don’t worry, you’ll know when you’ve got it.

Make sure you’re staying tight throughout and take a deep breath on every rep – breathing out on the upward effort.

Once you’ve nailed the setup, add some load. Providing you don’t have tiny hands and a horrible grip, you’ll be able to handle some respectable weight, typically more than a goblet squat allows.

Here are a few ways you could use this variation:

1. For Athletic Strength, Add a Band

As you approach the top of the rep, the tension drops a little. This means that while it’s harder in the bottom position, as you reach full extension it gets easier. To accommodate for this and even out the strength curve, use a resistance band.

A band will encourage you to fire through it while also accelerating you on the way down. Because of the slightly more horizontal nature of this squat, it’s a great option for athletes looking to develop more horizontal force. Pick the load according to your goals. This can also be a good option to improve strength-speed (high-load power output and rate of force development).

2. For Intensity, Do a Drop Set

To add intensity to your lower-body workout, drop sets work well. The lumberjack squat setup makes it easy to strip plates as you go.

In the video, you’ll see a single drop-set, but feel free to add multiple drops for some extra nastiness. Only someone with a masochistic side will enjoy these. You’re welcome!

3. To Emphasize the Quads, Wedge the Heels

Lumberjack squats work well when combined with a heel wedge. This might take a few tries to get right. For most, the heel wedge would be level with the end of the bar when stationed on the floor. Adjust accordingly, though.

The heel wedge will increase quadriceps activity and allow an even greater depth over a variety of foot placements.

  • Go super narrow to hit the outer quads a bit more (vastus lateralis).
  • Take a wider, toes-out stance to hit more of that teardrop (VMO).

How to Program the Lumberjack Squat

Lumberjack squats can be used as an alternative to conventional squats if you’re unable to do them anymore, or just toss them into your rotation for variety.

They’re also a great option if you want to increase the number of days per week you squat without repeating the same style of squat too often. Try using them throughout different phases of your training, or add them in for some extra intensity during lower-body workouts.

They’re a versatile exercise and can work with a variety of sets, reps, and tempo choices. They may just be your new favorite leg-day exercise.

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4 Likes

Definitely look to try these while trying to deload my spine and let my discs settle down in my back.

Thank you for the idea.

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Stupid question, but isn’t this just a landmine squat? Is there a distinction between landmine and lumberjack squats???

Landmine squat… I doubt Paul Bunyan’s lawyers will allow this copyright infringement to go unchallenged! Can we stop with the renaming of every exercise for the sake of clickbait?

Perfect for exactly that! :raised_hands:

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The “Landmine” attachment was actually created by Bert Sorin of Sorinex. I’ve personally always called these lumberjack squats, whether using a landmine attachment, angled bar just in the corner of a room, or any other device or setup :slight_smile:

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Calling all angled barbell training “Landmine” is like calling all mobile phones iPhones. See my above comment on the origin of “landmine”. I’ve personally always called these lumberjack squats and hence the title of the article (nothing to do with click bait!), but feel free to term them whatever you’d like :slight_smile:

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I do these squats these are forgiving on my hips and lower back. These I did 5x4-6 but now going for 2x4-6 & 2x8-12

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Great way to load up landmine squats!

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Feel good, right!? Glad you’re a fan of them :ok_hand:

How much weight do you have to use to feel them? Just curious really, I’ll try these when back next week in the gym but want to know if I have to load those like normal squats or not.

I’ve also started doing these to give my body a break from heavy high intensity workouts for almost 50yrs straight. I also have the attachment with the shoulder pads. I also started doing Viking presses for a break which also worked out very well for me.

I do have one question for Gareth or anyone else that is familiar with landmine type movements. I seem to get a better feel if the other end is slightly elevated and not all the way on the ground. I don’t need to load the bar as much due to the leverage angle and it feels more difficult which I like.

Anyone have any opinions on having the other end raised

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Thanks for clarifying! All’s left to decide is which is cooler :smiley:

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The term “lumberjack squat” pre-existed “landmine squat” actually.

I invented angled barbell training around 1997. Okay, I actually just set up a bar to do one-arm rows because I out-grew the crappy dumbbells in the school gym I was using at the time. (I’m sure someone else thought of the same thing before I did… probably in 1905.)

I called it the “long-bar one-arm row” and wrote about it in 2004 with a crappy digital photo of my training partner doing it:

Long_Bar_One-Arm_Row

Wish I’d been forward-thinking enough to create a device to hold down the other end of the bar. We used a dumbbell.

In 2007, we used the term Lumberjack Squat for, I think, the first time:

Somewhere around 2010, Nick Tumminello coined the term “angled barbell training” and put out a DVD training guide.

In 2016, John Meadows hit on the one-arm barbell row idea again and made it look cooler than my training partner did:

As Gareth said, the term “landmine” came along with the device of the same name. It was catchier than angled barbell training and has become the generic term.

200w

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I find it’s typically 20-30% more than what you might be using for Goblet squats.

Good question. With less of an angle on the bar then there’s less “unloading” of the weight at the top. I’ve tested this and have found about a 15lb difference in weight at the bottom versus the top of the movement. That of course will vary based on your exact setup, the bar, and how far the car is Traveling (your height). By elevating the bar you’d see less of a variance in weight and a more “even” resistance profile.

Microphone drop! Haha

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Makes sense! To me, the heavy weight plate used to hold down the device reminded me of a ‘landmine’ which must be where that came from. Thanks for explaining that @Chris_Shugart

Like I mentioned to @Gareth_Sapstead, now all that is left is for me to decide which word is cooler. Landmines are cool because they blow stuff up, but Lumberjacks are rugged and manly! And they were my high school mascot where the logging industry is prominent (pacific northwest)

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Given that landmines indiscriminately blow stuff up DECADES after the wars have ended and we have organizations dedicated to discovering them to end civilian causalities and lumberjacks brought us cinnamon roles with chili on them, this is a no-brainer.

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I must be desensitized against landmines and other such things…War is hell, but war has been my business for two decades, unfortunately, and I retire this summer but not without the injuries that are courtesy of my employer.

I don’t actually know which one you’re saying is better…are landmines or lumberjacks cooler?