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Why Landmine Presses Do NOT Build Strong Shoulders

I hope it is well known that we don’t say controversial things to just get attention. Having a filter for good and not so great training information can be really difficult. What allows us to do so is a combination of having a lot of experience (my 25 years in fitness and Jessica’s over 15 years in physical therapy) as well as having worked with so many of the top professionals and making a heck of a lot of mistakes ourselves.

Asking people to evaluate if a popular training method isn’t done so we can tear someone down, but so that we can ask if we are giving people the best solution to their needs. When it comes to questioning landmine presses and their ability to help build healthy and strong shoulders, I think this is really key because it is almost a question no one ever asks. When you see our reasoning on why landmine presses actually don’t do much for building strong and healthy upper bodies, you will wonder how such a training method became so popular.

We could say that gym equipment like a t-bar row was maybe the first type of popular landmine training. In the case of rowing, landmines actually work decently well and we will explain why shortly. However, the landmines most of us know today were invented by Bert Sorin (one of the owners of Sorinex strength training equipment). Bert and Sorinex were some of the early supporters of our Ultimate Sandbag and I spent time with those guys especially around 2007-08. In fact, I saw the very first rig that they created that is now pretty common place.

t bar row exercise guide 1024x536.jpg copy - Why Landmine Presses Do NOT Build Strong Shoulders

Because the anchor point of the row is behind the lifter, not in front like the landmine presses, the row actually works pretty effectively. 

Bert was a former college track and field thrower, as he explains, “I built it myself with the help of my dad’s inventive mind back in 1999 as a way to help my hammer throw training. When I was training for the 2000 Olympic Trials I needed something that would bridge the gap between a really good squat and bridge the gap into a rotary torso motion that the hammer throw was needing. The Landmine is probably one of our most favorite.”

landmine presses

Fun to see Bert remember those old days!

landmine presses

In the case of the original intent of the landmine (to train rotational and resisted rotational exercises) it worked very well. Somewhere along the line someone wanted to try to expand the use of the landmine and thought about doing landmine presses. To be very honest, not sure who started this or even why, but it seemed to catch on quickly.

Hey, I am ALL for solutions to allow people to train and help rebuild their bodies, but what made people buy into landmine presses is also probably what makes it anything BUT a great solution for the shoulders. When you first press a landmine, it probably doesn’t feel like anything you have done on a bench press, a push-up, or pressing overhead, heck, you might find that you feel very little in your shoulders, isn’t that a good thing?

If we understand why landmine presses feel different, we can also start to see why they are problematic. When we perform ANY type of press, on a bench, in a push-up, or anything overhead, the leverage that the movement of the weight creates upon our body causes our core to have to “brace” to resist moving into unwanted positions. We all know that our low backs shouldn’t collapse during a push-up or really lean during an overhead press. It is our core trying to create stability that allows our body to resist these movements if we teach it correctly.

These presses (you see when you scroll through) all require core bracing BUT landmine presses

HOWEVER, when we perform landmine presses, as the weight moves up because of the anchor point, the weight actually becomes lighter. An example I have used many times is a tire flip in Strongman training. When you go to flip a tire, if you can get the tire to about a 45 degree angle off the ground, you can move it much more easily because it is actually deloading as you get the tire more vertical, the same thing happens on landmine presses.

landmine presses

How did I flip 700 pound tires during my Strongman days? Well, I never lifted the whole 700 pounds at once and it largely was based on my ability to get to that point where I could use leverage of the tire getting more vertical that made it possible!

So what? Because the weight actually gets lighter to the body as we press in our landmine presses, we don’t get the bracing of the core that is natural in any other form of pressing. This bracing of our core is so important in building strong and healthy shoulders because of the proximal stability it gives to our spine. So many issues in the shoulders and hips can be traced back to poor core stability and when the body perceives instability the nervous system tries to protect the body by reducing the range of motion of the shoulders and hips. This is where the popular concept of “proximal stability for distal mobility” stems from.

In other words, if our core doesn’t learn to develop proper stability, we won’t improve the mobility of our shoulders, and the shoulders won’t be able to build the appropriate strength and stability that would solve many of our shoulder issues. Why do so many people use it if this is the case? Honestly, I can’t say, especially when there are MUCH better solutions that actually do have a positive impact upon our shoulder health and performance. Like what?

The type of exercises that physical therapist, Jessica Bento, and myself have been demonstrating throughout this post are much better options in teaching people how to press correctly and helping build better stability/mobility in the shoulders. We can and should use tools like bands, kettlebells, and Ultimate Sandbags to help people understand how to move their bodies smarter and not only develop better fitness, but health in the process. Try adding some of these drills into your training of improving the upper body and realize that landmine presses, while popular, really don’t create the solutions for people’s shoulders than many think!

Find more great solutions with our new DVRT Strong and Mobile Shoulders online seminar. You can get it for under $20 HERE with code “dvrt35” as well as our DVRT Shoulder Course or Restoration Certification for THIS week only HERE.  Or continue to save with our back to fitness sale using the coupon code SAVE25.