BELIEVE IT OR NOT, there’s more than one way to heft a barbell. You might be used to gripping a bar by its shaft, counting on the rough knurling to help you hold onto the implement as you add increasingly heavy loads on both sides of its sleeves for bilateral lifts.

You can unlock and entirely new way to train (and potential strength, muscle, and athletic gains, too) when you grab hold of one of the sleeves and heft it up off the floor. For stability’s sake, it’s best to secure the other end of the bar into an anchor point. Those are (generally) called landmines—and that’s where this style of training takes its name.

Landmine training will give you an opportunity to shift your routine away from the typical deadlifts, squats, and bench presses for your strength training plan—while also allowing you to explore those moves from a new perspective. “It’s a perfect way to change up your training, and a method that’s growing in popularity for a variety of reasons,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

There’s more to know about landmine training than the fact that barbells can (and should) be turned on their sides for your workouts. Here, Samuel breaks down everything you need to know about landmine training, from the right way to set up in a pinch to the best landmine exercises for your full-body workout.

What Is a Landmine?

The most important tool for landmine exercises is a barbell, which you’ll need whether you have access to a landmine attachment or not. These attachments allow you to slide one end of the barbell into them, and provide an axis for movement as you hold onto the other end with one or both hands. Some landmine attachments are connected to squat racks, while others are free-standing or slot into the center holes of weight plates.

You don’t need a landmine attachment to perform landmine exercises, however. All you need is wall with a corner. Stick one end of the barbell into the corner, and you can prop up the weight without pushing the bar forward. For your paint job’s sake, make sure to put a towel or some other buffer between the barbell and the wall.

Once you have your barbell in position, you can add weight plates to the exposed end of the barbell for load. Depending on the exercise, you’ll either hold the barbell sleeve in one or both hands or use other tools to manipulate your grip.

Benefits of Landmine Exercises

  • Fun
  • Versatile
  • Joint-Friendly

The landmine’s biggest benefits are that it’s a versatile piece of equipment that allows you to perform a wide range of exercises in novel ways, especially compared to the standard variations you’ve likely learned through traditional strength training practices.

This is because of the unique position of the barbell in relation to the floor, which changes something called the force curve, according to Samuel. Standard free weight exercises (think bench press, squat, and deadlift with barbells or dumbbells) are on a constant position on this curl, since you’re lifting the weight straight up and down on a linear path. As Samuel points out, a typical barbell deadlift at 135 pounds will continue to present that same challenge throughout the lift. When you change the length of the lever, as you do with the landmine by raising one end of the barbell off the floor, you change its position on the force curve.

“The landmine weighs the most when the load is closer to the ground because the barbell lever gets more of a challenge from gravity,” says Samuel. “As you lift that weight farther and farther up, it actually gets increasingly lighter because the lever gets shorter.”

This unique setup introduces stability and balance challenges, compared to typical barbell exercises. You can more easily work unilaterally (on one side of the body at a time), and you can perform overhead and explosive movements without putting the same level of strain on your shoulders and back as you would with traditional barbell movements.

The Best Landmine Exercises for Your Workouts

Start your landmine practice with this tough five-exercise workout from Samuel. The routine is designed to check every box you’d want in a training session: a pushing movement (chest and shoulders), a pulling movement (back and biceps), a hinge (glutes), a knee-dominant move (quads), and a core movement. Perform each exercise for three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Landmine Deadlift

How to Do It:

  • Start with a wide stance, with the barbell between your legs.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades and abs to create tension, then push your butt back and hinge at the waist to grab the end of the barbell in both hands.
  • Stand straight up, squeezing your glutes into hip extension to raise the weight.
  • Push your butt back, then hinge at the waist to control the weight back down to the floor.

Landmine Reverse Lunge

How to Do It:

  • Stand with your feet together, holding the barbell sleeve in both hands at chest-level. Squeeze your shoulders, abs, and glutes to create tension.
  • Step back with one leg into a lunge, bending your knees so your rear knee touches the floor.
  • Press off your front foot to stand back up into the starting position.
  • For an extra challenge, add elevation by standing on weight plates or some other short platform.

Landmine Deadstop Row

How to Do It:

  • Stand over the barbell with the implement between your legs. Use either a V-bar (typically used with cable machines for seated rows) or a towel for grip, wrapping it around the barbell near the sleeve.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension. Push your butt back and hinge forward at the waist to reach down with your implement and grab the bar.
  • Pull the weight up to your chest, keeping your posture tight by keeping your shoulders and core engaged.
  • Control the weight back to the floor. Pause before your next rep.

Half-Kneeling Overhead Press

How to Do It:

  • Start in a half-kneeling position. Grab the end of the barbell and hoist it up to shoulder height, holding on with one hand. Extend the opposite arm out to the side for balance. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension.
  • Press the weight straight up overhead. Lean forward slightly and squeeze your back muscles at the top.
  • Lower the weight back down to your shoulder under control.

Tall-Kneeling Landmine Rotation

How to Do It:

  • Start in a tall-kneeling position, holding the end of the barbell with both hands. Squeeze your shoulder blades, abs, and glutes to create tension.
  • Press the weight straight overhead with both arms. Think of your position as a vertical plank.
  • Rotate your arms to one side, fighting against the rotational forces that would pull your torso down.
Headshot of Brett Williams, NASM

Brett Williams, a senior editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.