5 Effective Landmine Press Alternatives to Maximize Gains

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
August 4, 2022

The landmine press is a particularly effective variation of the overhead press with a unilateral approach to training stimulus induction, providing not only significant muscular development in the deltoids and triceps brachii muscles, but also aiding in torso stability and reinforcement of the elbow extension biomechanic.

Despite this effectiveness however, certain issues relating to the landmine press or training requirements geared towards the exerciser can lead to this particular exercise being substituted with an alternative that better fits the needs of the situation.

Fortunately, substituting the landmine press with another exercise of similar muscle activation and mechanics is rather easy - with a variety of different exercises such as the Z press, cable press or even the Arnold press all serving the same purpose without the same disadvantages of the landmine press.

Why Should the Landmine Press be Alternated Out?

The main reason why the landmine press is substituted within a workout routine is the simple fact that not every individual has access to a landmine attachment - of which is a piece of equipment attached to one end of the barbell that ensure it remains stable and secure as the exerciser raises the other end of said barbell overhead.

landmine press

While this is the usual case, other reasons relating to issues in the performance of the landmine press may also be the culprit; with such factors like its unilateral muscular activation, positioning of the exerciser on the floor or the fact that it may irritate injuries in the serratus anterior, rotator cuff or elbows all requiring that the exercise be substituted appropriately.

Regardless of the exerciser’s reason behind their need to find an alternative exercise, there is likely a perfectly suitable movement capable of replicating the many benefits of the landmine press while still conforming to the needs of the exerciser’s circumstances and goals.

Characteristics of a Landmine Press Alternative

In order to act as an appropriate substitute to the landmine press, the alternative exercise should focus on two key aspects of the exercise; that of possessing the same muscle group activation, and the relative level of intensity found therein.

While the first characteristic is quite simplistic and allows for a truly numerous amount of exercises to be used as potential alternatives - the latter aspect is far more limiting, as the landmine press is a compound exercise of significant intensity and complexity.

Injuries or inexperience notwithstanding, this will require that the alternative exercise also be of similar levels of intensity and muscle activation effectiveness, thereby dictating what sort of exercises will be appropriate, with the majority being of a free-weight nature due to their increased synergist muscle group recruitment potential.

What Muscles Should be Worked by a Landmine Press Alternative?

As was mentioned in the last section of this article, a suitable alternative exercise to the landmine press should replicate the muscle activation pattern and set of the latter exercise, that being the three heads of the deltoids muscle group that make up the shoulder as well as the triceps brachii that run along the rear of the humerus, or what is otherwise known as the upper arm.

Because the landmine press activates these muscle groups in a concomitant manner, the alternative exercise must also be of the compound activation type, with individual isolation exercises for both the deltoids and triceps muscle groups failing to recreate the same training stimulus as the landmine press and thus being poor substitutes in the long term.

How to Program a Suitable Alternative Exercise for the Landmine Pressess

In most cases, if a suitably similar enough alternative exercise to the landmine press is used as a substitute, further restructuring of the workout session is not necessary - so long as the alternative exercise shares the same muscle group activation set and level of intensity.

In terms of repetitions and sets, the landmine press is usually kept to a conservative amount of volume while maintaining a moderate to high level of resistance in order to better develop muscular hypertrophy and strength adaptations.

As such, if utilizing a suitable alternative exercise, one will find that patterning the volume and resistance of this alternative in a similar manner will help achieve much the same goals and avoid excessive fatigue and overtraining over longer periods of time.

Issues begin to arise in the programming of this substitution of the landmine press if the alternative exercise either activates more muscle groups than the triceps and deltoids, or if it possesses a level of complexity and resistance outside the range that the landmine press normally presents - both requiring that the exerciser subtract or add additional exercises to the workout program in order to compensate.

If this is the case and the exerciser is not knowledgeable enough about training programming to ensure a cohesive and effective workout session, they will be better served seeking out the advice of an athletic coach or finding another approach apart from substituting the landmine press instead.

Landmine Attachment Alternative Equipment

If the exerciser’s reason for substituting the landmine press within their workout is because they do not have access to a landmine attachment, two methods of utilizing other types of fitness equipment can easily substitute the presence of a landmine attachment, albeit in a more roundabout manner.

Placing a dumbbell atop the distal end of the barbell and wedging it against a wall in a manner that prevents the bar from rising as the exerciser lifts it overhead is one possible method of doing so - as is loading a set of small but numerous weight plates at the distal end so as to provide a counter-weight against the exerciser’s force output.

The Ideal Landmine Press Alternative for General Training: 1. Dumbbell Z Press

For general purpose training such as mass and strength development or practice of certain overhead extension biomechanics, the dumbbell Z press is the perfect alternative movement. This is due to the similarity and intensity of said dumbbell Z press and the landmine press, especially in terms of muscle activation in both primary mover and synergist capacities.

dumbbell z press

The dumbbell Z press may also be performed with the use of a barbell, removing its unilateral training stimulus and instead replacing it with a bilateral training stimulus - of which allows it to simply be called the “Z press”.

As both the dumbbell Z press and landmine press make great use of the triceps and deltoids muscle groups (with minor stabilizer work from the core and erector spinae muscles), there is virtually no need for further alteration or reprogramming of the workout session, allowing the exerciser to simply switch between one or the other without worry.

Other Free Weight Alternatives to the Landmine Press

Though the dumbbell Z press is the closest and most effective alternative to the landmine press, it shares certain drawbacks with the latter exercise that may make it just as unsuitable for certain exercisers - requiring that yet another free weight alternative be used instead.

These are primarily the push press and the unilateral arnold press, each of which are considered to be shoulder training compound exercises that otherwise will involve the usage of muscle groups not normally worked by the landmine press; thereby requiring restructuring of the workout session.

2. The Push Press

A bilateral shoulder exercise that makes use of supramaximal loading and leg-driven momentum to induce a novel training stimulus, the push press is an excellent alternative to the landmine press for athletes who find it to be too ineffective an exercise for their needs or otherwise do not want to retain its unilateral nature.

push press

Unlike the landmine press with its rather strict form and relatively low amount of weight in comparison to other compound shoulder exercises, the push press makes use of the exerciser pushing with their legs in order to aid in the movement, greatly increasing the total amount of weight that may be moved and therefore also placing various muscles in the legs in the primary muscle group category of the exercise.

This will also result in the stabilizing or synergistic training stimulus induced to the exerciser, of which is a major aspect of the landmine press.

When programming for the push press as a landmine press alternative, the exerciser will wish to reduce the number of other exercises that involve the rotator cuff and elbow joints, as the push press’s high momentum movement places significant stress on these tissues.

However, in terms of volume, the push press may be performed in much the same number of repetitions and sets, excelling in terms of efficiency and time in comparison to the landmine press due to the push press’s bilateral nature.

3. Unilateral Arnold Press

A unilateral version of the arnold press, this particular exercise compares quite well to the landmine press in terms of muscle group activation, specificity and effectiveness at building muscle and mobility - though the biceps brachii are also recruited to an extent, requiring restructuring of the workout program if further biceps training exercises are present.

single arm arnold press

Otherwise, the unilateral arnold press is a near perfect one to one substitute for the landmine press, with the added benefit of only requiring a single dumbbell, a greater level of triceps brachii and anterior deltoid head activation as well as total length of time under tension due to the rotation of the shoulder throughout each repetition.

As the arnold press lengthens the time under tension the muscles undergo, exercisers will find that they are unable to perform as many repetitions of the exercise as they could with the landmine press, requiring that the exerciser either reduce the relative total load or program sets of lesser repetition volume.

The arnold press may be even further improved upon as a landmine press alternative by sitting straight-legged on the floor, requiring the exerciser’s torso muscles to actively stabilize to a greater extent.

Cable Machine Alternatives to the Landmine Press

For exercisers with poor stabilizer muscle strength or those that wish to replace the landmine press in favor of a more secure and safe alternative, the usage of the kneeling cable press or a variation of the cable shoulder fly can recreate the same triceps and shoulder muscle developments to a certain extent.

It is important for the exerciser to keep in mind that these two exercises are of a machine-based nature and are otherwise less effective at developing functional and athletic ability - a disadvantage that may be otherwise remedied by providing a second compound movement that addresses such caveats, such as the military press or bench press.

4. Kneeling Cable Press

Performed with the pulley set beneath the exerciser’s shoulder elevation so as to provide a more unstable kind of resistance, the kneeling cable press is a more difficult substitute to the landmine press that may be performed in a similarly unilateral manner without risk of injuring oneself due to the increased safety of the cable machine-based exercise.

kneeling cable press

As the kneeling cable press fatigues stabilizer and secondary muscle groups at a far more rapid pace due to its greater stability requirements, exercisers will find that - despite the same resistance - they are unable to perform as many repetitions per set before reaching maximum exertion.

As such, the exerciser should either reduce the total resistance of the exercise if training for technique and endurance, or otherwise simply reduce the amount of repetitions per set in order to account for this difference in muscle group recruitment.

5. Kneeling Unilateral Cable Press

A variation of the standard cable press with greatly increased core and deltoid head recruitment due to its unilateral nature and more unstable positioning, this particular alternative to the landmine press excels in terms of modularity and its ability to function as a rehabilitative or technique-reinforcing exercise.

Such benefits are due to the fact that the angle of resistance, stability and positioning of the exerciser may all be changed while still retaining much the same activation of the triceps brachii and deltoid heads - allowing exercisers with injuries, proportions that make the landmine press uncomfortable or limited mobility to still achieve the same goals regardless.

As the kneeling unilateral cable press is among one of the most modular landmine press alternative exercises available, it requires no further alteration of the training program be made - except in the case of the exerciser intentionally modifying the exercise so as to achieve a different stimulus.

This makes the kneeling unilateral cable press the best exercise for physical rehabilitation patients, novice exercisers or athletes with a need for an alternative with high muscle group activation specificity.

References

1. Campos YAC, Vianna JM, Guimarães MP, Oliveira JLD, Hernández-Mosqueira C, da Silva SF, Marchetti PH. Different Shoulder Exercises Affect the Activation of Deltoid Portions in Resistance-Trained Individuals. J Hum Kinet. 2020 Oct 31;75:5-14. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2020-0033. PMID: 33312291; PMCID: PMC7706677.

2. Luczak J, Bosak A, Riemann BL. Shoulder Muscle Activation of Novice and Resistance Trained Women during Variations of Dumbbell Press Exercises. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2013;2013:612650. doi: 10.1155/2013/612650. Epub 2013 May 15. PMID: 26464884; PMCID: PMC4590897.

3. Raizada, Shiny & Bagchi, Amritashish. (2017). Comparison among the EMG Activity of the Anterior Deltoid and Medial Deltoid During Two Variations of Dumbbell Shoulder Press Exercise. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development. 8. 653. 10.5958/0976-5506.2017.00411.9.

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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