How To Build Bulletproof Shoulders With The Landmine Row

By Dr. John Rusin

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Stronger, Leaner, Healtier, FOREVER

Introducing Functional Strength Training: 
The Monthly Membership Training Solution For People Who Want To Look, Feel And Function Their Very Best, Forever.

Join FST NOw

If you want to be a big, strong functional athlete who looks as good as they perform, varying your training and incorporating both unilateral and bilateral training based movements need to be an integral aspect of any effective training program no matter the goal.

For lifters and athletes who predominantly train bilaterally, changing up the movement emphasis and requisites placed on key foundational movement patterns such as the horizontal pull can be a game changer to develop transferable strength and muscle, but also challenge the core and pillar (consisting of the shoulders, core and hips) alike.

That’s why I recommend single-arm barbell exercises in a landmine setup with a focus placed on the horizontal pulling pattern, aka the row. But hey, there are some amazing advantages that the landmine setup provides that makes bilateral training on this tool remarkable as well.

How Landmine Rows Work

These landmine row variations will  increase muscle recruitment, maximize tension around the shoulder and reduce poor movement patterns—all in a few foundational moves that will quickly become staples of your strength and hypertrophy programming.

While the landmine row variations are devastatingly effective for forging muscle and strength, they also reduce joint stress while maximizing the tension and stabilization patterns of the shoulder, which translates very well to optimal shoulder and spinal health along with improved athletic performance.

Due to the barbell’s angled position, constant force and tension is placed on the body at all times. Also, the exercises hit your muscles differently than standard barbell and dumbbell moves, recruiting more muscle fibers to stabilize the shoulder and produce greater strength.

Anytime you can maximize muscular recruitment in the shoulder complex and core while minimizing the stress placed on the joints during the movement itself, that’s an exercise you will use for life. Before we get into my favorite landmine row variations and how to use them in superset fashion, lets make sure we can master this setup.

How To Properly Use The Landmine Setup

Single-arm barbell exercises and movements can be done in a landmine machine or by placing one end of the barbell in a corner of a room, where it can be stabilized by the two walls forming a right angle and buttressed with a heavy dumbbell. Make sure the barbell is against the corner to minimize the risk of it shifting during training. Whatever method you choose, stay consistent and track your progress with strength and stability of these movements over time.

It’s important to note that the relative “weight” of the barbell placed in the landmine setup can be variable. This is the reason why I recommend tracking the weight used only from the weight placed on the end of the barbell. For example, if you are completing sets with a 25 pound plate on the end of the landmine setup, this would be recorded as a weight of 25 pounds. Keep tracking simple and consistent over time for objective strength gains over time.

Landmine Single-Arm Barbell Row

Coaching Notes:

  • Start with your feet perpendicular to the bar in a shoulder-width stance with both knees bent.
  • Position your trunk so your chest is just above parallel to the ground and your back is flat.
  • Position the arm you use for the movement with the shoulder directly over the barbell.
  • Use the arm outside of the barbell to deload your spine by placing your elbow on your outside knee and stabilizing your lower back and pelvis.
  • Maintaining a flat spine, row the barbell up, driving your elbows up and controlling the movement back down into a stretched position at the bottom.
  • To enhance range of motion, load smaller plates (10’s or 25’s) on the bar, since this will allow more room for a deep stretch in the bottom position.

Landmine Single Arm Pronated Row aka Meadows Row

Coaching Notes:

  • This movement was originated by John Meadows of Mountain Dog Diet.
  • The starting position is similar to the Single-Arm Barbell Row, except your feet are positioned parallel to the barbell.
  • Position the foot closest to the top of the barbell so your shoulder on the side being trained is in line with the barbell.
  • Brace your core and pelvis the same way as with the Single-Arm Barbell Row with your opposite side elbow placed on your knee.
  • Focus on driving your elbow up and keeping it in perfect alignment with your shoulder and the barbell throughout the movement.

Landmine Bent Over Barbell Row

Coaching Notes:

  • Step over the bar in the landmine setup and straddle the bar between your feet set in the power stance with hip width apart and toes forward.
  • Using either your fingers interlaced around the bar, or an attachment at the base of the bar as shown in the video, slide your hand position as close to the collar as possible.
  • After lifting the bar off the ground, ensure that you have a strong and stable isometric hip hinge position with your butt back and spine in neutral. This will provide a strong position to train the row from.
  • During the pull phase of the movement, drive your hands back into the lower portion of your chest, or for some larger individuals your stomach and squeeze hard with tension at the top of the movement.
  • Incorporate a full range of motion throughout each rep.

Pain-Free Pulling Landmine Supersets

These landmine barbell row superset combinations are staples in many of my strength and hypertrophy based programs, including FHT. Placing together these horizontal rowing based movements in a strategic way will challenge your muscles, alter the strength curve while also eliciting a huge pump. And of course, due to the intelligent landmine setup and proper body positioning, these tough supersets will also be inherently safer than their traditional barbell alternative movements.

Check out the videos below that were recorded in real time during my training and refer back to the coaching notes above to ensure perfect setup on the landmine along with pristine movement execution.

Superset 1 – Back Strength Emphasis

1A. Landmine Single Arm Barbell Row 3×8@15sec

1B. Landmine Bent Over Barbell Row 3×6@60sec

*Complete both the right and left side Single Arm Barbell Rows before moving onto the Landmine Bent Over Barbell row. Take 60 seconds of rest between supersets and repeat.

Superset 2 – Back Hypertrophy Emphasis

1A. Landmine Meadows Row 3×8@15

1B. Landmine Single Arm Barbell Row 3×8@60sec

* Complete ALL REPS of Meadows and Single Arm Barbell Rows on the same side before moving to the opposite side. So it should look like Meadows Row for 8 reps on the right, followed by Single Arm Barbell Row for 8 reps on the right, then switching over to the left to complete all reps on that side. After both sides are completed, take a 60 second rest period between these integrated supersets.

About The Author

Dr. John Rusin

Dr. John Rusin is a sports performance specialist and injury prevention expert that has coached some of the world’s most elite athletes including multiple Olympic gold medalists, NFL and MLB All-Star performers, and professionals from 11 different sports. He has also managed some of the most successful barbell sport athletes in the world including world record holding powerlifters, CrossFit Games athletes, and IFBB professional physique athletes.

His innovative pain-free performance programs have been successfully implemented by over 25,000 athletes worldwide including his best selling training system Functional Power Training, which has revolutionized the way coaches and athletes develop strength, muscle and performance pain-free. Dr. Rusin’s work has gained him the reputation as the go-to industry expert for rebuilding after pain, injuries or plateaus.

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  1. Dexter Jackson September 29, 2016 at 3:50 am - Reply

    Great workout plan! I’ve been wanting to enhance my delts and still searching for a great move to incorporate with my current program. Also confused whether I use heavier weights in low reps? Or should I keep it in minimum but more reps? I’d be happy to hear your thought on this. Thanks.

  2. Tania Leishman December 15, 2016 at 3:53 am - Reply

    love love love this… I can not tell you the amount of clients I have come to me that have previously been training with PT’s in a gym who have completed a 6wk online course and all they do is work on machines (with little to no results) and no attention given to rows at all. I am constantly amazed at the lack of shoulder/back exercises being perscribed for clients. Great post thanks John.
    1Life Health & Wellness Consulting

  3. Jamie March 27, 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    I’m getting a total hip replacement on my right side in about 1 month. Do you have an opinion on whether or not these rows will be safe for me to do after I complete my PT and recovery post surgery? Thank you — Jamie

  4. Cara May 27, 2018 at 5:31 am - Reply

    Awesome article!! Time is of the essence in today’s busy world – thanks for always giving so much knowledge and time.

  5. Michael May 19, 2019 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Where can you get equipment for bar attachment?

  6. Andrew Z December 16, 2020 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Awesome article! Very helpful and informative. I’d been searching for a way to stimulate the mid-back region (mid/lower traps), as my back is all lats with nothing in the “valley” in between. After a few months of just landmine work, combined with various trap raises and facepulls, the mid-back has finally started to respond. One minor nitpick, and I’m truly not being a smart-a*s, it should be “feet parallel to the bar in the landmine row,” and “perpendicular” in the Meadows row. Hope that doesn’t come off as snarky. Thanks for all you do!

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