Safety, efficiency, AND a heavy load while squatting and overhead pressing: Are you serious? With the landmine thruster you better believe I am! Here's how to get the job done.
by Keith Diedrich
I went into yesterday's workout with a 5-day layoff from exercise and felt remarkably fresh. The break was inadvertent as I had traveled over the weekend and had caught a bit of a cold so I wanted to recover from that before attempting to workout again. I was in a bit of a predicament as I had missed a shoulder workout from the previous week and was slated to train legs as my first body part in the current week. In giving this some thought, I aggressively elected to recruit both muscle groups in my first workout back to the gym! Now I certainly wasn't going to do a full shoulder workout combined with a full leg workout--that would have been overkill. However, I did want to get the most bang for my buck with my first workout back and incorporating the landmine thruster was a sure-fire way to do this.
The term landmine refers to the positioning of one end of the barbell into either the corner of a wall or into an apparatus that is specifically designed to house the end of the barbell such as this one: https://thefitnessoutlet.com/xtreme-monkey-commercial-landmine-45lbs. Either way will get the job done. A thruster is a movement that combines a front squat with an overhead press (typically done with a barbell) and requires a great deal of wrist mobility and can have a high incidence of injury if not performed correctly. The landmine thruster is a nice alternative to the barbell thruster as it has a smaller learning curve and will still produce the same benefits while minimizing the chance of injury.
You should start the exercise by taking a stance outside of shoulder width and pointing the toes outward 10-15 degrees. Additionally, your weight should be distributed to the ball or heel of the foot and along the outer edge of your shoe. By keeping the chin tucked, you should be able to keep your focal point fixed on the outer rim of the weight plate to ensure proper alignment through the cervical spine. The end of the barbell should be an inch or two below the clavicle and the palms of your hands should cushion the bar as you interlock your fingers to secure it in place.
From here, take a deep breath, filling the stomach full of air and begin to push the hips back gradually as you lower into the bottom portion of the squat. The torso should remain as upright as possible and the upper arms should remain close to the sides while continuing to hold your breath until you get to the bottom of the squat (the midpoint) in which the elbows come in contact with the lower quads.
Once you've reached proper depth, a great deal of stored energy should exist assuming you're keeping every muscle from trap to calf tensed to maintain the right body position. In this bottom position, imagine yourself as a spring that has been fully compressed and is waiting to burst back to the top. With controlled explosion, begin to drive out of the hole with the glutes and hamstrings and when you get to about 3/4 of the way to the top thrust the hips forward (you can see this in the video at the bottom) while simultaneously pressing the weight up to full extension.
I began my workout with 15 minutes on the cross trainer and then stretched for about 5 minutes prior to my first set of landmine thrusters. I used a pyramid scheme in my set progressions, going from a light weight with 12 reps up to a heavy weight for 3 reps. I believe I did a total of 12-15 sets. I followed this exercise up with 4-5 sets x 12 reps of trap bar shrugs to conclude my workout.
About the Author
Gym Owner and Personal Trainer, Keith Diedrich has a B.A. in Exercise Science and has been professionally involved in health and fitness in various capacities since 2005.
"My initial thought about Keith was that he seemed very casual and not as frenetic as other professionals. I quickly learned that he was gauging my stamina, movements, and technique. He wasn't after a fast burnout, but he wanted to exhaust every muscle every time. He said we were working on a "mind to body connection." With this connection I'd be able to gauge whether a set was 15 reps or 20 reps regardless of the initial "goal of 15!" I believe much of my gains came from Keith always seeing my potential even when I couldn't." ~ Saul "Mr. Biceps"