Landmine squats can be a good exercise but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to this movement with similar benefits?
A landmine setup involves anchoring a barbell to the ground. You can then hold and move this barbell in a variety of ways during a variety of exercises.
One of these exercises is the landmine squat. In the most typical versions, you hold the barbell in front of your chest with two hands or hold the barbell on one of your shoulders.
Most landmine squats mainly focus on your quadricep, glute, and hamstring muscles and slightly less on your lower back and erector spinae.
Additionally, the version where you hold the landmine in front of your chest works your biceps isometrically to a certain extent. The version where you hold the barbell on one shoulder works your oblique muscles slightly more.
In turn, some of the positive effects of landmine squats include helping you build muscle mass, burning calories, and offering other typical exercise benefits. They also require less balancing compared to most other squat variations.
Whether you don’t enjoy landmine squats, you don’t have a landmine setup available at home or in the gym, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these landmine squat substitutes can offer you some or all of the same benefits.
1. Other weighted squat variations
Landmine squats can be a helpful weighted squat variation but there are many other types of resistance and types of squats too. As an example, to do a goblet squat take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width right in front of a vertically standing dumbbell.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you ideally want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise.
- Pick up the dumbbell and hold it at the top weight against your chest with your hand palms facing up.
- Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.
As you may have noticed, where you hold the weight during goblet squats is very similar to one of the most popular landmine squat variations. This alternative will work very similar muscles in a very similar way.
Other squat variations where you get comparable muscle engagement include front squats and zercher squats. These options require some squat equipment including a barbell, weight plates, and squat rack (but no landmine).
One potential downside of these alternatives compared to landmine squats is that you have to use your balance more. This can distract you from fully focusing on your leg workout to a small extent.
Additionally, the goblet squat is a landmine squat alternative where you use a dumbbell. This piece of fitness equipment has a lower weight limit than the bars you use in landmine squats and the other options. That can lead to less muscle growth and strengthening.
2. Hack squat machine
The hack squat machine is a leg gym machine that is basically a machine squat at a slanted angle. It has a platform to put your feet on and a shoulder pad to lift the weights.
To use it you simply adjust the machine for your personal size, select your desired weight, put your feet on the pad at about shoulder width, and put your shoulders under the pads.
After that, unlock the safety and push the weight up and down like you would with a normal squat.
Another consequence of using a landmine setup for squats is that your lower back and erector spinae muscles have to work slightly less. In this area hack squat machines are similar.
Additionally, hack squat machines don’t require a lot of balance while still giving your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings a good workout.
If you have a hack squat machine available it can be a good alternative to landmine squats. One downside of this option is that gyms don’t always have it and if you want to get one at home it is relatively expensive.
Most people will need external weights, preferably a barbell, for the next landmine squat alternative. In theory, you can even do this exercise without a bar by using other free weights and even heavy resistance bands.
To do a deadlift with a weighted barbell take the following steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width in front of a weighted barbell.
- Slightly fold your knees and tilt your upper body forward to grab the barbell on the ground.
- Stretch your knees and tilt back your upper body at the same time until your upper body and legs are stretched in one straight line. When doing a deadlift it is very important to keep your back in a straight line during the exercise.
- Slowly move back into the position of step 2.
Good technique is important in any exercise to avoid injuries but especially so for deadlifts. Before trying to deadlift the heaviest weights it is smart to improve your technique first by starting with light or no weights at all.
Deadlifts are similar to landmine squats in that they train important leg muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. At the same time, there are also important differences that can be both good or bad depending on your training goals.
First of all, deadlifts focus slightly more on your glutes and hamstrings and slightly less on your quadriceps than landmine squats. Additionally, your lower back, erector spinae, trapezius, and grip muscles will have to work a lot harder.
A benefit of deadlifts is that you don’t even need a squat rack to do the exercise. Even just free weights besides a barbell could work.
4. Leg presses
The leg press is a gym machine where you push away weights from your body with your legs. This can be both sideways but more often upward while sitting in a low seat.
This machine looks like a seat with a pad with weight to put your feet against. This may sound and is similar to the hack squat machine but they are not the same.
Leg presses require even less effort from your lower back and erector spinae muscles. At the same time, this alternative still works the same leg muscles as landmine squats in a similar ratio.
Additionally, you need to focus even less on balance. This engages fewer muscles and muscle fibers but does allow you to focus more on training the big leg muscles as much as possible.
5. Bulgarian split squats
For Bulgarian split squats you want a step, bench, or any other stable object at about knee height. Once you have that, to do a Bulgarian split squat take the following steps:
- Stand in front of the stable object with your back to it. Keep about a leg distance between you and the object.
- Move one leg back and put the foot of this side on the object. The top of your foot should lean on the surface of the object.
- Slowly lower your hips by bending the knee of your stretched leg until your hip is at about the height of your knee of the previously stretched leg. Use your arms for balance if needed.
- Push yourself up again into the position of step 2.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions on the leg of the other side to keep your muscle distribution balanced.
To grow and strengthen muscles like your legs you have to challenge them enough. By using one leg at a time like in Bulgarian split squats this becomes easier to do without equipment or with something like dumbbells at home or in the gym.
Landmine squats are typically not that easy to do with heavy weights since you have to get the barbell into position at shoulder height. That means Bulgarian split squats are an alternative that can relatively easily get you up to the same challenge.
One downside of Bulgarian split squats is that you have to work each leg separately. This requires a bit more time for a full workout.