Athletes hate being told they can’t do something or that they have to sit out, but at some point or another, every athlete will need to supplement their normal training program. Any setback can also become an opportunity to try something different, and it’s a coach’s responsibility to understand how to facilitate this safely and effectively.
There are three primary situations where I would consider supplemental training:
- Poor preparation
Injuries—although devastating to an athlete’s psyche—don’t necessarily require time off. More acute or chronic injuries, such as a SLAP tear or tendinitis, can be trained through by adjusting movement pattern, range of motion, and load placement.
For the second situation, if an athlete is inadequately prepared for training, their coach may need to step in and call an audible. Athletes are humans too, and perhaps they didn’t sleep well, are dealing with external stressors, or simply “aren’t feeling it” on a given day. Exercises should be substituted to de-emphasize load and intensity, and the coach can instead give the athlete an opportunity to focus on mobility or breath work.
Lastly, a deload phase or the off-season are perfect times for an athlete to “play or expand,” allowing the athlete to try new things through fluid and adaptive exercise variations or new movements. This is the time to break away from traditional training and allow the athlete to understand how their body moves, what feels good, and what areas need improvement.
The landmine is a great tool for these times when supplementary training comes into play. Using a landmine reduces the presence of axial/direct loading on the joints, and it can change the position of movement and the range of motion by adjusting how the body and bar are positioned. Athletes can use the load from the landmine to find deeper end ranges of motion and explore different mobility properties that may appear more difficult with just their body weight.Athletes can use the load from the landmine to find deeper end ranges of motion and explore different mobility properties that may appear more difficult with just their body weight, says @nicc__marie. Click To Tweet
The movement of the landmine itself can help teach an athlete how to effectively transfer force between the upper and lower body, while also presenting a greater demand on transverse (multiplanar) stability. The athlete is now responsible for executing proper technique as they maintain the position of the landmine in relation to their body and the landmine’s countermovement. Ultimately, this can help an athlete build strong body control to become more durable and spatially aware.
A good resource that led me to really explore the ideas and possibilities of landmine training is “5 Reasons Why Landmine Variations Should Be a Staple in Your Training” by Danny Foley. Landmine training helps to build knowledge, develop strength and power, and improve mobility. The benefits of the landmine, coupled with the need for supplementary training options, can provide coaches with a bigger toolbox when these instances arise.
Position/POM-Checker/Range of Motion (ROM)
When it comes to injury supplementation, athletes can use the landmine press in place of a traditional barbell press. If they have a nagging injury (such as shoulder impingement), they can use the landmine to maintain strength and movement patterns. An athlete with impingement or a minor rotator cuff strain can experience pain every time they go overhead, making it difficult to load the shoulders. Having the bar at an angle away from the body changes the mechanics by removing direct, fixed loading of the joints and allows the athlete to utilize their optimal pattern/ROM. An added benefit of the landmine press is preserving scapulohumeral rhythm without worsening the injury site.
Looking to lower body benefits and load supplementation, let’s say an athlete experiences knee pain from their quad tendon. Rather than loading a barbell in a front or back squat, the athlete can adjust the position of the load for a more hamstring-dominant lever. A kettlebell suitcase hold is a good option, but a landmine sumo squat will allow the athlete to move more weight. Additionally, the sumo squat coupled with the landmine brings a secondary emphasis on external rotation strength at the hip.
Video 1. The 1/2 kneel SA landmine press can bring awareness to any limitations in the t-spine. If an athlete is locked in their t-spine, then the scapula can’t glide properly into the overhead position and the rib cage will flare open.
The landmine can also highlight improper movement patterns or restrictions that arise when compensating for an injury. The coach can incorporate t-spine drills to improve mobility, and after the issue is addressed, cue an active trunk so the rib cage remains closed and the scapula can move in an upward rotation. By squeezing the glute on the knee-down leg, the athlete creates a neutral pelvis. The front foot actively provides pressure into the floor via big toe flexion.The landmine can also highlight improper movement patterns or restrictions that arise when compensating for an injury, says @nicc__marie. Click To Tweet
Navigating Around Injury
Several months back, I had a volleyball player who tweaked her foot at practice. She wasn’t in a great deal of pain, but for two weeks it hurt to land on the foot—so, power cleans and plyometrics were off the table. With respect to the high demand of jumping and ground contact in practice, I wanted to keep hers to a minimum. Consequently, we needed to find a way to retain power and speed-strength without moving her feet.
Video 2. The landmine curtsy squat: This variation challenges the athlete with frontal plane strength and stabilization for the lower leg and foot.
The curtsy squat variation was included for multi-tempo, single-leg loading, substituting what would be a speed split squat variation. As for the stepdown, here we again use a combination of tempos in place of traditional load to challenge the athlete in a hip-dominant movement. A key to this movement is being deliberate in the changes of direction and stabilizing at end range.
These weren’t just variations blindly grabbed out of a bag—when supplementing exercises, for injury or otherwise, we need to select movements that retain as many of the properties and traits as our sport-specific training would include. By playing with tempos and landmine positioning, athletes can work that power component with a lighter load and/or intensity for that timeframe. The deload/off-season of a program is another time to improve movement literacy or retrain movement patterns that have deteriorated over time, either from injury or simply “going through the motions.”
A tertiary benefit to landmine training is it tends to offer biofeedback. This can be especially beneficial for novice, detrained, or athletes coming off injury, says @nicc__marie. Click To Tweet
A tertiary benefit to landmine training is it tends to offer biofeedback. This can be especially beneficial for novice, detrained, or athletes coming off injury. By integrating movements such as the landmine RDL, athletes can reconnect with a simple hip hinge pattern and then build onto it. The placement of the bar forces the athlete to find balance across the mid-foot while applying pressure through the whole foot or feeling like they are going to fall over.
Coaches can use this same hip hinge pattern to reinforce proper position for a bent-over row. The landmine row is a regression to help an athlete position their body properly for a barbell row. When an athlete is too upright, they begin pulling more with the shoulders and traps.
Video 3. The landmine can coach the athlete into the proper back position to use the upper back correctly during the movement.
Expanding the Movement Pool
I use the landmine to help athletes progress to more advanced barbell movements depending on their sport. It gives the athlete an opportunity to have a little fun and play around with different variations. Movements such as the landmine split jerk mirror the concepts of power development and can be a useful introduction to the barbell split jerk. For others, it may be the only way to perform the movement due to a limited overhead position or risk of an overuse injury.
Video 4. The landmine 1/2 kneel overhead lift-off utilizes the same position as the 1/2 kneel overhead press mentioned earlier, but now we focus on moving the lower body while the upper body is isometrically contracted.
Movement literacy isn’t just about prepping similar movements for a different piece of equipment. Sometimes it is about understanding the mechanics of the body and how they should perform during other movements as well.
Having time to explore new movements in a program can lead to multidirectional and multiplanar exercises. The landmine has no shortage of these capabilities, due to the tool’s own movement variability. The landmine SA OH reverse lunge has a lot happening in its movement, and it is not an exercise that I would recommend for everyone. However, as a weightlifting coach, this movement has a good ROI for our athletes in their overhead position and allows them to only focus on shoulder control and stability as their body moves into the reverse lunge.
This movement can progress into a landmine SA OH squat. Again, in each of these exercises, the multidirectional movement pattern challenges the athlete neurologically and helps prime them for more compound chain movements. With the shoulder locked into place, the athlete can now work into that squat pattern and grow comfortable in the bottom position of the snatch on each side to ultimately lead into a barbell overhead squat.
From a mobility perspective, this forces the athlete to find mobility in the t-spine to stabilize the shoulder as they lower themselves. Often, the athlete can’t get deep enough into an overhead squat to feel where that overhead position of the shoulder should be. By performing a unilateral movement, the athlete can allow for more space in the trunk.
If athletes are insufficiently prepared for training, that doesn’t mean all is lost for the day. This is a good time for the athlete to work on mobility. As shown from the exercise above, the landmine allows an athlete to find true end ranges of motion by using additional load and allowing gravity to force them into those deeper positions.If athletes are insufficiently prepared for training, that doesn’t mean all is lost for the day. This is a good time for the athlete to work on mobility, says @nicc__marie. Click To Tweet
The landmine adductor sway is easily one of my favorite mobility drills for the lower body. The athlete must shift slowly through one plane of movement in relation to a specific joint (i.e., the hip). As they move into the lateral part of the hip, the opposite adductor is loaded eccentrically, allowing the hip to open up through every angle. The major cues for this exercise are to go slow and strictly move in the horizontal plane. Any vertical displacement removes the benefit of shifting from the outermost point of the hip joint through the athlete’s center of gravity and into the other.
Choosing What’s Right for Your Athletes
The landmine attachment provides supplemental training options for numerous scenarios and programming phases, and its versatility provides athletes with an opportunity to develop movement confidence, whether it be returning from a more serious injury or working through a minor one. The landmine also provides options for an alternate training session when an athlete is having an off day or simply needs to cognitively detach. Athletes can use the attachment to target improvements in strength, mobility/multidirectional movement, and power. They can also be given autonomy to play with the positional load and variations of the landmine during an off-season or deload cycle with little risk and a high reward.
Whether using the landmine in regular training or as a supplemental source, always remember that regardless of the plan you have in place, great coaches are responsible and prepared for anything that can and will happen.
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