The goal of this series is to help coaches at the high school level and beyond expand their coaching “tool box” with practical movements, drills, and exercises – ones that aren’t just for show, but ones that can positively impact a training program.
Each week I will post an exercise along with a video demonstration, as well as a brief description.
Enjoy this week’s exercise!
Half-Kneeling Landmine Press and Progressions
Intro: Upper-Body Pressing/Reaching is a vital component for any athlete, including those playing overhead sports such as baseball or softball. The Landmine Press provides a safe, non-provocative, and functional place to begin pressing.
Goal: The overall goal of the Landmine Press is similar to that of any pushing exercise – to strengthen the upper body – while also putting making the bar move in more of a vertical path, similar to an Incline Press.
Where the Landmine Press differs, though, is first in the freedom of the scapula to move as the arm elevates and the elbow extends overhead. In a Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press (at any angle; or even on the floor), for optimal safety and efficiency the shoulder blades must be tucked back (retracted) toward the spine on the bench throughout the entire movement. Unfortunately, this is not how the scaps work functionally in sport, especially throwing sports. The Landmine Press set-up allows freedom of the scaps, thus providing a potentially safer, more functional, and possibly less irritating pressing movement.
For this reason, many (including myself) tend to categorize the Landmine Press as a “reach” rather than a press, as we are reaching the scapula as we press. This reaching also involves some very important musculature that often isn’t as well utilized in traditional press variations.
Additionally, the Landmine Press, especially when beginning from the Half-Kneeling Position, serves as a greater reinforcer of postural control during overhead movements (or just pressing in general). Consider what you see when you walk into many weight rooms around the country (the ones that don’t have full-time strength coaches running the operation): you often see athletes pressing/push-pressing/jerking overhead with atrocious posture – i.e. gross extension of the lumbar spine and flaring of the ribs as the bar moves overhead. Oftentimes the bar doesn’t truly even get “overhead”, but out in front of the head. Also consider what you often see on an Incline Dumbbell or Barbell Press, where heavy lumbar extension often occurs as well in an effort to create a lower angle to press from, giving the athlete more leverage (but hurting themselves in the process).
The Half-Kneeling position used in the Landmine Press puts one knee up, thus already pulling at least half of the pelvis into a more posteriorly-tilted position, resulting in a predisposition to have a more neutral lumbar spine. With conscious effort as well, the athlete can easily hold a true neutral spine as they press the bar.
Implementation: the Half-Kneeling variation of the Landmine Press is used in the 2nd or 3rd phase of my Block Zero, oftentimes before I ever press in any other fashion. As the athletes become more aware of their posture, and more capable of maintaining it properly, we will progress to a Standing Staggered-Stance Landmine Press (which progresses them to their feet, but still keeps one leg in partial flexion), then to a Parallel Stance Landmine Press, and finally a Split Stance Landmine Press.