Exercise Spotlight: Landmine Hack Squat

Save your Knees and Get a Nasty Quad Pump with the Landmine Bar

The problem that a lot of lifters have when squatting free weights is difficulty achieving reasonable depth due to inflexibility or immobility. Add that to the fact that cranky knees (typically due to the reasons mentioned above) can get in the way of a smooth, pain-free movement pattern, and we’re left with a situation.

The first thing many lifters will do – if they’re smart enough to spare themselves of ugly partial range squats with peacock weight – is abandon the lift altogether in favour of machines that can more suitably get the job done to hit the quads and glutes. The leg press, extension, and curl machines may make their way higher on the priority list for legs, which is perfectly fine.

In the case of the hack squat, however, I’ve found that it as an exercise can be very dependent on knee health also, and that’s a shame since this is often a movement relied upon in the absence of squats.  To solve this problem, making a subtle change to the force angles is all a lifter needs to do.

Enter the Landmine Hack Squat

This exercise is absolute money, for several reasons.

Instead of having to endure the compressive forces imposed by having your feet on a platform that’s exactly perpendicular to the direction of force (as you do with any conventional hack squat), the landmine hack gives the ankles a more open angle since the foot stays on the flat ground… And that means happier knees.

This creates a feeling similar to squatting with a Smith machine, without the confines of a completely fixed path. Having the weight on a fulcrum also allows you to make minor lateral adjustments to find the perfect groove.

Turning around to have your back against the plates themselves allows you to find the perfect “lean” (and right foot position) to get a great pump, since you’re constantly using your quads to push back against the weight. It really makes a huge difference in comparison to typical squat patterns.

Landmine Hack Squat – Coaching Cues

  • Set up a landmine bar with load you’re comfortable lifting for reps. Ideally, use 45 pound plates or lighter bumper plates (since they’re the same size as 45’s).
  • Lift the weight up and place the bar on the shoulder of your choice. Lean your back against the plates so you’re facing away from the landmine attachment.
  • Hold the bar in place with one or both hands, and find the foot position and width that works for you. Your body should be at a 90 degree angle to the landmine bar, meaning you should be on a significant backward slant.
  • Slowly but smoothly let the butt down, and press with the full foot the entire time. Squat deep and engage the quads.
  • Focus on sets of 15-20 reps. The quads respond well to high volume and rep ranges.

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