There aren’t many quick and dynamic exercises that I would recommend for everyone to learn and practice. But the Landmine Push Press is something I would recommend to almost anyone.
Once I have taught someone what I call basic movements, which teach skills and body control related to any type of movement and exercise, I will select movements that are most suitable for them based on their skills, background and focus on physical fitness are.
If you firmly anchor these basic movements from the start, learning more complex athletic movements and exercises will become more intuitive.
If you want to understand these movements and the principles behind learning them using this particular strategy, I offer a comprehensive course that teaches the why and how. If you live in or around New York City, you can join my JDI Barbell health club and study in person or go through the entire program online.
As soon as I help my clients build a bedrock with no holes, I choose exercises that are easy to work through and progress quickly. It’s different for everyone, but I like everyone doing a few exercises.
One of them is the printing press. I raised a few eyebrows by saying that.
What is the printing press?
The push press is considered a secondary lift for Olympic weightlifting. In my opinion, I wasn’t entirely sure that Olympic lifting movements are best left alone unless you specifically want to devote time to the exercise.
I have some clients who do a traditional barbell press, but with others I prefer that they use kettlebells or dumbbells to build more stability or mobility.
The best version for field athletes, beginners in strength training or those with restrictions is the Landmine Push Press.
Why is the landmine pushing?
As you learn to use the printing press, you will learn how you can and should move in a coordinated athletic effort to move something heavy.
To get this right:
- It helps in creating stiffness throughout your torso to transfer the force created by your lower body as it pushes into the ground to your upper body, and then the load that is on your shoulders through your head to lift.
- You need to maintain balance and pressure through your feet to perform this quick jump action with enough force and accuracy to push the bar over your head in the correct direction.
But pushing weights right over your head can sometimes do more harm than good.
Some athletes can’t put weight on their shoulders in this position if they want to stay healthy and strong for their sport, and some of the others are just trying to be strong and fit and need to work out the limitations on flexibility first.
The Landmine Push Press works around all of this.
By pressing at an angle, the shoulder and elbow are brought into a position in which a more vertical pressure pattern can be trained without the same load and flexibility requirements on the shoulder.
Who Should Do the Printing Press?
If you have had shoulder pain while pressing overhead from an old injury or just from inactivity, the Landmine Press is the perfect tool.
While you should continue to work to restore full dexterity to the shoulder complex, exercise for physical balance means building up athletic strength in pushing movements in addition to the bench press.
If you regain the weight and push it right over your head, indicating that you have regained your full natural range of motion and stability in every direction of motion, you will still improve strength and skill with this exercise.
Do both until you are ready for the traditional printing press, and continue as a variation to further build shoulder health and strength.
What does the printing press do for you?
Only a strict landmine press makes a lot of power with total stability.
The upper back muscles, which control the movement of the shoulder blade, and the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder are designed to keep the barbell path straight.
This is especially true because you are only holding the end of the barbell in this exercise.
You can move freely in all directions as you press, and it is not easy to stay in place. So these stabilizing muscles really have to do their job. You also need to create just as much stability from your core so that the shoulder maintains the integrity of movement and pushes the weight.
When you add the dynamic leg drive of the printing press, you learn to create stability and strength faster and more efficiently because the movement is quick and explosive.
When you turn a rigorous, upper-body-focused press into a full-body press, you can also put heavier overhead loads on yourself.
The weight, which may be too heavy to just be pushed off your shoulders, can be lifted above your head, extending and quickly locking in the momentum emanating from your legs.
All of the upper back and shoulder muscles can then learn new static stability, strength levels, and improved coordination.
How to make the landmine press
If you can find a land mine press holder this is great. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter that much. You can wedge it in any corner it won’t cause damage or set it up like this:
- Load the bar, take the bar by the head (the end of the sleeve where you load the weight) and take both hands in one hand.
- Place the head of the bar almost directly in your sternum.
- Place your feet somewhere between your hips and shoulder width apart and stroke your toes.
- Tense your knees and dip them into a position similar to trying to jump as high as you can. Just make sure that your knees are pointing toward your toes and that your hips come back slightly without your chest falling forward.
- Keeping your balance on your metatarsus and chest up, fight any urges to shift your weight towards your heels, or to let your chest sag or around your upper back.
- While holding the head of the bar in your chest, drive hard through your legs and press both feet into the ground.
- Extend your knees explosively like jumping, making sure you push the entire foot of both legs through.
- If you bump into the balls of your feet from this explosive drive, shrug your shoulders. The barbell should fly a little from your chest.
- Without hesitation, shrugging your shoulders, quickly straighten your elbows by pushing the bar at a 45-degree angle (almost at the crown of your head).
- Try timing the end-locking of your elbows so that your heels are back on the ground.
What are your options?
I prefer the two arm landmine printing press because you can overload yourself with it, but one arm variations may be better for some people.
When you really need to restore balance in the body or work on unilateral strength and stability to improve a nagging injury or reduce glaring asymmetry, the one-armed landmine push is one of the best and safest ways to do it.
Simply place the head of the bar directly on the head of your shoulder with one hand and do the exercise just as you would with two hands.
Both the single and double arm versions of this exercise are great for building strength with less risk.
The shoulder blade moves in a position along the rib cage that holds it in an anatomically stronger and more stable position when you press with a neutral grip (thumb up).
The angle at which you squeeze the bar locks you in a position where you can’t warp your body to grind through a rep that you really shouldn’t.
They either lock smoothly or not at all.
You should do this over a matted area, however, so if you fail one rep, don’t hesitate to drop the bar in front of you rather than lowering it in a poor position.
If anyone injured themselves while doing this exercise, most likely they did so when they lowered the bar back to the ground.
You can stay tense and crouch to lower it and drop it at waist level with mats underneath.
When you are ready for the challenge
Learning the timing for the printing press is challenging and develops athletic skills. The transition to a push-jerk can test you further.
The printing press and printing pressure are similar with one difference.
With the push-jerk, you lock your arms out and get the bar with your legs bent in a quarter squat.
The timing of the dip and ride is the same, but instead of ending up with your legs straight and standing fully like you do in the printing press, use the weight to push you back into a quarter crouch, and then stand from there out already got the weight propped up with locked elbows.
Not only will this challenge your speed of movement and coordination, but it will also allow you to handle heavier weights and build even greater levels of overall body strength.
It may not be easy to learn if you’ve never practiced it, but if you understand the basic principles of stability and balance it just takes a little practice.