Utilizing landmine lifts for youth athletes can be an absolute game-changer. Working with younger athletes, ages 12-16, can be difficult. Youth athletes are unique and require a different approach to develop an appropriate strength training program. You cannot just train them like smaller adults or college athletes. Younger athletes are so much fun to work with though, because they want to get better, lift, and grow stronger. This can be a problem because they want to jump ahead and perform advanced barbell movements immediately and perform HEAVY movements.
Skipping the developmental stage can be detrimental to their long-term development. At that age whether they seem "advanced" or not, they typically have little to no body control and muscular coordination. This needs to be when they can perform appropriate movements to help build
foundational strength, movement competency, and confidence within the weight room. The landmine can build up all three while being a much more appropriate training means.
The Landmine Set-Up
The actual landmine setup can easily be done in any weight room, and as long as you have a barbell you will be okay. Landmine lifts are referring to anchoring one end of the barbell in a locked position towards the ground. This creates free motion with the bar and can open up a variety of movements to be performed.
Many gyms or power racks have landmine attachments to perform these lifts, but if you do not have access to one, you can also easily wedge the end of the barrel into a corner or a weight plate lying on the ground for a more reasonable, affordable option.
Programming Lifts With Landmine
Programming lifts with the landmine will allow coaches to develop still their athletes with major primary lifts such as presses, pulls, and squats. This though, doesn't come at the expense of the athlete, with the landmine, there is no direct spine loading, and using the landmine can help some of those major primary lifts become more beginner-friendly.
As coaches, we understand we need to perform those big rock movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls), but we don't need to force our athletes to all perform the same movement variation. The objective should be to perform a successful squat with the athlete, how the squat is being performed should be based on the needs and abilities of the individual. I understand that each kid cannot get their own specific movement in a team setting, but why not set up movements where the athletes can succeed with less risk and more room for reward and growth?
Youth athletes typically do not create a great fuss around the landmine lifts either. They're still using a barbell, they are still being challenged as landmine lifts are not easier per se, and if it is appropriate, they can go heavy on these lifts as well!
Landmine Power Development
The landmine lifts are extremely versatile and can be utilized any time of year (pre-season, in-season, off-season, etc.) or for any training goal (strength, power, muscular endurance). That being said they are especially fantastic movements to develop power with younger athletes.
Olympic lifts are great, but when working with the younger population, you want to keep things painfully simple. The Olympic lifts are not simple for younger individuals unless that is their sport. When executing a landmine push press, it is simple, the bar begins at chest, dip, punch, repeat. The athlete gets instant feedback from violently punching that bar because they will hear it. If the athlete does have to fail, it is safer to just lower the bar from the landmine in a crowded weight room than bail on a jerk from the top, lockout position.
Remember, movements do not necessarily create adaptation. How you perform them does. To be fast and powerful, you need to train fast and powerful. Using the landmine creates a little more flexibility to express that violent power through the barbell.
Examples Of Landmine Based Movements
The pressing movements will gradually intensify and become more complex as they progress, so starting with just a basic double arm press no leg drive. Then progressing to single-arm standing, then split jerk, so they can use momentum and finish with single-arm from a kneeling position, the least advantageous position.
Landmine Single Arm Press
Landmine Single Arm Split Jerk
The landmine can be a younger athlete's best friend in the weight room. It is a tool that will allow the continued progress of an athlete's strength, power, and technical ability. Using the landmine for your major primary movements can make the athlete's lives easier, yet still, challenge them and give them goals to pursue in strength. Youth athletes desire growth, they are one of the best training populations you could ask for as a coach! Using more landmine lifts in their program will allow you to give them the tools needed for success!