A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to review a new DVD titled “Exercises for the Landmine” that I really enjoyed. To be honest, I’m not much of an enthusiast for any isolated piece of equipment. I think proper movement should be foundational to all exercises, regardless of the method of loading. That said, the landmine is an interesting tool that can be used to program integrated, full-body, multiplanar patterns that are difficult to replicate with other pieces of equipment. And because a landmine can be fabricated by jamming a traditional barbell in a corner, the costs are negligible.
While I thought very highly of the DVD and pulled some great ideas from it, I thought it would be more beneficial for you if I brought in the creator, Shawn Windle, to tell you more about training in professional sports and the possible roles the landmine can play in program design.
As a quick side note, make sure you read all the way to the end because I have a special surprise for you!
With that said, allow me to introduce Shawn Windle…
KN: Shawn, since this is the first time we’ve had you here, why don’t you introduce yourself?
SW: I am the middle of my seventh season as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Indiana Pacers. Although much of my career has centered around basketball I have had the opportunity to work with athletes from a number of sports as a Strength Coach at Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut. Since graduating from the University of Maine at Presque Isle I have become a Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), USA Weightlifting Club Coach and Functional Movement Screen Certified.
SW: I’m sure the people that are reading this are well aware that athletes from all sports have similar needs. Mobility, strength, power, agility, speed/acceleration and conditioning are the foundation of building an athlete from any sport. Although the interplay of these variables may change from sport to sport there is no escaping the need for their development especially with athletes that have a low training age. Think about the athletes that you are working with now. They may all be hockey players but within that group or team you will find some that need to develop strength while others may need a greater emphasis on conditioning while others may need more corrective exercise and movement prep. The needs of your individual athlete are always greater than sport specific training. That is not to say that the sport should not be considered but more often than not an athlete will need a more broad based approach to training before sport specific techniques can be implemented.
When I begin working with a new player I perform a number of different tests to determine the direction of training however, the Functional Movement Screen is where I start with all of my athletes to determine movement impairments and asymmetries. Every athlete must build a strong foundation before higher levels of training can occur and for me creating a solid platform is absolutely essential. There are numerous examples to use but since I am a car guy I like to use the example of how you would build a car. Building a racing engine while ignoring tires, brakes, shocks, etc… is a recipe for disaster just as building a “strong” squat without regard to mobility, symmetry and/or stability. Even though I work with “elite” NBA athletes people are always surprised to learn how much time is spent on building a platform to train from. I can not tell you how many times that I have seen on the court performance improve simply by using corrective exercises and neural re-programming. This is not to say that lifting weights is not part of what we do because we certainly push weight when we can but I am careful with which movements that I select for each individual. It always comes back to an individualized approach based on the needs of a particular athlete. I could certainly go on and on about my philosophy and a more detailed look of the how, what, why and when but like the discussion of anybody’s philosophy it could go on and on.
KN: You recently released a new DVD called “Exercises for the Landmine“, that I thought was fantastic. Can you briefly introduce the landmine for those that may not be familiar with the piece of equipment, and discuss where most people go wrong in using it?
SW: The Landmine is one of my top five pieces of equipment because of its versatility. It is a tool that allows me to load an athlete in the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes by changing the exercise or body position quickly and easily. My favorite reason for using the Landmine is because it is an excellent piece to train the core. Most of the movements performed while using the Landmine require a great deal of core strength and stability. There are exercises that reinforce bracing the core as well as exercises that require the lower body to begin a movement and then the core must transmit those forces into an upper body finish. It is truly a total body piece of equipment.
It is hard to describe all of the benefits of using the Landmine however when you see somebody train with one you will immediately have an “aha” moment. Then when you actually try the movements and perform a workout with it you will be hooked. I literally can have professional athletes ready to crumble after 15 to 20 minutes of training. My favorite exercise on the video is the Rotational Press! Talk about transferring strength and power from the ground all the way up through your legs, hips, core and finally terminating with a press. Isn’t that what sports is about? The transfer of strength and speed in a total body coordinated manner will have you think twice about having your athlete perform a bench press. Your hockey players will eat this stuff up!
KN: There were a lot of exercises I’ve never seen before on the DVD. Talk to us about how the landmine opens up some new possibilities with regards to exercise selection.
SW: I got a little bit ahead of myself in the last question and revealed some of my answer to this question. What excites me about the Landmine is that there are a number of progressions that you can use. Gray Cook may be the most notable person at this time that is talking about training from different bases of support as part of a teaching progression / neural reprogramming and if you subscribe to his teachings and research you know about working from the half kneel, tall kneel, lunge and standing position. The Landmine allows you to progress your athlete through these different bases of support while creating different force vectors through body position adjustments. The Landmine is another tool in the Coach’s toolbox that adds endless possibilities but at the end of the day you always have to evaluate why you are prescribing any modality and decide if it fits into what you are trying to accomplish.
SW: We are all guilty of becoming enamored with a cool new exercise or piece of equipment! The key for me is to try the exercise(s) on myself and then work backwards through a progression. I always felt the best progressions are built by going backwards. So I ask myself what if the athlete cannot do the Rotational Press? What could be the problems in this exercise and then I start dismantling the movement. I think once your progressions are solidified you can begin to work the Landmine into your philosophy. Only you can decide if the Landmine is the right fit for your athletes and your philosophy.
The Landmine fits seamlessly into the workouts that I prescribe. I operate out of a 900 sq. foot weight room, which requires me to carefully evaluate every piece of equipment in my room as well as each exercise to ensure optimal utilization of a small space. With my space limitations I have two Landmines so as you can see I feel this piece is pretty important. For me the Landmine is used for any strength movement where I am looking to add a transfer of power from lower body to upper body.
KN: What can people do if they don’t own a landmine?
Simply putting a bar in a corner, whether it be the corner of a room against two walls or against the bottom frame of a power rack where the steel is welded together and forms a 90 degree angle. If you look around your weight room I’m sure you will see the possibilities.
KN: That’s great stuff! Any final thoughts?
SW: I appreciate the opportunity to do this interview. If your readers are interested in more information, they can check out the site I co-run with Brijesh Patel: SB Coaches College.
As I mentioned in the intro, I really enjoyed this DVD. And as Sean Skahan mentioned in his testimonial for the DVD, you know whenever Shawn or any of the other SB Coaches College guys put out a product that it’s backed with a TON of real-world experience. So as a special thank you for those of you that decide to pick up a copy, I’m going to throw in a free digital copy of my book Ultimate Hockey Training as an added bonus. Already have the book? Then I’ll throw in a copy of the companion nutrition manual Ultimate Hockey Nutrition. Just forward me your receipt, and I’ll send you a download link ASAP! This offer is only good through this Friday (March 23rd), so if you think the DVD is for you, pick up a copy today here: Exercises for the Landmine
To your success,
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He’s currently the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ, the Strength and Conditioning Coach and Manual Therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Team, and a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s National Team.