Landmine RDL Exercise Guide

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: March 29, 2023

The landmine is a versatile piece of gym equipment that lets you perform variations of dozens of traditional bodybuilding exercises. But sometimes, you must modify your technique on the landmine to replicate the free weight exercise.

One example of this is the landmine RDL. On this movement, using the correct foot and hand placement is critical to ensure you work the right muscles without injuring your back.

This article is your complete guide to landmine RDLs. From an introduction to the exercise and equipment to form tips and variations.

Landmine RDL Exercise Guide

What Are Landmine RDLs?

A landmine is a pivoting base that attaches to one end of a barbell, turning into a giant lever. The landmine Romanian deadlift (RDL) is an exercise where you straddle the bar and bend forward at the hips while slightly bending your knees and keeping your back flat.

If you don’t have a landmine attachment, that’s okay. You can still perform this exercise by securing one end of a barbell in a corner of the weight room.

Landmine RDL vs Regular RDL

The main difference between landmine and traditional barbell RDLs is how you hold the bar, which slightly changes the look and feel of the exercise.

With the regular RDL, you hold the bar across the front of your legs. As a result, you generally use a shoulder-width pronated grip, and the bar must travel in front of your knees.

By comparison, the landmine RDL involves holding the bar perpendicularly between your legs like you would for a landmine row. And this variation typically involves a close neutral grip. Or at least a closer pronated grip, depending on the handle used.

Finally, the landmine RDL has a fixed movement path due to the radial arc of the barbell. And you can also change the movement pattern based on where you place your feet in relation to the handle.

Landmine RDL Handle

You can still do landmine RDLs if you don’t have a special handle. And I’ve provided two examples of landmine RDLs without a handle in the exercise variations section.

However, it does help to have some sort of attachment to hang on to when doing landmine RDLs. Personally, I like the close grip lat pulldown handle, also known as a v-bar.

With the v-bar handle, you simply place the bar in the center of the “V” and slide it up against the inside sleeve.

Landmine RDL Handle

Landmine RDL Muscles Worked

Landmine RDLs primarily target the hamstrings on the back of your legs. But they also work the glutes and spinal erectors to an extent.

In addition, holding the bar and maintaining and keeping your shoulders from rolling forward engages the upper back and trap muscles. But these are not the primary muscle groups involved.

Landmine RDL Muscles Worked

Landmine RDL Benefits & Limitations

One advantage of the landmine RDL is that you don’t have to control the front-to-back movement of the bar, which makes it somewhat like a Smith machine exercise. And not having to balance the bar makes it easier to focus on working your hamstrings.

However, the setup of a landmine RDL is more critical than a traditional RDL because if your feet are in the wrong spot, you could end up putting more stress on your lower back.

Another benefit of the landmine RDL is that you have more grip options than you do with a standard bar. And there are a couple of additional landmine variations that I’ll show you later.

Pros

  • Fixed movement path
  • It can be easier to activate hamstrings
  • Able to change the grip and hand position
  • Multiple variations to choose from

Cons

  • Foot placement is more critical
  • It can be akward if you don’t have a handle

How To Do a Landmine RDL

Start by securing one end of the barbell in the landmine tube. Then place the desired amount of weight plates on the free end of the bar.

Next, straddle the bar with your back to the landmine and your toes a few inches behind the weight plates. If using a handle, place it around the bar or grab the bar on the inside edge of the sleeve.

Now stand up so your hands are immediately in front of your thighs. From here, lean forward at the hips while bending your knees slightly and keeping your back relatively straight.

Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, push your hips forward and extend your knees to stand up to the starting position. Repeat this motion for the desired number of reps before setting the barbell down.

Here is how to do a landmine RDL step-by-step:

  1. Setup landmine, barbell, weight plate, and handle (if using)
  2. Straddle the bar with toes a few inches behind the plate
  3. Grab the bar or handle and stand up
  4. Lean forward, bend your knees slightly, and keep your back flat
  5. Drive hips forward and extend knees
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps

My YouTube channel has dozens of videos showing you how to do a variety of bodybuilding exercises. You’ll learn how to target and build specific muscle groups in 90 seconds or less. Click HERE to subscribe, or click on the button below!

Landmine RDL Form

The description and video above should give you a good idea of how to do landmine RDLs correctly. But here are a few more tips to help you isolate your hamstrings and prevent lower back stress.

1. Maintain a Neutral Spine

First, maintaining a natural spine is key to doing this exercise safely. That means preventing a forward arch as you lower the weight and not excessively leaning back at the top of the movement.

2. Bend Knees Slightly

Next, bending your knees slightly during any RDL variation is okay. After all, we’re not doing a stiff leg deadlift!

However, make sure you’re not excessively bending your knees, either. Otherwise, the RDL turns into a conventional deadlift, and you reduce hamstring activation.

3. Hands Over Toes

Another key factor in performing the landmine RDL correctly is where your hands move in relation to your legs and feet. As with traditional RDLs, your hands should remain close to the front of your legs throughout the range of motion.

One way to tell if you’re in the right spot is if your forearms graze your knees on the way down. And another tip is that your hands should end up over your toes at the bottom of the RDL.

Landmine RDL Form

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Landmine RDL Variations

As I mentioned, there are multiple variations of landmine Romanian deadlifts that you can do using different hand and body positions. Also, you can do each of the variations below without a handle.

Single Leg Landmine RDL

The single-leg landmine RDL is a variation where you stand perpendicular to the end of the bar. So with this stance, you can easily hold the free end of the bar with the hand closest to it.

Next, lift one foot off the floor slightly so you’re standing on one leg. Then lean forward at the hip while bending your knee slightly and keeping your back flat.

With this variation, you must control the front-to-back movement of the bar. So ensure your hand stays close to the front of your leg and ends up over your toes at the bottom.

Dumbbell Spider Curls

Alternate Landmine RDL

You can also perform a landmine RDL facing the opposite direction. In other words, you hold the sleeve and of the bar and face the landmine end.

With this alternate landmine RDL body position, the arcing path moves the bar closer to your legs at the bottom of the range of motion. So it will feel a bit more like a regular free-weight RDL.

Also, this variation is easier if you don’t have a handle because the sleeve has a larger diameter than the shaft of the barbell. That means it won’t dig into your hands as much when using a fingers-clasped grip.

Landmine RDL Variation

Landmine RDL Alternatives

Of course, you don’t need to use a landmine to do the Romanian deadlift exercise. So I will show you how to do RDLs with whatever equipment you have.

Traditional Barbell RDL

If you’re doing landmine RDLs, you obviously have a barbell, which means you can do the conventional Romanian deadlift. Some advantages of the original RDL variation are that you have more control over the movement path, body mechanics, and muscle activation.

In addition, it’s generally easier to go heavy with regular barbell RDLs, making it a better option for strength training.

Dumbbell RDLs

Swapping the barbell for a pair of dumbbells is a great way to mix up the RDL exercise and stimulate new gains. Plus, you’ll be surprised how much hamstring activation you can get with a relatively light weight.

Another trick I use on dumbbell RDLs is elevating my toes. You should find that you get a deeper stretch in your hamstrings this way.

See All 3 Dumbbell RDL variations

Smith Machine RDLs

Finally, you could try Smith machine RDLs. This exercise variation has a fixed movement path like the landmine but the traditional grip of a barbell.

Again, foot placement is critical to ensure the bar travels the right movement pattern. But you should find it easier to focus on squeezing your hamstrings.

At the same time, you can load up some pretty heavy weights like the standard barbell movement.

More Hamstring Exercises

Now you know how to do the landmine Romanian deadlift with proper form for maximum hamstring engagement. And you’ve seen several variations and alternatives you can use to keep your workouts fresh.

But you should also include other movements in your hamstring training. So here are some additional articles you can use to build your complete hamstring workout program.

Nordic Hamstring Curl Beginner to Advanced

Hex Bar vs Barbell Deadlift for Hamstrings

Romanian Deadlift vs Conventional Deadlift

Romanian Deadlfit vs Stiff Leg Deadlift

7 Best Barbell Hamstring Exercises

With this information, you’re well on your way to building bigger legs and hamstrings. So if you found this article useful, I hope you’ll check out some of my other informative content below!

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By |March 29, 2023|Workouts|0 Comments
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