Single-arm movements are integral to any effective training program. For overhead athletes who predominantly use one arm, this skillset in training becomes even more important—both for maximizing on-field performance and staying healthy in the process.
That’s why I recommend single-arm barbell exercises in a landmine setup. They increase muscle recruitment, maximize tension around the shoulder and reduce poor movement patterns—all in a few foundational moves. Also, they reduce joint stress while maximizing the tension and stabilization patterns of the shoulder, which translates very well to optimal health along with athletic performance.
Due to the barbell’s angled position, constant force and tension is placed on the body at all times. Also, the exercises hit your muscles differently than standard barbell and dumbbell moves, recruiting more muscle fibers to stabilize the shoulder and produce greater strength.
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Single-arm barbell exercises and movements can be done in a landmine machine or by placing one end of the barbell in a corner of a room, where it can be stabilized by the two walls forming a right angle and buttressed with a heavy dumbbell. Make sure the barbell is against the corner to minimize the risk of it shifting during training. Whatever method you choose, stay consistent and track your progress with strength and stability of these movements over time.
Single-Arm Barbell Row
- Start with your feet perpendicular to the bar in a shoulder-width stance with both knees bent.
- Position your trunk so your chest is just above parallel to the ground and your back is flat.
- Position the arm you use for the movement with the shoulder directly over the barbell.
- Use the arm outside of the barbell to deload your spine by placing your elbow on your outside knee and stabilizing your lower back and pelvis.
- Maintaining a flat spine, row the barbell up, driving your elbows up and controlling the movement back down into a stretched position at the bottom.
- To enhance range of motion, load smaller plates (10’s or 25’s) on the bar, since this will allow more room for a deep stretch in the bottom position.
- This movement was originated by John Meadows of Mountain Dog Diet.
- The starting position is similar to the Single-Arm Barbell Row, except your feet are positioned parallel to the barbell.
- Position the foot closest to the top of the barbell so your shoulder on the side being trained is in line with the barbell.
- Brace your core and pelvis the same way as with the Single-Arm Barbell Row with your opposite side elbow placed on your knee.
- Focus on driving your elbow up and keeping it in perfect alignment with your shoulder and the barbell throughout the movement.
- In a standing position facing the barbell, assume an athletic stance.
- Make sure your core and pelvis are stable and your back is flat. Squeeze hard to maintain this posture.
- Start the bar at the front of your shoulder, not too close to midline, since that would limit your range of motion and the movement of your shoulder blade as you press.
- Drive the bar up in a controlled manor to maintain core stability. Also, be sure to incorporate smooth movements of the shoulder blade rotating up and around your rib cage on the back side.
- Control the bar back down to the starting position while maintaining tension throughout the shoulder.
- Once all these points are mastered, the last detail to incorporate is a slight forward lean as you press the bar overhead.
Barbell Y-Press From Half Kneel
- From a half-kneeling stance, position yourself with your shoulders parallel to the barbell.
- Engage your glutes and core throughout the movement.
- Have a partner lift the bar and aid you in getting it to the starting position, which will be at the top of the shoulder with your palm facing away from you.
- From this position, drive the bar up in a “Y” pattern while keeping tension throughout your entire core and shoulder region.
- Control the bar back down to the starting position in a slow and deliberate manner to maintain tension throughout the entire shoulder complex.
- Once you complete your last rep and return the bar to the starting position, have your partner assist in placing the bar back to the ground safely.
Landmine Barbell Supersets
- 1A. Single-Arm Barbell Row – 4×12 @ 45%
- 1B. Landmine Press – 4×8 @ 45%
- 1A. Meadows Row – 4×10 @ 45%
- 1B. Barbell Y-Press from Half-Kneel – 4×8 @ 45%