No machines? No problem. Grow a huge back with this barbell hack

landmine t row
Supersize your back with this barbell hackHearst Owned

‘Machine’ training has received a bad rap in recent years, with a slew of fitness experts suggesting that we opt for the more challenging route of training with free weights such as barbell and dumbbells in order to fast track our muscle building goals and build bodies that are more ‘functional’ in the real world. They’re not wrong in their assessment of the benefits of sticking to the humble dumbbell rack, but there’s definitely been more than one baby thrown out with this bath water.

Training with machines that ‘lock you in’ to a fixed range of motion may not offer up the same stability challenges as their free moving counterparts, but that’s not to say they don’t come with their own benefits, often helping you to work around injuries, maintain a better focus on the muscles you’re actually trying to target and really get stuck into some high intensity work, with far less fear of your form breaking down.

However, if your gym isn’t stocked to the gunnels with the shiniest machines or you’re training from home, then ‘landmine’ training is the next best thing. By using a specialist attachment or simply wedging one end of your barbell into a corner, you’re able to capitalise on the ‘fixed range of motion’ benefits of machine training, wherever you work out.

The first movement you should consider adding to the arsenal of your newly modified barbell regime is the ’Landmine T-bar row’, a remix of a gym staple that bodybuilders have used for decades to add slabs of lean muscle to their backs, targeting the mid-back and traps but also hitting those rear delts and lats.

Grab your barbell, head to a corner and follow our guide to building a bigger back, with half the bar.


landmine exercises
landmine exercises
  • Rest the unloaded end of your bar on a plate or wedge it into a corner to create a sturdy ‘anchor’.

  • Load plates onto the opposite end of the bar. Use a set of gymnastics rings, straps, a rope or even just a towel, passing it under the barbell, behind the plates to create a set of handles.

  • Straddle the bar and hinge at the hips until your torso is near parallel to the ground.

Grip your handles, take a deep breath and brace your core (A). Draw your elbows up and back, keeping them close to your body, rowing the weight up as far as possible before the plates make contact with your torso. Squeeze your shoulder blades and pause at the top of each rep (B) before slowly lowering the weight back to the ground under control.

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