What is the major difference when using a landmine row with the following attachments in terms of muscles worked?:
- rope (do you spread the rope at the top?)
- classic t bar
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The difference between the attachments essentially comes down to three (3) factors:
Both the v-bar and rope restrict humeral extension almost entirely to the sagittal plane, thereby suppressing (but in no way governing) shoulder girdle retraction. By contrast, t-bar and eyelet rows tend to ‘open up’ the shoulders, encouraging horizontal extension/abduction and shoulder girdle retraction. Muscle activation is fundamentally analogous, but by raising the elbows the latissimus dorsi, teres major, and posterior deltoid are lengthened, thereby placing them in a stronger position to contract. And greater shoulder girdle retraction, should that eventuate, further encourages activity of of the trapezius and rhomboids. Elbow flexion is concurrently limited to perhaps 70-80°, thereby limiting the activation of the elbow flexors (discussed hereafter). Indeed, since the humeral extensors are placed in such a strong position, the elbow flexors tend to play a more synergistic role in moving the load.
Therefore, t-bar and eyelet rows tend to activate more the latissimus dorsi, teres major, trapezius, and posterior deltoid, while the v-bar and rope tend to be dominated more by the elbow flexors. And since the rope does not restrain the position of the hands, and essentially creates an open kinematic chain, it too reduces the ability of the elbow flexors to contribute to the pull. (This should not be confused with the role of the rope in other exercises which isolate elbow flexion!)
The orientation of the hands moderates the contribution of the distinct elbow flexors by altering length-tension relationships and which muscles lie in the line of pull. Specifically, a supinated grip encourages greater activation of the biceps brachii, whilst neutral and pronated grips facilitate greater activation of the brachioradialis and a brachialis, respectively. Furthermore, activation of the biceps brachii and the other two elbow flexors is complementary; that is, the biceps brachii are most active when the others are least, and vice versa.
Thus, the type of bar and grip selected significantly alters the relative contributions of the distinct elbow flexors.
Finally, spreading the rope at the top of the movement is a personal choice which incorporates an additional dynamic to the complexity of joint action involved in the row—but one which is not a necessary part of the pulling motion. It should therefore be seen (and analysed) as a movement which is distinct from the natural mechanics of the row. And it should be noted, also, that in terms of the primary muscles activated, there is no distinction between landmine rows or any other variation of row.
I hope that provides some perspective on the topic.