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7 Weight Plate Strength Exercises That Work Wonders

Weight plates are the most common piece of fitness equipment in any gym, yet beyond sliding them onto a barbell, most people never give them a second thought.

Weight plates, though, can be a very unique training tool when used similarly to gliders. Gliders add a balance component to your workout because you aren't on a stable surface—the fewer direct points of contact you have with the ground, the more stabilizing muscle groups you need to recruit to perform the movement and the more difficult the exercise will become. Gliders generally weigh only a few ounces, so the added resistance when you swap in weight plates will only further up the intensity of your workout. (Check out 8 Total-Body Exercises to Help You Glide Your Way to a Better Body.)

No matter what brand your gym carries, all weight plates are generally shaped the same. They're round, with a hole in the center, with flat sides that allow them to slide. Metal plates will slide easier than the rubber coated versions, and both will slide easier on carpet than they will a wooden floor. If you have the double whammy of rubber plates with a wooden floor, place real sliders or a towel underneath the plates so they'll move. Use the hole in the center of the plates to hook either your toe or heel, depending on which exercise you are performing, so you can slide the heavier weight more easily.

How it works: Do 3 sets of 12 reps of the following exercises.

Total Time: up to 45 minutes

You will need: Free weights

1. Pushups with Weight Plates

A.

Start in plank position with a plate under each hand, a little narrower than shoulder-width apart so the weight plates touch. Keep body in a straight line from head to heels. Slide the plates outward away from each other, slightly farther than shoulder-width apart.

B.

Lower the chest toward the ground, keeping shoulders pulled away from ears and angling elbows back, and aim for nose to touch the ground. Pause, then extend through the elbows to push back up into plank position. Slide the plates back together to starting position to complete the rep.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

Mistakes and Tips:

Perform the pushups on your knees to lessen the amount of body weight on hands. Keep form the same: belly button in, core braced, shoulders pulled away from ears and nose as close to the floor as possible; keep feet tucked into butt throughout.

2. Chest Press

A.

Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold two weight plates together between both hands, fingertips pointing forward, at chest height. Keep constant pressure on the plates throughout the keep them from falling. Pull belly button in to brace core and keep shoulders down.

B.

Leading with fingertips, slowly extend elbows as far as you can to press the plates perpendicularly out and away from body in line with chest. Once fully extended, pause, then flex through elbows to return to start. That’s one rep.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

Mistakes and Tips:

Perform the move on your knees. You'll have a more stable base on your knees, as your feet will offer a tripod effect.

3. Hamstring Curls

A.

Lie face up, knees bent, with a plate under each heel. Squeeze glutes and lift hips off the ground, creating a straight line from shoulders to knees.

B.

Push the plates away from body with heels, aiming to fully extend knees. Once legs are fully extended, drag the plates back in toward the butt with your heels, raising toes off the ground to activate the glutes and hamstrings.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

Mistakes and Tips:

Keep the move small, extending a little further each time.

4. Side Lunges

A.

Stand with a plate under right foot. Take a large, lateral step with left foot. Lower into a side lunge, the majority of your weight on the left leg, while keeping the right leg straight. Drive through the left heel, while dragging the weight plate in to meet the left leg. Shift weight to the right leg and repeat, stepping laterally on your left leg to work your way across the room. Do 12 reps then repeat on opposite leg.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

Mistakes and Tips:

Take a smaller lateral left step and squat, bending both knees. Shift the weight slightly to the left leg but keep the right leg partially bent to help drag the plate in, allowing both legs to share the load.

5. Standing Lunges with Knee Lift

A.

Start with a plate under your right foot. Slide the right leg backward and lower into a lunge. Drive up through front heel, extending through front knee while dragging the back foot with the plate in to meet the right.

B.

Once you are fully standing, bring the right knee up and into your chest. Place the right foot back on the plate and slide it backward into a lunge to repeat. Do 12 reps then repeat on opposite leg.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

Mistakes and Tips:

Balance will be the struggle here, so skip the knee lift until you can do the lunges without any wobbles or balances checks.

6. Standing Circle Abduction

A.

Stand next to sturdy surface you can hold on to lightly for support. Bend stabilizing leg, the one closest to your support surface, ever so slightly. Place a weight plate under other foot directly in front of you, far enough for you to fully extend the leg.

B.

Keeping the leg with the weight plate straight, use your toe to slide the plate out and around the body, first out to the side and then completely behind you, working in a full 180 degree range of motion. Once the plate is directly behind you, leg fully extended backward, slide it back out to the side and then in front to starting position. Do 12 reps then repeat on opposite leg.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

Mistakes and Tips:

If you feel like you are struggling to keep your body erect or to move the plate, or if you are clinging to your support for dear life, drop to a lighter plate or bag the plate completely. The range of motion is what's important here, so work on your technique before you add any resistance.

7. Inchworm

A.

From standing position, hinge hips and bend knees, lowering palms to ground. Begin inching body forward, walking hands out one at a time without moving feet.

B.

Extend body into a fully outstretched plank position, keeping core engaged and spine neutral. Reverse the movement, returning back to standing position.

Sets:

3

Reps:

12

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