Thanks to weight machines and free weights, bulking up biceps and getting killer legs has never been easier. But if you work a typical eight-hour day, you know that theses pieces of equipment are all in use come 5:30. If you’re sick of waiting around to do your favorite strength-building exercises and you still want to get your workout in as efficiently as possible, skip the dumbbells and go for the weight plates instead. While they’re typically around to give more resistance to barbells, you can use a single weight plate to help you build muscle and endurance — and you definitely won’t have to wait around to use them. Here are 10 different weight plate exercises you need to try.
1. Front plate raise
This arm workout from from Livestrong is easy to perform and tough on your arm muscles, working the biceps, triceps, and deltoids. To start the front plate raise, choose a weight plate of an appropriate weight for you and begin with it in front of the body, hands holding the sides. Keeping the arms extended at the elbow, raise the plate up and over your head. Lower the plate back down in front of your body slowly.
2. Squat reach
To get a full-body workout that gets your heart pumping and builds muscle, try the weight plate squat reach from Men’s Health. Start with feet shoulder-width apart and the weight plate held close to your chest. Squat down, driving your weight into your heels and keeping your knees behind your toes, then thrust the weight plate forward with your arms, keeping your arms extended and parallel to the ground. Rise from your squat and pull the weight plate back to your chest to prepare for another rep.
3. Plank plus
You’ll feel this exercise in your shoulders, obliques, and abs as you do this plank variation, which you can see over at Self. Start in a plank position with arms extended (don’t rest on your forearms) and the weight plate under your chest. With your right hand, take the weight plate and drag it over to the right side. Then, reach under your right arm with your left hand to drag the weight plate to your left. Repeat this exercise for as many reps as you can on each side before resting.
4. Burpee plate hop-over
This cardio-fueled exercise from Men’s Fitness is even more difficult than a traditional burpee, and you’ll feel your heart rate rising significantly after the first few reps. Begin with your weight plate on the ground directly in front of you. Then, go into your burpee. Jump up with hands high, lower your hands to the ground, jump your feet back, perform the push-up, and jump feet back toward the chest. As you rise from the ground, jump over the weight plate and turn around to face the weight plate again, then go right into another one. Try 10 of these burpee plate jump-overs and you’ll feel the burn.
5. Overhead triceps extension
You may already be doing this exercise with dumbbells to work the back of the arms, but you can do this exercise with weight plates, too. STACK explains you should stand tall, holding the weight plate behind your head with both hands. Keeping your elbows close to your ears, lift the weight plate toward the ceiling and lower down with control. Make sure to keep the abs engaged to protect your back muscles here, too.
6. Weighted sit-ups
This is a variation on a classic move that builds major core strength. To start this weighted sit-up from Train Online, begin by lying down on a mat with feet stretched out in front of you. Grab your weight plate and extend it over your head so it is parallel with your face, using both hands to hold it steady. Make sure to fully extend your arms here as well. Then, lift your upper body into a crunch, keeping your arms and legs fully extended to work your core muscles, and lower back down to the floor.
7. Weight plate shrugs
You can get strong, sculpted shoulders without the use of dumbbells — this weight plate shrug from Jefit is great for isolating the shoulders and building strength. Begin this exercise with feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a weight plate in each hand and let your arms rest down by your sides. Then, slowly shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for a second before letting them drop slowly back to their normal position.
8. Single leg deadlift
This difficult move from FitnessRx for Men requires focus, balance, and strength in the core and legs to pull it off, and it will give your hamstrings a serious workout. Start in a standing position with a weight plate held close to your chest. Then, push the weight in front of you as if you’re performing a chest press, keeping the arms parallel to the ground, with a slight bend in the elbow. Keeping your weight in your right leg, lower the weight plate down toward the ground as you lift your left leg straight out behind you until your torso and left leg create a flat plane. Lower your left leg down and bring the weight plate back up with arms still extended. Switch legs to receive the benefits on the opposite side.
9. Front lunge with a twist
This move incorporates legs, abs, and arms, as you’ll be using your full range of motion to build strength and get your blood pumping. Livestrong explains that to start this move, hold the weight plate to your chest, and forward lunge, keeping your legs at 90-degree angles as you sink down into the move. Once you’re in your lunge with your back knee nearly touching the ground, twist your shoulders and the plate over the front leg. Twist back into your neutral position and push your front leg back up to standing, and repeat on the opposite leg.
This move, outlined by Body Building Advisor, is simple and effective, and you’ll feel it in your arms, shoulders, and core muscles. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and lift your weight plate over your head. Keeping arms bent, circle the weight plate around your head, moving the plate behind your head, over your shoulders, and across your forehead. Make sure to keep your core muscles engaged to protect your back and work your abs as well. Switch the direction of the plate after each set.