8 Best Weight Plate Exercises (HIT EVERY MUSCLE!!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. So who said you have to have a whole hell
of a lot of dumbbells, or the full gym with equipment in order to get a great workout?
It’s not so. As a matter of fact, you can take one of those old plates that you might
have left over from that time when you were working out as a kid and get a complete workout
in. Today I’m going to show you the eight best
exercises that you can do with a single barbell plate. Now, before we start I want to preface
this video by saying I’m not doing the classic “hold the plate here and do squats, or curl
the plate like this.” Guys, it has to be able to create overload in order for it to be a
better exercise to be done with a plate. Or the mechanics of the exercise have to be
better in order for me to include it as an option to use as a plate. If I think you can
use a dumbbell to accomplish the same thing, then I’m going to tell you to use a dumbbell.
If I think a barbell or something else, I’m going to tell you to use that instead. I chose these eight exercises based on the
fact that they work the best and provide the best, smoothest overload with the plate. Okay,
with that said we have to start off with the classic pushup. The pushup with weight on
your body is going to provide you with more overload than a regular pushup is. We know
that, but a lot of us don’t have access to a vest. It’s very easy, however, to put a plate on
your back. Yes, you can do this yourself and get more overload and more out of your exercise.
Here’s what you do. You line up with the plate about butt level – about hip level next
to you – use your hands, position it onto your butt. Once you’re on the ground, slide
the plate a little bit more up onto the top half of your butt and the lower half of your
lower back and then get up into your plank position. It’s actually very, very simple to do from
here. Crank out your reps. You’ve just added 45lbs to it. You’re going to create more overload
and therefore more growth from the exercise. Okay, next up is an exercise that actually
hits your body in a lot of different ways. It’s the Plate Farmer’s Carry. Right off the
bat you’ll probably see there is a large reliance on the strength of your forearms and grip
in order to maintain this pinch grip on the top of the plate and maintain that as you
continue to move your body through space. See, I don’t care if you have a lot of space
or not to walk around, the key is to keep moving. Of course, the longer you do this
for, the more of a conditioning element it becomes. Lastly, it’s going to work on your
mind as well because as that fire starts raging through your forearms and your fingers it’s
going to beg your mind to make you drop the weight. Try not to. Try to go as long and
as far as you can and withstand that burn because that’s where all the gains will come. The next one is one I’ve used in combination
because it hits a lot of different areas at once and it’s the Russian Twist & Press. You
see, the Russian twist itself is going to hit our abs, it’s going to hit our obliques,
and the fact that we have the plate and the size of the plate is going to make us get
a larger travel with the plate. We can’t just drop the little med ball here and here to
our side. We’ve got to get that plate out to clear the size of the plate, which is going
to force us to rotate more. I love it for this reason. But we’re not going
to stop there. Of course, we have to stop in the middle and get a little bit of a press
too, which causes again, two more things. Number one: we’re getting some shoulder work,
and number two: we’re demanding our core can stabilize us mid-rotation, perform that press,
and reinitiate the move. It’s definitely a great exercise to hit both of those targets
at one time. Sticking with the core, here’s one hell of a challenge for you. Some will
call this the impossible plank. All you have to do is just do a plank. That’s
right, but you have to do it with a plate out in front of you. You see, you’re relying
on the very small surface area of the plate itself to provide the balance of your entire
upper body. It becomes a lot more difficult than doing any type of plank where the surface
area is your entire forearm or your hands. Here’s what you have to do: you’ve got to
get in the plank position, you want to start with your feet a little bit out wide to give
you a broader base of support, and then you just want to hold on for dear life. You can do this. You need a lot of core strength
to do it. I wouldn’t recommend this as a beginner exercise, but it’s certainly something you
can work up to. If you can’t do this version of it, start on your knees. It’s still the
same idea that the upper body is being supported by a much smaller surface area on the ground,
meaning you have to generate a lot more force to withstand that position and hold it, all
right? Try out The Impossible Plank. Next up is a great one for the shoulders that hits
them from every angle here. It’s the plate eight. You see, this one’s
worked its way into a lot of ATHLEANX programming for a reason. Namely, the time motor tension.
We’re going to take this plate and make figure eight patterns in space in front of our body.
We’re going to lift up and at an angle. It’s not just a straight up and down uni-planer
movement. You have to actually incorporate some rotation here. We’re going to incorporate
some frontal plane movement, we’re going to incorporate some sagittal plane movement. The idea is to challenge our shoulders in
all planes as we continue to place tension on them throughout the duration of the exercise.
The best way to do this? Pick a time. 45 seconds, 1 minute, and do it for as much as you can.
Try to get bigger and bigger figure eight patterns for more of a challenge, or keep
it a little bit smaller to make it a little bit easier. The idea is obviously that you
can go into a lighter plate if you’re just starting out, but try to add this one to your
shoulder exercise arsenal. Next up we shift our attention down to the
lower body and we’re going to use a lot of the same principals here, and that is time
motor tension. See, doing a simple reverse lunge without coming all the way out of the
lunge will be hard enough and challenging enough for a lot of people watching this video.
But if we incorporate the plate, we can not only make it more challenging because of the
added weight, but we can add an explosive component to this as well. So what we do is we step back into a reverse
lunge – as you see me doing here – and as I do, we sort of synchronize that lower
body movement with upper body explosiveness to push the plate out in front of us. Quickly,
we draw the plate back in and try to go into the other leg without coming up out of the
lunge. You can see that this ability to stay low is going to provide a lot more tension
onto the lower body and therefore make it a more effective exercise for the lower body. At the same time, as I mentioned, the plate
gives us a chance to sync up that lower body strength with our upper body power. Next is
an exercise we covered in depth in a previous video in an entire trap workout, but it still
makes its way into one of my favorite here, in terms of the plate exercises because it
sets our hands at the right distance apart – right here, about in line with our shoulders
– and allows us to move the plate up all the way overhead and target the traps in different
ways. As we initiate this movement we’re getting
most of the work on the upper traps to help assist the elevation of the plate, but as
it crosses here – this level here at shoulder height – and goes up over my head, now the
mid and lower traps have to fire up to be able to stabilize our shoulders and control
that position as we go up to the top. Of course, we could eccentrically lower that weight back
down, apply some of that low back an those muscles in a different and opposite way, by
slowing the descent of the plate back down in front of your body. It’s a great exercise. Again, don’t overlook the importance of
the traps as it relates to the overall strength and stability of your upper body. For that
reason, it’s why this exercise finds its way into one of my eight greatest. Last, but not
least, in rounding out our top eight with the plate, it’s another one of those muscle
groups that kind of tends to get ignored. I will tell you this: if your low back is
hurting you, you’re not going to have a very effective workout. I can guarantee you that.
So what we do is, we make sure that we do not ignore it. We’re going to include a plate
hyper extension here. Why do I like the plate? Well, for a very
simple reason. It allows me to actually bear hug the plate up against my chest to keep
the center of mass where it should be as I move down, and the back up into this hyper
extension. Now, keep in mind we’re not really advocating a hyper extension here. I don’t
believe that weighted hyperextension of the low back is a great move. All we’re doing
is going from a flexed position and we’re extending to a neutral position. It’s a key difference here and it’s one that
a lot of people don’t understand, but weighting that and strengthening your back to be able
to do that is one of your most important things you can do in the gym. Why? Because we spend
all of our day fighting gravity and getting weaker and weaker, and falling forward. We
need to do everything we can to strengthen those muscles that will hold us upright. All
right, because eight wasn’t really enough and I want to give you more exercises because
I want to give you the best of what I’ve got, here’s three that made our honorable mentions
list. The first is, again, another core exercise.
We call it the plate drag in and push out. All you’re going to do here is get into a
plank position and have that plate extended arm length out in front of you. Now what you
do is pull it in and then push it back out. Pull it in with one arm, push it back out
with the other. Alternate this. Of course, do one minute like this and then do one minute
with the opposite arm doing the pulling and do the opposite arm doing the pushing. The
idea here is that when you do any of this – either the pull or the push – you’re
operating out of a 3-point plank. So one point of contact is not in contact
with the ground anymore. That’s going to make it a harder plank to balance your body on
and therefore increase the challenge on the abs. of course, the act of pushing the plate
away from you – as you see me doing here – actually demands that I have a lot more
strength and stability to be able to post off of to be able to initiate that push. So
you’ll find that the push is harder than the pull, but in both instances, this is a great
exercise that just missed out on my top eight. Next up on our list that just missed our main
list here is our Woodchopper Press. What we do here is we actually get a chance
to replicate the way our body prefers to move. You see, when we walk, when we run, when we
step our body prefers to work in this cross pattern, with one arm, or leg moving back,
and the other arm or leg moving forward. We can sort of setup this positioning here by
having a lunge with one leg out and one leg dropped back. Then of course, with that pre-stretch
already on the core, drop the plate down to that back leg side and then come up and initiate
movement and power from your core to get back up to the top. Yes, you’re training your shoulders as well,
but it’s really this act of stretching, or pre-stretching the core – very much like
you would do in a throw with one arm back and one arm out in front of your body – to
develop that same strength in the same movement pattern that our body prefers to be in. Last,
but not least, building off that same principle of that reciprocal movement pattern, and taking
it up, yes, to another level here, is our unilateral swing. What we do here is we grab
a plate. Now, of course this makes it infinitely more
easy if you have one of those plates that you can grab the handle on like I have right
here – but I didn’t ‘want to take the easy way out. I still wanted to work on my
grip and hand strength. So what I did was, I put my hand inside the plate and I swing
it up one arm at a time. Let the body more in the way that the plate wants to take it.
It wants to take it into a hip hinge and then it wants to get explosive hip extensions to
be able to drive the plate up in front of you. Of course, the other hand is sort of following
that same reciprocal movement pattern that you would if you were running. This exercise
will teach you how to not only develop that pattern, but also control some of the rotation
that occurs when that heavy plate wants to drop down to one side. You have to be able
to eccentrically control this movement. I love this exercise. Again, a little bit more
on the advanced side and a lot easier if you have the ability to use the plate with handles
on it. But if you do, still try to go back on those
farmer’s carries and utilize that pinch grip if you really want to get the benefits from
that exercise. So there you have it. There’s my eight favorite plate exercises, and of
course, those extra three – because I didn’t want you to miss out at all. Guys, this is
what it’s all about here. We’ve selected these exercises because we keep putting the science
back in strength. I want to make sure that we’re not just taking a plate, like I said,
and doing a Goblet Squat with the plate. I could do that probably better with a kettle
bell or even a single dumbbell. We chose these exercises based on the fact that they work
the best with the plate and they provide a lot of people with more exercise options who
might be stuck training at home and have one old weight plate hanging around from that
old set that you had as a kid. Regardless of what situation you’re in, you now have
a lot more exercises to put in your arsenal and the main idea is, it’s going to give you
a chance to challenge yourself in all new ways to get more from your training. If you want a complete training program that
will challenge you in a lot of different ways, step by step, day by day; that’s what I’m
trained to do here as a physical therapist. Its’ to come up with a lot of ways to challenge
different types of bodies with different types of situations, or maybe even different types
of orthopedic issues. That’s what ATHLEANX is all about. Head to ATHLEANX.com and get
our ATHLEANX training system. In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful, make sure you leave your comments and thumbs up below and I’ll do my best to
continue to bring the types of videos that you want to see. You tell me about it below
and I will bring them. All right, guys. I’ll be back here again real soon.

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