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December 12, 2021 7 min read

When you think of weight plates, you likely think of sliding them onto the ends of a barbell. But the simplicity of a weight plate makes it an incredibly flexible piece of equipment that can serve other purposes than just heavy lifting. 

Among other things, you can use it to build your endurance, boost your strength, and improve your balance. We will look at ten of the best plate exercises for you to try in your next workout routine.

Why Use Weight Plates? 

If dumbbells exist, then what’s the point of using weight plates? The versatility of weight plates make them a good alternative to other free weights because you can use them with or without a barbell. 

Standard weight plates can range between one pound to 45 pounds and can be found at almost any commercial gym. They can be metal or rubber and can be color-coded if you’re using Olympic weight plates.

Better Grip 

Holding weight plates compared to holding dumbbells requires a different type of grip strength. It’s the kind of grip strength that athletes like rock climbers can benefit from because they need strong fingers.

Exercises like plate pinches, where you’re pinching to hold the weight plate, can help increase strength in your fingers, wrists, and forearms. Better grip strength in general can be important for gym performance since you can only lift as much as you can hold, and it can also be a predictor of overall quality of life

Builds Strength 

Building strength with just weight plates may seem obvious when you’re unloading them from the barbell, especially after a heavy deadlift day. Any type of resistance training, when done properly, whether you’re using dumbbells, kettlebells, or weight plates, can help build strength, increase lean muscle mass, reduce body fat percentage, and improve lifting and cardiovascular performance.  

Helps with Form 

When you do an exercise like the shoulder press with dumbbells, you can risk a shoulder injury if the weights move out of the safe path they need to travel through.

Holding the weight plate with both hands during pushing or pulling exercises can help keep your hands and arms in line, helping to reduce your risk of improper form. It can also help equally distribute the weight.

Versatility  

Since weight plates come in different weights and sizes, they can be used for almost any exercise from lateral raises to squats. You can hold them with both hands or just one, making them beneficial for building unilateral and full-body strength.

Use them with barbells or on their own and store them easier in your home gym since you can just stack them on top of each other and slide them in the corner.

Best Plate Exercises 

If you need a break from dumbbells and barbells, elow are the 10 best plate exercises to add some variety into your workout. 

Plate Exercise # 1: Plate Press

While mostly a chest exercise, the plate press also helps target the shoulders and can challenge your grip more than the conventional chest press might. Not to mention, it may improve your pressing strength since you’re pressing to keep the plate in your hands. 

How to Do the Plate Press:  

  1. Place your hands on the outside of the plate and push them in. 
  2. This forces you to take advantage of the flex at the top of the movement, which will help you keep your arms in an adducted position to hold onto the plate. 
  3. Start at the top of the movement with your arms extended, and lower the plate down in a controlled way to your chest. 
  4. While pushing your hands together on the plate, press the plate back to the top of the movement.
  5. Repeat for as many reps as you like.

Plate Exercise # 2: Plate Push-Ups 

Push-ups can be difficult as they require a lot of upper body strength and stability. There are options to make this exercise customized to your fitness level, and one of them is to perform push-ups on an incline.

Plate push-ups can help put your body at more of an angle, making it a little easier for those who still need some push-up practice. 

How to Do Plate Push-Ups:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your hands on either side of a weight plate. You can also stack multiple weight plates if you need more of an angle, but make sure they’re secure before starting.
  2. Keeping your core tight, slowly start to lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows. 
  3. When you’ve reached a full range of motion, press back up until your arms are fully extended again.

If you’ve already mastered push-ups, try placing weight plates on your back for weight push-ups. This should only be done by advanced lifters with a spotter close by.

    Plate Exercise # 3: Plank Plate Switch 

    If you find regular old planks boring, you can try adding movement and weights to them with the plank plate switch. Conventional planks can help build core strength, but the dynamic movement in this variation can recruit more stabilizer muscles as well as build unilateral shoulder strength as you balance from one arm to the other. 

    How to Do the Plank Plate Switch: 

    1. Stack four to five weight plates together to your right. 
    2. Start in a plank position.
    3. Your fists should be at eye level, and your toes should be firmly on the ground. 
    4. Raise your left arm and grab each plate one by one, stacking them to your left. 
    5. Raise your right arm, grab each plate and stack them to your right. 
    6. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like, speeding up as you go.

      Plate Exercise # 4: Front Shoulder Plate Raise 

      An isolation exercise like the front raise can help build muscles in your shoulders, specifically in your anterior or front deltoids. Using a weight plate versus dumbbells can help equally distribute the weight, making it easier to use a heavier amount of weight. 

      How to Do the Plate Front Raise:

      1. Grab a weight plate with both hands. 
      2. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the plate with a neutral grip and arms extended.
      3. Keep your arms straight and slowly raise the plate until it reaches chest height.
      4. Return to the starting position.

        Plate Exercise # 5: Lateral Plate Raise 

        The lateral raise primarily works the lateral deltoid but recruits stabilizer muscles in the back to raise the weights up. Since it’s considered an isolation exercise, it can help build muscle in your shoulders more than compound exercises may. Also, holding weight plates can challenge your grip strength more than other alternatives. 

        How to Do the Lateral Plate Raise: 

        1. Stand with a straight torso and with feet hip-width apart. 
        2. Grab a plate with each hand and hold them to your sides.
        3. Raise the plates out from your sides as you bend your elbow slightly. 
        4. Stop when your arms are parallel to the floor. 
        5. Lower the plates slowly back to the starting position.

          Plate Exercise # 6: Plate Curl

          Never go all the way down to the point where your elbows move backwards with this movement. Always keep them in front of your hips to keep constant tension on the biceps as you perform your repetitions.

          If you want to make this exercise more intense, you can always use more weight by using multiple plates as you perform the movement. 

          1. Grab the plate on both sides, with your elbows elevated and in front of your hips. 
          2. Curl the weight up while flexing and squeezing your biceps as hard as you can.
          3. Return to the starting position.
          4. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like

            Plate Exercise # 7: Overhead Plate Squat 

            Also known as the overhead press, this move specifically targets your triceps, chest, abs, butt, and thighs. The full movement consists of taking the plate and holding it over your head. Even though you are mostly working your legs, you will feel a lot of upper body engagement too because you are holding the plate.

            1. Start in a squat position and make sure your back is straight. 
            2. When re-assuming standing position, raise the plate overhead. 
            3. Bring the plate as close to your body as you can while moving it over your head.
            4. Hold the plate and bring your arms up and over your head.
            5. Once you have the plate in that top position, squat down as low as you can
            6. Return to the starting position.
            7. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.

            Plate Exercise # 8: Squat Reach 

            This move is for beginner to intermediate lifters, and it targets your triceps, thighs, abs, butt, and lower back. The squat reach can help you experience less pain on a daily basis. Never hyperextend your lower back when doing this exercise. This can place too much strain on your back and on your lower body, which can lead to injury. 

            1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and the weight plate close to your chest. 
            2. Squat down and drive your weight into your heels.
            3. Keep your knees bent behind your toes and thrust the weight plate forward with your arms extended and parallel to the ground. 
            4. Rise from your squat and pull the weight plate back to your chest.
            5. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.

            Plate Exercise # 9: Side Bend 

            This move particularly targets your triceps, abs, butt, thighs, and lower back. It is a fairly simple exercise that can be perfect for beginner to intermediate lifters.

            1. Stand in an upright position. 
            2. Hold a plate with your left hand and hold your waist with your right hand. 
            3. Bend your waist to the left as far as you can. 
            4. Hold for one to two seconds. 
            5. Go back to the starting position and change hands.

            Plate Exercise # 10: Single-Arm Plate Row  

            This move mostly works your biceps, triceps, and upper arms in general. Once you complete one side for this exercise, switch hands and repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side. 

            1. Rest one hand on a bench and place your fingers through the middle of the plate. 
            2. Pull through your elbow as high as you can.
            3. Return to the starting position.
            4. Repeat the exercise as many times as you like.

            Getting Deeper Into Plates

            An intense full body workout in a gym does not have to be complicated, and you don't really need a whole lot of sophisticated machines or even any dumbbells or kettlebells. One plate is all you need to complete an extremely effective cardio workout, which will probably leave you feeling sore for many days afterwards.

            To help ease the feeling of muscle soreness, try ADABOLIC  for accelerated recovery and maximized performance.

            These types of exercises with plates can allow bodybuilders and even amateurs to add plenty of impressive muscles to their bodies. Plates can have a tremendous anabolic effect on all of your muscle groups.