Going the Extra Mile With a Plate Workout

STACK Expert Jim Carpentier tells you how to improve your strength and endurance with seven plate exercises.

You enter a crowded weight room after school and all the barbells are in use. You've got two choices: delay your workout and wait for the next available barbell, or be proactive (and creative) and perform a plate workout. After all, who said weight plates are functional only when they're attached to bars?

Here is a challenging, short but intense full-body workout using plates of various weights to boost overall sports performance by strengthening muscles and promoting growth, and enhancing muscular endurance and balance. The workout can be completed within 30 minutes, because you're not wasting time changing plates or fastening them to bars or searching for safety clips between sets.

Work out with plates for diversity—not just when barbells are unavailable—for a refreshing alternative to your regular training program.


  • Hydrate before, during and after your workout.
  • Un-rack the plates needed for your workout and place them near you for easy access.
  • Perform dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up using light plates (e.g., Arm Circles and Walking Lunges with a pair of 5-pound plates).
  • End with static upper- and lower-body cool-down stretches to improve flexibility and range of motion.


  • Water bottle
  • Timer
  • Single plates: 45 pounds, 25 pounds
  • Pairs: 35 pounds, 10 pounds, 5 pounds, 2 1/2 pounds.


Arm Circles and Walking Lunges (5-Pound Plates)

  • Hold a plate in each hand and raise them to shoulder level with your arms extended.
  • Do slow clockwise arm circles while performing Walking Lunges around the perimeter of the weight room.
  • Without resting, replace 5-pound  plates with 2 1/2-pound plates and do counterclockwise Arm Circles and Lunges around the weight room.
  • After the warm-up, immediately start your workout, performing either the Suitcase Walk or Farmer's Walk.

Suitcase Walk (45-Pound Plate)

Great exercise for building forearms and upper-body size and strengthening core.

  • Hold the plate in your right hand and walk around the weight room perimeter.
  • Halfway around the room, transfer the plate to your left hand.
  • Rest for 30 seconds and repeat.
  • After two sets, rest for 30 seconds, hydrate and go on to the next exercise.

Alternative: Farmer's Walk (35-Pound Plates)

Holding a 35-pound plate in each hand, walk around the weight room twice, non-stop. Your arms, shoulders and back will really be burning. Suitcase and Farmer's Walks also are wonderful for grip strength. Rest 30 for seconds and hydrate before the next exercise.

Step-Ups and Overhead Presses (25-Pound Plate)

  • Hold the plate at chest level and place your right foot atop a bench.
  • Explosively press the plate overhead while pushing down on your right foot.
  • Return the plate to the starting chest position during descent and do as many reps of Overhead Presses/Right Foot Step-Ups you can for 30 seconds.
  • Rest 15 seconds and switch to Left Foot Step-Ups/Overhead Presses for 30 seconds.
  • Rest 60 seconds and hydrate before doing the next exercise.

Alternative: Steering Wheel and Stationary Bulgarian Squat (25-Pound Plate)

  • To perform the Steering Wheel and stationary Bulgarian Split Squat movement instead, face away from a bench and place your right toe on the bench.
  • Hold the 25-pound plate with both hands at chest level with your arms extended away from your chest.
  • Bend your right knee and left knee and hold the position while pretending to steer the plate like the steering wheel of a car, rotating the plate for 30 seconds.
  • Rest 30 seconds and switch to your left toe on the bench and repeat the movement for 30 seconds.

Single-Leg Cross Rows (25-Pound Plate)

  • Hold the plate in your right hand while standing on your left leg with your right foot off the floor.
  • Bend both knees while bringing the plate down across your body toward your left ankle.
  • Pause one second and pull the plate back up toward your waist.
  • Perform 9 more reps.
  • Without resting, do 10 Single-Leg Rows on your right leg while holding the plate in your left hand.
  • Rest 15 seconds between sets.

Stationary Wall Squat and Press-Outs (10-Pound Plates)

  • Hold a 10-pound plate in each hand at chest level with your back against a wall.
  • Lower into a Squat and hold the position.
  • Explosively press the plates away from your chest, hold for one second.
  • Slowly bring the plates back to the start position in two seconds.
  • Do as many Press-Outs as you can in 30 seconds while remaining in the squat position.
  • Rest 30 seconds and perform another set.

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