Embrace the minimalist approach with just a single plate.
IT Stock/Polka Dot/Getty Images
If all you have at your disposal for training is a single weight plate, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were limited in your exercise choices. While one plate may not rival a fully equipped gym, however, there's no reason why you can't still get an effective session that works every major muscle group with just a plate and your own body-weight.
A plate can take the place of a barbell, dumbbell or weight machines in your upper-body routine. To work your upper-back and biceps, perform bent over rows as you would with a barbell, but with a hand either side of the plate. Sub out dumbbell front raises for plate front raises to work your deltoids, or make this even more challenging by combining it with an overhead press after each raise. Working your chest with just a plate is a little more difficult, but you could do floor presses, performed by lying on your back on the floor and pushing the plate straight above your chest.
Put in the Leg Work
Much like training your upper-body, a plate can replace any other type of weight for your leg training. Try forward or reverse lunges holding the plate to your chest or above your head, or for a real test, have a go at some overhead plate squats. If you're particularly mobile and strong, stand with your feet close together. Or, to make them a little easier, adopt a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance and go even wider again if you're just starting out. Make sure you keep the plate directly above your head and don't allow it to drop forward.
Cardio and Core
Get your cardio in with some plate pushes. Strength coach Molly Galbraith suggests placing a plate on a towel and pushing it along the floor. This sounds simple, but it's extremely tough. To work your core, hold the plate above your chest while performing curl ups or sit on the floor, lean back slightly and lift your feet up, then twist to either side while holding the plate to perform Russian twists. Remember that due to the unbalanced nature of plate training, all the upper and lower-body moves will also hit your core muscles.
The Wrap Up
Pick one or two lower-body, one or two upper-body, a cardio and a core move each session and perform three to four sets of six to 12 reps on each. If you're more advanced and looking for a challenge, however, trainer Mike Simone recommends an improv plate circuit workout. Perform overhead squats, overhead presses, bent over rows, floor presses, pushups and Russian twists back to back. Rest for as little time as possible between exercises, go to failure on each and complete five rounds.