You don't actually need a pair of dumbbells, a machine, or a barbell to work out.
Sometimes, a simple weight plate can get you the workout that you need to keep making gains, even when you find yourself limited on equipment.
To make it easy for you, we've had our team create a top-quality full body workout, that'll allow you to continue to make gains, even when you find yourself with nothing but a single weight plate.
Note: If you find yourself easily going past the rep goals, simply take your sets to failure. That way, you'll actually stimulate your muscles enough to grow.
Before we begin it's important for you to know that weight platers are not going to be as effective for building muscle mass as other forms of resistance such as dumbbells and barbells would be.
This is due to the weight shape and size of the weight plates, which would have an impact on your ability to perform the exercises correctly and with the right form.
If you've got access to just about any other form of resistance, it's probably going to be better than using weight plates.
This workout is solely intended for those times when you've got literally nothing else aside from just one or two weight plates.
You can learn more about this by clicking here to read our blog post on it why weight plate movements are generally bad exercise choices.
With that being said, we can now get into the workout!
The Weight Plate Workout
5-10 Minute Warmup
Weighted Squats - 3 x 10-20
Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts - 3 x 12-15
Pull Ups - 3 x 8-10
Plate Rows - 3 x 12-15
Push Ups/Flat Plate Press - 4 x 12-15
Plate Overhead Press - 3 x 12
Optional: Bicep Curls - 2 x 10-12
Optional: Overhead Tricep Extensions Superset - 3 x 12-15
5-10 Minute Warmup
This is extremely important, and should be done before any workout. This weight plate is no different.
You'll want to do some light cardio, as well some dynamic stretching, and bodyweight versions of your exercises as well.
You'll want to grab the heaviest weight plate you have around, and hold it in front of your shoulders like a goblet squat, and try not to rest your elbows on your thighs during the reps.
If you want to make the workout more intense, you can stop just before locking out at the knees and keep the tempo fast.
It'll make you feel the burn more, and is a great way to make the workout shorter, and help you reach failure quicker.
However we do recommend that it is best for you to do the full range of motion, as it'll lead to more strength and muscle gains in the long run.
Check out the video below by TrainToSmileTV to see what this looks like!
Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
If the weight plate is heavy enough, or you're more of a beginner, than we'd recommend doing these with both legs, simply because you'll be able to do more high quality reps.
However if you're a stronger individual, and doing them on two legs doesn't create enough of a challenge, then you can simply do them on a single leg.
You'll want to keep your knee(s) slightly bent, and not lock them out at the top of each rep.
Try to go slow on the way down, and feel a good stretch in your hamstrings before coming back up.
See Ron Almosni's video below for a demonstration!
You'll want to go all the way down, or you can stop just shy of a dead hang if you find yourself struggling to hit 6 full reps.
However ideally, you should be getting your upper up to the bar, and going down to a compete dead hang at the bottom.
If you don't have a pull up bar, you can simply find a table, a bench or a rail to do inverted bodyweight rows on.
They're the next best back exercise you can do with just your bodyweight.
Watch Pivot Cycles' video below to see what this should look like!
If the plate is too light, you can try to do them unilaterally if the plate comes with a handle.
However we realize that many plates don't come with a handle, and are therefore hard to row with.
If that is the case, you'll simply have to do a lot of reps to reach muscular failure.
Perhaps you could try to resting your chest on a bench, that way you'll prevent cheating and make the reps that much harder.
Video by Origym Personal Trainer Courses
Push Ups/Flat Plate Press
Push ups are recommended here, although a lighter weight plate will be just find to do chest presses with if you're not as confident with your own bodyweight.
You'll want to do a full range of motion here, however stopping just shy of lockout and keeping the tempo fast can help reduce the workout duration if you're short on time.
If you can, try to hold the position at the bottom of the movement! That way you'll really fire up the chest, and make each rep that much more productive.
Check out Jackie Cardenas' video for a demonstration!
Plate Overhead Press
You can either do these with a single arm if you're stronger, or both arms if the plate is heavy enough for you.
However if you use both arms, it might be hard to stop your head from getting in the way of the plate's movement path if you have a bigger plate such as a 20kg (45lb) plate.
If you find this to be the case, you can simply find an elevated surface and perform pike push ups instead.
They're also a great exercise, and are a staple in our own bodyweight push workouts. You could avoid fully locking out with the plates at the top, and this will help create more of a burn in the delts.
For a demonstration, see WeightTrainingCom's video below.
You can either do these one arm at a time, or both if the plate is heavy enough. You likely won't be able to get a full elbow lockout at the bottom of the range of motion, so simply try to keep the tempo a little faster than you usually would have it when curling in the gym.
These sets should be taken very close to or straight to failure, and should burn like crazy.
Don't worry, it's okay to cheat the last one or two reps of each set to push the muscles towards that extra stimulus, resulting in more growth.
Video by GPS Human Performance
Overhead Tricep Extensions
These might feel a little awkward at first, but you should get used to doing the movement.
If it feels too uncomfortable, you could try performing 'X' push ups instead, or bodyweight tricep extensions either on the ground or a low lying horizontal pole.
With the plate extensions, try to stretch the triceps as much as you can at the bottom of each rep.
Then, hold the contraction at the top. This will make each rep more productive, and you'll get more out of your workout.
Check out the video below by BYOMechanics to see what this looks like!
After Your Workout
Upon completing your workout, it's generally a good idea to do some kind of static stretching, as well as a warm down and maybe some foam rolling.
As for a warm down, this could be easy, relaxed cardio or just going for a simple walk.
Doing these things will just help relieve some of the tightness and soreness you might wake up with the next morning, especially in your legs.
We hate the struggles of waking up with sore legs the day after hitting them, and we trust you're no different!
After doing you recovery movements, you'll want to look towards having a meal or snack that's high in protein, whether that's a protein bar, a protein shake, chicken and rice or something along those lines.
This protein intake will help fuel your muscles to grow and repair themselves, and come back bigger and stronger than they had been before.
It's vitally important that you are consuming enough protein on a daily basis, so that you're giving your body the nutrients it needs to help you make the most out of your hard work.
We need to stress that this is a workout that should only be done if you're really short on equipment, and have nothing else on hand aside from just a couple of weight plates.
Otherwise if you've got access to anything else like dumbbells, a barbell or a machine, you'll probably be better off using those, and you can learn more about why that is by clicking here.
We hope you enjoyed reading through this workout, and are able to put it to some good use when you do find yourself in a situation like this, with minimal equipment!
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Have you ever done a weight plate workout before?
Let us know in the comments section below!