A busy gym means limited options when it comes to prime-time training, but if you can commandeer a plate, then you have all you need to work your body from head to toe and burn a ton of fat and calories.
The key to this mega-burn is peripheral heart action training, a time- and space-efficient way to train that alternates between upper- and lower-body muscle groups. By forcing the blood supply to alternate between muscles with the greatest distance from each other, the heart has to work much harder, even when doing movements that aren’t typically that demanding (i.e., biceps curls as opposed to squats). This shunting process means your heart rate stays elevated during the workout, resulting in improved aerobic capacity and endurance while incinerating calories.
Set yourself up with a 25- or 45-pound plate and find some space to move. Do one round of the eight-move circuit without resting, then rest up to three minutes before hitting it again. For an even greater challenge, try holding onto the plate even during your rest periods — it sounds easy, but it’s a real challenge! Go through the workout up to five times, decreasing your reps as indicated in the chart with each round as you fatigue.
Standing Overhead Shoulder Press
Setup: Hold a plate parallel to the floor at chest level with your elbows tucked in to your sides and your knees slightly bent.
Move: Press the plate straight up overhead until your arms reach full extension without locking out. Lower slowly to the start and repeat.
Tip: Make sure you don’t chin-check yourself; tuck your head back and get your chin out of the way as you press the weight past your face.
Overhead Plate Reverse Lunge
Setup: Hold the plate overhead with your arms straight and your shoulder blades set into your back for stability. Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent.
Move: Step back with one foot and bend both knees to lower toward the floor. When your rear knee almost touches the ground and your front thigh is parallel to the floor, push off your rear foot and return to standing. Continue, alternating sides.
Tip: Always keep your eyes looking straight ahead. Looking down toward the ground can cause you to round forward, pitching the weight forward and altering the mechanics of the movement.
Setup: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the plate by the edges in front of you with both hands.
Move: Bend your knees into a shallow squat while swinging the plate between and through your legs, arms straight. Quickly extend your legs and snap your hips forward to generate momentum to carry the plate up in an arc in front of you and overhead. Allow controlled momentum to carry the plate back down and through your legs once more to complete one rep.
Tip: Don’t strain with your arms to keep the weight moving. Use your lower body to propel the motion.
Bent-Over Two-Arm Row
Setup: Stand with your feet together and hold the plate by the edges with both hands. Fold forward until your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor, back flat and glutes tight. Extend your arms straight toward the floor.
Move: Drive your elbows up and back, retracting your shoulder blades as the plate comes close to your body. Pause and squeeze before lowering slowly to the start.
Tip: Keep your arms in close to your sides throughout; don’t let your elbows flare.
Setup: Take a double shoulder-width stance with your toes angled out about 45 degrees and hold a plate at your chest, elbows bent and tucked into your sides.
Move: Squat down, tracking your knees over your toes. When your thighs come parallel to the floor, reverse the move and squeeze your glutes as you return to the start.
Tip: Don’t let the plate pull you forward. Keep your torso erect and your shoulders back to maintain proper posture.
Neutral-Grip Biceps Curl
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold the plate by the sides in front of you, arms straight.
Move: Bend your elbows and curl the plate up toward your chin in a smooth arc, stopping as it approaches your face. Lower slowly to the start and repeat right away.
Tip: Remember that the negative contraction is as important as the positive one. Use a 1:2 ratio of positive-to-negative to make the most of each rep.
Standing Calf Raise
Setup: Put a 45-pound plate on the floor and hold your original plate with both hands in front of your thighs. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of the plate and drop your heels off the back toward the floor.
Move: Slowly rise up as high as you can onto your tiptoes, flexing hard at the top of the rep, then lowering slowly back down.
Tip: If you have trouble balancing, do single calf raises: Hold the plate in one hand and place your other hand on a wall or machine for stability. Then use one foot at a time for calf raises.
Setup: OK, so we lied — you get to drop the plate for this move! Start in plank position with your hands on the edges of the plate underneath your shoulders and your legs extended behind you with your head, hips and heels in line.
Move: Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the plate, keeping your elbows in close to your sides and your abs tight. When your chest touches the plate, reverse the move and return to the start.
Tip: Squeeze your glutes to prevent your pelvis from sagging and prevent lower-back strain.