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Workouts for Women

5 Movements You Can Do With One Plate

No barbell, no problem! Here’s how you can get an efficient and intensive full-body workout with just a weight plate.

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Fitness used to be all about excess — bigger gyms, bigger weight machines, bigger muscles, and if you look back over those old ’80s workout photos, bigger hair. Definitely bigger hair.

Those days are thankfully over, as fitness has trended toward a more holistic, minimalist approach. Now the world’s top trainers are able to forge fun, effective workouts with just a few carefully chosen pieces of equipment, from a kettlebell to battle ropes to suspension trainers, among other interesting implements. 

To prove how a little ingenuity can go a long way, we challenged one of our favorite Oxygen ambassadors, Josefine Holmberg, with creating a full-body workout with something you’ll find in nearly any gym or perhaps even at home: an Olympic weight plate.

The celebrity trainer, online coach and NPC bikini competitor based in Los Angeles delivered. In just five moves, Holmberg’s routine hits the legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms and core. After a mere half-hour, you’ll be toweling off and wondering how the classic barbell suddenly became so extraneous!

The One-Plate Whole-Body Workout

The best type of equipment for this will be a weight plate with built-in handles, such as those offered by Hammer Strength or Power Systems. If you don’t have one of those options at the ready, you also can use a traditional plate, as long as you’re careful in holding it securely.

For the following moves, you should choose a plate commensurate with your strength level — whether that’s a 10-, 25-, 35- or 45-pounder. “You’ll do the five moves in circuit fashion EMOM style,” Holmberg explains. “That’s ‘every minute on the minute,’ doing each exercise for the reps listed below, then resting and moving on to the next exercise by the top of the next minute. Perform five rounds total, which should take about 30 minutes when you figure in any additional rest you need between rounds.”

Exercise Sets Reps
Alternating Stationary Lunge 5 10 (per leg)
Bent-Over Plate Row 5 15
Plate Thruster 5 12
Hammer Curl Into Triceps Overhead Extension 5 8+8
Oblique Plate Twist 5 45 sec + 15-sec rest

Exercise Instructions

Alternating Stationary Lunge

Alternating Lunge
(Photo: Josefine Holmberg)

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight plate in both arms at your chest. Step forward with one foot, making sure to take a stable hip-width stance when you set your front foot down. Lower yourself into a deep lunge, dropping your back knee toward the floor without allowing it to touch down as your front thigh reaches a point parallel to the ground. From the bottom, powerfully push up through your front heel and midfoot (not your toes) of your forward leg in order to return to a standing position. Repeat with your opposite leg. One step with each foot equals one full rep.

Bent-Over Plate Row

Bent Row
(Photo: Josefine Holmberg)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and grasp a weight plate in both hands — using a clock analogy, place one hand on the 9 and the other on the 3. Lean forward at your hips until your torso is between 45 degrees to 75 degrees to the floor. Keeping your back flat and core tight, extend your arms to allow the weight to hang straight down toward the floor. Without raising or rocking your upper body, pull the plate up toward your abdomen, bringing your elbows high and above the level of your back. Hold the weight at the top for a one-count squeeze, then slowly lower it along the same path.

Plate Thruster

Plate thruster
(Photo: Josefine Holmberg)

Take a shoulder-width stance with a weight plate held platter style (horizontally) in front of your chest in both hands. Leading with your hips and bending your knees, lower yourself into a deep squat position, core tight and back flat. From there, drive forcefully upward, extending your hips and knees to a standing position — at the top, you’ll take advantage of the momentum created by pressing the weight plate overhead in one fluid motion. Lower the plate back to your chest as you descend back into a squat and repeat the sequence.

Hammer Curl Into Triceps Overhead Extension

Hammer Curl Tricep Extension
(Photo: Josefine Holmberg)

Grasp the plate with both hands, again at the 9 and 3 position, and tuck your elbows into your body. Start with your elbows extended and the plate at hip level. From there, flex your biceps to curl the plate up toward your shoulders, making sure your elbows remain at your sides and don’t shift forward. After you complete eight reps, lift the weight plate so that your arms are extended, upper arms next to your ears, and the plate is directly overhead. Keeping your elbows pointing forward, lower the weight slowly down toward the back of your neck without letting it touch — once it’s an inch or so away, reverse the motion by flexing your triceps to bring the weight back over your head. 

Oblique Plate Twist

(Photo: Josefine Holmberg)

Stand with your feet set a little wider than hip-width apart. With your elbows bent and at your sides, hands at 9 and 3 and the plate held a few inches in front of your torso, engage your core muscles and glutes. Keep your hips and arms stable as you twist your torso under control to the left as far as you can go. Next, return all the way across until you’re facing toward the right. Continue twisting back and forth, making sure your upper body remains upright throughout, for 45 seconds. Rest for the remaining 15 seconds of each minute.