The weight plates in your barbells can be used by themselves to improve grip and strengthen the muscles of your hands and torso
Weight plates, usually added to barbells, come in different shapes, sizes, and weights. If you already have weight plates as a part of your home exercise equipment, then you can use them just by themselves. If not, then get plates in the range of 2.5 kilograms to 10 kilograms.
The advantage of using a weight plate on its own is that it improves grip and strengthens the small muscles of the fingers and hands.
In specific exercises such as the Halo (which involves revolving the plate from the front of your chest, back around the neck, and in front again), alignment of the joints is better and the execution of the exercise is smoother as compared to a dumbbell. Normally, all traditional exercises can be done with a weight plate to add variety and challenge to your fitness routine.
It can be done post cardio for 30 minutes, at least 20 repetitions and three sets of each exercise. Or you can exercise for time: each exercise to be done for two minutes, repeated twice. With five minutes of warm up and cool down each, it should take you 34 minutes in total. For warm up, you can perform three sets of 20 squats, shoulder rotations and pushups each. Beginners can reduce the number of repetitions.
Before you start, remember…
To wear comfortable stretchable clothing.
To maintain correct posture. Alignment of the joints is key to an injury-free workout. Avoid unnecessary pain or stress in the joints.
Exercises can be done with or without shoes.
The following exercises workout the arms, shoulders, legs, core, chest and back muscles. If done at the right speed, you can get a cardio benefit as well. The sets should be done for time. Advanced students can do them thrice, carry heavy plates, speed up the execution and perform deeper squats and lunges.
Weight plate squat with a twist: Use a heavy plate for this. Hold the weight firmly close to the chest with both hands. Squat to 90 degrees knee flexion, and as you lift up, twist and lift up the plate overhead.
Side lunges with plate push: Take a big step to the side with the plate held close to the chest. As you dip into a side lunge, thrust the weight plate forward at chest level.
Walking lunges with plate overhead lift: Lift the weight plate overhead as you dip into a lunge. Walk forward and repeat.
The Halo: Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the plate close to the chest, with both hands. As you inhale, lift the plate over the right shoulder, behind the head, over the left shoulder and back to the start (It looks like is similar to a circulatory movement around the shoulders and head). Do alternating halos for time.
Farmer’s walk: Hold one plate in each hand. Choose a weight which will challenge the fingers and walk for three minutes at a preferred speed.
Shuffle pushups. Keep one of your hands on the plate and one on the floor. Execute a push up. Shift the position of the hands and execute the next push up. Continue for time.
Cool down by stretching all the muscles in the lower body and arms.
Nisha Varma is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist. A monthly column with exercises for a home workout