10 exercises to do with just bumper plates (no barbell necessary!)


Hey, Fringe Fam. We know some of you are strapped for space and time, but are still looking to work toward strength. Just bumper plates on hand? No problem. In fact, if you’re someone with limited space, a pair of bumper plates is the perfect solution. If you’re limited on time, a bumper plate-only workout can be quick and effective. These exercises can be paired together in any variety of ways, can be done on their own as your movement of the day, or done in their entirety for a full-body challenge. Let’s get to them.

Plate Ground-to-Overhead

With your hands on your bumper plate at 9 and 3 (think driver’s education), stand tall to start this movement off. When beginning your set, tip the plate down and hinge at your hips as if you’re deadlift. Bring the plate to the floor (palms should be facing away from you), deadlift back up, and as you do, curl the plate and press overhead.

This might feel a little clunky at the start, but with more practice the whole movement will start to feel nice and fluid. Any pair of bumper plates will work for this, but be prepared for more burn if your weight is higher.

Plate toe taps (stack both plates for a little more height)

We’re getting a little bit athletic with this movement, so feel free to start slow until you get the timing down to move like a regular ‘ole footy. 

Stacking one or both plates in your pair, stand tall to start your set. You’re going to be moving your feet and arms almost as if you’re running without so much hip-rotation and no movement forward. When the set starts, pick up one foot and tap your toes on the stack of plates. Your opposite arm should be coming forward at the same time, bent up like you’re running. Bring the first foot back to the starting position, and the second foot and opposite arm will repeat the movement.

At first, it might be a little bit difficult to get the timing down for smooth transitions between both feet, but keep at it! Everything gets better with practice. Any size plate will work for this movement, but plates with more weight will create more height and more difficulty.

Plate Floor Press

We’ll be on the floor for this movement.

Starting out in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor and legs bent up, grab your plate and transition to a lying position. Keep your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor. Situate yourself so your back is flat on the floor, and there’s no arch in your lower back. This will require engaging your abs so there’s no daylight coming from underneath you, and everything is flat on the floor.

Start with the plate out in front of your chest. It should sit naturally right above your chest, between your shoulders. We don’t want any strain on your shoulders where there shouldn’t be.

Keeping your abs engaged and back flat, bring the plate down toward your chest. The bottom of the movement is likely going to be before the plate actually touches your chest, but it could be there as well. It’s more likely going to be where your elbows meet the floor. That’s where you should stop - we don’t want any collapse of the wrists, so be sure that you're keeping your wrists stacked over your elbows. Try to keep your elbows halfway parallel with your shoulders and down by your sides. This should be about a 45 degree angle. Press the plate back up with a punch, and repeat.

Any type of plate will work here, and any size. Choose according to floor pressing strength!

Plate goblet squats (hugging plate, holding plate out in front or overhead for more challenge)

First of all, we’re going to be squatting with your plate. There are a few different variations of squats that plates can be used for with varying difficulty. We’ll start with the beginner version.

The best place to start if you’re new at these is most similar to a typical goblet squat. Instead of holding a kettlebell at your chest, you should be holding the plate in the same fashion. This works for a few, quick reps, but can start to burn out your biceps and shoulders after a while. The beginner version we most recommend is to actually hug your plate at your chest and keep it there. This takes out the bicep and shoulder concentration and allows you to focus on the squat and core aspect of this movement.

Hugging your plate to your chest, your feet should be about shoulder width apart, toes turned out slightly, and chest up tall. The first movement should come from the hips, and not the knees. Stick your butt back ever so slightly while keeping your chest up, bend your knees (keeping them pushed out as much as possible), sit as deep into your squat as you can, and stand back up. Make sure your feet stay glued to the floor the whole time. Squeeze your glutes at the top, and repeat.

The next, second-most difficult variation here is to hold the plate out in front of you instead of hugging it. Everything else would stay the same. This throws in a shoulder burn like no other, so be warned.

The final variation we’ll mention here is an overhead squat with your plate in hand. This is REALLY difficult unless you’ve got crazy-good shoulder mobility. So, if you struggle with that or this movement is unnecessarily difficult, disregard this one and go for any other variation you can think of.

Any weight will work for these, and any type of bumper plate will work too. Why not choose something fun and colorful? 

Plate RDL

This one is sure to get your hamstrings and glutes fired up. Similar to a deadlift, the RDL focuses on hip-hinging and posterior chain strength.

Hold your plate again at 9 and 3, and when performing this movement, you can either tip the top of the plate down like the G2OH above, or you can keep it flat and parallel with the floor. Your choice!

Standing up tall, holding your plate, your feet should be about shoulder width apart here and toes forward. The hip hinge is most important here - stick your hips back as far as they’ll go, (seriously, like you’re trying to booty-bump someone), keep your back flat, and a slight bend in your knee. Bring your weight down as far as it takes for you to feel a little tug in your hamstrings, but not as far as it takes to hurt. We want a little stretch in the hamstrings, but not a tear. Keep your weight as close to your legs as possible. On the way back up, keep your back flat, and squeeze your glutes to drive your hips back up into a standing position.

Choose a weight that's challenging here. If you've got lighter plates and super-strength grip, you can stack and hold onto both plates. Any weight will work.

Plate overhead press

This one can be done from a standing or seated position. In a seated position with legs out straight, this movement will be a bit more difficult than seated on a chair or standing.

Standing nice and tall, the plate in hands (9 and 3, here), squeeze your core by bringing your rib cage to your hips (not actually, just squeeze your muscles like so and don’t actually collapse in the middle), start with the plate at your chest, and press overhead. A position for the plate will come naturally if you’re being mindful about shoulder-positioning, so give it a few tries and it should come to you. Press all the way up, keeping your core tight, and finish with your biceps by your ears. Reverse the movement to come back down to your chest, and repeat.

It's best to start light with these, and there's nothing sweeter than a pair of donuts ;)

Plate curl

This one is sure to get your biceps pumped UP. We’ll be holding the bumper plate at 9 and 3 again. Your palms should start out facing away from you, the “top” of the plate tipped down. Squeeze your core, and only move your arms here. Glue your elbows to your side, and then focus on squeezing your biceps and bringing the plate up to your shoulders. Add an eccentric count on the way down for extra spice.

Plate sit-ups

This is another movement that can vary in plate placement. Feel free to hold the plate overhead for an extra challenge, or hug it at your chest. Foot placement can also vary here: maybe you’ll choose a standard butterfly with the bottoms of your feet together, maybe your legs will be straight out in front of you, or another variation. That’s up to you. 

Regardless of where you’re choosing to hold your plate, the main focus here is obviously to get those abs on fire. Sit back with your plate, and use your abs to get back to an upright position. It won’t take a lot of weighted sit ups for you to start to feel the burn.

Plate weighted plank

Another core burner coming at you: we’re taking a regular old plank to new levels of burn. You can add weight to a high or low plank for added difficulty. To get set up, kneel, grab your plate, and bring it back behind your head so your elbows are in the air. Once that position is set, bring your chest down slightly so the weight stays put, put one hand down, then the other, and then push yourself up into a high plank position (the top of a push-up) to start. If you’d prefer a low plank, bring one elbow to the floor at a time.

Hold your core super tight, trying to keep your ribcage pulling to your hips, and shoulders stacked over your elbows and wrists. 

To get out of your plank, bring your knees down, one hand should reach back up behind to secure the plate, and then the other hand once you’re stable. Or, you can dump the plate off of your back to the side if you have the space.

Burpee plate hop-overs

This one doesn’t require holding onto the plate for the movement. Instead, perform your burpee variation while facing the plate. Instead of hopping straight up in the air at the top, hop over the plate with a little turn so the next rep is also facing the plate. This could be considered a modified burpee box jump over, instead with a plate.

How to put them together

These movements can be performed in any time domain for a great workout. Whether you choose one, two, or any number of movements from this list, you’ll get a good sweat in and a good pump on.

Pick a couple of movements, give yourself a time limit and a rep range, and get to work. Or, maybe an EMOM or Tabata-style workout might work best for you. Whatever you choose, you'll be sure to get some good work in.

Having a pair of plates makes working out so much more convenient when you’re strapped for time, space, or even travelling. Your plates can be loaded into your car and will take up very little space.

Wondering what plates might work best for you, and what size? Send us a message and let us help you out!

As always, lift plates, lift happy :)

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