Weight Plate Exercises To Burn Fat And Add Muscle

Man doing weight plate exercise
(Image credit: Photography: Glen Burrows. Model: Tirrel Grant)

Some people think that doing a fat loss workout means slinging the weights around any way you like and racing through your reps because losing fat is about getting your heart rate up. And while that is a part of it, there’s a smarter way to approach your sessions that will both burn fat and add muscle. The key is to slow down your reps and make sure you can feel the target muscle working.

“Time under tension, which means the time your muscles spend working during a set, is important in terms of getting muscle adaptations – even if fat loss is your goal,” says Tirrel Grant, director of Square Mile Fitness.

“Really focus on contracting the muscle and work both the lifting and lowering parts of the move – don’t just let the weights drop down.”

Performing your reps like that makes the moves much harder, so although you’re moving the weight slowly, the extra effort required to control them will mean that your heart rate will be high and you’ll get the full calorie-burn benefits.

The following fat-burning workout uses minimal equipment – just one weight plate – meaning it's ideal for when the gym's busy. We've also got a 20-minute weight plate workout, below, for when time is short.

Total-Body Weight Plate Workout

This workout has five moves, with the first two paired to create a superset. Do all the reps of exercise 1A, rest for 10sec, then do all the reps of 1B, then rest for 60sec. Repeat this for four sets, then move on to exercise 2. The final two moves are also performed as a superset. Keep your abslower back and glutes engaged for every rep of every set to keep your body stable and improve power transfer between your upper and lower body.

1A Squat

Weight plate squat

(Image credit: Photography: Glen Burrows. Model: Tirrel Grant)

Sets 4 Reps 10-12 Rest 10sec

How Bend at the hips and knees with your chest up and your weight on your heels.

Why “This move is great for building muscle in your quads, hams and glutes,” says Grant.

Progression Pause in the bottom position for one second, then squeeze your glutes to get back up.

1B Bent-over row

Weight plate bent over row

(Image credit: Photography: Glen Burrows. Model: Tirrel Grant)

Sets 4 Reps 10-12 Rest 60sec

How Bend at the hips and let your arms hang down. Row the weight up to your chest.

Why “Most guys don’t do enough pulling moves. This helps to build balance,” says Grant.

Progression Squeeze your shoulder blades together for one second at the top of the move.

2 Pinch carry

Weight plate pinch carry

(Image credit: Photography: Glen Burrows. Model: Tirrel Grant)

Sets 4 Distance 30m each side Rest 10sec

How Hold a weight plate between your thumb and fingers and walk for 30m.

Why “Grip, rather than muscle, strength is most people’s limiting factor,” says Grant.

Progression Extend the distance you walk by 10m for each hand.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Ways to Improve Your Grip Strength

3A Halo

Weight plate halo exercise

(Image credit: Photography: Glen Burrows. Model: Tirrel Grant)

Sets 4 Reps 8-10 Rest 10sec

How Move the weight up and across your body, then over your head and down the other side.

Why “This is great for building rotational strength, which is often ignored,” says Grant.

Progression Doing this explosively, with real power, will recruit the maximum number of muscle fibres.

3B Crunch reach

Weight plate crunch reach exercise

(Image credit: Photography: Glen Burrows. Model: Tirrel Grant)

Sets 4 Reps 8-10 Rest 60sec

How Lie on your back with your knees bent. Crunch up, keeping your arms straight and vertical.

Why “Adding weight to an abs move means you’ll work in a rep range that adds size,” says Grant.

Progression Increasing the time you take to lower back to the start will make it harder and more effective.

20-Minute Weight Plate Workout

How often do you get to the gym only to find that the dumbbells and barbells are all taken? It’s often the case during peak periods, but they’re busy for a reason – for many, it’s the only time they can train, and a lack of training equipment can quickly derail a session. That's why the experts at our sister brand Men's Fitness put together this simple workout, to help you ensure you'll never be left twiddling your thumbs again.

All you need is a single weight plate to do the five moves in this total-body muscle-building and fat-burning workout, and the best bit is you can get it done in little more than 20 minutes. Make sure you warm up first with some bodyweight press-upssquats and lunges and some dynamic stretches, then you’re good to go.

How It Works

This workout has five moves. The first two moves are paired in supersets. Do all reps of move 1A, rest for 10sec, then do all five reps of 1B, then rest for 60sec. Repeat this for four total sets, then move on to exercise 2, which is a straight set. Perform this move as instructed, rest, then repeat. The final two moves are another superset, which follows the same pattern as the first one. Keep your chest up and abslower back and glutes engaged throughout to maintain good form.

Pick a weight plate that allows you to perform all the reps with correct form throughout while still providing a challenge.

1A Plate Press-Up

Weight plate press up

(Image credit: Future)

Sets Reps 8-10 Rest 10sec

How: With a plate on your upper back, bend your elbows to lower your chest down. Then press back up.

Why: The extra weight increases the difficulty of the move, forcing your muscles to work harder.

Progression: At the bottom of the move pause for two seconds, then press back to the start.

1B One-Leg Plate Row

One leg weight plate row

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 4 (two each leg) Reps 8-10 Rest 60sec

How: Hinge forwards at the hips. Raise your back foot and row the plate up to your chest.

Why: It works your back and biceps, while standing on one foot also activates your core more.

Progression: Hold the plate against your chest for a two-count, squeezing your biceps and back.

2 Weight Plate Carry

Weight plate carry exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 4 (two each hand) Time 30sec Rest 60sec

How: Stand tall holding a plate in one hand. Keeping your chest up, walk for 30 seconds. Keep your heels off the floor for the duration of the set to keep your lower abs engaged and work your muscles harder.

Why: It works your grip strength as well as most major muscle groups to raise your heart rate.

Progression: Hold a plate in each hand to increase grip strength and work every muscle harder.

3A Lunge Press

Weight plate lunge press

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 4 Reps 6 each side (alternating) Rest 10sec

How: Hold the plate and take a big step forward to lunge down while pressing the plate overhead.

Why: This is another total-body move that requires your core to work overtime to stabilse your body.

Progression: Do a double press when at the bottom of the lunge to work your shoulders and core harder.

3B Woodchop

Weight plate woodchop exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 4 (swap sides each set) Reps 10 Rest 60sec

How: Hold the plate to one side of your body then raise it diagonally, with straight arms.

Why: It works your shoulders as well as your obliques (side abs) to maintain torso stability.

Progression: Once you can do ten reps with ease, increase the rep count by two reps per set.

Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.