The Paper Plate Workout

SHAPE magazine
Healthy Living
August 2, 2012

by Jessica Smith for; photography by Vanessa Rogers Photography

Have leftover paper plates? Put them to good use!
Have leftover paper plates? Put them to good use!

Have extra paper plates leftover from your last BBQ? Put them to good use! Grab a pair of paper plates and try this total-body strength and cardio circuit.

Party-size plates are perfect, though any size will do. Stick with paper plates (not Styrofoam or plastic) and always position them right side up for best results. While they work well on most surfaces, even carpet, it's a good idea to do a test slide to make sure they are compatible with your floor. If you don't have any plates on hand, small gym towels or sliders like ValSlides work too.

Related: Want more tips and tricks to maximize your workouts ? Download our FREE ipad app today!

Sliding burpee
Sliding burpee

1. Sliding burpee: This total-body exercise will get your heart pounding without the impact of a typical burpee.

Stand with the balls of your feet on paper plates. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower into a squat. Place your hands on the floor. Slide your feet out to a plank position. Quickly bend your knees and slide your feet back into your hands. Return to standing. That's one rep. Do 15 reps total.

Tip: Keep your feet pressed into the plates the entire time to keep them from slipping.

Sliding pushup jack
Sliding pushup jack

2. Sliding pushup jack: Take your pushup to the next level with this sliding core challenge! With the plates under your feet, squat down to the floor, placing your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Slide your feet into a wide V as you lower your body into a pushup. As you press up, bend your legs and slide your knees into your hands, tucking them into your chest. That's one rep. Do 10 reps total.

Tip: To make sliding your legs easier and work your abs more effectively, focus on drawing your abs in tight to your spine as you tuck your knees.

3. Sliding thigh slimmer: Lunges are great for toning your thighs, and this sliding version works nearly every muscle in your lower body.

Sliding thigh slimmers
Sliding thigh slimmers

Begin in a runner's lunge with your right leg forward, hands on either side of your right foot, and left leg straight (the paper plate should be under your left foot). Bend your left knee and slide your leg into your chest, squeezing your knees together. Quickly extend your left leg back out to your full lunge. That's one rep. Do 15 reps on the right leg, 15 on the left.

Tip: Pull your belly button into your spine as you slide your knee in to really engage your abs.

One-armed sliding pushup
One-armed sliding pushup

4. One-armed Sliding triceps pushup: Tone up your arms, chest, and core with this sliding version of a triceps pushup.

Begin at the top of a modified pushup position with your hands on the plates, shoulder-width apart. Bend your left elbow and lower into a pushup (keeping your arm close to your body) as you slide your right arm straight out on the floor. Press back up, sliding your right arm in. That's one rep. Do 15 reps total, alternating arms each time.

Tip: Think of pressing your shoulders down as you slide your arm back in at the top of your pushup. This will help engage your back muscles too.

Sliding sit up
Sliding sit up

5. Sliding sit up: A sit up that works your back? It's possible with this move! You'll engage the muscles in your back, arms, and abs with this sliding exercise.

Lie on your back with your legs extended and together. Place your arms out to each side in a 'T' shape, with the plates under your palms. Keeping your arms straight and elbows soft, press down and slide your arms in by your sides as you sit up and bend your knees. Slide back out and return to your start position. That's one rep. Do 15 reps total.

Tip: Keep your back straight as you sit up and slide back down to work your abs and back muscles more effectively.

Sliding side lunge
Sliding side lunge

6. Sliding side lunge: This sliding side lunge is great for targeting your inner and outer thighs, glutes, back, and abs.

Stand with your weight on your right leg, with one paper plate under your left foot. Bend your right knee and push your hips back behind you, sliding your left leg out to the side. Keep your left leg straight. Bend your elbows about 90 degrees and swing your left arm in front, right arm back. Quickly bend your left knee and slide your foot into your right, swinging your right arm forward and your left arm back. That's one rep. Repeat 15 times with the left leg, and then 15 times with the right.

Tip: Press down through the ball of your foot into the paper plate to keep it in place.

Heel curl crunch
Heel curl crunch

7. Heel curl crunch: Target your abs and your hamstrings with this multi-muscle move!

Sit with your hands behind your head, spine straight. Bend your knees and flex your feet so that just your heels are pressed into the plates. Slide your legs out straight as you hinge back, lowering all the way down to the floor with your body, sliding your legs out into a wide 'V' position. Bend your knees and use your abs to return to your starting position , sliding your heels into your body as you sit up. That's one rep. Do 15 reps total.

Tip: Focus on digging your heels into the plates to maximize the effort from your hamstrings.

Swimming slide
Swimming slide

8. Swimming slide extension: Get ready to engage your arms, shoulders, and the entire backside of your body with this exercise!

Lie facedown with your legs extended hip-width apart, toes pointed on the floor, and arms extended overhead (palms pressed into the plates). Extend your spine, and as you lift your chest, slide your arms out to the sides and then bend them into your body, tracing a circle on the floor. Slide your arms back out in front of you as you lower your chest. That's one rep. Do 15 reps total.

Tip: Look down at the floor, keeping your chin tucked in towards your chest, to avoid neck strain during this move.

RELATED: The Best Yoga Poses for Flat Abs

Side slide climb
Side slide climb

9. Side slide climb: Take your mountain climber to the next level with this sliding oblique-focused version.

Start in a full plank position with your feet on the plates. Bend your left knee and slide your foot up towards your left hand, trying to bring your knee as close to your arm as you can. Quickly slide your left leg back to start as you slide the right knee up towards your right arm. Repeat, alternating sides, 20 times total.

Tip: Keep your abs braced in tight during this move to help build your speed.

More on SHAPE:
The Best Abs Exercises You've Never Seen Before
12 Salads Worse than a Big Mac
The Best and Worst Ways to Measure Body Fat

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