The Ultimate Weight Plates Buying Guide
Weight plates are an essential piece of equipment for any gym. However, when it comes time to buy them, you have several options that can make your shopping experience more difficult.
The different types of weight plates on the market include cast-iron weights, bumper plate sets, adjustable dumbbells and power-lifting bars. These options vary in cost and also what type of exercise they are best suited for.
In this guide, we will review the five most popular weight plate choices so you can find the ones that work best with your workout routine.
The Different Sizes of Weight Plates
If you are considering purchasing weight plates then you need to make sure that you know the size of weight plates your gym has.
Olympic Discs have a diameter of about 450 mm, or 17.72 inches, and a thickness of 50mm (about two inches). They are made from solid cast iron and usually weigh 45 lbs/ 20 kg each. The weight is evenly distributed across the entire surface area which makes them safe to use even with overhead presses.
Standard disks were once a staple for fitness enthusiasts with an interest in working out at their homes but as it turns out they are becoming less common than ever before.
Studio Discs are specifically designed for group exercise. Not only do they work with Les Mills' body pump, but also during classes like this one where participants won't be working with heavy loads.
The Advantages of using Olympic Weight Plates
There are quite a few advantages to using Olympic Weight Plates over Standard Disks. For starters, they are much safer to use during overhead presses than those as the weight is more evenly distributed across a larger surface area.
They also offer some versatility in training that standard plates can't deliver because of their shape and size. This allows you to work your upper body and lower body separately, and target specific muscle groups within those areas.
- Olympic weight plates are much more stable and offer a much more secure grip, which is why they are often used in high-intensity training.
- They are much more versatile than standard weight plates because they can be used to do so much more than just bench presses and squats.
- Olympic weight lifting bars are built to hold a greater total weight than standard weight lifting bars and are perfect for those who can't lift as much.
- Most power racks and weights benches come with at least one set of Olympic weight plates, but some people also choose to purchase them separately as well.
Different Types of Olympic Plates
Olympic plates come in a variety of weights and styles. Some are rubber coated, some technique weighted, others bumper weight while still, more are competition weight or fractional-weighted.
Powerlifting bars also exist for the athlete who participates in powerlifting competitions with sets that have various collar heights to accommodate different lifting disciplines such as bench press versus deadlift.
Rubber Weight Plates
Rubber weight plates are the most common type of weight plate. They are coated in rubber to reduce noise and skin irritation from repeated pressing during workouts.
Urethane coated plates are high quality, durable, and less susceptible to cosmetic damage. They have the same dimensions as rubber plates but can withstand more abuse than regular ones.
Non-standard Olympic weight plates are a great way to get the benefits of training with an Olympic bar without sacrificing your ability to grip. Standard weights often have too large circumference for some hands, and these non-standard sized ones offer plenty of room while still giving you enough resistance when lifting them off their rack or from the floor.
Technique Bumper Weight Plates
It's no secret that Olympic lifting and CrossFit are now more popular than ever. Demand for bumper plates has increased over recent years, which may be due to the increasing popularity of these two sports.
People who enjoy performing Olympic lifts need to add bumper plates into their workout routine. These rubber discs are safe for dropping from a height during exercises like snatches and presses.
The purpose of these bumper weight plates is to protect the bars and floor from damage or scratches. They are also great for bodybuilders because they help them perform explosive exercises like deadlifts without injuring themselves in the process.
Bumper plates come with a raised center that makes it easier to grip by giving your fingers more space when holding on to their circumference.
Ever since the Olympics have been used as a tool for conditioning, many strength and conditioning coaches in gyms around the world use Olympic lifts to train their athletes. Weightlifting is also an important sport that relies on bumper plates because these movements require them.
Training Bumper Weight Plates
Training bumper plates can be used to enhance any type of weightlifting workout from Olympic lifting to bodybuilding.
More affordable than other types of plates, bumper weights are great for use in home gyms and Crossfit boxes.
Bumper plate sets typically come with a range from 45lb to 100lbs per set along with collars that can be either metal or plastic.
Competition Bumper Plates
The factor that separates Olympic lifting bumper plates from other types is the durability and quality.
Competition bumpers are designed for professional lifters to use in competition, so they're made with a higher-quality material that resists breaking or chipping when dropped during lifts. Most competitions require these weights because of their high impact nature and level of safety caused by rubber coating on metal.
If you're not a competition lifter, you may want to consider a different type of bumpers. Mainly because there's quite a large cost difference between these and the other plates.
Fractional or incrementals include 0.5kg. 1kg, 1.5kg. 2kg, 2.5kg, and 5kg discs. weights which provide a more gradual increase in weight while covering the same range as their larger counterparts
Fractional Plates are designed to be used with Olympic bars or EZ-bars for exercises such as curls, overhead press, lunges, and triceps extensions.
Calibrated Steel Powerlifting Plates normally come in sets of two or four, and are used specifically for powerlifting exercises such as squats, bench press, deadlift, and barbell rows.
Steel plates can be safely dropped during the course of a lift because they have been calibrated to offer consistent weight distribution.
Recycled Rubber Plates
Also known as "crumb rubber" plates, these plates are made from recycled tyres and rubber.
Recycled Rubber Plates are commonly used by athletes that require a softer surface for their exercises such as bodybuilders or powerlifters who use bars with bumper guards instead of weights without them.
The world creates so much waste in the form of old tyres that rubber plates are a great way to reuse them and create an environmentally friendly surface for your gym.
This includes the coating for rubber gym floors and cheaper rubber plates.
Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates
You can also get hold of virgin rubber plates, which are made from natural raw materials.
These bumper plates don't need to be calibrated as they have a consistent weight throughout the whole plate and offer some of the best bounce for Olympic lifts.
Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates come in both hexagonal shapes (IWF standard), or with straight edges like traditional plates. The good thing about these plates is the fact they don't smell too much, while they're also the most eco-friendly option.
Virgin Rubber Hexagonal Bumper Plates
These plates are made from virgin rubber, so you won't have to worry about them wearing out and cracking (like recycled rubber bumpers). They come in a hexagon shape with IWF markings and calibrated weight indicators for easy identification.
It also tends to be more durable in the long run. Virgin rubber also has a consistent density throughout the whole plate, so you can be sure of their weight and bounce for Olympic lifts.
Did you know that some weight plates can be used for more than just Olympic lifting? While they're not designed specifically to do so, you could use them as medicine balls if the handles are well-designed.
Wagon Wheel Plates
These plates are designed to be more durable than regular plates. They have a raised outer edge around the circumference of the plate, with four spokes that surround an inner hub on each side.
The benefits are two-fold. Not only do they feel more solid and less likely to be damaged if dropped, but they also have a textured outer edge that makes them easier to grip.
The downside is the extra weight means you can't add as many plates in each hand, so your potential for progression is curbed slightly with these types of plates.
These plates are generally inexpensive to buy and for good reason. They're made from a composite material that is easily damaged when dropped.
The benefit of that textured outer edge also applies to these plates, but their low cost means you can simply replace them if they do get broken or worn out.
These handy plates are perfect for any situation, whether it be a dinner party with friends or an all-night study session. They're durable and made of recycled plastic that practically won't break!
The Disadvantages of Using Olympic Weight Plates
Unfortunately for the consumer, there are a few disadvantages to using these plates as well. They can be more expensive than standard weight disks because they're made with steel or cast iron rather than being simply molded out of plastic.
Another disadvantage to using these plates is that they have a larger diameter.
This can make them difficult to store in compact spaces, and you may need more space when performing certain exercises such as the kettlebell swing because your feet are further away from the centre of gravity while grasping Olympic disks.
Different Types of Colours
As you're probably aware, weight plates for the Olympic lifts are traditionally made with a bright red colour, which makes them easy to identify when performing exercises like snatches.
But there's no reason you can't buy steel or cast iron discs in different colours if this is what you prefer?
Traditional plates normally come in a bright red colour to distinguish them from other, lighter-weight plates.
They come in several other colours, but because the heavier weight is typically reserved for exercises where accuracy is key (such as snatches) they are made with a bright red colour so that you don't mistakenly add too much weight.
Both of these organisations use discs that are red with black numbers on a white background, though other manufacturers also produce plates in different colours.
- Red = 55 lb or 25 kg plates
- Blue = 45 lb or 20 kg plates
- Yellow = 35 lb or 15 kg plates
- Green = 25 lb or 10 kg plates
- White = 10 lb or 5 kg plates
- Red = 2.5 kg plates
- Blue = 5 lb or 2 kg plates
- Yellow = 1.5 kg plates
- Green = 2.5 lbs or 1 kg plates
- White = 1.25 lbs or .5 kg
These colours don't just apply to plates. You can find weight bars, kettlebells and other items with the same standards of colour coding which is pretty cool.
Just a quick word about collars. When you're lifting really heavyweights, it's important to have a collar that is strong and rigid so as not to bend or buckle when the weight is being lifted which could result in injury.
One of my favourite sets is rubber-coated steel because they grip tightly on both plates and don't damage them when putting them back down.
Whatever plates you purchase they're going to be with you for a while. So it's important you don't purchase too cheap a set or else they're going to fall apart and break within weeks.
You can buy some really good quality plates for not much more money than the cheaply made ones, so take your time in doing the research before purchasing a plate weight set.
A final tip is to build your set a piece at a time and get the weight that you need at a time instead of purchasing one set with everything.
The only downside to this is if you've changed your mind and want more plates because then it will cost more money in shipping than buying a whole new set again.
So make sure when you're doing your research you take into account the shipping price as well.