Weight Plate Buying Guide

Weight Plate Buying Guide


9 minute read

We all know that 10kg is 10kg no matter where you are in the world. However, when it comes to purchasing weight plates, there are actually quite a few details worth taking into account! This Weight Plate Buying Guide will teach you everything you need to know about weight plates and help you figure out which weights are right for you.

 

We’re going to look at weight plate hole sizes, the materials used to make the plates and the different individual types of plates. We’ll be focusing primarily on Olympic size weight plates, which come with a centre hole that is 50mm; it’s the common size weight plate found in the vast majority of gyms.

Weight Plate Hole Sizing

The hole in the middle of the weights comes in a few different sizes. There are Standard Size holes, Studio Size holes and Olympic Size holes. 

 

Standard Size: 25mm diameter

 

Standard sized plates are most commonly used in a beginner home gym environment. and sold in shops not specialised in fitness. These plates are fine for people starting out or with limited experience but are not suitable for performing heavy compound lifts.

Studio: 30mm approximately

 

You may recognise these bright plates from studio classes. Sometimes referred to as “Body Pump Sets”. Studio bars are not commonly used on the gym floor, as again, they are not practical for heavier lifts.

 

Olympic: 50mm Diameter

 

Olympic plates are used in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, functional fitness and just about every part of the weight lifting spectrum. All VERVE branded weight plates and barbells are Olympic size.

 

You have most likely used or seen Olympic size weight lifting plates before. They can be made from quite a few different materials; we’ll take a look at them now.

WEIGHT PLATE MATERIALS (Olympic Size)

When purchasing weight plates, it is important to consider the differences in material, as this can play a vital role in how they are used.

 

Iron

Generally speaking, most plates tend to be made from cast iron, hence why the phrase “pumping some iron” has been around for decades. These are most commonly used as they are cheaper and last a lifetime.

 

Steel

Steel is an alloy, meaning it is stronger and more durable than Iron. Steel usually is more expensive due to strength and durability.

 

Chrome

Though weight plates are unlikely to be made out of pure chrome, some high-end plates do come with a dipped chrome coat. Chrome helps the weight plate last longer, as well as adding a nice finish to the plate. Additionally, chrome is usually used in steel production, so some steel plates will contain some elements of chrome.

 

Rubber

Not to be confused with rubber-coated weight plates, rubber is used in creating bumper plates, which are the plates used in Olympic Lifting. Rubber enables the lifter to drop the weight safely in front of them, as well as lowering the risk for damaging any equipment. 

 

Rubber Coated

Rubber coated plates are made out of either Iron or steel, then a coat of rubber is added on top. This is to increase durability, be a bit safer and slightly better for the floor. These plates are very common in gyms and quite robust.

 

Urethane Coated

Urethane is much more durable than rubber, meaning it is much less likely to get damaged and last longer. However, longer durability equates to a higher price.

 

Cement Filled Plastic Plates

Typically used in standard size plates, but they can be found in Olympic size too. Not recommended for serious lifters as thickness prevents the number of weight plates that can be loaded onto the bar. Additionally, heavy lifting may cause the plastic to crack. These plates are best avoided.

 

TYPES OF WEIGHT PLATES

Now that we have covered different sizes and materials available for weight plates, it’s time to go over some weight plate specifics to decide what is best for you!

 

Bumper Plates:

 

Although bumper plates are made of rubber, they should not be confused with rubber-coated plates. Check before purchase as they can sometimes look rather similar. Bumpers are best used in performing Olympic lifts, as they can be safely dropped from an overhead stance.

Bumper plates either come in a variety of colours or pure black. Colour plates allow spectators to easily calculate how much weight a competitor is lifting. For example, grey is 5kg and red is 25kg.

 

It is best to bear in mind that bumper plates do have a few variants, as detailed below:

  • Normal Rubber Bumper Plates: These plates are made of rubber and are commonly used in all Olympic weightlifting practices. When purchasing a standard bumper plate, be sure to get one with an iron or steel ring in the middle, as this will allow you to easily move plates on and off the bar without “sticking” along the way. Black is generally used in training and colours are reserved for competition purposes.

  • Hi Temp Bumper Plates: Hi Temp are generally just as durable as normal bumper plates, but they can be a little bit more expensive. The major difference is that they can have an extreme bounce after being dropped. There is a risk of them bouncing onto your or someone nearby.
  • Calibrated Competition Bumper Plates: These plates are mainly used in competition. Calibrated meaning the plate weight is as accurate as possible; this is something that is very important in the Olympics, but less so for your average gym-goer.
  • Urethane Bumper Plates: Urethane is more durable than rubber, but this comes at a much higher price.
  • Technique Bumper Plates: Technique Bumper plates are the same as a normal bumper plate, however they come in low weights of under 5kg. This enables someone to emulate a heavy deadlift, but only lift 2.5kg for example.

 

Steel and Iron plates:

They look good, they sound good and they feel good! The only difference between iron and steel plates is the durability of them. Iron is less durable than steel, but steel is more expensive for this reason.

It is up to personal preference if you want a rubber coat on them or not. Plates with no rubber coating may not last as long. All variants can not be dropped on the floor.

 

Types of plates, in summary, are as follows:

  • Calibrated Steel or Iron Plates: Again, calibrated means the weight is as accurate as possible, mainly used in competitions. They come at a higher price and are generally thinner, meaning more plates can be loaded onto the bar.
     
  • Normal Iron or Steel Plates: A traditional weight plate that has been widely used for decades. Think of every picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger you’ve ever seen.

 

Tri-Grip Plates

Rubber Coated or Urethane Coated Steel or Iron Tri-Grip Plates are commonly found in commercial gyms; the name comes from their clever, grip-friendly design. These plates are not designed to be repeatedly dropped. For training and exercises that require dropping, we recommend our Bumper Plates.

 

Change Plates

Change Plates are an effective way to increase weight in small increments.

Sometimes adding an extra 5kg onto the bar is too much for the body to handle, it is more practical to add on a smaller weight, like 1kg for example. This is useful for powerlifters and bodybuilders, as at advanced stages it is only possible to increase a max load at a gradual pace.

 

Fractional Plates

Fractional plates are very similar to change plates. The main difference is that they come in smaller weights and a smaller size overall, the smallest being 0.125kg.

The benefits are the same here with the change plates, they enable you to slowly but safely increase your max load, whilst providing mental benefits. A few grams can become kilograms with dedicated time and effort.

Which Type of Weight Plate is For me?

The all-important question! 

  • For home use: At home, it depends what you are training for and what you are going to do with them. If you need to drop them or perform Olympic lifts, then our Black Bumper plates are your best bet. Or if you don’t need to drop them, then regular uncoated Steel or Iron plates will minimise your expenses. Keep in mind that weight plates are an investment in yourself and can last you a lifetime if you look after them.
  • For powerlifting, strongman and bodybuilders: Good old-fashioned iron or steel plates, nothing too fancy here as they are not going to be dropped from an overhead position. They are cost-effective, and if you take care of them, they last! It is up to you whether you want to buy coated or uncoated; remember a coat can help them last longer.
  • Recommended for commercial gyms: Rubber coated weight plates are your most cost-effective and durable option; these plates will last and can handle daily usage from a variety of lifts. However, if your gym has a functional area, purchasing the plates stated above is strongly recommended.
  • For functional fitness gyms: VERVE Black Bumper plates are a must here, as well as our change plates and fractional plates. These plates will enable all your gym members to safely execute lifts on a daily basis, whilst lasting a long time! Also, getting some of our Calibrated Bumper Plates can really help set your gym apart. They last a long time and enable you or your members to practice for competitions; Our plates are guaranteed to be within 20 grams of the stated weight, which is perfect for competition purposes

 

In Conclusion

At VERVE we can help you find the right type of high-quality weight plates to suit your needs. We will help you create a tailor-made package for anything from the home gym user to a high volume commercial gym fit-out. Contact us if you have any further questions and our team will help you!

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