Purchasing weight plates can prove to be a confusing and time-consuming task as there are so many choices readily available. Additionally, weight plates can be quite expensive so it’s important to choose the appropriate weight plate for your needs.
At first you may ask yourself, “Why are there so many to choose from?”, “Can’t they just have one size for everything?” Unfortunately, this is not the case, as it is like trying to produce a ball for every sport; and you would not want to play tennis with a golf ball.
The reason for so many weight plate variations, is that the use for them ultimately depends on your individual needs. A powerlifter training in a home gym, is not likely to buy or even need the same type of plates as a functional fitness gym owner.
To clear any confusion, we have carefully created this guide to ensure you make the correct decision.
STANDARD SIZE, STUDIO SIZE and OLYMPIC SIZE
Before we start detailing weight plates, we should quickly go over the difference between Standard Size holes, Studio Size holes and Olympic Size holes, as purchasing the wrong size may not suit your needs.
Standard Size: 1 Inch diameter
Standard sized plates are most commonly used in a home gym environment. These are rare to see in a commercial gym as they prominently use Olympic sized bars. Standard size plates are mainly sold in fitness shops or online.
These plates are fine for people starting out with limited experience, as they are affordable. Note: Standard weight plates make it highly impractical to perform complex compound lifts.
Studio: 30mm approximately
The hint is in the name, this size is primarily used for studio classes. Studio bars are not commonly used on the gym floor, as they are not practical for many lifts.
Olympic: 2 Inch Diameter
Olympic sized plates are for all serious lifters, as well being used in almost every single gym worldwide. Olympic plates are not only used in Olympic weigh lifing, but also in powerlifting, bodybuilding, functional fitness and just about every part of the weight lifting spectrum. All VERVE branded weight plates and barbells are Olympic size.
Unlike their Standard Size and Studio size counterparts, Olympic Size plates are the ones that cause much confusion, as they cover a wide spectrum in the weightlifting world.
OLYMPIC SIZE WEIGHT PLATE MATERIALS
Moving on from weight plate hole diameter sizes, we can now discuss the different materials used to make Olympic Size weight plates. 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.
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 than steel and do the job well.
Steel is an alloy, meaning it is stronger and more durable than Iron. Steel usually is more expensive due to strength and durability.
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 element of Chrome.
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 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.
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
Plates made from cement are most likely found in Standard Size plates, but they can be found in Olympic size too. Not recommended for serious lifters as thickness prevents the amount of weight plates that can be loaded on to the bar. Additionally, heavy lifting may cause the plastic to crack.
TYPES OF WEIGHT PLATES
Now that we have covered different sizes and materials available for weight plates, let’s go over weight plate specifics to decide what is best for you!
As explained previously, bumper plates are made of rubber, but 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.
Additionally, it is easier for someone to practice a deadlift with bumper plates on, as a 5KG bumper will be higher off the ground than a 5KG steel or iron plate. Moreover, 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: The clue is in the name with this one, these plates are mainly used in competition. Calibrated meaning the plate weight is as true and as accurate as possible;this is something that is very important in the Olympics, as true weight can mean the difference between a gold and silver medal.
Urethane Bumper Plates: As explained, 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 sizes of under 5kg. This enables someone to emulate a heavy deadlift, but only lift 2.5kg for example.
Steel and Iron plates:
The only difference between Iron and Steel plates, is the durability of them. The uses are the exact same. Remember, 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 have a nice sound to them when they are on the bar, however plates with no coat 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: As explained with the calibrated bumper plates, calibrated means the weight is as true and as accurate as possible. This enables one to know the true amount of weight they are lifting, as well as serving competition uses. They come at a higher price and are generally thinner, meaning more plates can be loaded on to the bar.
- Normal Iron or Steel Plates: A traditional weight plate that has been widely used for decades. They are not too expensive, make a nice noise and get the job done. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger squatting in the movie “Pumping Iron”.
- Rubber Coated or Urethane Coated Steel or Iron Plates:These types of plates are commonly found in commercial gyms, due to them being cost-effective and enabling slight drops on to the floor without too much damage being inflicted. Durability depends on what material you choose.
Change Plates, which are very similar and can also cross over with fractional plates, are an effective way to increase weight in small increments.
Sometimes adding an extra 5kg on to the bar, is too much for the body to handle, so 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.
Additionally, adding on an extra bit of weight can provide a good mental boost, as your lifts will have increased in load, which in turn provides you with more motivation to train.
As just explained, 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. Sometimes, the human body can only increase its strength by a few grams at a time. A few grams can become kilograms with dedicated time and effort.
So, What Type of Plates Should I Buy?
- Recommended for powerlifting, strongman and bodybuilders: We recommend 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 should last. It is up to you wether you want to buy coated or uncoated; remember no coat has a nice sound, but a coat can help them last longer.
- 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.
- 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.
- Recommended 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.
We hope we have cleared up all the confusion about weight plates, as well as enabling you to make a decision on your purchase.
We at VERVE can help you find the right type of high-quality weight plates to suit your needs. This is what we do at VERVE.
We will be happy to help you create a tailored made package for anything from the home gym user to high volume new commercial gym fit out.
We'd love to hear any comments or feedback you have. Please leave them in the comments section below.
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