Weight plates are often used to create more resistance to an adjustable barbell, dumbbell, or even those weight-bearing machines that are designed to target those hard to reach muscles for a more sculpted look.
How weight plates are made depends on how they will be used. Most of the time they can be made from plastic filled with cement, cast iron, or even steel. You will come across octagonal and round shaped weight plates that have a hole in the middle where the dumbbell or barbell can be inserted. This equipment can come in different sizes as well as shapes with the weight ranging from 1lb to 100 lbs.
Types of Weight Plates
If you are not a regular weight lifter you’ll probably see weight plates as being a single type. This creates confusion when shopping for one because, truth be told, there are different types being sold today. As it was mentioned before, the design of the weight plate depends on how it will be used. So if you don’t want to get lost and confused when buying weight plates from a sports shop, here are the basic types that you should know.
Rubber Weight Plates. The design of this weight plate is almost similar to that of a cast iron weight plate with the exception that it has an extra layer of rubber coating to beef up its protection, longevity, and safety. The application of rubber coating on the plate gives a modicum of safety not just for the weight plate but to the floor as well especially when you drop the barbell or dumbbell. An upgraded version of this is the urethane coated plates that not only prevent the coating from gassing and leaving a foul smell but it will not get damaged easily.
Studio Weight Plates. As the name suggests, this type of weight plate is designed to be used in studios for group exercises. They are usually colourful, lightweight, coated with rubber, and typically come in small sizes. They also sport handles for ease of use and they can’t be missed because their bright colors will definitely catch your attention. Studio weight plates also have a hole in the middle so they can be inserted into bars that are customized for studio classes.
Aside from these two, there are also bumper plates available which are quite in demand nowadays as Olympic weight lifting began to trend particularly in those who are participating in CrossFit training. Bumper plates are basically made of solid rubber plates which are designed for safety for those who are doing Olympic weight lifting. What’s great about these plates is that they can be dropped at certain heights without causing damage to the equipment, the athlete, and even their surroundings.
Technique Bumper Weight Plates. This is the perfect choice for those who are just starting on Olympic lifts. Made from rubber and without any metal ring in the middle or around the hole, this bumper plate is often used to teach proper form when it comes to weight lifting. You can get this at weights ranging from 2kgs to 5kgs only.
Training Bumper Weight Plates. This weight plate may not be identical as those that are used in Olympic weight lifting but they can pass the requirements of gyms that offer specialized CrossFit and Olympic training. You will find this in black with the code imprinted on the plate to show its weight.
Competition Bumper Weight Plates. This type of weight plate follows the Olympic weight plates to the T. Simply put, what makes it different from training plates is their calibration. Competition weight plates should follow the +0.1% and -0.05% accuracy. What this means is that when you get hold of competition weight plates, you can expect them to be quite accurate so you aren’t missing anything when you use for weight lifting.
Olympic vs Standard Weight Plates
Now that you have an idea on the different types of weight plates, you’re probably thinking what separates the Olympic weight plates from the standard ones. Here’s how you can spot the difference:
Standard weight plates. These weight plates are typically round in shape and are usually made of rubber coated steel or cast iron. There is a one inch hole in the middle so it can fit home gym equipment and commercial barbells. This type of weight plate is often recommended to beginners because they are lightweight and are ideal for practicing form.
Olympic weight plates. This one is often made from cast iron and can come in an octagonal or round shape. There are some Olympic weight plates that are coated with rubber to provide protection in case you drop your loaded barbell. Unlike standard weight plates that have a one inch hole in the middle, the Olympic plates have two inches to fit the barbells designed for this kind of weight lifting. You can also get your hands on the training bumper plates which are almost the same as the Olympic weight plates minus the weights.
How to Choose the Best Weight Plates
Getting your hands on the right kind of weight plates is important so as not to waste your money. Since these plates will go with your home gym, you will need to choose wisely. To get you started, the first thing that you need to take into consideration is your current fitness level. Are you a beginner or a pro? The standard weight plates are ideal for those who are just starting out as they are more lightweight compared to the Olympic plates. This means that you can use them to practice your form until you are ready to move on to the heavier ones. Women can use standard weight plates so you should take this into consideration as well if there are others at home who plan on using your personal gym.
Another way to choose your weight plate is its features. Most weight plates have a cut out grip for the hands so that they will be easier to lift and move around. This design, however, can make the plate heavier which can be a downside if you’re trying to add more weights to your machine.
If you want your plates to last long, go for those with baked on finish. This minimizes paint chipping, rust, and other damages to your plate. Just remember to keep your plates in a room that is not moist as this can speed up rusting.
Weight Plate Exercises
Once you have your weight plates with you, these exercises are worth giving a shot to work those muscles.
Front plate raise. Get a good grip on your weight plate and hold it in front of you. Raise it overhead with your arms extended at the elbows. Lower the plate slowly. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Plate tricep press. You should hold your plate overhead with hands on each side of the plate. Bring the plate towards your shoulder blades while keeping your elbows high. Push the plate back up by extending your arms at the elbows. You should do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
A Review of Weight Plates
Barbell Fractional Plates
The Barbell fractional plates are perfect for those who want to see progression in their lifts. This means that you don’t have to worry about hitting a plateau in your lifts because you can easily increase the load of the plates that you are lifting thanks to the fractional plates that allow you more freedom in your workout specifically when you’re following percentage based training. In terms of fit, I appreciate the fact that the plates don’t come loose at all because the holes of these ½ inch thick plates can easily fit an Olympic barbell.
As for the quality of the plates, I’m giving these two thumbs up because they’re solidly built and look like they can stand the test of time. The rubber coating of the plates prevents scratches or any other damage to your flooring or training area. You can get these fractional plates in two to eight plates depending on your needs. From its snug fit, rubber coating, and different sizes of plates, this is one brand that features highly in our top 3.
Iron Bull Fractional Plates
When lifting weights, we should be aiming for progress which is what the Iron Bull fractional plates allow us to do. Most gyms have weight plates ranging from 2.5 lbs. to 5 lbs. For some the jump in weights can be a little to much. The fractional plates from Iron Bull, on the other hand, allows you to increase the weight of load by 1lb per cycle which allows you to make a smoother transition to a higher load without pushing your muscles too far.
The 8 plate set of Iron Bull allows you to progress in your lifts from 1lb to 4 lbs. depending on your preferences. The fractional plates can easily fit into your 2 inches Olympic barbells which means that you can go on building muscle and strength continuously. One feature of the Iron Bull fractional plates that I like the most is the fact that the plates were built with precision so you are actually lifting the actual weight as indicated. This way, you won’t be cheating yourself when you say that you are lifting additional pounds but the plates are less than the stated weight.
44Sport Olympic Fractional Plates
The 44Sport Olympic fractional plates are ideal for those who want to lift right. One set includes plates ranging from 1/4, ½, ¾, and 1lb for an efficient progression. They are a good fit for your Olympic barbell which makes it easier for you to swap plates as needed.
What I like about the 44Sport Olympic fractional plates is that the steel used is powder coated which increases their durability. This means that once you invest on these plates, they can last you for years and the best part is that they will remain in good condition too. Regardless of whether you are a beginner weight lifter or are already a pro, investing on the 44Sport Olympic fractional plates is a good idea because you will get the best value for your money in terms of design, weight, and durability.
Ader Sports Olympic Fractional Plates
The Ader Sports Olympic fractional plates are worth looking into as these solid steel, powder-coated plates range from ¼, ½, ¾, and 1lb perfect for microprogression. What I like about these plates is that they are sturdily built and can fit the 2 inches You can easily see the weight of each plate as it is engraved on the plate itself along with the brand name and you won’t have a hard time slipping them on the bar.
Like the 44 sport these are also powder coated for a longer lasting durability.