Weight Plates Buying Guide

Our weight plate buying guide is perfect for those interested in buying weight plates for commercial or home gym purposes. This should clear up any questions you have in relation to what type of weight plates you need and which barbells to use. 

The sizes of different weight plates and why weight plate size matters for performing different exercises optimally.

Regardless of whether you intend to use your weight plates for home gym or commercial gym use, you must first recognise and understand the different weight plate sizes and barbell diameters.

Olympic Weight Plates are the most commonly used weight plates in commercial and home gyms worldwide. The reason for this is that olympic weight plates have a centre hole that is 2 inches (2”) in diameter, thus olympic plates fit perfectly onto olympic, standard, and specialised barbells. The majority of weight machines have also been designed to hold olympic weight plates in order to store the plates or add resistance to a plate loaded machine. Olympic and standard barbells which have been designed to hold olympic plates are capable of withstanding much heavier loads than studio barbells which hold standard one inch weight plates.

Standard Weight Plates are usually found at home or studio gyms as they are mainly used for small barbell pump sets and adjustable dumbbell sets. Standard weight plates have a centre hole that is 1 inch (1”) in diameter. Due to their centre hole diameter, Standard weight plates are mainly compatible with pump sets, studio barbells, and adjustable dumbbell sets. Standard weight plates are slightly inferior to olympic weight plates and are not found as often as olympic weight plates simply because they are not compatible with the majority of exercise equipment due to their small centre hole diameter. Standard weight plates are not as versatile as olympic weight plates.

Studio Weight Plates are weight plates that are predominantly used for group exercise classes. They are colour coded by weight making them easily and quickly identifiable during high intensity exercise bouts in which multiple exercises are being performed over a short period of time. Studio weight plates usually do not come in very heavy formats as the exercises performed during studio classes focus primarily on high amounts of repetitions and short rest periods. Studio plates are also generally coated with a thick layer of durable rubber which prevents them from marking the flooring, provides users with additional grip, and also protects the plates themselves from damage. Studio weight plates usually come equipped with multiple gripping options as they have been manufactured with hand insertions close to the rim of the plate. Studio weight plates are particularly beneficial for studio gym owners as they are small, portable, and easy to store. Studio weight plates are designed to fit pump set barbells and studio barbells. 

The different types of olympic weight plates

Olympic weight plates come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. The following descriptions provide an overview of all the different types of olympic weight plates and their uses

Rubber Coated Olympic Weight Plates

Rubber olympic weight plates are similar to the traditional cast iron weight plates. However, rubber olympic weight plates have been coated with a thick durable rubber outer layer. This rubber layer provides numerous benefits such as additional grip, protection for the plates themselves, and it reduces the amount of damage and markings that are inflicted on the gym floor. The rubber coating also prevents the weight plates from rusting thus ensuring that they can be used for longer periods of time than standard cast iron plates. Urethane coated plates are the most premium form of rubber coated plates as they provide all the benefits of traditional rubber coated plates, however the urethane coating is less susceptible to markings and cosmetic damage than rubber plates and urethane plates are much more durable than rubber plates. Urethane weight plates will also not mark floors, equipment, and walls in contrast to rubber coated weight plates.

Radial Olympic Weight Plates

Radial olympic weight plates are weight plates that have been designed to fit traditional olympic barbells. Therefore, the centre hole is 2 inches (2”) in diameter. Radial olympic weight plates are unique as they come equipped with multiple hand grip options. They have three insertions that are placed near the rim of the weight plate. The grip insertions have been designed specifically to ensure that the weight of the plate is evenly distributed across the entire plate. The benefits associated with having multiple gripping options available on the weight plate are that exercises can be performed without the use of a barbell, weights can be carried and picked up easier than traditional plates, and it is easier to transport and store these plates. Radial olympic weight plates also have  different circumferences than traditional olympic weight plates.

Olympic Bumper Plates

Olympic bumper plates are primarily used for resistance training exercises, Olympic Weightlifting, Crossfit, and Powerlifting. A bumper plate is essentially a solid rubber weight plate that has been designed to withstand impact and minimize bouncing when dropped from a height during exercises like cleans and snatches. Olympic bumper plates also prevent damage being inflicted on the floor, barbell, and the athlete using the equipment. Olympic bumper plates are designed to fit olympic barbells thus their centre holes are 2 inches (2”) in diameter. Olympic bumper plates also have reinforced centre sleeves which makes loading and unloading the barbell very quick and easy as the centre sleeves reduce the friction between the plates and the barbell. The circumference of olympic bumper plates is kept constant across the weight categories which allows athletes to maintain a consistent bar path as they increase or decrease the weight on the bar. The circumference of the bumper plate also ensures that the barbell is high enough off of the floor so that athletes can get in a biomechanically safe position whilst performing movements such as deadlifts and rows.

Technique Olympic Bumper Plates

Technique olympic bumper plates are mainly used to teach beginner athletes correct form and technique when performing barbell movements without placing a heavy load on their body which may result in injury if the athletes perform the movements incorrectly. Technique bumper plates are useful as they are the same size and circumference of regular bumper plates, however they are usually very light. This allows beginner athletes to practice movements and learn the correct technique without putting themselves at risk of injury. As technique bumper plates are the exact same size and shape of regular bumper plates, the barbell is kept the exact same height off of the ground as regular plates, which allows athletes to learn the correct bar paths for movements such as deadlifts and rows which start from the floor.

Training olympic bumper weight plates 

Training olympic bumper plates are the most common type of bumper plates. Training bumper plates meet the olympic weightlifting dimension requirements however the depth of training bumper plates varies from weight to weight. Although training bumper plates can vary in depth, their circumference and centre hole diameter remains constant. Training bumper plates are usually  either colour coded by weight or the entire bumper plate training set is black. The main advantage of training bumper plates is that they are extremely durable and long lasting. As training bumper plates can withstand repeated daily abuse, they are commonly purchased for commercial or home gym use. 

Competition Olympic Bumper Plates

As you may have guessed from their title, competition olympic bumper plates are mainly used for competitive purposes in Olympic Weightlifting competitions. These plates are used in competition because their weight and weight distribution is extremely accurate and consistent. According to the IWF competition rules, the weight of competition bumper plates must be accurate to +0.1% and -0.05%. In other words, competition bumper plates can only have a 25 gram margin for error. This ensures that athletes are lifting weights that are weighed and manufactured as accurately as possible.

Fractional Plates

Fractional or incremental plates are weight plates that are extremely light. They are available in the following weights: 0.25kg, 0.5kg, 0.75kg, 1kg, 1.25kg. In general, fractional plates do not have reinforced centre hole sleeves as the reinforced sleeve adds additional weight to the plate. However, the centre sleeve of fractional plates has enough grip to ensure that the plate does not slide up and down the barbell during exercises. Fractional plates are perfect for competitive purposes as they allow athletes to add weight to the bar without having to remove the barbell collars. Fractional plates are often used for resistance training purposes as they allow athletes to add minor increments in weight to the barbell from week to week. Overtime these small increases in resistance accumulate to produce large improvements in strength and muscle hypertrophy.

Powerlifting Weight Plates

Powerlifting weight plates are used specifically for the sport of powerlifting. Powerlifting athletes focus primarily on performing the squat, bench, and deadlift movements. Elite level and competitive powerlifters need to be able to fit numerous weight plates on a barbell at any given time. Therefore, powerlifting plates are unique as their depth/width is very thin which allows powerlifters to fit a large number of plates onto a barbell. The width of the plates is also very important as it keeps the plates closer to the athletes centre of gravity which reduces the amount of barbell whip on the squat. Powerlifting plates are typically made of high quality cast iron, steel, or chromed metal.