September 17, 2021

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The Ultimate Weight Plate Buying Guide

It's not easy to find the best weight plates for your home gym.

We know it's a bit of a minefield out there.

There are so many different options available, and each one have their own set of pros and cons. So how do you know which ones to buy? The goal of this article is to make it easier for you by giving you a comprehensive overview of all the different types of weight plates, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. This way, when it comes time to purchase weights for your home gym, you'll be able to make an educated decision based on what will work best for your needs.

Let's get into it!

A collection of Muscle Motion Rubber Olympic Weight Plates sitting on a barbell

Which weight plates should I buy?

The most commonly found weight plates out there are bumper plates, rubber plates, cast iron plates and PU plates - all with their own set of pros and cons. Before you make a decision and purchase a pair, there are some factors that you should keep in mind. It all falls down to budget, goals, and personal taste.

Budget: How much are you willing to spend?

To put it simply, the more you spend - the better the quality. This isn't an industry secret. However, you don't have to spend a fortune to get yourself a great set of weight plates. Prices vary based on what material they are made of, whether you buy one pair or an extensive range, and whether you purchase standard or Olympic weight plates (we'll touch more on sizing later in the article).

Goal: What are you trying to achieve by buying weights?

This is a very important thing to consider when deciding what weight plates you need. What kind of training exercises will you be doing? If your workout involves deadlifts, or other kinds of strength training where you will be dropping weight on the floor - you'll want to buy a plate that has adequate protection, like Bumper plates. If you want a pair of plates that you can use on or off the bar, you might want to look at buying plates that have handles on them.

The specifications and materials of the weights you buy, will depend on these fitness goals.

Taste: Do they look good in your gym?

After you've identified your budget and goals, it's time to work out the aesthetics. At the end of the day, you've got to love the equipment you buy! Make sure the pair of plates you get, are able to fit your style and taste.

If you prefer that 'old school' vibe, go for Cast Iron plates! If you want a pair that looks sleek but will also handle even the toughest workouts, go for rubber plates.

You can even browse through selections based on colour, in addition to price and different sizes. Make sure your purchase is right, for you!

A man doing a squat exercise with bright yellow weight plates

Okay - so what are the differences between all of the most popular weight plates?

Bumper Weight Plates:

  1. Bumper plates have a solid rubber coating, and feature a steel insert in the centre.
  2. They are very low maintenance and easy to clean.
  3. Extremely cost effective for home gym users. They are usually among the most affordable on the market.
  4. They are fantastic at absorbing impact. This means they are great for deadlifts, cleans, snatches, squats or any other exercises where dropping weights is involved.
  5. They usually come in different colours that can easily be identified by weight, so it's easier to keep track during workouts.
  6. Usually the same diameter throughout the range of weight, allowing for consistent bar loading.
  7. Usually seen in both commercial gym settings, and home gym spaces.

High Temp Bumper Plates

Cast Iron Weight Plates

  1. Made from solid cast iron. This gives them their popular 'old school' appearance.
  2. Very cheap, due to their construction material.
  3. However, as they are heavy duty, there are some safety concerns. While most plates feature some kind of coating, these do not. This means they can damage floors if dropped and chip away at each other on a bar. You can also injure yourself without correct lifting form, which is extremely important in weight training.
  4. Require more maintenance, as they can rust if not cared for correctly.
  5. They differ in diameter throughout the weight range, and are usually one colour.

Cast Iron Weight Plates

Rubber Weight Plates

  1. Featuring a rubber coating - not to be confused with bumper plates! These are usually not recommended to be dropped.
  2. Usually a little more pricy than other plates out there, due to the materials used to make them.
  3. Very easy to clean and maintain.
  4. Increased safety due to solid rubber exterior.
  5. They usually have textured grips on them, making them great for when they are used off the bar.
  6. Lighter plates are usually small, and the diameter increases as you move through to heavier plates.
  7. Very high quality!

Rubber Weight Plates

Polyurethane Weight Plates (Pro!)

  1. Made from high quality polyurethane.
  2. Definitely the highest quality weight plates in the collection.
  3. Usually the most expensive because of this.
  4. Usually only seen in commercial gyms, unless home gym enthusiasts can afford them.
  5. Fantastic for all kinds of strength training exercises, except ones where dropping is involved.

Polyurethane Weight Plates

Our top pick: Bumper plates!

If you're looking for an affordable yet high quality, functional option - go with bumper plates. They are incredibly practical, great for home gyms, and can be used on or off the bar.

The high density rubber on these weight plates also means it doesn't matter whether or not you have proper gym flooring. They are fantastic at absorbing impact, and won't damage other plates or your barbell.

At Gym Direct, we stock a fantastic range of bumper plates at different price points and sizes. Check them out below!

Muscle Motion Black Bumper Plates (Sold As Pair)-Gym Direct

Sold out

Sold out
Muscle Motion High Temp Bumper Plates (Sold as Pair)-Gym Direct

Sold out
Cast iron weight plates sitting on a barbell

The most frequently asked questions:

Olympic vs. Standard size?

Most people think this refers to the diameter of the bar, but they're wrong! Olympic weight plates are specifically designed to fit Olympic barbells - which have a much wider diameter than standard barbells. Standard weight plates will not fit an Olympic bar, so this is something you must consider before purchasing!

Are weight plates universal?

The short answer? No! Not all barbells have the exact same hole diameter, therefore it's important to cross check the size of your weight plate and it's centre hole with the diameter of the barbell you have. If you're purchasing from the same brand (for example, Muscle Motion) - it'll fit.

Are weight plates in Kgs, or Lbs?

This will be outlined on the product page! If you're buying in Australia, from Australian retailers - chances are they're in kilograms.

Are weight plates accurate?

We can't speak for brands we don't sell, but the equipment we stock at Gym Direct is highly accurate.

Are weight plates sold in pairs?

Yes! Most kinds of strength training with plates and bars require two plates, one on each side of the bar. Without this, the balance would be off, and lifting would be extremely hard!

Weight plates vs. dumbbells?

It all comes down to personal workout style. If you're looking to workout in your home and put the effort into purchasing fully fledged, high end equipment - we recommend buying weight plates. Dumbbells are great, but not as functional. If you want to increase the weight of your bench press, you can just add plates to your bar. With dumbbells, that would mean buying another pair. Weight plates are also easier to store, as they have a much thinner profile.

Conclusion

Weight plates are essential for anyone looking to engage in functional strength training at home. We hope our Ultimate Weight Plate Buying Guide has helped you make that decision easier! If this article was helpful or interesting in any way, let us know - we love hearing from you guys!

Happy Training!


About the author:

We write all of our blog posts as a group - consulting members of our sales, marketing and customer service teams to give you the content that you deserve. At Gym Direct, we know how important it is to stay informed when it comes to the equipment you invest in - so we've made it a top priority to write content periodically to assist you in doing so. Happy training!

Written by Gym Direct


1 Response

Steven Benjamin Cook
Steven Benjamin Cook

September 27, 2021

thank you for the information there was a lot a did not know like what bumper plates are for, do you need special drop bar as well

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