When looking at what weight plates to get for your gym it is important to understand the differences between them. One of the major distinctions between weight plates is the sizing, of which there is Standard and Olympic Sizes. Another key distinction is whether the plate is rubber coated or a bumper plate. Here I will run through what these distinctions mean and how they can influence your choice of plate for your setup.
What does Plate Size Mean?
A standard size weight plate refers to the size of the hole that the bar sits in. For standard sized plates the diameter of the hole can range from 25-30mm, Meaning it is important to check the size of the plate that you are looking at to ensure it will fit your existing equipment. A good example of a standard sized plate is our Renegade 50kg Adjustable Barbell & Dumbbell Set which have a diameter of approx. 26mm.
An Olympic size weight plate has an internal hole diameter of 50mm, across most Olympic sized plates there will not be any discrepancy in the sizing, making them a more universal plate. A lot of equipment these days is made with Olympic sized plates in mind, for example if you are looking at the Force USA G Series, while there are some exceptions these machines are best suited to Olympic sized plates.
What Is The Point Of Bumper Plates?
Outside of the size of the internal hole another key difference you will find in weight plates is if they are bumper plates. Bumper plates are best described as plates that can be dropped, making them ideal for exercises where you might be dropping the bar from a height. Alternatively there are iron and rubber coated plates, the major benefit of the rubber coated option is that they are considerably quieter than their iron counterparts. As well as being more resistant to rusting as there is not any exposed metal.
Bumper plates can come in many variations that can change how they are used and the amount of plates that can be used. Such as the Renegade trainer bumper plates, which are made using a high density rubber. This plate offers a great Bumper plate functionality, capable of handling being dropped consistently, however due to them being made from a high density rubber they are quite large. With the 25kg Plate having a width of 120mm, meaning on a typical Olympic 20kg barbell you can only fit 3 plates on either end of the bar with collars.
Alternatively the Renegade Pro Grade Bumper Plate offer even better bumper plate functionality while maintaining a much slimmer design. With the 25kg plate having a width of 50mm, this means on your typical Olympic 20kg barbell you could fit 7 plates on either end of the bar with collars. While most people may not be using 25kg plates, the Renegade Trainer Bumper even in smaller sizes is noticeably larger than the pro grade or rubber coated plate options. This means that if you want to train heavier, the trainer bumper plate may not be the best option for you.
When should you use bumper plates?
Bumper plates are best used in exercises that are not performed within the confines of a rack. If you plan to only work on a smith machine, a power rack, or bench press then you are more than able to achieve great results using non bumper plates such as the renegade rubber coated weight plates. As Renegade rubber coated weight plates are considerably cheaper than bumper plates, if you never intend to work outside your rack then they can definitely be a more cost effective option. Since rubber coated plates are not intended for dropping they are more likely to break when dropped, especially repeatedly, which is why they are better suited to work where the plates will not make contact with the ground.
For when you intend to do exercises that take you away from a rack, such as with deadlifting, standing shoulder press and many other standing barbell work where you cannot operate within a rack. Bumper plates offer the piece of mind that if/when you drop the bar the plates will be more than capable of handling it. The Renegade Pro Grade Plates also offer an attractive colour coded weight system that is universal, that can make Your gym setup stand out against the rest. When looking at bumper plates it is also important to consider the bar you will use, as with weight plates there are bars that can be dropped and bars that are not made for dropping. For a barbell that works best with bumper plates we recommend the Renegade 2000lb barbell, if you are not looking into bumper plates than a cheaper option is the Renegade 700lb Barbell.