The Comprehensive Guide to Buying Weight Plates

The Comprehensive Guide to Buying Weight Plates

Weight plates are some of the best must-have equipment if you’re trying to build your home gym. You can use them for different exercises and training. However, determining where to begin and selecting the appropriate plates can be tough.

Get your answers in this comprehensive guide. Learn tips and insights on the factors you should consider when picking and buying your plates. Use this guide to find out which plates you need. Moreover, discover how to incorporate the plates into your workout routine to achieve your goals.


5 Factors to Consider When Buying Your Weight Plates

Weights can make your workouts more challenging and intense even when at home. That’s why it’s essential to carefully select what you’ll choose. To do that, it’s best to consider the following factors and tips:

Different Weight Plate Materials

Different weights are available in a variety of materials. This means that each has its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing the right plates for your needs, you need to consider the differences in the material. The material you choose will affect and dictate how you can use them. Here are the most common materials used for weights:

  • Cast Iron

This is a common material used for plates, especially for standard ones. It’s commonly used because it’s usually cheaper than other materials and can still last a lifetime.

  • Rubber

Take note that this is different from rubber coating. Rubber is widely used for bumper plates. As a material, it will allow you to drop the weights safely when working out. It will protect the equipment and the floor from any damage as well.

  • Steel

This is a stronger and more durable material than iron. Steel plates are ideal if you want weights that can withstand intense use for a long time. However, take note that steel plates are usually more expensive than other materials because of their characteristics.

  • Chrome

Some high-end weights have dipped chrome coatings. The chrome material helps the weight plate last longer. It also adds a nice finish to the plate. Moreover, some chrome elements can be found in some steel plates, which are usually used in steel production.

  • Rubber Coating

Rubber-coated plates are mainly made of steel or iron coated with rubber on top. The rubber coating increases the durability and safety of the plates. It also makes it slightly better for the floor. If you’ve been in the gym, you’ll notice that rubber-coated plates are very common.

  • Urethane Coating

Urethane is a strong material that is less likely to get damaged and can last longer. However, take note that urethane is hard to the touch, like hard plastic, unlike rubber. Plus, urethane-coated plates tend to cost more because of longer durability.

  • Cement-Filled Plastic

Cement-filled plastic plates are thick plates. That’s why they’re not recommended for serious lifting training, as their thickness will limit the number of plates you can use on your bar. Heavy lifting may even cause the plastic material to crack, so it would be best to avoid this material if you have the budget for the other materials.

Ultimately, the right material should be within your budget and your preferences. It should also be aligned with the type of training you want to do and how they’ll be effective for your fitness goals.

Types of Weight Plates

You can choose from many types of plates for your training and workouts. These include:

1. Traditional Plates

This is one major category for some types of plates. Traditional plates are the most common type, as they’re widely used in many facilities. They’re mostly made of two main materials: steel and iron.

Steel plates are more durable but are also more expensive than iron plates. But both can make loud noises when used and dropped. Iron Plates rust over time, causing them to be rough on your hands when used.

Moreover, these plates usually come in either standard sizes or Olympic sizes. These sizes pertain to the diameter of the holes where the bar fits. In general, Olympic-sized plates have larger diameter openings than standard-sized plates.

Additionally, it’s common for these plates to have coatings to improve their durability and reduce noise:

Rubber-Coated Plates: Rubber is durable and cheap. It can protect the steel and iron materials from corrosion and damage.

Urethane-Coated Plates: Urethane is a tougher material than rubber. But it’s also more expensive. It gives the plates a more appealing finish without the rubber smell.

2. Bumper Plates

Bumper plates are generally made of rubber materials. But don’t confuse them with rubber-coated plates. Bumper plates are commonly used for Olympic lifting, CrossFit, and other exercises. They’re more common and popular these days compared to traditional plates.

The main benefit of bumper plates is that they can be safely dropped from an overhead stance. This means that they won’t damage the floor or the equipment. They’re also quieter, and some people may even find them easier to handle than traditional plates.

There are generally three main types of bumper plates based on the specific material used:

  • Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates

These use natural rubber without any binding agent. This means that the plates don’t have too much rubber smell. They also tend to be more durable and will last longer. Quality virgin rubber plates can still look great even with regular use.

  • Recycled Rubber Bumper Plates

Recycled rubber is also called crumb rubber, as it’s usually made from old tires. Compared to virgin rubber, these plates are cheaper. However, take note that a binding agent is used to make this type of rubber more durable. Because of this, expect the plates to have a smell.

  • Urethane Bumper Plates

As mentioned, urethane is in the middle of being rubber and plastic. This makes urethane bumper plates more durable than any rubber. They won’t easily crumble, scratch, or scuff. Plus, they don’t smell. However, they lack the flexible nature of rubber—urethane feels like hard plastic when touched. Plus, they are more expensive than the other two types of bumper plates.

3. Specialty Plates

    There are also specialty options you can get:

    • Wagon Wheels

    These are heavy plates that look like wagon wheels that are made specifically for deadlifting. They’re also larger in diameter than standard bumper plates, allowing for a partial range of motion deadlifts. 

    • Change and Fractional Plates

    These are plates that you use to add small weight increments to your bar when training. You can use them to gradually improve yourself without straining your body too much. Their weights usually range from 5 lbs down to just a fraction of a pound.

    • Technique Plates

    These are lighter plates that are made to teach beginners about proper form when lifting. They have the same diameter as standard bumper plates, so you can simulate how to lift weights safely.

    Plus, they’re usually made from plastic and are durable, making them inexpensive. These are good plates to get if you’re a beginner in using plates and don’t want to get into heavier weights from the start.

    4. Competition Plates

      These are plates designed for competing purposes. They look like standard ones but have higher accuracy ratings for their stated weights. This is why these plates are popular among serious weightlifters. If you’ll only be getting weights for your home gym, this might not be the best type, as these can be expensive.

      Plate Hole Sizing

      The plate hole is located in the center of the weight plate. The part of the plate allows you to slide it onto the barbell or other weightlifting equipment. This makes the hole sizing important to consider when buying weight plates. If the holes of the weights aren’t in the right size, the weights won’t fit on the bar properly. This can then result in all kinds of problems, such as foot or head injuries.

      Using the correct size plates for your bar is important for safe and efficient lifting. Match the hole size to your bar's diameter, and consider purchasing plates and bars from the same manufacturer for compatibility.

      Take note that different plates can have slightly larger or smaller holes than the others, depending on their brand. In general, weights come in three main hole sizes:

      • Standard Size: 25 millimeters in diameter

      Standard-sized plates are commonly used by people who are setting up their beginner home gyms. They’re a good option if you’re starting with strength training or have limited experience. However, note that standard sizes aren’t suitable for heavy compound lifts. This is because the size is suited for standard bars that aren’t compatible with lifting heavy weights.

      • Studio Size: Approximately 30 millimeters in diameter

      These are bright-colored plates that you can usually find in studio classes, as they’re often used in programs like Body Pump. Studio sizes are designed for fitness sessions that need a high amount of repetitions over a short period, like HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts with weights. Studio-sized plates are also smaller in terms of overall size than other types of plates. But you'll need the Olympic plates if you want to do more serious strength workouts.

      • Olympic Size: 50 millimeters in diameter

      Olympic-sized plates are equipment used in Olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting, functional fitness, and many more weightlifting training. This means they’re more common in gyms, and you have most likely used or seen one before.

      Design of the Plate

      If you’ve seen different plates in the gym or online, you probably know that not all plates look the same. They have different designs, mainly depending on what type of plate they are. They commonly differ in these areas:

      • Shape

      Most plates are round, and that’s how they should be. But, there are plates with outer edges—they can have 8 or 12 sides. Although they’re not widely popular, these odd-shaped plates were popular in many big box gyms. However, the edges can make the plates dangerous to use.

      Round plates don’t make unnecessary movements when you start and end lifting. When you drop or set them down, they’re less likely to cause damage or harm. However, with odd-shaped plates, the flat surfaces on the outer edges can make them move. They can jump back towards your shin and injure you. So when choosing plates to get, make sure to stick to and buy round plates.

      • Handles

      Another design aspect you should consider is the plates' integrated handles. The heavier the weights, the harder they are to pick up and load on the bar. For example, 5 lbs and 10 lbs plates are rather easy to pick up and load. However, 35 lbs and 45 lbs plates are more difficult to do so.

      This is why many plate manufacturers incorporate designs that make it easy to hold onto their plates. Most of the time, plates simply have a lip around their outside. But sometimes, some plates have actual handles. These design features make them easier to grab and hold.

      Another benefit is that you can use the plates alone as an implement when working out. For example, you can use it for shrugs, loaded carries, or lateral raises. The handles make it easier to grip the plate securely, so you can use it even without loading it onto a bar.

      • Bevel

      The bevel is a notch that you take off the weight plate's outer edge. This is the ‘lip’ that some manufacturers add to their plates instead of actual handles. It’s an indentation on the outer part of the plate where you can slide your fingers underneath. This makes it easy to pick up the plates from the ground or separate them from the other plates. Instead of having actual handles, bumper plates have bevels.

      • Colors

      One of the most noticeable design aspects of plates is their colors. Traditional plates are almost always gray or black. Bumper plates can also come in black, but they’re mostly available in different versions with different colors. The different colors make it easy to identify the weight of the plate. This is especially important since they usually have the same diameter. The color is the best way to tell the weights apart.

      Most manufacturers use standard color schemes from two major weightlifting federations: the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) and the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation). The two have quite a similar set of standards for plate colors and their weight correspondences:


      • Red: 55 lbs or 25 kg
      • Blue: 45 lbs or 20 kg
      • Yellow: 35 lbs or 15 kg
      • Green: 25 lbs or 10 kg
      • White: 10 lbs or 5 kg
      • Red: 2.5 kg


      • Red: 55 lbs or 25 kg
      • Blue: 45 lbs or 20 kg
      • Yellow: 35 lbs or 15 kg
      • Green: 25 lbs or 10 kg
      • White: 10 lbs or 5 kg
      • Black: 2.5 kg

      Take note that both the IWF and IPF only sanction the use of ‘kg’ plates, and they technically don’t have a fixed color code for ‘lb’ plates. However, you can base it on the ‘kg’ rating since the same coloring applies to lb plates.

      Additionally, these colors are also used with competition plates and other types of plates. They’re simply just more common with bumper plates. However, take note that colors can mean higher price tags for some plates that don’t need to have color coding in the first place. It’s just that you can now get colored plates if you like to add flair to your home gym.

      • Thickness

      The thickness of the plates will affect how many plates you can load on a barbell. Thicker plates would mean fewer plates, while thinner plates mean more. The thickness of a plate also affects the level of impact it will have on the floor when it’s dropped.

      Thicker plates, like bumper plates, are usually safe for this. Their thickness can lessen the impact, making it safe for you and the equipment. However, their thickness is also one reason bumper plates are more suited for CrossFit and home gyms than commercial gyms.

      Costs and Budget

      Lastly, you need to consider the cost of the plates, the set, and your budget. How much are you willing to spend on weights?

      If you’re setting up a home gym, plates are one of the most important equipment you should get and have. Make sure to take the time to pick the best one that fits your needs and budget without compromising quality.

      You can start with traditional iron plates if you have a tight budget. You can also start plate by plate and only buy a part of the set at a time. Depending on the type of plate you want to use, a whole set can cost up to $3000 or more, especially competition plates. You can get a 370-lb set for less than $1,000 if you prefer bumper plates.

      When weighing the price, don’t forget to check the quality and material used. Are the plates durable? You can also check the brand since some brands have pricier plates than others. Also, don’t forget to check if they’ll fit on your bar or barbell.


      How to Incorporate Them Into Your Workout Routine

      Weights are versatile and flexible. You can use them for different exercises, not just barbell training and lifting. Here are some common ways and exercises where you can incorporate a plate:

      • Squat Reach

      Using the plate alone, you can perform squat reaches. You can do this by holding the plate in your chest area in a standing position. As you sink to a squat, push the plate out in front of you. Do these in your preferred number of reps. Squats target your lower body muscles and can help strengthen and tone them effectively.

      • Thruster

      This is another form of squat, but it’s different. Hold the weight above your head with your arms extended as you stand. This is so you can really work on your shoulders as well. Lower the plate to your shoulders as you sink into a squat, then push them up again as you stand.

      • Barbell Squats

      You can also incorporate a whole weight bar into squats. Barbell squats also allow you to target your core muscles, making it a compound movement that offers numerous benefits. To do this, place the barbell with weights across your upper back and shoulders while performing squats. The added weight on your upper back will heavily activate your glutes for support and power. This will help strengthen your glute muscles more.

      • Shoulder Raise

      If you want to focus on your shoulders and arms, you can raise your shoulder with a plate. You just simply hold the plate at your waist level, core locked. You’ll only move your arms for this, so keep them straight throughout. From the waist, lift the plate above your head. Make sure to keep your torso still and focus only on your shoulders. Then, lower the plate back slowly again, with control.

      • Press-Up

      You drop into a weighted press-up position with the plate on your back in this exercise. You might need someone to assist you with this. Brace your core and lower your chest until you’re off the ground, then push yourself back up.

      • Bridge Pull-Over

      You’ll need to lie down on your back on the floor for this. Get into a bridge position with your arms and shoulders holding the plate away from your head. To start, tense your abs and bring the plate toward your quads. Take note that you don’t need to raise your pelvis for this, unlike the usual bridge exercise.



      Weight plates are some of the most versatile home gym equipment you should get. You can use it for a wide variety of exercises and training. Whether it’s simple squats or Olympic lifts, you can use different types of weights. However, to choose the right plates, you also have to consider the design of the plates, their material, hole size, and costs. Remember, the best plates are durable and fit your fitness needs and budget.

      If you want to look at some options, visit our weight plate collection. We offer high-quality plates and sets from reputable manufacturers!