Bumper Plates and Olympic Plates: What You Need to Know

bumper plates


It can sometimes be confusing when you start weightlifting and experiment with barbells. These can be a great way to build muscle strength if you use them safely, but there is also lots to learn in order to get the most out of them.

One of the most important things besides technique is to learn about the types of weight plates.

You will probably hear quite a bit about Olympic plates and standard plates. But what about bumper plates? You will see these around a lot. They are a variation on Olympic plates, but with some key differences.

Here’s what you need to know about both types of weight plates to help you make the right choice in the gym.

Olympic Plates

Olympic plates are used by professional athletes, and you’ve probably seen them lifted during the Olympics. But they are also popular with people in gyms around the world, usually people who are more serious about weightlifting.

They look similar to standard plates from the outside, but there are important differences between them.

For a start, the holes in the weight plates are larger. They are two inches in diameter, as opposed to smaller one-inch holes in standard plates. This is because they fit onto Olympic bars, which are two inches wide.

They are also slim, so multiple weight plates can be stacked onto barbells. And they are very durable and designed to last a lifetime.

Olympic plates are also precision tested, which means the weights are exact. So when you use these, you know exactly how much you are lifting. This is important for anyone who wants to get more serious about weightlifting.

Bumper Plates: A Variation on Olympic Plates

Bumper plates are not a completely different category. Instead, they are a variation on Olympic plates. They are sometimes called non-standard Olympic plates or bumpers.

The biggest difference between them is the most obvious: they are covered in rubber. They are often made from steel, and the solid rubber layer around them provides protection, not just to the weight plates but also to the floor and any other equipment when they are dropped.

The rubber comes in different colours that correspond to different weights. This makes it convenient to choose the correct weight when you are working out.

They usually have a smaller circumference than Olympic weights, and they also have an upturned edge, making them easier to lift and more convenient to stack.

Which Should You Use?

So, which type of weight plate is right for you? Olympic weights are popular, and these are the weights that the pros use. Their slim design makes for easy stacking, they are durable and they are ideal for anyone serious about weights.

However, bumper plates are popular too. They are excellent if you are concerned about damaging the floor or equipment in your gym or home gym.

They are also particularly useful for certain types of quick movements where the weights are lifted fast and then dropped, like in CrossFit and Olympic lifting. Competitive lifting, squats, cleans, presses and snatches are exercises where the weights are often dropped, making bumpers ideal.

Not only does the rubber provide protection, but it is also dense, which helps to prevent bouncing that could otherwise cause injuries. They are also quieter when dropped or when stacked. If you have a busy gym, this can help to keep the noise levels down.

Try Them Both

The best way to work out which type of weights you prefer is to try them both. You may enjoy using both types of weights, or you may decide to stick to using one. They both have advantages, so try them out and see how you get on.

Pinnacle Fitness sells new and used fitness equipment.

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