Knowledge & Advice Buying Guides

Weight Plates Buying Guide

Weight Plates Buying Guide

There is a lot of choice when it comes to buying weight plates for your facility or home gym.

And it's important to get it right, as - let's face it - weight lifting equipment can be a hefty investment.

That's where we come in...

We've created this in-depth weight plates buying guide to provide an overview of the different weight plate products that are currently available on the market.

Depending on the type of weight lifting you are intending on doing, this guide will help you buy the most suitable weight plate products for your home or commercial facility.

The Different Sizes of Weight Plates

If you are considering purchasing weight plates, for either home or commercial use, it’s incredibly important to understand the different discs that are available.

weight plate buying guide

Olympic Discs have a 2" (50.6mm) diameter centre hole. These come as a standard size across the whole fitness industry. This is beneficial as they fit all commercial bars and most plate loaded gym equipment ranges. 

Standard Discs used to be the main choice for home gyms. But with well equipped home gyms on the rise, these are mainly a thing of the past. Standard discs only have a 1" diameter hole and will not fit on an Olympic bar. Therefore, it's very important that they are not bought with this use in mind!

Studio Discs are specific to group exercise. They are universal to classes like body pump, during which participants typically won’t be working with very heavy loads. These plates tend to be rubber coated, small in size, normally with handles and brightly coloured. They are easy to identify and store, and can be quickly added and removed from specialised studio weight bars. They have a small 30mm centre hole.

Urethane Studio Weight Plates

The Advantages of using Olympic Weight Plates

Olympic plates come out on top in terms of the versatility they offer. The main advantage of using Olympic weight plates over standard plates are:

  1. Olympic weight plates are much more stable on the weight lifting bar.
  2. They are much more versatile - The number of exercises you can do with Olympic weight plates far outweighs standard weight plates.
  3. Olympic weight lifting bars are built to hold a greater total weight
  4. Most power racks and weight benches are made to fit the 7ft Olympic bars, as opposed to a 5ft or 6ft standard bar.

man lifting weight plates in weight

Different Types of Olympic Plates

Olympic plates have sub-divisions of their own: rubber coated, technique, bumper, competition weight plates, fractional plates and powerlifting plates.

To summarise all of the different kinds of weight plates you will find available to buy on the market, we have provided an overview of each type.

Rubber Weight Plates

Rubber weight plates feature an extra layer of rubber coating for safety, protection and longevity. The rubber coating helps protect both the weight plate and the floor to a certain degree. The finish ensures that the plates are longer lasting and harder wearing.

One step up within this section is urethane coated plates. These are generally the same dimensions and shape as rubber plates, but are much more durable and less susceptible to markings and cosmetic damage. Unlike rubber plates, urethane coated plates will not mark your floor, walls and other equipment. They also have the benefit of being odourless, compared to some rubber products which often produce an unpleasant smell.

Origin Rubber Weight Plate

With rubber coated weight plates, it is quite common to see terms like “non-standard Olympic plates”. Non-standard Olympic plates are plates which are made to fit Olympic sized bars but have a reduced circumference when compared with a traditional Olympic weight plate.

The main thing which makes a plate non-standard is the presence of grips, which are cut into the plate. This makes them easier to lift off the ground and to re-rack once the user has finished their set. It also makes performing certain exercises, like plate front raises, a lot easier.

man doing bicep curl with olympic weight plate

Technique Bumper Weight Plates

Demand for bumper plates is at an all time high thanks to the continuous growth in popularity of Olympic lifting and CrossFit training.

A bumper plate is a solid rubber weight disc which can be safely used for performing Olympic lifts. Additionally, it can be dropped from a height during exercises like snatches and presses. The purpose of bumpers is to create a safe environment and allow certain exercises to be performed without the risk of damages to the floor, equipment or athlete.

Strength and conditioning coaches and gyms have long been using Olympic lifts in training, and weightlifting as a sport relies upon this core set of movements that require the use of bumper plates.

The first kind of bumper plate available is a technique plate. These are very basic and made from a simple single piece of rubber, without a metal ring around the hole. These only come in light weights and are perfect for introducing beginners to Olympic lifts and helping athletes improve their technique. Facilities tend only to have a small set of technique plates and they are normally only produced in 2.5kg and 5kg weights, otherwise training or competition plates would be used.

Training Bumper Weight Plates

Training bumper plates can vary slightly in depth but will all, for the most part, be a similar diameter. Top manufacturers like Eleiko and Zhangkong produce training plates which are the exact dimensions of competition weightlifting plates.

Rubber training olympic plates

More affordable training bumper plates may not be the exact depth of IWF competition plates, however they will, for the most part, stand up the Olympic lifting requirements of a specialist facility, commercial gym or CrossFit box. Training plates usually come in black or are colour coded by weight.


Competition Bumper Plates

The factor which separates Olympic competition plates from training plates and all other kinds of free weights is the calibration. Official IWF Competition rules mean that plates need to be accurate to +0.1% and -0.05%.

This means that production of a 25kg plate only has a 25 gram margin for error. The result is that Competition bumper plates are incredibly accurate and consistent, so the weight you are lifting is absolutely what you think it is.

competition plates by origin fitness

Fractional Plates

Fractional or incrementals include 0.5kg. 1kg, 1.5kg. 2kg, 2.5kg, and 5kg discs. Our own incremental weight plates have no metal insert within the centre circle. This is ideal when in competition, it means you can add these on the end without removing the cuff. The grip in the inner circle sticks to the bar and does not move, keeping the other plates in place.

Incremental weight plates

Powerlifting plates

Calibrated Steel Powerlifting Plates generally come in cast iron, steel or a chromed metal. They are thinner than the plates listed above as they allow for more weight to be added to the bar. Additionally, thinner discs keep closer to your centre of gravity, eliminating any whip on the squat. This is specifically useful in the sport of powerlifting and more elite training centres.


Take Home

This weight plate buying guide has hopefully brought to light the different types of weight plates that are used for different training styles.

Having your facilities target audience, or own fitness goals, in mind will allow you to figure out which plates suit your needs.

Now your plates are sorted, have a look at our barbell buying guide for further help in completing your kit selection.

If you need any further help or guidance, our team are always on hand.


Published on: 6th June 2014. Last updated on: 1st February 2024


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