If you're someone who prefers lifting weights at home, you're going to want weight plates that don't make a lot of noise. And if you're a beginner who's just getting the hang of weightlifting, you're also going to need plates that don't damage your floor if you accidentally drop them, and those that allow you to practice your form.
This is where bumper plates come in. Made of durable rubber, not only are bumper plates not noisy, they’re floor-friendly. And because they’re built to the same diameter no matter the weight, you can practice new exercises without compromising form.
Let’s explore what bumper plates are and how they can help you in your lifting journey.
What Are Bumper Plates?
Bumper plates are weight plates made using an iron or steel core with a protective high-density rubber coating on top. They’re thicker than traditional cast-iron plates and come in various colors depending on their weight. No matter their weight, all bumper plates have a uniform diameter of 450 mm (17.72”). They’re typically designed to fit a standard olympic barbell and usually have a 2” collar sleeve.
Due to their thick rubber protective coating, bumper plates can be dropped from overhead without any damage to the barbell or the floor, making them ideal for olympic lifting, CrossFit, beginner lifters, and the average home gym owner.
Don’t confuse bumper plates for regular rubber plates, though. The latter are actually iron or steel plates with a thin rubber coating on top and can’t be dropped from overhead.
Whether you’re getting started on your lifting journey or building your own home gym, Montreal Weights’ bumper plates are the ideal tool. Shop now
What is the Point of Bumper Plates?
Rubber bumper plates are a safer alternative to traditional cast-iron plates.
In Olympic lifting, participants only need to hold the weights above their head till a buzzer sounds. Bringing the weights back down with control isn’t part of the judging criteria. Due to the strain of holding the weight overhead, most Olympic lifters drop the weights once the time’s up. To avoid any damages, rubber bumper plates were invented.
Today, most gyms use them because they’re great for beginners who might accidentally drop the weights as well as for those learning new weightlifting techniques such as hip thrusts or deadlifts.
What is the Difference Between Bumper Plates and Iron Plates?
Bumper plates are made using high-density rubber material with an iron or steel core. Cast-iron plates are weight plates made by pouring molten iron into a circular molding tool and have no rubber coating. Iron plates are more affordable than rubber bumper plates and are typically used for classic powerlifting movements. Unlike bumper plates, iron plates can’t be dropped as they can damage the barbell, you, or the floor.
Types of Bumper Plates
Bumper plates can be further classified based on the materials used, colors, and their purpose.
Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates
Virgin rubber is rubber in its purest form and is the preferred material for bumper plates due to its strength and durability. These bumper plates are less prone to cracking than other types of bumper plates and are usually very dense, which gives them less bounce. Often available in solid black, bumper plates made using virgin rubber are smooth with a glossy finish and have a thin profile, which makes stacking more weights on the barbell easy.
Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates
Crumb rubber is recycled rubber created from scrap tires. Crumb rubber bumper plates (also known as hi-temp bumper plates) are typically solid black with colored flakes mixed into them to easily identify the weight. Since they’re made using recycled rubber, crumb rubber plates are also sustainable.
The downside is that crumb rubber bumper plates have a higher bounce than virgin rubber, which doesn’t make them a great fit for commercial gyms, but ideal for a garage gym with an asphalt floor. They also may give off an unpleasant odor at first and tend to be thicker than other rubber plates. For example, an average 22 lbs virgin rubber bumper plate is 47 mm thick, whereas a 22 lbs crumb rubber bumper plate can be 57-60 mm thick. This limits the number of hi-temp rubber plates you can stack on the barbell.
Urethane Bumper Plates
Urethane is a man-made material that mimics rubber, but is considered a superior alternative. Urethane bumper plates have a higher price tag because they’re extremely durable and more resilient than rubber bumper plates. They also tend to be denser than rubber plates and have more of a dead bounce, making them ideal for everyday use in commercial gyms.
Urethane bumper plates can also withstand tougher environments better, which makes them ideal for a garage gym.
Types of Bumper Plates Based on Purpose
Based on purpose, there are three main categories of bumper plates: technique plates, training plates, and competition plates.
Technique Bumper Plates
Technique bumper plates are full-sized training plates that only come in two light weights: 5 lbs and 10 lbs. Their purpose is to help perfect form before moving on to heavier plates—whether that’s for beginners or those recovering from injury. Technique plates are made from hard plastic and aren’t meant to be dropped.
Training bumper plates are your standard plates made of rubber or urethane, found in most commercial or home gyms. They're designed to mimic competition plates (see below), except they don't have the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) certification.
These standard training bumper plates are great for pretty much everybody—from the average gym goer to those who are training for competition.
Competition Bumper Plates
Competition bumpers are for athletes who regularly take part in competitions or serious weightlifters who need high-performance workouts. Competition bumper plates are certified by the (IWF) and need to meet their exact specifications of diameter, collar size, and weight.
These high-quality bumper plates also have a thinner profile so that athletes can easily stack more plates on the bar. They’re the most expensive, and to be honest, are overkill for the average gym goer.
Competition bumper plates are color-coded based on their weights, making it easy to see how much weight is on the barbell.
- Red: 55 lbs
- Blue: 45 lbs
- Yellow: 35 lbs
- Green: 25 lbs
- White: 10 lbs
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Benefits of Using Bumper Plates
There are several upsides to using bumper plates, which is why they’re a favorite among practically everybody from beginners to elite weightlifters.
Safe To Use
Lifting weights carries with it the risk of damaging the floor or the equipment. Unlike iron plates, bumper plates are designed to be dropped. Their thick rubber coating acts as a protective layer, so they’re very safe to use in the sense that they won't break or crack the gym floor. This also makes them great for everything from deadlifts to Olympic lifts.
Unlike iron plates, bumper plates won't break or rust even when exposed to humid air and weather, so they'll last you a long time. The iron or steel core of the bumper plates also protect them. For home gym owners who can't afford to replace weight plates every so often, bumper plates are ideal.
If you like working out in the comfort of your own home, you're going to want to eliminate as much noise as possible. Bumper plates are practically silent because rubber is a great shock absorber. This means no more clanging of irons. Even if you drop them, the most you'll hear is a dull thud.
Whether you're a beginner, an Olympic lifter, or a CrossFit enthusiast, bumper plates are ideal for practicing all types of lifts.
Regardless of their weight, all bumper plates have a uniform diameter of 450 mm, which helps beginners practice things like deadlifts and hip thrusts with proper form using lighter weights. On the other hand, when it comes to cast-iron plates, a 10 lbs plate would be smaller in diameter than a 45 lbs plate. This makes it harder for beginners to practice new lifts because the lighter plates are just too small for proper form.
Reach all Your Fitness Goals with Montreal Weights
Lifting weights helps you build power, muscle endurance, and allows you to reach all your fitness goals. For beginners, advanced lifters, and those looking to build up their home gym, bumper plates are the best weight plates to use because they're durable, safe, versatile, and don't make much noise. Moreover, their rubber construction helps protect your floor by absorbing the shock from heavy lifting, allowing you to practice new and advanced techniques with no fear.
Whether you’re a beginner or someone looking to add some heavy Olympic-style lifting to your home-workout routine, bumper plates are ideal for you. Grab a set of Montreal Weights' professional-grade bumper to start achieving your weightlifting goals. Shop now