12 Best Weight Plates to Buy in 2021

12 Best Weight Plates - Garage Gym Lab

Weight Plates are an essential piece of gym equipment for anyone looking to strength train. I consider them to be one of the ‘core four': a power rack, a barbell, some weight plates, and a weight bench… especially for the home gym.

Weight plates can range in purpose, material, price, features, quality, etc… which can be a challenge when narrowing down a list of potential candidates.

In this article, I'll take you through some of the best weight plates to buy in 2021. Whether you're looking for bumper plates, steel weight plates, or change plates, this article has you covered.

Let's dig in!

Best Weight Plates in 2021

How to Find the Best Weight Plates for You

Selecting gym equipment can be exhausting, overwhelming, and downright confusing when you factor in different features, prices, etc… Weight plates are certainly no exception, and it's important to filter them down to make the best buying decision for you.

In addition to this guide, which will detail everything you need to know about weight plates, Garage Gym Lab also has a very useful equipment finder that will filter it down for you based on a few quick questions. It takes less than 30 seconds – no emails, no funny business – just helpful content right inside your browser.

Each plate that I have outlined in this article has either been personally owned/used by me or has been meticulously researched through spec comparisons, user reviews, and feedback from people I trust.


Quick Navigation

  1. The Winners
  2. Bumper Plates vs. Metal Plates
  3. Common Weight Plate Materials
  4. Important Factors to Consider
  5. FAQ's
  6. Honorable Mentions

Best Basic Black Rubber Weight Plates

LUXIAOJUN E1 Bumper Plates

LUXIAOJUN E1 Bumper Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $159 (45lb Pair)
Material: Virgin Rubber w/ Stainless Insert
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 10lb-55lb (also available in 100lb-550lb sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 1%
Collar Opening: 50.6mm (1.99″)
Durometer Rating: 90 on 10-15lb plates; 85 on 25lb+ (Low-to-Medium Bounce)
Warranty:  3 Years on 25lb+ & 90 days on 10-15lb

Pros

  • Outstanding value for specs, performance, and looks
  • Channel groove makes for easy handling
  • Stainless steel inner ring
  • +/- 1% accuracy
  • Wide range of set options

Cons

  • Durometer rating on 25lb+ is less than 10-15lb
  • Black on black can make it more challenging to quickly identify plates

Designed by the great Lu Xiaojun, the E1 Bumper Plates from LUXIAOJUN are possibly the most underrated basic black bumpers on the market. I've owned these plates for a while now and I've been very impressed with everything about them.

The E1 Bumpers are very competitively priced. With their specs and features, they represent one of, if not the best values for this style of plate. Performance-wise, the plates are very accurate with a weight tolerance of +/- 1%. I've weighed each of my E1s and they're all within that range, so you can be confident knowing that you're lifting the stated weight or very close to it.

The plates offer shore durometer ratings of 90 on the 10s and 15s and 85 and everything else. While it would be nice to have them consistently be in the 90 range, 85 is common for this style of plate and it still creates a low-to-medium bounce. One of the best and most unique features of these plates is the channel grooves on both sides. In conjunction with more aggressively beveled edges, this makes it very easy to handle the plates, including picking them up when lying flat.

Aesthetically, I don't think there's a black bumper plate that can compete with the E1s. Not only do the channel grooves look great, but the large raised lettering and stamped logo against the matte black finish make for a very refined plate. Lastly, these plates are made with virgin rubber which, in addition to performance benefits, greatly reduces odor.


Best Basic Color Rubber Weight Plates

Fringe Sport Color Bumper Plates

Fringe Sport Color Bumper Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $249 (45lb Pair) w/ Free Shipping
Material: Virgin Rubber w/ Stainless Insert
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 10lb-55lb (also available in 100lb-370lb sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 1%
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Durometer Rating: 90 on 10-15lb plates; 85 on 25lb+ (Low-to-Medium Bounce)
Warranty:  3 Years on 25lb+ & 90 days on 10-15lb

Pros

  • Nice value and includes free shipping
  • Stainless steel inner ring
  • +/- 1% accuracy
  • Wide range of set options
  • Strong warranty

Cons

  • Durometer rating on 25lb+ is less than 10-15lb
  • Thicker than some plates of similar style

The Fringe Sport Plates are a great entryway into the world of color bumpers without spending a bunch of money. I've owned and used most of the Fringe Sport plate styles, and I would say as a whole, they offer great value. These plates are built the same as their cheaper black bumpers and black contrast bumpers, but obviously with a full paint job.

These virgin rubber plates have a stainless steel hooked insert, which helps to increase the overall durability of the plates. In a home gym setting, you can rest assured these will last for years, and they have a strong track record to back it up. These plates have been on the market since 2014 and, with hundreds of verified reviews between these plates (including black and contrast), the long-term performance is very promising.

The plates have a shore durometer rating of 85 on 25lb+ and 90 on 10-15lb, which results in a low-to-medium bounce. A 1% +/- weight tolerance indicates very good accuracy, and I can attest to their accuracy having used and weighed them. The 50.4mm diameter is tighter than many plates of this style – this keeps the plates nice and snug on the bar.

One thing Fringe Sport is known for is having resilient 10lb plates. A common downside to 10lb plates is that they can warp, bend, and “Taco” over time. This is especially true for recycled rubber plates, but also generally with lesser-quality options. Fringe (and some other companies too) have their 10lb plates designed with a 445mm diameter vs. 450mm. This reduces the amount of abuse the plates experience since the heavier and stronger plates will be the ones hitting the ground and absorbing the force. Their 10s and 15s offer a 1-year warranty, which is more than most (3-6 months), and anything heavier comes with a 3-year warranty.

One thing to consider is that the Fringe Plates have a slightly thicker profile than some competing plates. For example, the 45lb plate has a thickness of 2.9″ whereas the Rogue Echos are 2.36″, the LUXIAOJUN Color TQ plates are 2.36″, and the REP Color Bumpers are 2.8″. This will only pose an issue if you're nearing max capacity, but it's something worth noting nonetheless.


Best Competition Bumper Plates

Rogue Competition Bumper Plates

Price: $345 (45lb Pair)
Material: Virgin Rubber w/ Full Hard Chrome Hub
Weight System: Pounds & Kilograms
Weight Options: 25lb-55lb & 10kg-25kg (also available in sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 15 grams
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Durometer Rating: 94 (Low Bounce)
Warranty: 5 Years

Pros

  • Extremely accurate
  • A 94 shore durometer rating creates a very low bounce
  • Available in pounds and kilograms (IWF-Certified)
  • Thinner profile compared to traditional bumper plates
  • Excellent warranty

Cons

  • Chrome center hub will show fingerprints, smudges, and imperfections more than zinc
  • Expensive for the average home gym owner
  • Packaging could be improved

The Rogue Competition Bumper Plates have a very special place in my heart because they were the first plates I ever purchased for my home gym. If you're someone who trains for competition, someone who demands the most accuracy, someone who requires the thinnest bumpers available, or just someone who likes the finer things in life, then competition bumpers will likely appeal to you.

The Rogue Comp plates come in pound and kilogram variants. The kilogram version is approved by the IWF to be used in international sanctioned events and those plates are embossed with the IWF logo. With that distinction, and really any competition plate for that matter, comes the tightest tolerances. These plates are accurate to +/- 15 grams. Of the 10 Rogue Comp Plates I own, all of them fall within this threshold. The collar opening is 50.4mm, which sits very tight on the bar and reduces noise/vibration.

Three of the biggest benefits of competition plates include durometer rating, plate width, and the center hub. The Rogue Competition Bumpers have among the highest durometer ratings on the market. With a shore rating of 94, it produces a minuscule amount of bounce. Rest assured you will not be chasing your bar around the platform with these plates. Another benefit is that competition weight plates have a very thin profile, which of course means you can load more weight onto the bar. Lastly, the full-size center hub contributes to improved durability. These plates are built to withstand tens of thousands of overhead drops.

Aesthetically, the colors on these plates pop very nicely, especially with the raised contrasting white lettering. The full center hub is also beautiful, but one thing to consider is that the mirror-like hard chrome is going to show imperfections more than the commonly used zinc hubs on competing plates. Thankfully Rogue includes raised flanges around these hubs to prevent metal-on-metal contact. Even still, you will see some smudges and fingerprints from time to time.


Best Urethane Bumper Plates

American Barbell Pro Urethane Bumper Plates

Price: $473 (45lb Pair)
Material: Urethane w/ Hard Chrome Hub
Weight System: Pounds & Kilograms
Weight Options: 25lb-55lb & 10kg-25kg
Weight Tolerance: N/A
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Durometer Rating: N/A (Low Bounce)
Warranty: 3 Years

Pros

  • Beautiful aesthetic
  • Urethane is more durable than rubber
  • Tight tolerance on the collar opening creates a very snug fit
  • Available in pounds or kilograms
  • Very low bounce

Cons

  • Not sold in sets
  • Urethane is slicker/harder to grip than rubber
  • Expensive for the average home gym owner

The American Barbell Urethane Plates are simply some of the most beautiful plates available, and they perform very well. American Barbell is the first company to produce urethane bumper plates. These plates are available in both pounds and kilograms, but neither are available in sets.

Urethane has a few advantages over rubber. One being it's more durable, two being it's more customizable with color/logo, etc…, and three being that it's odorless. At the end of the day, urethane plates are a luxury item for most. This is especially true in the home gym where most lifters will never hit the volume necessary to totally degrade a high-quality bumper plate. As such, unless you just love the look or you intend to throw around a lot of weight with a lot of frequency, it's hard to justify the cost over less expensive rubber competition bumper plates.

A disadvantage of urethane compared to rubber is that it's slicker, which can make it more challenging to handle the plates. The pebble grain surface looks amazing, but it doesn't do much in way of generating friction to alleviate this “issue.” Another consideration is that the collar openings on urethane plates have extremely tight tolerances. This can make it a little more challenging to slide plates on and off, it can make it louder to slide on and off, and it can cause some cosmetic sleeve issues on certain finishes (Cerakote, zinc, etc…).

Aesthetically, I have not found a weight plate that can match the vibrancy of the American Barbell Urethane Plates. One thing to consider between the LB and KG variants is that the LB version does not include an “LB” callout as the KG plates do. I'm not sure why American Barbell omitted them in such a way, but it's unfortunate in comparison in my opinion. The center hub is hard chrome and it's totally smooth, which differs from some other urethane plates that have indented hubs.

While American Barbell doesn't claim a weight tolerance or a durometer rating, my experience shows an accuracy of +/- 1% and a low bounce.


Most Versatile Bumper Plates

Vulcan Alpha Bumpers

Vulcan Alpha Bumper Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $214.99 (45lb Pair)
Material: Virgin Rubber w/ Stainless Insert
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 10lb-55lb (also available in 160lb-1,000lb sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 1%
Collar Opening: 50.6mm (1.99″)
Durometer Rating: 89 (Low Bounce)
Warranty:  4 Years on 35lb+, 3 Years on 25lb, & 1 Year on 10-15lb

Pros

  • Made for indoor and outdoor lifting on a variety of surfaces
  • High durometer rating for non-competition bumper plates
  • Wide range of set options
  • Excellent warranty without use restrictions
  • Fleck design creates a fun and unique look

Cons

  • Wider profile than most virgin rubber bumper plates
  • Collar opening not as tight as some other bumper plates

The Vulcan Alpha Bumper Plates are some of the most unique looking and functioning bumper plates available. What separates these plates from the competition is that the Alpha Bumpers were specifically designed to be used on a variety of surfaces, whether indoors or outdoors. That could include anything from traditional gym flooring to asphalt.

These plates come with a durometer rating of ~89, which is very high for a non-competition bumper plate. This leads to a very low bounce, which you can see in the video above. While Vulcan doesn't state this durometer on the product page, they make note that it offers an equivalent bounce to the Vulcan Black Bumpers, which have a stated ~89 durometer rating.

Vulcan also states that these plates have a ~25% noise reduction when dropped from 9 feet. This appears to be compared to recycled rubber plates like Hi-Temps, which have lousy tolerances that can lead to excess noise. In my experience, the Alphas are comparable to high-end bumper plates as it relates to noise.

The fleck pattern is something that Vulcan has been offering since 2015. It's a very unique look that's based on the IWF color scheme. No plate is exactly the same and, while there are some other fleck plates on the market (notably from Rogue), they don't offer the same versatility as the Vulcan's given their indoor/outdoor design.

In terms of durability, the center ring is hooked into the bumper to extend life and performance. Vulcan is so confident in this design that they offer one of the best warranties you will find on any style of bumper plate, which is 4 years on 35lb+, 3 years on 25lb, and 1 year on 10-15lb.


Best Cast Iron Weight Plates

Strength Co. Olympic Iron Plates

The Strength Co Iron Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $195 (45lb Pair)
Material: Machined Cast Iron
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 1.25lb-100lb (also available in 175lb-465lb sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 2%
Collar Opening: 50.5mm (1.99″)
Warranty: Out of tolerance, cracks, or structural defects are fully warrantied

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Deep lip makes it very easy to handle
  • Available in pairs and sets
  • 2% weight tolerance from 2.5lb-45lb
  • Thin profile = more weight on the bar

Cons

  • E-coat application protects against corrosion/oxidation, but may wear down over time

If you're looking for classic non-calibrated iron weight plates, then the Strength Co Olympic Iron Plates have your name all over them. I've owned these plates since they were released and they're at the top of the list for me. These USA-made plates are produced in the Waupaca Foundry in Wisconsin where they're cast in gray iron and machined along the exterior and interior diameters for a very smooth finish.

Each plate is electrically finished in e-coat, which is a thin application that does a nice job of enhancing durability and protecting against corrosion and oxidation. It also looks very slick and, with the ultra-smooth edges, has a very refined look and feel. Keep in mind that with any applied finish, it may wear down over time as the plates are used.

The thing I love the most about these plates is that they have a deep lip but without the width of a deep dish plate. For example, a 45lb weight plate is only 1.25″ thick, whereas the Rogue Deep Dish 45lb plate is 1.97″. If you're lifting heavy weight, this can add up quickly. For comparison again, a 45lb calibrated iron plate has a width of ~0.86″, so the Strength Co plates are closer to calibrated width than deep dish width. The lip, mind you, makes it much easier to handle these plates, especially compared to calibrated.

The Strength Co cast plates have a weight tolerance of 2% on all variants, which is consistent with this style and better than the 3% on standard iron Olympic weight plates. The collar opening is machined to 1.99″ (50.5mm), which creates a tight fit on the bar.

All-in-all, I couldn't be happier with the Strength Co Iron Plates – they're outstanding.


Best Calibrated Weight Plates

Rogue Calibrated Steel Weight Plates

Rogue Calibrated Steel Weight Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $275 (45lb Pair)
Material: Machined Cast Iron
Weight System: Pounds & Kilograms
Weight Options: 0.25lb-55lb & 0.25kg-50kg (also available in sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 10 grams
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Warranty: 1 Year

Pros

  • Ultra-thin profile for maximum weight capacity
  • Extremely accurate with +/-10 gram tolerance
  • Available in pounds and kilograms (IPF approved)
  • Available in pairs and sets

Cons

  • Paint will never look as good as the day you got them
  • Difficult to handle when lying face down

The Rogue Calibrated Steel Plates are some of the finest powerlifting plates on the market. Available in both pounds and kilograms, these plates are machine calibrated to a weight tolerance of +/- 10 grams. Calibration is achieved via a plug in the back of the plate. When the plates are manufactured they are first weighed and then a plug is inserted to bring the plates into the required tolerance.

Both the LB and KG versions of these calibrated plates from Rogue are spec'd to IPF standards, but only the KG version is IPF approved. The collar opening measures 50.4mm, which leads to a very tight fit on the bar. Because there is a tolerance of +/- 0.2mm (fairly normal), the opening could actually be smaller. Some users, myself included, have experienced calibrated plates that are difficult to slide onto the bar. Also, because the center ring is powder-coated, you may find your bar's sleeves wearing some of that paint as plates slide on and off. This is especially true on bars that have grooved sleeves.

Aside from weight tolerance, the biggest benefit of a calibrated plate is how thin they are. They're so thin that you can load 1,500lb or 700kg onto the bar. If you train with powerlifting specificity, especially in a competitive setting, calibrated plates are highly recommended. As great as the thin profile is, however, it makes it difficult to pick up plates when they're lying flat on the floor. There are no beveled edges or anything that can help.

Aesthetically, the Rogue Calibrated Steel Plates look phenomenal… at least early on. Calibrated plates in general tend to chip quickly, so your beautiful paint job will never look as good as the day you got them. These are powerlifting plates, though – they're made to take a beating, not win a beauty pageant.


Best Weight Plates with Handles

REP Urethane Coated Equalizers

Rep Urethane Equalizer Plates being held in hands - Garage Gym Lab

Price: $279.99 (45lb Pair) w/ Free Shipping
Material: Urethane-Coated Cast Iron
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 2.5lb-45lb
Weight Tolerance: +/- 3%
Collar Opening: 51mm (2.0″)
Warranty: Lifetime for 10lb+ & 5 Years for 2.5-5lb

Pros

  • Very easy to handle (get it?)
  • Urethane cover dampens sounds and increases overall durability
  • Steel insert creates a more consistent fit than machined openings and makes sliding plates on and off easier
  • Very aesthetic plate with the hexagonal cutouts vs. circular
  • More attractively priced compared to other shooter-style plates

Cons

  • Thicker than competing shooter-style urethane plates
  • Collars are necessary to prevent the plates from sliding off while lifting due to the steel insert

The REP Urethane Coated Equalizers represent a modern spin on the shooter-style plates popularized by Ivanko. Commonly seen with circular cutouts, these shooter plates actually have hexagonal cutouts that give it a distinguishably different look and feel. I find that the flat edges of the plate are very comfortable in the hand – more so than circular. I tend to also favor the aesthetic more than others.

The Equalizers state a weight tolerance of +/- 3%, which equates to less than 1.5lb on a 45lb plate. While other plates have a tighter guaranteed tolerance, each of my REP Equalizers (14 total plates) were well within that range.

These Olympic weight plates have a collar opening of ~51mm (2″). Unlike other shooter-style plates which have a standard opening wrapped in urethane, these from REP have a steel insert. In conjunction with the slightly larger hole opening, they load onto the bar very easily… almost too easily. When you're lifting with the REP Urethane equalizers, I strongly recommend using collars, otherwise, you risk them sliding around too much. The benefit of the steel insert, however, is that you get a more consistent fit from plate to plate.

In terms of thickness, the Urethane Equalizers have a moderate profile. They're thinner than some bumper plates, but they're thicker than iron plates… not surprising since they're just wrapping an iron plate in urethane. At around 1.83″ on the 45lb plate, you can effectively load a significant amount of weight onto a standard Olympic bar. Still, they're slightly thicker than the competing urethane shooter-style plates from Rogue and Ivanko.

Overall, these are very nice plates. Factoring in price with the specs, I think they're the best bang for buck plates with handles.


Best Change Plates

Rogue Change Plates

Rogue Change Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $100 (10lb Pair)
Material: Rubber-Coated Cast Iron
Weight System: Pounds & Kilograms
Weight Options: 1.25lb-10lb & 0.5kg-5kg (also available in sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 10 grams
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Warranty: 1 Year

Pros

  • Rubber coating increases durability
  • Very accurate with a tolerance of +/- 10 grams
  • Snug fit on bar with a 50.4mm opening

Cons

  • They get dirty quickly and stay that way

Change plates are a necessity for strength training since they help bridge the gap between larger plates. The Rogue Change Plates are sold in LB and KG variants. There are 4 total change plates in the LB line and 6 total in the KG line. The KG change plates are also IWF approved although both lines are spec'd to the same standard of quality/tolerances.

The plates are color-coded for easy identification and, while they look beautiful at first, they will quickly show dirt and grime. Like the calibrated plates, they'll never look as good as the day you got them.

Performance-wise, these are excellent plates. I've owned these for 5 years and they have worked very nicely. They're accurate to within 10 grams and they're tight-fitting with a 50.4mm opening. On some bars, the rubber lining on the inner diameter can get hung up on the sleeves and make them slightly difficult to load and unload. This is more true if you're trying to grab them quickly and load/unload them at an angle.

While Change Plates can get most people to what they need to get to weight-wise, if you require even more fine-tuning, you can purchase the Rogue Fractional Plates.


Best Cheap Weight Plates

CAP Olympic Grip Plates

 

CAP Olympic Grip Weight Plates Bundle

Price: $164.88 (45lb Pair)
Material: Cast Iron
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 2.5lb-45lb
Weight Tolerance: +/- 5%
Collar Opening: 50.8mm (2.0″)
Warranty: 30 Days

Pros

  • Very budget-friendly for those looking for cheap weight plates
  • Angled cutouts make it easy to handle these plates
  • Available in black or gray and singles or pairs

Cons

  • Collar opening can be inconsistent
  • Accuracy is not guaranteed
  • Enamel finish can chip over time

The CAP Olympic Grip Plates are a no-frills cast iron plate at an attractive price. There is nothing special about these plates. Buyers of these plates are generally not competitive lifters – they're made for recreational lifters, beginner lifters, or anyone looking for cheap weight plates.

That said, they have served thousands of people well for that purpose. Perhaps the best feature of these plates is the angled grips. This allows for easier handling compared to a standard iron plate. The collar opening measures 50.8mm, which will accommodate Olympic barbells. Because these plates are cast and not machined, there may be rough spots as well as sharper edges within these cutouts and along the interior collar opening. There have been some reviews complaining about this, which includes scratching barbell sleeves. I would recommend that you not use CAP plates on a nice barbell for this reason.

The durability of these plates is OK, but again, there are better options in that department. Some reviews have mentioned the handle cracking during deadlifts, etc… These plates also use a baked enamel coating, which looks OK, but which also tends to chip off over time.

These plates aren't going to win any performance or beauty contests, but they can serve as a solid starter set without breaking the bank.


Best Weight Plate Set

REP Black Bumper Plate Set

REP Black Bumper Plate Set - Best Weight Plates

Price: $787.97 (230lb Set) w/ Free Shipping
Material: Recycled Rubber w/ Zinc-Coated Insert
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 160lb-370lb Sets
Weight Tolerance: +/- 3%
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Barbell Offering: Sabre or Gladiator
Warranty: 3 Years on 25lb+ & 6 Months on 10-15lb

Pros

  • 7 total plate sets to choose from ranging from 160lb to 370lb
  • 6 barbells to choose from, including 15kg and 20kg bars
  • Rep Black Bumpers have a relatively thin profile within this style of plate
  • These plates have a low-to-medium bounce
  • The Sabre Bar is a great entry-level no-frills barbell for multi-purpose use

Cons

  • 3% tolerance on the plates isn't as strong as some other plates.

Weight plate sets come in either bumper plates or iron plates, and they can range in price. Cheap sets like the Fitness Gear 300lb Olympic Weight Set are fine starter sets, but their barbell offerings are generally weak. If you're going to go this route and you have the budget to accommodate it, I would recommend going with something higher quality that will perform better and maintain its value better.

This Olympic weight set from REP includes a legitimate barbell and bumpers ranging from 160lb to 370lb. These bumpers have contrasting white lettering for a classic black bumper plate look and they perform in line with other bumper plates in this class.

In terms of accuracy, these have a 3% guaranteed tolerance, which is higher than the 1-2% that some other plates offer. Most plates will fall well within that 3% range, but it is something to consider if you go this route. Their bounce is very much consistent with other basic black bumper plates, which is low-to-medium.

Their thickness is also in line with the competition. With the 45lb plate measuring 2.83″, you can load 500lb of weight on anOlympic-sized barbell. REP also sells a Ccolor Bumper Weight Set if you'd prefer something brighter.


Best Looking Weight Plates

Fringe Sport Savage Bumper Plates

Fringe Sport Savage Plates - Best Weight Plates

Price: $216 (45lb Pair) w/ Free Shipping
Material: Virgin Rubber w/ Stainless Insert
Weight System: Pounds
Weight Options: 10lb-55lb (also available in 100lb-460lb sets)
Weight Tolerance: +/- 1%
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Durometer Rating: 90 on 10-15lb plates; 85 on 25lb+ (Medium Bounce)
Warranty:  3 Years on 25lb+ & 1 Year on 10-15lb

Pros

  • Nice value and includes free shipping (Cheaper than Fringe Sport Color Bumpers)
  • Stainless steel inner ring
  • +/- 1% accuracy
  • Wide range of set options
  • Strong warranty

Cons

  • Durometer rating on 25lb+ is less than 10-15lb
  • Thicker than some plates of similar style

The Savage Bumper Plates from Fringe Sport I think are the coolest looking bumper plates currently available. They have a very unique striped pattern where no plate looks the same. They're sure to stand out in any gym.

These plates are built to the exact performance specs as the Fringe Color Bumper Plates from above. To summarize, they perform well, they have a low-to-medium bounce, they include a stainless hooked insert for increased durability, and they offer an impressive warranty.


Bumper Plates vs. Metal Plates

Bumper Plates vs. Metal Plates

When it comes to picking the best weight plates for you, the first thing you need to determine is if you should buy bumper plates or metal plates.

Bumper Plates are the ideal choice if you train in Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit, or other functional training styles. These are very durable plates that are built to withstand drops… thousands of them. Bumpers can be used in other styles too, including powerlifting and machine weight training, but keep in mind that bumper plates are generally thicker than metal plates. This will limit the amount of weight you can load onto a bar or a machine.

Bumper plates include steel or iron cores that are coated in a thick layer of rubber or urethane depending on the style that you're looking for. I'll help you decide between the two below. This allows them to absorb and distribute force better than metal, which makes them essential in many training styles. Bumper plates tend to be a very aesthetic option as well since many of them include an attractive color scheme adopted by the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation). Another consideration is that bumper plates are usually more expensive than iron or steel plates, but this also depends on selection. For instance, basic black bumpers will be less expensive than calibrated competition steel plates.

Conversely, metal plates are constructed with exposed cast iron or steel and they're ideal for powerlifting and machine training. These plates can range from ultra-thin calibrated plates to old-school deep dish plates. They may or may not include a finish to protect against oxidation or to create a color scheme. Metal plates are generally thinner than bumper plates, they aren't meant to be dropped, they're louder than bumper plates, and they're generally less expensive.


Common Weight Plate Materials

Weight Plate Material

Weight plates are commonly produced with the following materials:

  • Rubber – You will most commonly see rubber used on bumpers plates. Depending on your budget, intended use, aesthetic preferences, and tolerance to smell, you can pick between recycled rubber or virgin rubber. Recycled rubber is cheaper than virgin rubber, but it's not as durable, it doesn't look as nice, and it's smellier. You also may find rubber applied as a thin layer around iron or steel plates. Don't confuse these with bumpers. This application is for noise reduction and it has some durability benefits, but it doesn't mean you should drop them or use them in the same manner as rubber bumper plates.
  • Urethane – This is a premium material used on bumper plates instead of rubber. Urethane is a more durable product, it's virtually odorless, it's the most customizable with colors & logos, and it's generally more expensive than rubber. You may also find urethane used around iron or steel plates in the same manner as rubber. Again, this is not to be confused with a urethane bumper plate.
  • Cast Iron/Steel – With metal plates, you will most commonly find simple gray cast iron or machined cast iron. Machined iron plates are more accurate, more expensive, more aesthetic, and generally more durable. You also may find some plates, like the Rogue Deep Dish plates, that are cast with an even more durable iron known as ductile iron. Unlike bumper plates, most cast iron plates are not all the same diameter. For example, a 45lb metal plate will be larger than a 25lb metal plate.

Important Factors to Consider when Choosing Weight Plates

The following factors are among the most important based on my experience:

  • Training Style – Before anything, you need to decide if bumper plates or metal weight plates fit your training style. If you're an Olympic weightlifter, a CrossFitter, or you're just into functional/general-purpose fitness, bumper plates are the best choice. If you're a powerlifter or if you use machines often, metal plates will likely be your best choice.
  • Materials – If you're buying bumper plates, decide if you want urethane or rubber (see above). If you're buying metal plates, consider gray iron, ductile iron, machined vs. non-machined, etc…
  • Price – See the FAQ section below for a breakdown of prices for different styles of plates.
  • Hub Style – With bumper plates, there are different hub styles to consider as well as the material of those hubs. A competition bumper plate, for example, will have a full center hub/disc. These are the most durable bumper plates and they'll generally have hard chrome or zinc-plated hubs. Chrome is more reflective whereas zinc has more of a brushed look. Urethane plates have a slightly smaller diameter hub and other general-purpose bumper plates will have an insert. These can be chrome, zinc, or even stainless steel.
  • Durability – When buying weight plates, durability is a very important consideration. Ask yourself, what type of training will I be doing, will I be dropping from overhead, will I be training with multiple people, do I train in a humid environment, etc… In a home gym setting, most weight plates will last years, but some plates are simply made better than others. While it's not the end-all-be-all, price and durability are well correlated. Machined calibrated plates are going to be more durable than cheap gray iron plates,  competition bumper plates are going to be more durable than Hi-Temp bumpers, etc…
  • Bounce – With bumper plates, bounce is a very important consideration, especially if you're performing Olympic Weightlifting movements. Bounce is determined largely by a bumper plate's durometer rating. Measured from 0-100, this number determines the hardness of the material. The higher the number, the lower the bounce. Competition bumpers have durometer ratings in the mid 90's, which results in a very low bounce. Conversely, Hi-Temps have a durometer rating in the mid 70's, which leads to a much higher bounce. If you don't want to chase your bar around the gym, consider durometer ratings of 85+.
  • Plate Thickness – Some plates are much wider than others. Calibrated weight plates are among the thinnest. If you're a heavy lifter, thinner plates are going to be advantageous because you can load more weight onto the bar. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hi-Temp rubber bumper plates are the thickest. Manufacturers will usually display each plate thicknesses on their product pages.
  • Plate Diameter – The standard diameter for a properly spec'd Olympic weight plate is 450mm for a 45lb plate. Bumper plates will all have the same diameter from 15lb to 55lb, which means no matter what denomination you use on the barbell, you will be pulling from the same height every time. Metal plates do not have consistent diameters from 25lb to 45lb. To pull from standard height, you will at least need to have two 45lb plates on the bar or you'll have to elevate the bar on blocks.
  • Collar Opening – When you hear the words “Olympic weight plates,” it is referring to the type of barbell you're using. Olympic barbells (not to be confused with just Olympic Weightlifting) have sleeves that measure ~1.96″. Olympic weight plates, therefore, are built to accommodate Olympic bars. Still, some plates may have a tighter hole opening than others. For example, a competition bumper plate will have around a ~1.97″ (50mm) hole opening, meaning it fits very snug on the barbell. Basic bumpers may be closer to 2″ (50.8mm), which of course will fit a little looser on the bar.
  • Weight Tolerance – Competition bumper plates and calibrated iron plates will provide the most accurate weight tolerances from plate to plate. Typically you will see them within 1% or 15 grams of their stated weight. Basic bumpers and basic gray iron plates will have a more lenient weight tolerance in the 3% range or sometimes higher. If you train competitively or you just want the most accurate plates, keep this in mind.
  • Warranty – On quality bumper plates, you will often see warranties of 3-5 years on 25lb+ plates and 3 months to 1-year on 10-15lb. Most weight plates will far outlive any warranty claim, but the peace of mind is nice to have.

FAQs

How Much do Weight Plates Cost?

The cost of weight plates will largely depend on the style of the plate, the material used, and the brand of the plates. The following breakdown shows the normal range on a price-per-pound basis (45lb benchmark) for popular weight plates:

  • Gray Iron Plates – $1.50-$2.00
  • Machined, Non-Calibrated Iron Plates – $1.80-$2.65
  • Calibrated Iron Plates – $2.75-$3.05
  • Rubber-Coated Iron Plates – $2.40-$4.00
  • Basic Rubber Bumper Plates – $1.80-$2.45
  • Competition Rubber Bumper Plates – $2.80-$3.80
  • Urethane Bumper Plates – $3.40-$3.90

Should I buy Olympic Weights or Standard Weights?

Depending on which barbell you use, you will need to buy Olympic weight plates or standard weight plates. This is determined by the size of your barbell's sleeves. Olympic weights work on Olympic barbells, which have sleeve diameters of 2″. Standard weights work on standard barbells, which have sleeve diameters of 1″. In general, Olympic weights and Olympic barbells are higher quality, longer-lasting, and better-performing.

What Weight Plates are Made in the USA?

Generally speaking, most bumper plates and calibrated iron plates are made internationally, typically in Asia. There are, however, a few notable weight plates that are made in the USA, including bumper plates and metal plates:

Who Makes the Best Weight Plates?

Many companies produce quality weight plates. Below is a list of some of the top brands:


Other Options

There is no shortage of weight plates on the market. This section will feature the runner-ups to the winners listed above. If you would like to do more research and see even more options, be sure to check out the Garage Gym Lab Equipment Finder.

Rogue Echo Bumper Plates v2Runner Up to Best Basic Black Bumpers. The Rogue Echos are an immensely popular bumper plate and for good reason. These plates have a tight tolerance of +/- 1%, stainless steel inserts, a 50.6mm collar opening, and a high durometer rating of 88 for a low bounce. They're also approved for the Army Combat Fitness Test – one of only a few plates.

REP Color Bumper PlatesRunner Up to Best Color Bumper Plates. The REP color bumper plates are another very popular plate. These plates are thin enough to load over 500lb of weight and they carry a weight guarantee of 3%. The contrasting raised white lettering looks great against the bright colors. With plates ranging from 10lb-55lb, they cover all the bases, and they include a strong 3-year warranty on 25lb+ variants.

LUXIAOJUN Competition PlatesRunner Up to Best Competition Plates. The LUXIAOJUN Comp plates come in LB and KG variants, and they're built with IWF specs. These are actually a bit thinner than the Rogue Comp Plates, but not by enough to change total load by much, if it all. They have a slightly lower durometer rating of 90 and a weight tolerance of +/- 15 grams. They include channel grooves and beveled edges for easy handling. Aesthetically, these are absolutely gorgeous plates. The full zinc hub includes a laser engraved signature of Lu Xiaojun, and the colors are vibrant. They're also quite a bit cheaper than the Rogue Comp Plates and they're often on sale.

LUXIAOJUN Urethane Bumper PlatesRunner Up to Best Urethane Plates. LUXIAOJUN strikes again. In addition to the same aesthetic and handling qualities listed directly above, these urethane plates carry a 1% weight tolerance and an 85 durometer rating. They have a standard thickness for urethane plates. They're considerably less expensive and they have a 3-year warranty.

Rogue Deep Dish PlatesRunner Up to Best Cast Iron Plates. Also made in the USA, these Rogue Deep Dish Plates are real stunners. They have an aggressively deep lip on 35lb+ variants and they go up to 100lb. These plates are machined and e-coated similar to the Strength Co's and they have a similar weight tolerance of 2%. The downside in comparison to the Strength Co's is that the Rogue Deep Dishes are much thicker. The 45lb plates are about 3/4″ thicker, which will limit the amount of weight on the bar in comparison. Still, these are beautiful and high-performing plates with a vintage look and feel.

HANSU POWER Steel PlatesRunner up to Best Calibrated Plates. I very nearly awarded these the top option due to their value. These plates are similarly very accurate with a tolerance of +/- 10 grams and they carry the same thickness as the Rogues. Aesthetically, the HANSU plates have a nice design with raised white lettering and the same type of vibrant powder coat. These plates are often on sale and retail for less than the competition.

Rogue 6-Shooter Olympic Grip PlatesRunner Up to Best Plates with Handles. The Rogue 6-shooters are cast iron plates with either a gray hammertone finish or a urethane coating. 6 circular cutouts make for easy handling and they come with an impressive 1% weight tolerance on 25lb+ variants. 45lb plates are 1.36″ thick on the iron version and 1.5″ on the urethane version. They also include a 5-year warranty (iron version), which is one of the highest in the industry.

REP Change PlatesRunner Up to Best Change Plates. The REP Change Plates are high-quality rubber-coated plates with a steel collar opening. This differs from the Rogue Change Plates, which have a rubber collar opening. This will make these plates easier to slide on and off. The REP plates are less expensive and they offer free shipping.

Fitness Gear Olympic Cast PlatesRunner Up to Best Cheap Plates. Fitness Gear is exclusive to Dick's Sporting Goods. These plates are similar in design and function to the CAP Olympic Grip Plates. There's nothing fancy about them – they're budget plates and they're ideal for recreational and/or beginner lifters.

Strength Co Olympic Bar and Plate SetRunner Up to Best Weight Plate Set. The Strength Co plate set includes their Standard Olympic Barbell and 330lb of their iron plates from above. I own this bar and these plates – it's all high quality. If you're a more serious lifter looking for some solid equipment, this weight plate set is hard to beat.

Rogue Fleck PlatesRunner Up to Best Looking Plates. The Rogue Fleck Plates became an overnight sensation during quarantine in the heart of COVID-19. These plates offer a beautiful fleck design with vibrant colors matched to the IWF scheme. Performance-wise, these plates have a +/- 1% tolerance and a 90 shore durometer rating. With a 50.4mm stainless steel collar opening, they sit very snug on the bar. While these may look like the Vulcan Alphas, they're different in that these are not to be outdoors like the Alphas.

So, there you have it – my top ranked weight plates to buy in 2021!

If you have any questions about weight plates, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own any of these plates and you want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!

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The bar is loaded,

Adam

Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab. He serves as the chief content creator with over two decades of training experience. When he's not testing equipment and writing about all things fitness, Adam loves spending time with his wife and two children.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I currently have mostly Eleiko XF bumper plates – I went with them for noise reduction – and they are the quietest plates I’ve used when dropped from overhead. Downsides are thickness – they’re fluffy AF… And the 10lb and 15lb plates are a smaller diameter, which I personally don’t like. I also keep a few pairs of calibrated Rogue 55lb plates for when I run out of space on the bar with the Eleikos for deadlifting and squatting.

    If I were to buy a set today, I’d probably go with Uesaka D-Warrior camo plates. Definitely the coolest looking plates I’ve seen and Uesaka has a reputation for being the best and most durable when it comes to bumper plates. They’re thin enough so that most won’t max out the barbell sleeves, and they’re not overly loud when dropped, like most urethane bumpers. Only downsides are they’re only available in KGs, and they’re pricey.

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