Time to pick out some Olympic weightlifting plates for your garage gym? What kind do you buy? Rubber bumper plates or steel plates? Where should I get them? Should you buy new plates or should you look for used skid plates? Are they expensive to ship or should I expect free shipping? I’ve been through all of this myself. I’ve already done all the research for my garage gym, but I’ll do it again for this article. So let’s see if I can make buying Olympic plates easier for you guys and girls.
What are bumper plates?
Bumper plates (or alone bumper) They are Olympic weightlifting plates, usually made of rubber, so that a loaded barbell can be dropped safely without damaging the plates or the lifting platform (or just the floor in most gym situations in the home and garage). Bumpers are available in pounds and kilograms in the same weight range as normal cast iron or steel weightlifting plates. Competition bumper plates are color-coded based on weight, while training bumpers are typically black.
Bumper plates or steel plates?
So do you choose bumper plates or classic steel / cast iron plates? Well, that depends. If money is really tight, steel weights might be the way to go. Steel plates are less expensive and much easier to find second-hand. Check out craigslist and you will be impressed by the number of people selling their used plates and bars at local sports stores. Many times, the weights are practically new. New steel plate prices are already around 60-70% of the price of decent bumpers, so finding used plates can mean big savings. You may also get lucky and find used bumper plates.
Another option for a tight budget is rubber. coated flat. The cost is on par with steel, however don’t think for a second that they are similar to bumpers. They are still just steel plates, only they have a protective layer. Rubber plates are typically what box gyms have these days, probably because they’re quieter and look less like old-school iron. They are not designed to be dropped from above like a bumper plate is, so if Olympic lifting is going to be a part of your training, I would avoid steel and rubberized plates as an option.
So why are bumpers better than steel? First of all, they are safer. Safer, they won’t break through the base or crack or chip if you accidentally drop them. Consider that if you can’t safely drop a 45-pound steel plate while simply carrying it to and from the bar without having to worry about what it would do to your floor, you obviously can’t drop it from the top of a vise or from the shoulder. -height on a failed start.
With so many people these days using Olympic lifts in their workouts (even Crossfit uses the clean and the snatch), it makes sense to go for the bumper plates initially so those lifts are an option for you later on, even if you’re in shape. level doesn’t need them right away.
There is another reason why many prefer bumper plates to steel. It may sound a bit silly, but those who have worked with steel (or still do) will understand. It’s the noise. Steel is incredibly loud at the bar. Even with relatively smooth movements, those giant plates colliding with each other are definitely noisy. When you lower that bar even a few inches off the ground or rack, it sounds like hell. The bumpers do not sound or sound like that. Just something else to consider.
Dishes to mix and match
You don’t have to go with 100% bumpers. I have a combination of steel and bumpers in my garage gym. While my 35 and 45 are all bumper plates, I still use smaller steel plates. Steel plates 25 and smaller never touch the ground, so it doesn’t matter what they’re made of. Also, the standard 10 lb. and 15 lb. bumpers tend to warp (wad) if they are allowed to bear the brunt of a drop too many times. They are too thin to take the same abuse as the large 45-pound ones. flat.
Another option for Olympic plates are Flat technique. These are one piece solid plastic plates that are really meant to be abused. They are mostly available in 5, 10 and 15 pound plates. If you’re new to Olympic lifts, these allow you to lower your form with very little added weight, but still have the feeling of having plates on the bar. They’re not cheap by the pound, but you shouldn’t need more than one or two pairs of tech plates.
“I want bumper plates!”
I will go through the different types and brands of bumper plates and also review what I discovered regarding the best places to buy each type based on price, shipping cost, and general reviews and comments.
Standard black bumpers. There are several manufacturers, but I have narrowed it down to three different brands: Rogue HG, Troy VTX, and HI-Temp bumper plates.
-Troy VTX Bumper plates are probably what you will find most of the time at a sporting goods or used equipment store. They are reasonably priced and the reviews are generally pretty decent. It’s one of the few options in that price range available in color. Look on Amazon for an offer on these. There are a lot of sellers of Troy VTX products.
-High temperature bumper they are solid and the price is great too. They are on the thicker side of the available bumpers, but unless your lifts call for more than 400 pounds on the bar I think you will be fine with the thickness of the plates. Many sites sell Hi-Temp. Rogue has them cheaper than you could find them anywhere else, and shipping was included in the price. These are the only basic bumpers I know of that are made in the USA For your information, HI-Temp bumper plates are the most sought after bumper plates by brand.
-Rogue HG bumper they are my favorite choice for a basic black bumper. I own some of these dishes and I love them. They are a bit less expensive than Hi-Temps, but they are a bit thinner and look a lot cooler. They have a 3-year warranty (from 25 years) and shipping is included in the price. Read some of the reviews here. These are hands down the best option for setting up the bumpers.
Competition (and training) bumper plates: Competition bumpers like Eleiko Olympic plates, Pendlay Elites or Rogue Competition plates for Crossfit are thinner, more durable and significantly more expensive. The “training” versions of these bumpers mean they are the same plate, just not calibrated. So either way, compared to a standard bumper, they are much more expensive.
I have risen with competition dishes so rarely that I don’t have to give them a review. Eleiko is used in the Olympics, Crossfit uses and abuses Rogue’s competition plates, and SuperFit uses Pendlay Elites. The weight offset tolerances on these are so tight that you know you are lifting the claimed weight on the plate … unlike super cheap brands (of any plate, bumper or otherwise) where the tolerances are in the form of percentage instead of grams.
If you have the money to spend on such pretty bumper plates, I am sure that whatever brand you buy, you will be happy with them. Although I will not review them, I have looked up the best prices online for all three brands for you to review in case you are considering one of these options. Just click on the links for each name in the paragraph above. (Please do your own research on the prices as well. These best prices are at the time of writing, and I didn’t googled page 10 when comparing.)
Below are some prices to give you an idea of what you will spend to get some new bumper plates (again, as of this writing).
Cast Iron / Steel Plates: Approximately $ .90- $ 1.20 a pound. Definitely look used.
Rogue HG bumper: Approximately $ 1.50- $ 1.75 a pound. The best deal I could find.
HI-TEMP Bumper Plates: Approximately $ 1.60- $ 2.00 a pound.
Training bumpers: Approximately $ 3 to $ 5 a pound.
Competition Bumper Plates: About $ 4- $ 8 + a pound.
Technique plates: Approximately $ 14-16 a pound (ouch).
I hope this article has been helpful to you. I realize that there are a ton of other brands and places to buy bumper plates. I looked at many of them both online and in local stores, and have been exposed to several of them in gyms. I wanted to cut it down a bit. If you want to add your two cents to the kind of dishes you have and love (or hate), go for it. You may also want to check out my weight bench review or my power rack review, both performed similarly and available at www.garage-gyms.com.