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August 02, 2022

Standard vs Olympic Weight Plates: What is the Difference?

If you’re new to the world of weight plates and barbells, you might have heard the terms Olympic and standard when referring to certain equipment. These are the two main categories of weight plate, and have important technical differences that make them suitable to different users and levels of fitness. Confusion around these terms can understandably cause some hesitation in using or purchasing weight plates for the first time for fear of using the ‘wrong’ equipment. Luckily, the difference is (mostly) straight forward, and before you know it, you’ll be using all the jargon like it’s a second language.  


Probably the most important difference to get down from the start is sizing. Standard weight plates and Olympic weight plates will have a hole at the centre through which the barbell is fitted. Standard weight plates will have a centre hole designed to fit a 25mm standard bar, meaning that only bars with the same size will be able to fit your plates. Olympic bars, on the other hand, have a standardised 50mm diameter, meaning they can’t be used with standard plates, and vice versa for an Olympic weight plate on a standard bar. This is an important distinction, as it affects the compatibility of certain bars to weight plates. This means that it is technically possible to fit an Olympic weight plate onto a standard bar, as the Olympic plate’s hole will be larger than the diameter of the standard bar. However, this is not recommended, as the weight cannot be properly secured with the extra gap, meaning the plate is likely to rattle around and be unsafe to use.  

Competition Standards 

You might wonder why this difference exists in the first place. Olympic weight plates are commonly used in professional weight lifting competitions, and as such are required to be commercial grade with standardised measurements. These measurements are set by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to meet the requirements of competitive events. This is also the reason why Competition bumper plates will come in specific colours, as these are also mandated by the IWF, and are an internationally recognised colour coding system.  


Olympic plates have a steel ring to allow for seamless loading on and off of barbells. Competition plates will have a larger steel core than bumper plates to provide extra protection for drops. This steel core is encased in a rubber coating to protect both the weight and the floor. Competition Olympic plates are made with a high-quality PolyUrethane coating, designed to reduce bounce back and endure high intensity usage. Not only are they designed to handle being dropped, but their reduced bounce back will create a more fluid workout, as you won’t need to wait for the plates to settle for as long. If you plan on using your plates for deadlifts, cleans, jerks or anything where you may be dropping the weights at any point, you’ll want something like the Olympic bumper plate. CORTEX standard plates are made with heavy-duty cast iron designed to be rust and chip free, and ensure durability. They come in lower increments of 1.25kg and 2.5kg, and going up through the range there are 10kg weight plates, 15 kilo iron weight plates, up to 20kg weight plates. CORTEX’s EnduraShell coating encases a PVC layer around a cement filling, protecting weight plates from damage and creating a longer lasting product. 

Which is right for you? 

There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best weight plates for you, and it’s possible to get a great workout out of either standard or Olympic plates. However, while standard plates can be cost efficient, they can be very limiting when progressing to more advanced movements and levels. Olympic plates will really provide the best experience for beginners and experienced trainers alike, and will set you up for a smooth and comfortable progression as you gradually improve in your weightlifting. Try to assess your long-term goals and consider whether you want something that will last a lot longer and reduce limitations on your training.  

Whether you’re a complete beginner to the world of weights or a seasoned pro, there’s bound to be a weight plate that suits your personal needs and fitness goals. Speak to our friendly team members today and we’ll be able to help you on your fitness journey. 

For a comprehensive guide of buying weight plates for your home gym, click here. 

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