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August 23, 2022

What is an Olympic Weight Plate?

When it comes to weight lifting, there’s probably no other plate that will set you up better than a good Olympic set. While there are many variations, the two main categories of weight plate are Olympic and standard. As suggested by the name, Olympic plates are the higher-grade option and are typically built with greater qualities materials and design. However, this doesn’t mean that an Olympic weight plate set is purely the domain of serious weightlifters, as there is a lot the average user can get out of using good quality plates. CORTEX’s Olympic range features a variety of options to suit most users, including cheap Olympic weight plates, and sizes ranging from 1.25kg and 2.5kg weight plates, to 20kg Olympic weight plates. 

Here we’ll cover some of the key features and advantages of Olympic weight plates and what to look for when choosing the right one for your workout. 

Competition Bumper Plates 

These are the highest grade of Olympic plates and are used in competition powerlifting. Competition plates are required to commercial grade with standardised measurements set by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). These plates will come in specific colours that are also specified by the IWF, and are an internationally recognised colour-coding system. Competition plates will have a larger steel core than regular bumper plates to provide extra protection for drops.  


A useful option for when you’re using plates by themselves is one with a tri-grip design, which will have three gaps along the rim of the plate for a comfortable grip. Not only does this make independent use much easier and smoother, but also makes for a more fluid experience when loading the plates onto and off of bars or gym stations.  

Black Series Bumper 

Outside of full competition-grade bumper plates, CORTEX also have their black series bumper plates, which are comparatively cheap Olympic weight plates. These plates encase a steel core in high density rubber to create extra protection for your floors, walls and workout area. The Black Series bumper plates are perfect for compound lifts such as deadlifts, clean and jerk, snack and jerk variations. These start at 5kg up to 25kg, and have a regulation diameter of 450mm.  

Thickness & Material 

Higher quality Olympic plates will usually have a steel ring core to allow for seamless loading on and off of barbells. Competition Olympic plates will also be thinner than bumper plates to allow the user to load more onto a bar or machine. These competition plates are made with a high-quality PolyUrethane coating, designed to reduce bounce back and endure high intensity usage.  If you plan on using your plates for any exercise that may involve dropping the weights, you’ll want to use these plates or Olympic bumper plates. Which will range in weight from 2.5kg weight plates, to 20kg Olympic weight plates. 

Fitness Benefits 

Weight plates have the great advantage of being highly adaptable to many different training modalities and provide a great number of benefits outside of just building and maintaining muscle. This diversity means that there are almost an endless number of exercises that can be performed with a simple set of weight plates, depending on what muscle groups you want to target, and your own individual fitness goals. Some good exercises to start you off are reverse lunges, overhead squats, or halos. Use them for functional strength training, building muscle or for adding intensity to your cardio routine. They often make a great addition to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for their ability to accelerate your workout with efficiency. CORTEX also has a selection of fractional weight plates, ranging from 0.25kg to 1.5kg that are only compatible with Olympic, allowing the user to make micro progressions and track their process more precisely.  

Barbell Compatibility 

An important technical consideration to get down right at the start is what bars you can use with your Olympic plates. If you’re planning on attaching your plates to a bar, such as a dumbbell or barbell, you’ll need to make sure you’re using a compatible set. Olympic plates will have a standardised centre-hole diameter designed to fit Olympic bars. Standard plates, on the other hand, will be sized differently, and as such can only be used on standard bars. Olympic bars have a 50mm diameter, while standard ones are 25mm. It’s an important distinction, as Olympic bars are also designed to be more durable and handle a greater amount of stress than standard ones. Most competition barbells will be made with carbon steel, with the exception of the SPARTAN205 and ZEUS100, which are made with highly durable Chrome Molybdenum Steel and Spring-Tempered Stainless Steel, respectively. There are also different coatings, including chrome, black oxide and hard chrome, which offer different types of protection, grip-strength and feel. Manufacturers will also usually produce separate size bars for male and female lifters, proportional to average shoulder width between men and women. 

For a more comprehensive breakdown of Olympic barbells, click here  


Buying yourself some Olympic weight plates will ensure you’re using the best equipment and getting the most out of your weight training. They are one of the most effective tools at your disposal for accelerating your strength training, muscle growth and improved stamina. It’s important to find something that personalised to your needs, and there are definitely a few options to consider.  

Speak to our friendly team members today and we’ll be able to help you on your fitness journey.  

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