How’s your home gym setup coming along? It’s easy to focus on big home gym equipment like racks and benches but when we start to set up a weightlifting station we tend to overlook the most important feature: The weights. It’s easy to think that it’s all the same and your focus and budget would be better directed at the big stations you’re installing. Take a look at our weight plate guide to discover that there’s a huge variety of plates and there are some decisions you should make early on that will affect your gym in the long run.
Standard Plates Vs Olympic Plates
If you’re still new to weightlifting then the distinction between a standard and olympic plate might be foreign to you, but it’s a crucial distinction. It refers to the diameter of the hole at the centre of the plate, the part that slides onto the bar. Standard plates have a diameter of 25mm whereas olympic plates have a diameter of 50mm. These plates are only compatible with bars of the same diameter so you’ll want to pick one type and stick with it to get the most out of your home gym workout. Standard plates (and barbells) tend to be better value, letting you get a lot more weight for less money. Olympic plates, while more expensive, are typically easier to load onto the barbell, and the barbells themselves are generally sturdier and can handle a greater load of weight. If your plan is to build a bodybuilding gym and your budget isn’t strict then you’ll want to invest in olympic plates. On the other hand, if the weights are just a small part of your home fitness routine, go with the standard plates.
These weights have standardised measurements to meet the olympic requirements of the competitions they’re used in.Bumper plates must have a diameter of 450mm in addition to the hole diameter of 50mm. Their widespread use in competition comes as the result of their incredibly durable design, able to withstand frequent dropping and not causing too much damage to the floor beneath. Bumper plates encase a steel core in heavy duty rubber which is what protects the weight and floor, and allows them to bounce slightly when dropped. If you’re setting up a powerlifting gym you’ll definitely want some bumper plates for deadlifts, clean and jerks; basically anything where dropping the weights could be an issue. If you’re serious about competition lifting you can also grab a set of colour coded competition bumper plates that are precisely calibrated and easily identifiable by the universally recognised colour for each weight increment.
The bumper plates, which are great for big lifts, are specialised weights that excel at competition powerlifting. They’re not going to be perfect for every gym, especially with the price tag associated with them. So what material should you look for in your weight plate? Iron weight plates, which are durable and consistent, are perfect for use around the gym in big lifts like bench press, military press, and squats. They can also be used for deadlifts and cleans as long as you’ve found a way to protect your floor. Another material which has been gaining popularity is the EnduraShell plate. This is a PVC plastic shell with either a cement or loose sand core. They’re very affordable, making them perfect for smaller, isolated exercises and cardio intensive workouts, but they do not have the durability of iron or bumper plates and should not be dropped.
Tri Grip Plates
The shape of the plate doesn’t make a huge difference if you’re just loading them onto a bar for your set. That being said, Tri Grip plates are a lot easier to load and rack with convenient hand holds. They’re made available to both standard and Olympic bars as well as coming in the iron and bumper styles. The greatest benefit of the tri grip plate is in its use as a standalone weight without needing a barbell. You can use these weights as you would a dumbbell or kettlebell for biceps curls, triceps extensions, shoulder raises, and a huge variety of other exercises.
Worth The Weight
There is a lot to choose from when you pick the weight plates for your gym. It’s important for you to have an idea of how you want your weight training to progress before you start buying weights. Make the call now about whether you’ll go for standard or Olympic plates but don’t stress about the other choices. You can always mix and match later.