Choosing bumper plates for your home gym isn’t as easy a task as it sounds. Although all of them look the same, they are all made of different materials, which makes them suitable for different purposes. This article is basically our detailed bumper plate buying guide. We will cover the following topics here:
- What’s the difference between bumper plates and their cousin rubber-coated steel plates?
- Types of bumper plates and their usage.
- Materials used for making bumper plates.
- How to buy the right bumper plates for your home gym.
Before we dive into all these details, let’s first look at the top 5 best bumper plates that we have selected for you. Also, check out our list of the best barbell collars, Best Budget Olympic Barbells, Best Mid Range $200-500 Olympic Barbells, and Best High-End ($500+) Olympic Barbells as you would need them. You will also need products like Yes4All Silencer Drop Pads to minimize the noise, vibration, and shock generated due to the use of weights in your home gym.
In a hurry? Here are our top picks!
Don’t buy the steel plates that are coated with rubber and look almost the same as bumper plates
There are three types of weight plates; metal plates, metal plates coated with rubber, and bumper plates.
Metal plates are usually made of steel or cast iron. They are highly durable but they affect the durability of everything around them; your floor, your barbell, the barbell collar, and you too! A slight bump with these plates can leave you feeling sore for days.
Steel/cast iron plates coated with rubber (or sometimes urethane) look very much like bumper plates and they are cheaper too. That's why many gyms have these plates. They are safer and quieter than iron but they lack the distinct features of bumper plates. They are not as safe for the floor, the barbell, and you as bumper plates. We do not recommend them for home gyms.
Bumper plates are made of dense rubber with steel (or brass) inserts in the middle that helps maintain their shape. They are much safer than metal and metal-coated weight plates. Even when dropped, they are not going to cause any severe damage to the foundation of your home. They are not going to bounce off and hurt you or anyone else present in your home gym. If you are into Olympic lifting, you must choose them over metal plates for your safety.
Types of materials used for making bumper plates
Rubber is obviously the most common choice but some high-end bumper plates are made of urethane. Talking about rubber; it could either be virgin or crumb. Read below for more details.
Crumb rubber bumper plates
As obvious from its name, crumb rubber is basically recycled rubber made of old tires and other waste rubber products. They are first grinded to make small pieces i.e. crumbs and then, they are mixed with adhesives and processed under high heat. The quality of adhesive used determines the overall quality of the final product.
Crumb rubber products have a strong odor, which is basically the smell of the gasses that are released from the adhesives used for binding the crumbs. They are not as aesthetically appealing as virgin rubber products. Plus, they are more prone to damages such as cracking, chipping, etc.
There are two reasons why crumb rubber plates are popular:
- They are inexpensive. Perfect for people who are getting started and need something basic within their budget. Also good for recreational trainers who do not usually throw plates when done.
- They are eco-friendly. And yes, it makes a lot of difference these days when most of us are trying our best to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Virgin rubber plates
They are denser than crumb rubber plates, which is why they are thinner and have a very less bounce. The low bounce makes them safer for the floor, the barbell, as well as for you. They are more resistant to wear and tear and can be used for semi-commercial and commercial purposes.
Virgin rubber plates have a smooth, polished look. They also carry a typical rubbery odor but the smell is relatively mild because they do not have any additives.
Urethane bumper plates
Urethane is a synthetic material that can be considered to be a blend of plastic and rubber.
Since it is expensive and has some advantages over virgin rubber, urethane is usually used for making high-end bumper plates. Those plates have an extremely low/almost dead bounce. They are highly durable and can last for years even when you drop them frequently. Plus, they are almost odorless.
Urethane is denser than rubber, so urethane plates are thinner. You can load more of them on your barbell. That's exactly what you need if you lift really heavy.
Types of bumper plates
Technique bumper plates
These are very simple rubber plates without the stainless steel insert that you can find in other bumper plates. See the below image.
They are only made of rubber and come in light weights such as 2.5lbs, 5lbs, and 10lbs. As you can guess from their name, they are used for teaching techniques to budding athletes so they can learn the correct form, posture, and technique before going heavy.
Although they are pretty simple and meant to be for short-term use, technique bumper plates are quite expensive. That's why we do not recommend them unless you want to train like an athlete. Even if you buy them, you will have to hire a trainer to teach you the techniques. They are, however, good for rehabilitation and for people who want to transition from steel plates to bumper plates.
Training bumper plates
These are the most common bumper plates available for sale. They are usually black but these days colored plates are available too. They have steel inserts at the center on which the barbell slides. The inserts help add weight as well as maintain the shape of the plates. But, if you drop the plates regularly, these inserts could become loose and may come out, making the plate useless. That's why you should avoid dropping them unless required.
Training bumper plates have low bounce but not dead bounce.
The more the plates bounce off when dropped, the more damage they will cause to the barbell and the floor. Plus, if they bounce too much, the plates could bounce off and land on your toes or any other equipment.
The intensity of bounce of rubber plates is measured using a shore/durometer rating, which ranges from 0 to 100. The higher the rating, the less will be the bounce. Training bumper plates usually have a durometer rating of 85.
Training bumper plates are thicker than the competition bumper plates, which means you can add fewer plates on your barbell. But, that shouldn’t be an issue unless you are planning to lift really heavy. Most of these plates have a standard diameter of 450mm and are compatible with Olympic barbells.
Competition bumper plates
These are high-end bumper plates that strictly conform to IWF specifications for weight and size. They have a solid steel core whose size is much larger than the steel inserts used for training plates. The heavy steel core helps reduce its overall thickness while still making them weigh more. This means you can load more competition plates on a barbell than training plates.
Competition bumper plates have a dead bounce (well almost dead). Their shore/durometer rating is more than 90. They are much more accurate in terms of weight whereas the training plates aren’t always that accurate. The weight accuracy, however, doesn’t really matter unless you are training for competition.
As expected, competition bumper plates are expensive, so we recommend them only for people who are rather serious about their workouts or those who want to train for competitions. Here are some of the best competition bumper plates that we recommend.
#1 - Fringe Sport Black Bumper Plates
Quick Review Video
What we think
Ignore this one for now
- Have a very low bounce, which is known as dead bounce. This helps keep your barbell safe.
- Designed as per IWF standards.
- Rust and corrosion-resistant
- True to their weight
- No major issues found.
We are giving this a rating of 5.0 out of 5.0.
#2 - REP Fitness Black Bumper Plates
What we think
As expected from a good-quality, long-lasting product, the REP Fitness black bumper plates are made of virgin rubber. Just in case you don’t know, virgin rubber is more durable i.e. it is less prone to chipping and cracking when compared to crumb rubber. Virgin rubber also has a very low bounce, so the REP Fitness Black bumper plates are going to keep your barbell and floor safe even when you drop them regularly, which you mustn’t. Plus, the steel inserts have hooks that help them stay firmly hooked to rubber, so they do not come out prematurely.
There are two things that you may not like about these REP Fitness black bumper plates; they have a strong odor and they are more expensive than other competitive products. However, if you are looking for quality products, do not hesitate to spend a few more dollars on these bumper plates.
- Made of virgin rubber
- Have hooked stainless steel inserts for longer durability
- Tested to last for more than 12000 drops
- Have a low bounce
- 3-year warranty
- Expensive than other competitive products
- Have a strong rubber smell
High-quality bumper plates that can last more than 12,000 drops.
We are giving this a rating of 4.8 out of 5.0.
#3 - Titan Fitness LB Economy Black Bumper Plates
What we think
If you are looking for the most affordable bumper plates for your home gym, Titan Fitness should be your go-to brand. Its Economy black bumper plates are much cheaper than other competitive options. Accordingly, the quality and finish may not be as good as you may expect. But, if you are not into the habit of dropping your weights, they can last for a good number of years. The virgin rubber gives them a low bounce, which helps protect the plates as well as the barbell. The reinforced steel inserts help enhance their durability.
The Titan Fitness LB Economy black bumper plates are compatible with Olympic barbells and come with 1-year warranty.
- Most affordable top-rated bumper plates
- Compatible with Olympic barbells
- Have a low bounce
- 55lbs plates not available
- None as such but may not last long if dropped frequently
Best budget option for recreational lifters.
We are giving this a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0.
#4 - AMGYM LB Bumper Plates
What we think
AMGYM LB bumper plates are one of the top-rated weight plates on Amazon with thousands of buyers praising them for their build and durability. As expected, they are made of virgin rubber and have a low bounce, although the exact durometer rating is not specified by the seller. The steel inserts of these bumper plates have hooks, which provide better adherence with the rubber.
A major issue that we found with these AMGYM bumper plates is that when you buy a set, they are shipped in separate boxes. You may receive the boxes on different days or weeks, making you feel anxious about your order. You may not even receive a part of it but Amazon should take care of that and facilitate returns/refunds. A few buyers have also pointed out that the weights of the plates may not be what they should be.
- Quick delivery
- Perfect finish
- Have hooked steel inserts for better durability
- Have a low bounce
- Buyers have complained of receiving incomplete orders
- The weight of the plates may not always be accurate
- They need to be aired out to get rid of their overwhelming smell
- No information provided on warranty
Good option if you are on a budget and willing to take a chance.
We are giving this a rating of 4.3 out of 5.0.
#5 - Rogue Echo Bumper Plates V2
Quick Review Video
What we think
If you are looking for high-quality, commercial-grade, and yet budget-friendly bumper plates for your home gym, do not miss out the Rogue Echo bumper plates V2. They are IWF-standard plates, so you can use them for training purposes too. Plus, they are approved for the United States Army’s Combat Fitness Test, which reflects their quality and build.
Unlike other affordable bumper plates, the Rogue Echo V2 bumper plates are made of virgin rubber. That’s why they are more durable and resistant to chipping and damage. Plus, the manufacturer claims that these plates come with an almost zero bounce, which helps prolong the life of your barbell.
Since these plates are manufactured by Rogue’s Chinese partners, you can expect some cosmetic issues but nothing major that could be counted as a dealbreaker.
- Competitively priced
- Made of 100% virgin rubber
- Offers dead bounce
- Designed as per IWF standards
- Cosmetic issues are frequently reported
Best-in-class bumper plates available at a decent price.
We are giving this a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0.
We hope the above mentioned information helps you understand the types of bumper plates available so you can choose the most relevant one for your home gym. If you have any questions or queries, get in touch with us.
Before you go, check out this interesting article on ‘Are Crossfit Weights (Bumper Plates) Lighter’. If you are feeling anxious about your workouts lately, learn more about How to Prevent Pre Workout Panic Attacks and How to Survive a Panic Attack During a Workout.