When you walk into pretty much any gym in the country and head over to the squat or bench area, you’ll find your standard olympic plates with weights of:
- 2.5 pounds
- 5 pounds
- 10 pounds
- 25 pounds
- 45 pounds
- 55 pounds (occasionally)
These weight plates are typically used for barbells but they can also be used on a variety of other tools like EZ Bars, Hex Bars or Trap bars as well as any type of bar that fits 2inch olympic plates.
Some people will even use the plates on their own without bars and those make for tools to use for exercise as well.
That gives you a lot of combinations to work with when it comes to how much weight you can put on the bar yet at the same time, it can be a bit limiting.
Fractional Weights Allow For Continued Progression
You can actually view a video below of some fractional weight plates we reviewed in order to get a better idea of what they can look like:
Now, you’re limited in the fact that sometimes slapping a couple of 5’s on each side is too much of a jump and you “max out” too quickly, leaving you at risk of “plateauing” because you weren’t able to progress.
When it comes to training in the gym, proper progression is very important and being able to incrementally add weight to an exercise will make a big difference.
That’s where fractional weight plates come in. Typically, there come in the following sizes:
- 0.25 pounds
- 0.5 pounds
- 0.75 pounds
- 1 pound
Now, I know not everybody is a powerlifter going for max out lifts but we will start with them for example. Being able to make a 1% increase in their performance is huge for those who have been training for a while.
So instead of adding 10 more pounds to their squat or deadlift they may only need to 1-2 pounds at a time. If you didn’t have fractional weight plates and were using the typical weight plates at the gym you would only be able to jump 5 pounds at a time.
While a 5 lb jump is a good progression for most people, it’s not feasible because then you would be adding only one 5 pound plate to one side of the bar, leaving it lopsided.
Instead of adding two 5’s on each side or 10’s and this newbie going too heavy, not being able to perform the lift properly, they can instead use 2 one pound fractional weight plates.
Amazing for the overhead press and a lot of other lifts
Not only can they be valuable with the bigger lifts like squats, bench press, deadlifts, etc, fractional weight plates are also very useful for isolation exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions. Fractional weight plates are also a god-send for exercises like the overhead press where the total weight you can press overhead is very limited when compared to something like the bench press.
These isolation exercises typically will not be using as heavy of a weight since you’re only using one primary muscle. Granted, in the bicep curl example, the forearms will be involved in gripping the bar or weight but the primary focus is on the biceps.
Making big jumps like 10 or 20 lbs for exercises like this would lead to sloppy technique and maxing out too quickly.
But being able to add weight in these smaller increments would allow for a better transition as well as proper progression of the exercise, so they eventually get strong enough to get to their desired weight.
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