What kind of bumper plates should I Get?
Crumb or Virgin Rubber? Black or colored?
If you are on the hunt for the best bumper plates of 2021 for your garage gym you may be asking these questions.
I have done a ton of research and I have some answers. Here are the Top 10 best bumper plates I could find.
Plus, a quick guide on how to choose the right bumper plates, a bumper plate FAQs to answer all your bumper plate related questions.
- TOP 10 Best Bumper Plates for CrossFit & Weightlifting 2021
- Rogue HG 2.0 Bumper Plates
- Rogue Bumper Plates by Hi-Temp
- Fringe Sport Bumper Plates
- Fringe Sport Contrast Bumper Plate Pairs
- Fringe Sport Color Bumper Plate Sets
- CAP Barbell Olympic Rubber Bumper Plate
- CAP Barbell Premium Black Bumper Plates
- HulkFit Olympic Rubber Bumper Plate
- Gymenist Bumper Plates
- Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Discs
- Competition, Training or Technique Plates, What is Right for You?
- What to Look for in a Bumper Plate
- Do You Really Need Bumper Plates?
- Bumper Plate FAQs
- What do the Colors Mean on Color Coded Bumper Plates?
- What are the Best Bumper Plates?
- Are Bumper Plates the Same as Olympic Plates?
- Why use Bumper Plates?
- What Does the Shore or Durometer Rating on My Bumper Plate Mean?
- What is IWF Certification, is IWF Certification Necessary for My Bumper Plates?
- What are the Best Bumper Plate Brands?
- What Lifts Use Bumper Plates?
- Final Thoughts
TOP 10 Best Bumper Plates for CrossFit & Weightlifting 2021
Competition, Training or Technique Plates, What is Right for You?
The quality of your bumper plates really makes a difference in terms of the plates longevity. You want them to be durable and long-lasting, and if we’re being honest here you want them to look good too!
Cheap bumper plates can split, come in colors that are not uniform, as in two plates that are supposed to be the same color are actually two different shades, or may come with blemishes, inclusions or unfinished edges.
You want to avoid that crap, right?
The problem is that online, all bumper plates look the same, so this article will help you to pick the best bumper plates for you.
There are three main types of bumper plates available, these are: competition standard, training standard, and technique bumpers which are very basic (but very durable).
The Competition standard plate sets are only required for competitions, or if you’re very serious about your lifting and must have precise, to the gram weight.
The difference between bumper plates and regular steel and iron plates is that bumpers are made of rubber and are designed to be dropped, whereas regular steel plates are designed to stack well and can get more weight on the bar.
Bumper plates have a uniform diameter, which means the 10 lb plate is the same diameter as the 45 lb plate. They vary in thickness, but not in diameter. This makes it easier on the barbell when the bar is dripped.
If you’re looking to place as much weight on the bar as possible, then steel plates are usually the go-to style.
But if you plan to do any Olympic lifts, where dropping the bar (by accident or design) is inevitable you need bumpers.
Another advantage of bumper plates is that they raise the bar higher off the ground than cast iron plates, another reason why they are ideal for deadlifts or Olympic lifts.
What to Look for in a Bumper Plate
Decide the Type: Competition or Training Plate?
First, you need to decide what type of bumper plate you want, for most, it will be the basic, training or technique plate.
These are very hardy and they can be dropped from overhead without getting damaged. Training plates are great for beginners looking to deadlift or perform Olympic lifts, and they look similar to competition plates but may not be exact weights, as they can be off by a few grams.
Training plates are less expensive than competition plates, so that is a benefit.
How Much Bounce Should the Bumper Plate Have?
Something you should look for in all bumper plates is “dead bounce”.
Dead bounce is where the plates are dropped but don’t bounce back up in the air afterwards. The best bumper plates out there will barely bounce even after being dropped from an overhead position.
Look for dense virgin rubber, this is the material least likely to bounce much.
Inspect the Quality of the Center Ring
Another factor to pay attention to is the metal ring in the center, if this is of poor quality or material then the plate will not last long.
The center ring needs to be properly integrated into the plate to prevent it from becoming loose.
Look for center rings made from steel and that are hooked. You won’t be able to see the hooks, they are integrated into the rubber on the inside. Hooked inserts keep the insert from shifting or moving when the plate is dropped.
Consider Your Barbell Collars, Too!
While we are on the topic, a good set of barbell collars are necessary when you plan to drop your weights.
You need barbell collars that can withstand the abuse and keep the weights in place. Check out this list of the best barbell collars to find the right pair.
Type of Rubber
High-quality CrossFit bumper plates are made with either virgin rubber, recycled rubber, or recycled crumb rubber.
These can all be a good choice, but if you are building a garage gym on a tight budget recycled rubber is the least expensive.
- Virgin rubber: More expensive, denser, slimmer profile, more durable, less bounce and harder.
- Recycled Rubber/Crumb Rubber: Less expensive, not as durable, bonded together, can chip apart, are softer and bounce higher when dropped.
Do You Really Need Bumper Plates?
Bumper plates are special plates designed for Olympic lifts. They are uniform in diameter and made from a dense rubber that will not bounce too much if dropped from overhead or waist level.
Think about how you lift today.
Are you lifting in a way where you plan to drop the barbell from overhead?
In a home gym, dropping the weight may not be ideal, especially if your gym is inside the house.
A garage gym, or garage CrossFit gym, is a better option for this style of lifting, but still consider if this is how you actually lift.
If you are training with bench presses, squatting, deadlifts and your barbell never hits the ground in an uncontrolled way, an Olympic barbell set or a weightlifting style gym might be a better option.
Why would Steel or Cast Iron Plates be a Better Option?
Iron plates take up less space than bumper plates, and it’s easier to load 600 or 700 lbs, used for weight lifting or powerlifting, using steel plates than bumper plates.
Of course, the Fringe Sport Bumper Plates are thinner, so you can add more weight per side than other bumper plates, but overall, cast iron wins out in terms of max weight on each side.
Iron plates are also, usually, less expensive on average than bumper plates.
If you are thinking of creating a weight lifting style gym, I have a list of the essential weight lifting home gym equipment here.
When You Need Bumper Plates?
If you train using the Olympic lifts, and you routinely drop from overhead or waist level, bumper plates are the right choice.
In addition to saving your barbell, bumper plates have a certain aesthetic appeal that some athletes favor.
So by all means, if you want bumper plates, get them.
Bumper Plate FAQs
What do the Colors Mean on Color Coded Bumper Plates?
Generally, those colors, sometimes known as Olympic color finishes, you see on higher-end bumper plates mean something.
The colors are set to IWF standards so the color of the plate indicates how much it weighs. Eg, all red bumper plates are 55 lb plates, regardless of the brand or manufacturer.
The following outlines the IWF standard:
- Red Plates are 55 lb
- Blue Plates are 45 lb
- Yellow plates are 35 lb
- Green plates are 25 lb
Color bumper plates make it very easy to quickly calculate the weight of the bar from a distance.
If you see a bar with a green and yellow plate on each side you know, without having to inspect the weight up close, that the bar is carrying 60 lbs on each side, so 120 in total, plus 44 lbs for a standard Olympic bar is 164 in total with plates and bar. You also need to add in the weight of the collars, which can be an lb or more depending on style.
What are the Best Bumper Plates?
My personal favorite bumper plates are the Fringe Sport Contrast Bumper Plate Pairs.
Because they are sold in pairs, made from a high-quality dense rubber that is thinner than others so you can fit more weight on the bar, and they have indestructible hooked steel inserts that will not fail when the bar is dropped.
I also really like the Rogue HG 2.0 plates because they are durable, hard virgin rubber, best-rated on the durometer, with virtually no bounce and they make and home gym look badass.
Are Bumper Plates the Same as Olympic Plates?
ANY plate with a 2 inch hole is called an Olympic plate, and bumper plates are used for Olympic lifts, so things can get confusing.
The defining features of bumper plates are:
- They are made from rubber, and
- They have the same diameter, regardless of weight.
Those cast iron weights where the plates are all different diameters are used most commonly by weight lifters, but those iron plates are still considered Olympic plates if they have a two inch hole.
So, bumper plates are simply one style of Olympic plate, but not the only style.
Why use Bumper Plates?
The reason bumper plates are used for Olympic lifts and sports like CrossFit and other functional fitness regimes is that they are designed to be dropped.
They are made from a dense rubber which will not bounce too much. Bumper plates are also all the same diameter, regardless of weight, so they hit the ground easier if they are dropped, causing less damage to the plates and your Olympic bar.
What Does the Shore or Durometer Rating on My Bumper Plate Mean?
The shore or durometer rating tells us how hard an object is. A gummy bear might have a durometer reading of 10, a pencil eraser is 40.
Most bumper plates fall between 70 and 95 durometer rating, with 95 being the harder plate, will be less bouncy and less likely to split.
Virgin rubber bumper plates have higher durometer ratings than crumb rubber. Virgin rubber is harder, has less bounce, and is more durable.
Since virgin rubber is hard, it is louder than crumb rubber when you drop it. It is also more expensive since the raw materials must be new.
What is IWF Certification, is IWF Certification Necessary for My Bumper Plates?
IWF or International Weightlifting Federation is one of the oldest sports federations in existence. The IWF governs Weightlifting.
One of the missions of the IWF is to control and regulate all international weightlifting competitions, which includes standardizing the bumper plates used.
Bumper plates used in competition must be IWF certified.
IWF certified bumper plates are very expensive, so most training plates are not certified. Instead, the best bumper plate makers create plates that match the standards, without being certified, and those are the best bumper plates to get.
What are the Best Bumper Plate Brands?
I will lay it out straight here. The best bumper plate brands are:
Rogue, Vulcan, Fringe Sport, Eleiko, Werk San, Ivanko, Again Faster, Titan Fitness, Hulk Fitness, Villian Fitness, York Barbell, CAP Barbell, Kabuki, Uesaka and Origen.
What Lifts Use Bumper Plates?
Some say bumper plates only need to be used on lifts where you may drop the bar, such as a snatch or overhead squat.
…bumper plates are a safe option for all Olympic lifts.
Bumper plates are used for the snatch, deadlift, clean and jerk, overhead press, squat and overhead lunge.
Keep in mind:
Bumper plates will make your lifting a little quieter too, if that is a concern at your house.
Now that you have seen the best bumper plates of 2021, it’s time to make a decision.
Are you going for the budget option? Or are you looking for something that may cost more initially but will last longer? Maybe you want to make a statement and get the best money can buy?
The real question is: what works for you?
Whichever set you decide on, treat them well. Never drop them if you don’t need to.
Place them on lifting platforms, not concrete, and don’t throw the plates around. Even the best set of 10lb plates on the market can break if mistreated.
Are you working in a small space or compact home gym? If so, check out these compact home gym options.
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