If you’ve never seriously spent time considering buying weights before, then understanding exactly what makes them different is hard to understand.
After all, it’s just going to go on the end of a bar so you can lift it above your head, right?
If you’re just getting started, then any weights are good weights. But once you’ve been lifting for a few months and start putting some weight on the bar, then having the right set of plates can make a huge difference.
Our guide will give you the low down, and the best plates on the market right now. Read on to find out what you need to know.
Best Metal Plate
"Sturdy, almost indestructable and affordable. These plates are a great choice for any home gym."
Powergym Rubber Crumb Weight Plates
BodyRip Fraction Plates
What is an Olympic plate?
The difference between standard weight plates and Olympic plates is simple.
Standard plates have a 25mm centre hole, designed to fit on a standard bar. Olympic plates on the other hand have a 50mm centre hole, designed to fit on the Olympic bar.
The different types of Olympic Plate
1) Metal Plates
If your only concern is lifting weight, then simple metal plates are probably what you’re looking for.
Available in a wide variety of styles, in single plates or complete sets, standard metal plates are widely available almost everywhere.
2) Competition Bumper Plates
If you’re lifting for competitions, you want to buy a set of plates that are as close as possible to what you can expect to see.
Competition plates are almost entirely rubber, which gives them a specific weight and shape profile that you need to get used to. It also means the weights are less likely to obliterate the floor when they’re dropped from extension after a snatch or clean.
Competition plates are the most expensive, but it’s a necessary cost. Look for plates with an accreditation, like our top competition pick below.
3) Technique Plates
Technique plates are designed with precisely the same dimensions as competition plates but have less weight.
As the name might suggest, they’re made for practising lifting techniques but also have a secondary use for anyone who needs to lift a lighter, like someone recovering from a long-term injury.
Can you fit Olympic plates on a standard bar?
No. Because the diameter of the centre hole is different, an Olympic plate only fits on the 2-inch, (50mm sleeve) of an Olympic bar, and vice versa. Make sure that when you’re buying your weights, you’re buying the right kind. If you have an Olympic bar, you need a set of Olympic plates.
The Best Olympic Weight Plates in 2021
Best Metal Plate: Body Revolution Olympic Weight Plates
Basic. Simple. Effective. We’ve chosen these plates because they come in a massive range of weights, which can all be individually chosen, without locking yourself into having to buy a full set.
That means you can buy the weights you need, and expand as you go, and need to add more to the bar.
Factor in the low price, and the wide, easy to hold tri-grip handles that are simple to shove on and off the bar even when you’re tired and your hands are shaking, and there’s a lot to love here.
This Olympic plate has proved very popular on places like Amazon and has some extremely good user reviews there too.
Best Competition Plate: Body Revolution Rubber Weight Plates
Fully compatible with all International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) standards, these weight plates are our top pick if you’re looking for something that’s an exact match to competition standard plates.
Made from rubber with a stainless steel inner ring, each plate is engineered to match what you’ll be lifting at meets and events. Each plate is also organised by colour, so you can tell at a glance what you’re loading up.
Available in multiple sets, from 5 to 25kg, with pair and quad options, loading up your bar is simple. In terms of cost, they’re not cheap, but also surprisingly inexpensive for what you’re getting, and in our opinion, there’s no better way to deck out your home powerlifting set up.
- The Best Women’s Olympic Barbells of 2021
- Are Dumbbells Safer Than Barbells?
- Your Questions: Does Lifting Weights Make You Shorter?
- Best Battle Ropes For Home Gyms
- What’s The Best Home Gym Equipment For Core Strength
Best Fully Recycled Plate: Powergym Rubber Crumb Weight Plates
Made from entirely recycled rubber, these big and beefy plates let you feel good when you lift, knowing that you’re also helping save the environment. Or maybe lifting truck tyres over your head makes you feel manly. We’re not here to judge.
Either way, there’s a lot to like here. Every weight is engineered around a 2-inch stainless steel running ring that fits any Olympic bar, and no matter the weight, each plate is designed to be the same diameter, evenly distributing the weight for easy lifting.
Weights are available in 5 to 20kg pairs, and 100 and 200kg full sets, giving you everything you need in one simple purchase. However, these are pretty damn chunky compared to a lot of other plates, so if you’re lacking space they might not be the best choice.
Best For Incremental Training: BodyRip Fraction Plates
A full set of fractional plates, with pairs of 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1kg rings, are perfect for pushing through plateaus, micro loading and unloading exercises, and correcting imbalances.
Engineered from chromed steel, these rings are hard wearing and robust and guaranteed to last years if looked after well. They’re not for everyone; you know if you want these, but if you do, these are the best we’ve found.
How to choose your Olympic plate set
Does the weight set go high enough: First, consider whether the set you’re looking at has enough weight for the big lifts, specifically squat and deadlift, or whether you’re going to have to buy supplementary weights to go with it.
Do you regularly need to change or move your weights: If you need to change weights a lot, whether that’s because you’re super-setting or you’re just lacking for space, buying a set of weights with built-in grip spaces is more than worth the cost.
Are you training indoors: Consider a weight set that’s rubber-coated, to take the impact on your floors better, and reduce the noise of your workouts for family, friends and neighbours.
Should you get rubber-coated plates or stick with iron?
You’ll notice that a lot of Olympic plates are either plain iron or have a toughened rubber coating around them. So which should you buy? The most obvious answer is to get the ones with the extra rubber coating, right? Well maybe not.
Although it’s ridiculously tough, that rubber coating isn’t indestructible. Depending on how it’s used, and the quality to begin with, it can get scuffed, damaged, cracked or torn over time.
You can get around this by having a decent coating on your home gym floor, but if not, that rubber coating could take a beating over time.
Another thing to think about is that rubber plates have an insert that goes around the Olympic bar. Again, this is something that can wear down over time. We’re talking years here, or a lot of abuse, but it’s technically possible.
Which is better? They’re both a good choice and commercial gyms generally favour the rubber-coated as they’re a bit kinder on the client’s body parts they come into contact with. It’s personal preference but non-coated are practically indestructible.
Stuck on which plates to buy?
For most people, the choice of plates doesn’t matter. Put weight on the bar and pick it up. But if you’re doing Olympic lifts, you’re lifting big, or you’re actually planning on competing, what you’re putting on the bar matters.
Given the choice, we’d always lean towards the Body Revolution Bumper Plates. They offer the best of all the options. A good range of weights, great performance, solid construction, and decent pricing. Plus, if you ever decide to show off your numbers, you’re ready to go.
Thanks for reading. Did we miss anything? Do you have a recommended set of Olympic plates for competition practice or home use? Make sure to let us know in the comments!