Strength training isn't just for meatheads. These days, you'll see athletes of all shapes and sizes under the barbell. As such, weightlifting has become one of the most popular fitness disciplines around the world.
One of the key pieces of equipment in this modality is the all-important weight plate. But today's plates aren't one size fits all. Thanks to advancements in materials and manufacturing, anyone — from the home gym enthusiast to the competitive lifter — can take their training to new heights with a plate built for their needs.
Want to rattle some iron with your best Ronnie Coleman impression? There's a plate for that. Want to snatch and clean your way through some outdoor lifting sessions? There's a plate for that. Want to work out comfortably with gear that's easy on your frame — and your floors? Yup, there's a plate for that, too.
To help you load the bar with the best weight plate for your specific training, we've scoured the racks and chosen the top picks for any fitness needs.
Editor's Note: The following prices shown represent weight plate weighing 45 lbs or 20 kg, often sold in pairs. Prices will vary depending on weight.
One of the major factors to consider when choosing weight plates is the material used in construction. Cast iron, rubber and urethane plates are popular options, each tailored to suit different fitness regimens.
Cast-iron plates are typically what you think of when picturing a classic weight plate. They can vary in thickness but are traditionally thinner than other options — this means you can load more on a barbell sleeve without maxing out the space. Because of their iron construction, these plates can deteriorate or rust over time. Additionally, if you plan on dropping your weights, there are other floor-saving options that won't chip or damage your home gym. And while some athletes take pride in that clanging noise tied to pushing and pulling cast iron weight plates, the noise factor can be a turnoff for others.
Rubber or urethane is what you'll find on traditional bumper plates, which are typically thicker than their cast-iron counterparts. Bumper plates can be great for home gym enthusiasts, as the rubber construction is able to be dropped without fear of damage and can prove to be more durable than metal dishes. When choosing these plates, it's important to consider the quality of rubber, as many plates are constructed from recycled materials, which can bring with it a strong odor. Virgin rubber has less of a smell, but can come with a higher price tag. Urethane plates are another option, with a harder construction and improved durability.
It's important to consider your weight plate's center sleeve, especially when purchasing online.
If you're looking to find a set of plates for your standard barbell, look for weights that feature a two-inch center opening. This is the standard size that will allow you to comfortably add or remove the plates without hassle.
Other plates feature a one-inch opening, but these are sized to match adjustable dumbbells or smaller diameter barbells.
This might come as a surprise, but despite what some weight plates claim to be, the actual weight can differ from the listed poundage. Most common in cheaper plates, these inaccuracies can be a few ounces less or more in relation to the listed weight. This might be fine for most casual lifters, but for those fine-tuning their PRs for competitive purposes, every ounce matters. The best way to ensure your weight plates are accurate is by purchasing from reputable brands, like the ones included in this roundup.
When searching for weight plates, you'll probably notice a repeating color scheme, regardless of brand. The premise behind this is competition-level standardization. For added clarity, each weight has a corresponding color to it:
- Red: 55 lbs or 25 kg
- Blue: 45 lbs or 20 kg
- Yellow: 35 lbs or 15kg
- Green: 25 lbs or 10 kg
- White: 10 lbs or 5 kg
This palette allows for easier plate identification when choosing weights and can be a welcomed splash of color for your home gym setup. Is it necessary for every lifter? No, but if you want to train like you're trying to dominate the platform, this could be an easy way to motivate your performance.