Best bumper plates
Bumper plates look like brightly colored lollipops from afar, loaded up on barbells held overhead and dropped to the ground. Yes, there are plenty of good reasons to use bumper plates. There are also a few key differences between the brands and designs. The most obvious reason to use these plates is they allow a lifter to safely drop the barbell to the ground without damaging the plates, barbell, lifting platform, or the lifter. This is a key factor when performing lifts such as the deadlift and Olympic lifts for maximal effort. The plates themselves typically cost more than the steel standards as they are made from a dense rubber or alternative material with a metal core. The denser the rubber the greater the degree of a plate’s hardness, which is measured by a durometer rating between 65 and 100. The higher the durometer rating, the harder the plate and less it will bounce on the ground when dropped. If you’ve ever watched amateur events outdoors, perhaps you’ve seen the lower durometer ratings in effect when bumper plates bounce across asphalt when dropped. Higher-level competitions demand higher durometer ratings so as to avoid damage, while garage gym enthusiasts might not be that concerned. Thus, the question of whether to buy not comes down to how frequently, and how intensely, you’ll want to perform Olympic lifts and deadlifts.
Best bumper plates
Bounce for the buck
Money buys durometer ratings as bouncing barbells can be not just annoying, but a little bit dangerous. The question for the user is just how frequently the bumper plates will be used and in what settings. If you’re working out in your garage gym, the lower-cost models might be just fine, although the feel will be different if you’re planning on a competition at some point. The wider plates will require a different approach not just on the lift but the drop. For deadlifts in particular, the hardness of the plate is going to matter on higher repetition drills. Every gym-goer has felt the ground shake as a lifter slams those plates down, down, and down again with 405 pounds on the bar. If higher reps is in your future with these, a wooden platform might be in order and isn’t that difficult to build.
Another key value to using bumper plates is the metal discs inside the barbell hole. Anyone who has ever felt the shake, rattle, and roll of steel plates on an Olympic barbell when trying to perform the Olympic lifts knows the problem well. Even with the best of collars, the plates are bound to slide up and down the barbell shaft, making for a little danger to the lifer and barbell alike. Sliding plates loosens the load and distributes it unevenly, offering the potential for torn muscles. In an extreme case, the plates could even slide off through the collar. More likely though is the barbell will get damaged after prolonged use. The bump and grind of metal on metal will shorten the life of expensive barbells and wind up costing more than bumpers set.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Rogue LB Competition Plates
Designed for high-end competitive use, the Rogue LB Competition Plates feature a durometer rating of 94, which is close to the 100-point maximum of hardness. This level of hardness makes for good competition plates in that it offers a dead blow to the ground with minimal give, all the while affording the flooring and barbell a still safer landing than hard steel. The plates are constructed with a raised flanges, a rubber surface designed to prevent direct metal-on-metal contact between the center discs when stacked atop one another on the barbell. Designed with a diameter of 450mm and collar opening of 50.40mm, the plates offer a safe level of bounce protection to the barbell itself, as opposed to the rattling of wide steel plates against an Olympic bar. The Rogue LB Competition Plates come in color-coded options: Green, 25-pound; yellow, 35-pound; blue, 45-pound; and red, 55-pound. Plate width is likewise fairly standard: 2.5 inches for the 55-pound; 2.15 inches for the 45-pound; 1.7 inches for the 35-pound; 1.25 inches for the 25-pound.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness Olympic Bumper Weights
With a durometer rating of 89, the Sunny Health & Fitness plates offer minimal bounce and are crafted with high-density rubber for a mid-level degree of bounce when dropped. Constructed with IWF standard measurements of 450mm diameter and 50.40mm collar opening, the plates work with more standard barbells to ensure a tight enough fit to protect the bar. The Sunny Health & Fitness Olympic Bumper Weights come color-coded: Black, 10-pound; green, 25-pound; yellow, 35-pound; and blue, 45-pound. Custom-molded and hand-painted, the plates feature a satin finish and solid chrome insert. The manufacturer does note that the 10-pound plates shouldn’t be used in isolation when dropped repeatedly as they could be subject to warping and cracking.
3. Rogue Dumbbell Bumpers
Specially designed to fit the Rogue C-60B Barbell, the loadable dumbbell bumpers allow lifters to modify the weight used in their dumbbell lifts, like one-handed snatches and cleans. Designed to match their Olympic-sized peers, these dumbbell plates feature a durometer rating of 88, with a 230mm diameter and collar opening of 50.8mm. Hard rubber on the outside with a chrome-plated hub in the center, the Rogue Dumbbell Bumpers offer little bounce to the ground while affording floor and foot safety. Color-coded to match their Olympic-sized peers, the dumbbell bumpers are: Black, 10-pounds; black, 15-pounds; green, 25-pounds; yellow, 35-pounds; blue, 45-pounds; and red, 55-pounds. Plate thickness is: 1.29 inches, for the black 10-pound plate; 1.77 inches for the black 15-pound plate; 4.72 inches for the 25-pound plate; 5.9 inches for the 35-, 45-, and 55-pound plates.
4. 2.0 Color LB Training Plates
Found at the Reebok CrossFit competitions, Rogue’s 2.0 Color LB Training Plates feature an updated glosse-matte-gloss finish. With a durometer rating of 86, the plates do offer a little bounce which works well on some outdoor surfaces. The plates are standardized to the IWF with a 450mm diameter and 50.40mm collar opening and steel disc insert to keep them snug on the barbell. Color-coded to the standards, the plates are: Green, 25-pound; yellow, 35-pound; blue, 45-pound; and red, 55-pound. Plate width is likewise: 2.5 inches for the 55-pounds; 2.125 inches for the 45-pound; 1.75 inches 35-pound; and 1.3 inches for the 25-pound.
5. Rogue Bumper Plates by Hi-Temp
For seeking a bit of a bounce the buck, the Rogue Bumper Plates by Hi-Temp are the lower cost model, all black, with a durometer rating of 75. Great for the home gym where bouncing barbells aren’t a problem to chase down and there’s little danger of them rolling into another competitor, the multi-purpose plates are heavy-duty and built to stand a thumping. Designed with a 445mm diameter, they’re not IWF standard for competition, but practice is a completely different issue. All plates are colored black and do come wide: 3.75 inches for the 45-pounder; 3.12 inches for the 35-pound; 2.25 inches for the 25-pound; 1.87 inches for the 15-pound; 1.37 inches for the 10-pound.