Bumper plates are rubber weight plates designed for lifts where the weight may be dropped onto the floor or lifting platform. Lifts, where you may have to drop the weight, include deadlifts, squats, and snatches. Rubber bumper plates will absorb the impact of being dropped without damage to the weights or the floor. If you drop a bar loaded with metal plates, you run the risk of breaking the weights or causing major damage to the floor. This makes bumper plates a great option for your home gym.
What is the Difference Between Bumper Plates and Iron Plates?
Bumper plates are made of dense rubber or rubber-encased iron. Iron plates are, as the name implies, made strictly of cast iron. The biggest difference between the two is that bumper plates are far more durable and able to hold up to being dropped. Iron plates are brittle. If you drop a bar loaded with iron plates, the iron may crack or break.
- Bumper plates are made of rubber or rubber-over-iron
- Iron plates are made of a single piece of cast iron.
- Bumper plates have the same diameter, regardless of weight.
- Iron plates have different sizes depending on the weight.
Another difference between bumper plates and iron plates is that every bumper plate has the same diameter (450 mm/17.72 in), no matter how much they weigh. So, a 10-pound bumper plate is the same size as a 45-pound plate, just thinner. Iron plates differ in size depending on weight. Typically, 10 and 25-pound iron plates are much smaller than 45-pound iron plates.
When Should You Use Bumper Plates?
You should use bumper plates any time you are performing a lift where you may have to drop the weights to the floor, including concrete. Squats, snatches, deadlifts, and cleans are all exercises that are either intended to end by dropping the weight or end with a dropped weight if you cannot complete a rep. Dropping bumper plates to the floor won’t damage the plates and is far less likely to damage the floor than iron plates.
- Any time you are performing Olympic lifts that end by dropping the barbell to the floor (cleans, snatches, etc.)
- When you are performing an exercise where you will drop the weights if you fail a rep (squats).
- If you want to protect your floor from damage.
- Whenever you are trying to keep your noise level down.
In addition to possibly damaging the plates and the floor, dropping iron plates can be loud. Even a single 10-pound iron plate dropped on a hard floor produces a lot of noise. If you have a home gym and want to keep the noise level to a minimum, bumper plates are the solution.
When Should You Use Iron Weights?
Where iron plates really shine is when you are loading dumbbells or an EZ curl bar. The large diameter of bumper plates can interfere with your full range of motion when performing workouts such as curls, dumbbell pullovers, and tricep extensions on a short bar. For these exercises, it’s better to load lighter, small-diameter iron plates on the bar than bumper plates.
- When you are loading weights onto dumbbells or an EZ curl bar.
- The large diameter of bumper plates interferes with curls and other exercises that use shorter bars.
- Iron weights or bumper plates can both be used for exercises where there is little risk of dropping weights, such as bench press.
Iron weights are best used for lifts where there is little to no risk of dropping the loaded barbell to the floor. However, bumper plates are just as good for most of these exercises, including bench press and overhead press.
Should You Buy Bumper Plates or Iron Plates?
Bumper plates are more versatile than iron plates, so they are often the best choice for a home gym. Bumper plates can be used for lifts where the weighted barbell may be dropped, as well as lifts that don’t involve dropping the weights. In comparison, iron weights are only useful for lifts where there is no chance of the barbell dropping to the floor.
- Bumper plates are the top choice for a home gym because of their versatility.
- This set of bumper plates is a great value when starting a home gym.
- Bumper plates protect your floors, making them a smarter investment for a home gym.
Although any floor can be damaged by repeatedly dropping a loaded barbell onto it, bumper plates are far less likely to damage the floor in your home gym than iron plates. By purchasing bumper plates, you’ll protect your property.
Can You Mix Bumper Plates With Regular Plates?
There is no harm in mixing bumper plates with iron plates. In fact, a mixture of both types of plates will withstand shocks much better than iron on its own. So, if you already own a set of standard weights, feel free to mix in bumper plates.
- It is safe to mix bumper plates and iron plates.
- Owning both standard plates and bumper plates gives you even more workout options.
As we discussed earlier, bumper plates are great for any barbell exercise but are too unwieldy to be loaded onto a dumbbell or EZ curl bar. If you have both standard plates and bumper plates, you’ll have the full range of free weight exercises available to you.
Do You Really Need Bumper Plates?
Bumper plates are only necessary if there is a risk of the loaded barbell being dropped during an exercise. However, bumper plates are also just as good as iron plates for any barbell exercise, and they’re far more durable, so they’re a smart bet.
- Bumper plates aren’t strictly necessary, but they are more versatile and durable than iron weights.
- Avoid purchasing Olympic plates for your home gym. These colored bumper plates are more expensive and meant for competition purposes.
- When purchasing bumper plates for your home gym, opt for all-black training plates.
In order to get the most for your money, don’t feel like you need to purchase brightly colored Olympic plates for use at home. These colored plates are tested and rated for competition use and are often twice the cost of what are called “training plates.” Training plates are all-black bumper plates. They have all the benefits of the colored version but cost far less.
Do Bumper Plates Protect Your Floor?
Bumper plates are far less likely to cause damage to your floor than iron plates. Because bumper plates are made from rubber, they don’t have the hard, sharp edges of iron plates. Also, if you drop a bumper plate it will bounce slightly. In contrast, an iron weight dropped onto your floor can easily chip, gouge, or crack the material. Iron won’t bounce, and the plate itself is likely to break on impact.
- Bumper plates are far less likely to damage your floor than iron plates.
- If your floor is not protected, there is still the risk of damage from dropping a barbell loaded with bumper plates.
- Protect your floor with these lifting mats in your home gym.
Even though bumper plates are safer for your floor than iron, dropping any weight on your floor runs the risk of damage. To prevent this, use weight lifting mats or a lifting platform in your home gym. These measures, combined with bumper plates, will keep your floor safe from harm.
What are Bumper Plates Good For?
Bumper plates are an ideal choice for a home gym because they are more durable than iron plates and can be used for a wider variety of barbell exercises. When performing any exercise where the weighted barbell might be dropped to the floor, use bumper plates. Unlike iron, bumper plates aren’t likely to break during these lifts. Plus, bumper plates are rubber, so they are far less likely to damage the floor or lifting platform you’re using.