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Choosing plates for your bar can be a confusing process. There are many different types available – from general use cast plates to fully calibrated competition bumper plates. Here’s what you need to know before you buy…
Bumper plates (or “bumpers”) are weights specifically designed for Olympic weightlifting. They are made of thick, hard rubber so that a loaded bar can be dropped from a height without ruining the floor, the bar and the plates! Competition bumper plates are colour coded by weight, but standard use, general purpose bumper plates are usually black.
Cast plates obviously have no bounce and therefore aren’t suitable for the Olympic snatch, clean and jerk lifts where the weight is thrown above the head and frequently dropped to the floor. Solid metal cast plates are instead used for more general weight training and powerlifting movements (squat, deadlift and bench press), where the weight is usually lowered slowly and not dropped from a height. They are, however, much more affordable than bumper plates.
Rubber or polyurethane coated plates are popular with commercial gyms as they have the look and feel of bumper plates and are much quieter than uncoated metal plates, but they are not designed for Olympic lifts and should only be used for general weight training. If you plan to use your plates for CrossFit or any kind of Olympic lifting, then you’ll definitely need rubber bumper plates.