If you’re looking to add some Olympic weightlifting plates to your garage or commercial gym, you might be contemplating whether you should go for steel or rubber bumper weight plates. The answer to your question will depend on a few factors and your personal preferences. Generally, bumper weight plates are the preferred option of many, due to the fact that they can be safely dropped even from an overhead height, they’re more aesthetically pleasing and less prone to damage. Let’s get into more detail about the difference between the two types.
First and foremost, your choice will depend on the type of training you’ll be doing for the most part. If you’re doing power lifts, such as bench pressing, deadlifting, overhead pressing and squatting, steel plates will do the job just fine, as there’s no need to drop the bar to the ground abruptly. Although I would argue that bumper plates are the better option for deadlifting, as repeatedly dropping steel or iron plates from even a few centimeters off the ground can damage them. However, steel and iron plates are cheaper and more available.
On the other hand, bumper plates used to be hard to find, but thanks to the great advancements in the fitness industry, today you can easily buy them online and have them shipped directly to your gym. You’ll come across bumper weight plates with different durometer ratings. The durometer rating indicates how hard the rubber is. A lower durometer means a softer rubber, while a higher durometer means a harder rubber. For instance, a bumper plate with 90 durometers is excellent, as it will provide you a consistent dead blow with minimal bounce. This can be an important aspect in terms of safety when dropping the bar from a certain height.
There are also technique plates, which are ideal for beginners as they’re not as heavy as the regular bumper and steel plates. These are specifically made to help people maintain the proper form without adding much weight, yet still providing the feeling of plates on the bar. They can be expensive, but you generally don’t need more than a pair or two of them.
As is the case with almost everything else in life – you get what you pay for. Quality bumper weight plates will cost you more, but they’ll also last you more. You can go for Olympic or regular bumper weight plates. Olympic plates are typically more expensive, but they’re also used for competitions. So if you’re looking to compete, you better get used to working out with them as well. Regular weight plates, on the other hand, are more affordable but are of a lower quality when compared to their Olympic counterparts.