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Bumper Plates vs. Iron Plates: Complete Buying Guide

Bumper Plates vs. Iron Plates: Complete Buying Guide

When walking into the weight room, you can’t wait to load some plates onto a barbell and start your favorite workout. The most common plates you usually see in the gym are iron plates. But, you see another colorful type there with a rubber body. It’s the bumper plates. At this point, you may wonder what the difference between bumper plates and iron plates is.

Additionally, whether you want to build a home gym or update equipment in your professional gym, knowing the difference between these two plate types will help you make the right choice. This article explains these plates, their benefits, and their buying guide.

What is a Bumper Plate?

Bumper plates are weight plates that consist of a steel core with a thick rubber coating. This coating allows you to drop those plates from an overhead height without worrying about the safety of the floor or the plates themselves.

However, these plates are not to be confused with Olympic plates that use a thin rubber coating. Olympic plates can crack when they hit the floor after being dropped from a certain height. On the other hand, bumper plates have a low bounce due to the high-density rubber coating used.

Benefits of Bumper Plates

Bumper plates offer incredible benefits over conventional plates. Here is a quick overview of some of those benefits.

  • The first and most prominent benefit of bumper plates is that they are ideal for power-focused workouts. These plates are usually a must when your workout routine focuses on lifting as much weight as possible and as quickly as possible. The typical application of these plates is in the CrossFit exercises. Whether you perform overhead squats or snatch, chances are the weight will come down on the floor after you conclude a set. With bumper plates, you can drop weight fearlessly.
  • High drops are a harsh treatment you give to your bumper plates. Yet, these plates are highly durable. Conventional plates are usually at the risk of cracking when they come down on the floor. Bumper plates don’t even receive scratches, let alone cracks.
  • With all their durability and effectiveness, bumper plates remain undamaged for the long term. These plates will not get out of shape for years to come, given that you provide them with the necessary maintenance occasionally. Most of the time, the only precaution you may need to follow is not to expose these plates to extreme weight conditions.

When to Use Bumper Plates?

Bumper plates are ideal for any workout that involves lifting and moving weight quickly. These plates work best even for more traditional workouts. Moreover, these plates are ideal for beginners because they are usually prone to get out of balance when performing workouts. As a result, they might end up damaging the floor or equipment if the plates do not have a protective coating.

What are Iron Plates?

You will find plenty of iron plates in most non-niche gyms. Typically, these plates are a staple of any old-school gym.

Iron plates, as the name suggests, are made of iron. These plates are made by pouring molten iron into a shaping container. The overall shape of that container is understandably circular. When the molten iron cools down, you get a hardened iron plate that you can load onto a barbell to start your training.

Iron plates come in different sizes. If you want to get these plates in a regulated shape and size, you should consider buying Olympic plates.

What are the Benefits of Iron Plates?

Iron plates come with their own set of benefits that fitness trainers are pretty fond of. Below are some of those benefits.

  • The sound and feel of iron clanging around create a classic gym environment that bodybuilders love more than anything. If you are a person who likes to grab a metal weight and throw it on a bar, iron plates are undoubtedly your thing. Pressing iron is undeniably more exciting than moving a hard bulk of rubber (no offense to bumper plates).
  • Grabbing an iron plate and loading it onto a bar is more convenient than doing the same with bumper plates. Iron plates usually come with holes that allow easy grabbing when taking them on or off the bar. Bumper plates, on the other hand, do not have any holes to make the grabbing easy.
  • Finally, iron plates are a long-term investment, just like bumper plates. You can use iron plates for the years to come. However, you will have to make sure to take care of them properly.

When to Use Iron Plates?

Even though traditional bodybuilding workouts involve lifting and moving a lot of weight, they do not allow bailing out of a rep as you do with CrossFit exercises. Such exercises are better performed with barbells loaded up with iron plates.

When you enter into a bodybuilding regimen, you have to perfect your form under the right amount of tension for a specific amount of time. All this is usually not achievable if you solely focus on Crossfit exercises. If you want to stick to such a bodybuilding routine, you are better off with iron plates.

Besides, every gym incorporates proper padding to protect its surfaces. Such gyms use iron plates even for powerlifting workouts, which usually end with the weight being dropped from the knee height.

Bumper Plates vs. Iron Plates:

Which Type to Use if You Can Afford Only One of Them?

You will want to have both bumper and iron plates to get all your workout requirements fulfilled if you are a hardcore gym enthusiast. But let’s say that you can afford only one type of plate for your home gym. Which type of plate are you going to buy then?

Well, the short answer to this question is it depends on your specific requirements. If you want to perform CrossFit exercises, you will undoubtedly benefit more from bumper plates. Iron plates are your best choice if you have used adequate padding on the floor of your home gym and are not interested in fast-action CrossFit exercises.

One thing to keep in mind is that while you can find many high-quality gym weight sets out there, there are also an abundance of cheap quality products out there that you should avoid. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing weight plates:

  • Barbell/Plate Compatibility

  • Make sure the rod you are using is no larger in diameter than the plate hole so that you can load it for use. Since a normal Olympic bar is 2 "in diameter, an Olympic plate with a 2" center hole will work fine with it. If you are using a different type of bar, determine the diameter of the sleeve (the bar that the plates are loaded on) before purchasing weight plates for it. Do not buy panels with holes much larger than the diameter of your rod, as these will make the rod unstable and may even slide off during use.

  • Pay attention to easy handling

  • Handles and raised inserts to make your weight plates convenient to use. The handles make it easy to pick up a plate and load it onto a rod. Smooth weight plates can be difficult to use because there is no place to touch the palm of your hand. Raised inserts keep the panels from lying flat on the floor so your fingers can slide underneath and pick them up.

    Where to Buy Bumper Plates and Iron Plates?

    If you want to purchase iron plates or bumper plates, you can place an order at ISF Fitness Equipment store, the best online resource for high-quality gym equipment. Not only is the gym equipment that we sell at ISF high-quality but also more economical. All this makes us a preferable choice for people who want to save money without compromising on quality.

    Now, here are some details about bumper and iron plates that you can buy from us.

    Bumper Plates


    These premium solid black rubber plates use premium material in their composition and are a great value for home-based and commercial gyms. The high-quality rubber used in the composition allows these plates to bounce much lower. Moreover, each of these plates features a 2-inch galvanized steel insert that allows it to fit snugly on a barbell. These plates are available in different weights and specifications.

    Iron Plates


    These plates are the best fit for any gym: a home-based or commercial fitness training space. These plates are made from high-quality cast iron and come with 2% weight tolerance. A 2-inch hole featured in these plates makes them adjustable on an Olympic barbell. These weights, too, come in different weights and specifications.

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