Buyer's Guide to Bumper Plates
Olympic lifting is a critical component of proper fitness. Without it, we may as well be doing Tabata workouts. That being said, anybody who does high intensity interval training knows that there is a bit more to HIIT lifting than plain old Olympic lifting. Primarily, the abusive wear and tear on our lifting equipment. A good bar is critical. Good bumper plates even more so.
When choosing bumper plates for workouts, there are a few unusual things to consider.
- Bounce. Bumper plates must bounce--but not too much. There is a fine line between your bar hitting the ground with a soft jump or springing back up at you with the thrust of a rubber ball.
- Durability against cracking. Because we drop fully loaded bars frequently, the bumper plates take a lot of abuse. Cheap plates will begin to crack along the inner ring and this eventually throws off the balance of the bar when it is resting on the floor.
- Bending at low weight. 10lb plates are thin, and if they are too thin, or made from a low quality rubber, they will bend. This results in a lopsided load that throws off a good pull from the ground.
- Sliding on the sleeve. The inner steel rings of a bumper plate should fit the sleeve of the bar snugly. Even with a good collar, if the rings are too wide the weights will slide along the sleeve during cleans and jerks. This is annoying, especially during a fast paced WOD.
All four of these components can be addressed through the choice of high quality materials, manufacturing and quality control. Choosing from reputable brands is one way to ensure that these standards are met. Choosing products Made in America is another. Pendlay, Hi-Temp and York are well-known and respected manufacturers that ensure durable, reliable quality bumper plates.
The Pendlay Econ V2 plates are characterized by their smooth, virgin rubber surface. This means that there haven't been any chemical wastes such as crankcase oil or sulphur added to the rubber, which is unfortunately common in many cheaper plates. This also means that they have a gentle bounce and are extremely durable when dropped. Pendlay plates have a stainless steel insert that measures at about 2 inches, which is the perfect size for a secure fit, ensuring minimal slide.
Hi-Temp Plates feature a more knubby surface which makes them one of the most durable bumper plates on the market. Additionally, they are made from recycled tires through a vulcanization process, making them an environmentally friendly choice as well. The Hi-temp plates are slightly wider than their counterparts, which gives your bar more stability on the floor and also prevents cracking. These plates work well both inside and outside, making them an ideal choice for affiliate or garage gyms.
Another quality choice are York Barbell and Troy VTX Bumper Plates. They are also crafted from virgin rubber with a steel reinforced center hub. Made in the USA to fit all Olympic style lifting bars, they ensure a durable lift with a good, solid fit.
The highest quality rubber bumper plates available on the market are Eleiko. These rubber bumper plates are made of vulcanized rubber in Sweden. All Eleiko products undergo strict quality control and testing. Eleiko Competition Discs are one of the few that meet the IWF for weight tolerance.
Bumper plates come in multiple colors and finishes, and most are sold in pairs. Choosing from a reputable company can ensure that your plates continue to work with you for many WODs to come.