Last updated on March 15th, 2021 at 10:24 pm
Buying weight plates can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. If you aren’t competing, all you need is a durable set of plates that won’t break the bank. I’ve owned or tried dozens of sets of plates. There are a lot of great choices out there. Based on my testing and experience, the plates on this page are what I recommend.
What Not to Buy
There are only two things I would steer you away from in the realm of weight plates. Mismatched sets and very cheap sets by no-name manufacturers. Outside of those two things, it’s hard to go wrong with weight plates.
Mismatched sets are a problem because not all plates weigh what they say they weigh. If you put a 45 lb plate by brand A on one end of your bar and a 45 lb plate by brand B on the other side, you need both to weigh the same.
If one or both is off, you will have a problem. One could be 46 lbs while the other is 43 lbs. By sticking to matched pairs (the whole set doesn’t need to match, just the pairs as you load them on each end of the bar), you’ll be in much better shape.
And speaking of the weight being off of what is marked, nowhere is this more true than the generic branded plates you’ll see at the lowest price points at Walmart, Dick’s, or Amazon.
Once we are sure the plates match and they weigh what they say they weight, 45 lbs weighs 45 lbs no matter what that plate cost you.
If you are on a budget, plates are a great place to save money to be spent on more important gear like your bar and bench.
That said, if you have the budget, nice plates are a joy to train with. Functionally and aesthetically, better plates are great to have. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend solutions you’ll love regardless of the budget you have.
Skip the reading and jump straight to the best plates for your gym!
Weight Plate Resources:
- How many plates or how much weight should you buy?
- Why buy bumper plates?
- Complete guide to selecting the right plates for your gym.
- How to get a great deal on used weight plates
Recommended Budget Plates
There are a few ways to get weight plates on the cheap. The best, by far, is to buy your plates used. Your local Play It Again Sports is a great place to start. Also check Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and LetGo.
If you don’t want to buy used, then buying basic iron plates is your next best choice.
Going with iron plates is a great way to save money. This type of plate will be the lowest cost per lb. There are two sets I really like in this category.
Rep Fitness Basic Iron Plates
Rep Fitness makes a basic set of iron plates that will run you $1.07 per pound before shipping. As an example, a 275 lb set comes in at $295. They are available in plates pairs as well as several different sized sets. You’ll save a ton of money on shipping in the long run by going with a set.
I like this set not only because of the price, but because the writing and weight is painted white. This contrast design both looks nice and makes them easier use.
Rep Fitness Equalizer Plates
I also really like Rep’s step up iron plates, the “equalizers’. Not only do they look a lot cooler, but with holes cut out along the edges, these plates are a lot easier to load onto your bar. These “handles” also enable you to work with the plate directly for things like side bends or pullovers.
These plates have a much nicer fit and finish than the basic models and are of higher all-around build quality. At $1.36 per pound, they are still a solid budget option for many people.
Unless you are doing competitive lifting that requires calibrated metal plates, or are on a strict budget, I’m a firm believer that most home gym owners should be using bumper plates.
Bumpers are a popular option these days and a lot of people make them. But after researching and using many different sets of bumpers I firmly believe that one company makes them better than anyone else. Fringe Sport.
Aside from some common features of great bumpers like high-quality metal inserts, beveled edges for ease of handling, and spot-on weights, Fringe Sport does three things better than their competition.
Most bumper plates are made from recycled rubber. This basically means recycled car tires. Those tires are ground up and then bound together with a binding agent. Both the material and the binding agent can cause the plate to smell terrible. The cheaper the plate, the worse the smell.
That smell gets on your hands. It permeates your gym. It seeps into the rest of your house. My first set of bumpers, by Titan Fitness, did just that. After almost a year, the smell had not subsided at all and I had to sell them.
Fringe Sport makes their plates out of virgin rubber. That means they don’t have this strong smell. There is a very faint rubber odor when you first open them and that’s it. That smell disappears very quickly.
Your plates are going to take a beating. They’ll get dropped repeatedly. They’ll get stacked. They’ll get used as a base to lift other weights from. It’s important that they are built to last.
Fringe Sport makes their plates to take a licking and keep on ticking. And they aren’t afraid to prove it (turn the volume down, there’s a ton of wind noise in this video):
Not only are they durable, but they have almost no “bounce”. That means that when you drop them, they aren’t going anywhere. I’ve had my set for well over a year and I train 6 days a week. They still look like new!
They also offer a 1-year warranty on the 10 and 15 lb plates and a 3-year warranty on all weights above that! They not only make a great product, but they also stand behind it.
Are these bumpers the cheapest on the market? Nope. But they are the best value for the money. They aren’t even close to the most expensive, yet I really believe they are the best you can get.
Fringe Sport offers several options within its bumper plate family to help you hit almost any budget. Here are the three sets I would pick from.
Basic Black Bumpers
When ordered as a set, the basic black bumper plates from Fringe Sport come in at just under $2.00 per lb. Fringe ships its plates free, which is another huge benefit over most other companies.
This is the direction I went and I’m glad I did. Here the writing and weights on the sides are brightly colored in a way that differentiates each weight. It’s an easy way to tell the plates apart when loading them.
When ordered by the set, this set jumps up to right around the $2.30 per lb price point.
Savage Series Bumpers
One of the things some people like about bumper plates is that they are available in a variety of colors. Standard colored plates are what you’ll see used in competition. Those are sweet, but Fringe Sport also offers something even cooler in their Savage line.
The unique coloring in the Savage line will set your gym apart from all others. If I was in the market for plates (which I’m not, unfortunately), this is the set that I would by.
When bought as a set, they are only around $2.40 per lb, so not that much more than the contrast option above.
Premium bumper plates
For most people, one of the above sets of plates will be ideal. Training at home doesn’t really warrant anything nicer or high end. That said, it’s not uncommon for many to buy nicer things anyway.
At a little over $4.50 per lb, that’s where urethane bumper plates come in. By far the most durable bumper plates made, urethane plates are the best bumpers you can buy.
Most companies selling urethan bumpers are selling the same set, just rebranded with their name. They are all the same. Except one.
American Barbell Pro Urethane Bumper Plates are made to a more demanding set of specs. The seam around the edge is the most noticeable difference, but on close inspection, they are simply nicer than the competition in every way.
Why go with urethane bumpers?
- Urethane is the most durable material to make bumpers from. They are nearly indestructible.
- Quieter when dropped. These are the quietest plates you can use.
- Less bounce when dropped. Urethane has the least bounce of any bumpers you can buy.
- Best color. These look amazing. You just can’t get bright, vibrant color like this in a rubber bumper plate.
- No odor. None.
If those benefits appeal to you, and you have the money, then the Urethane Pro Bumpers by American Barbell should be your new set of plates.