If you’re looking to throw around heavy barbells through large compound movements, there is a good chance that you would benefit from using bumper plates. They are far more resilient and a fair bit bouncier than regular iron or steel plates. This is because they are generally either constructed from or at least sheathed in thick rubber.
They can be used for less impactful exercises like squats and bench presses to great effect, though this isn’t quite what they are designed for. Bumper plates are generally more expensive than simple iron or steel – far more goes into their design and construction, so this is fair enough. If you’re just looking for heavy barbell compounds that don’t clatter about too much, maybe give them a miss. Really, they are for heavy deadlifters and Olympic lifters.
If you deadlift heavy and like your cleans, they are a boon.
You can drop them on the ground with far less worry about damaging them, the floor, or the deadlift platform. In addition to being far friendlier to their surroundings, bumper plates are also a lot quieter than steel or iron. Their rubber coating deadens the noise. For these reasons, they are a perfect addition to a home gym, where domestic environments mean lack of damage and noise are seriously beneficial advantages of your weight plates.
There are plenty of good options for you to invest in for your home gym, and plenty of poor ones. In this article, we’re going to sort the wheat from the chaff and let you know our top bumper plate picks.
How To Look For the Best Bumper Plates
There are many levels of pricing and quality on the market. Some bumper plates can set you back hundreds or more. Others will cost more like fifty to a hundred pounds. The trick is balancing cost and value, both in design and build quality.
As with any other fitness product, you need to do a little research before getting your wallet out, especially with products like bumper plates. Even cheaper ones are costly as you advance and your strength grows – you will only need to buy more as your lifting numbers go upwards.
Longevity is also important. Bumper plates are built to be punished. They should be able to take a lot of dropping, throwing and general abusing for a long time. Buy good and buy once is the motto to follow here – rest assured that you’re safe to use them as they’re meant to be used.
We’ve weighed all of this up to make sure that you neither fall into this trap nor get ripped off by overpaying. Everything on this list deserves its price tag and will see you well for many years.
You also need a good grasp on your training requirements. Are you going for max weight deadlifts as a powerlifter, are you an Olympic lifter, are you going for volume and conditioning? This will affect the weight you need – it’s feasible to deadlift upwards of twice your bodyweight for one or two reps quite quickly, where you’re unlikely to shift this amount of mass in your clean and jerk for quite some time.
Materials can also vary. Generally, bumper plates are rubber. However, this can be virgin rubber or recycled rubber. Recycled rubber has better green credentials. This is a big deal for some people (us included). It is also a lot cheaper. On the other hand, they can bounce a little too much. Virgin rubber will generally offer a denser, slimmer plate that bounces a lot less. Then there are more space-age materials to look out for, with companies looking to get clever, and often managing it to great effect.
We have a combination of all three types on this list.
Our Top 7 Bumper Plates
The following 7 selections are all fantastic bumper plates. There is a good mixture of higher priced options and more economical choices, of reused and virgin rubber (and a few more exotic materials), as well as a good range of weights available from each company. Using any, you will be able to build up a high-quality arsenal of plates for any barbell activity.
Escape Elite Urethane Bumper Plates
OK, I may have said ‘space age materials’, which was perhaps a slight exaggeration. There is nothing too high-tech about urethane. However, it really does represent a remarkable and clever contrast to rubber. Several items on this list use it to great effect.
Escape Elite Urethane Bumper Plates are tough as hell without being made too thick thanks to their use of urethane. They give a very low bounce, making them perfect for more controlled movements and environments – like your home – in which safety and spatial awareness are a priority. Urethane is also better on your floor than rubber, with no marks or scuffing, once more making them perfect for environments in which you don’t want things wrecked.
These plates also feature a steel core, further strengthening them which will leads to them being a durable product that will stand the test of time.
This combination of steel and hard-wearing urethan also means that plates can be made a lot slimmer. For beginner lifters, this isn’t too important. In fact, it can be a downside (thicker plates can be quite inspiring as you heft them around looking like Superman!) However, for intermediate to advanced lifters, this is great. You will be able to fit far more on the bar, heading into those upper ranges.
All of this comes at a cost – urethane products will generally be a fair amount pricier than rubber. However, you get what you pay for – they are immensely practical to use and will last you pretty much forever.
If you can stretch for the cost, they are completely worth it. Every penny.
5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg and 25kg.back to menu ↑
GymGear Hi-Impact Olympic Bumper Plates
GymGear’s Hi-Impact plates are perfect for those who really like to throw their weights about. They are slightly thicker than most of the more traditional bumper plates, are tested to a higher drop rate, and are far more durable, made from a hard-wearing vulcanised rubber that is very hard to break or distort. They provide much more stability and can really take a pounding.
They are perfect for Olympic lifters, who obviously need to drop the bar quite frequently, and for powerlifters and Crossfitters looking to deadlift speed reps, in which drops can be pretty brutal.
Available Weights & Thickness:
25kg – 98mm
20kg – 90mm
15kg – 75mm
10kg – 60mm
5kg – 34mm
The increased thickness will raise the bar slightly, which may throw off your technique at first. For some, especially those just beginning with bumper plates, it may feel more akin to a rack pull as they deadlift. You will soon adapt, however, and the difference will only really be felt at more advanced levels.
If you’re looking for something that you know will be able to take it and keep on taking, rep after rep, for years, this is the one for you. It is safe and durable and allows you to really open up the taps as you go for those heavy lifts.back to menu ↑
Body Revolution Olympic Weight Plates
Body Revolution’s Olympic Weight Plates have been built from heavy duty rubber that encases a solid, cast iron metal core. These tri grip weight plates are tough as anything on this list, able to withstand anything you care to throw at them, and have been expertly designed for high level performance.
Their tri-grip handles are what set them apart, in my opinion. They are ergonomically enhanced and designed for use with our without a barbell. If you like to include a lot of plate carries, assistance and isolation work, and weighted movements like dips, lunges and rows, these will be perfect. They are a joy to use, and have been designed additionally to be usable with dumbbells and EZ bars.
Then they can also be loaded onto a barbell to be used as bumper plates. Though not technically bumper plates, we’ve included them here because of their high quality coating. They bounce well, though not too much, and the rubber coating protects both the plates and the floor, meaning that these are ideal for use in all sorts of environments. Though they are equally usable in bodybuilding, HIIT and circuits, they are primarily designed for Olympic and powerlifting use.
Though perhaps slightly left field for this list, they serve their purpose brilliantly whilst being incredibly versatile. Olympic lifters and powerlifters will be able to use them as safe, durable, mark free bumper plates, whilst also being able to turn them to other uses.back to menu ↑
Jordan Olympic Training Plates
Looks aren’t everything. They aren’t worth much at all when looking at fitness equipment, not compared to quality and usability. However, if you can get a decent product that is also quirky and fun, why not go for it?
This is exactly what you get with Jordan Olympic Coloured Rubber Training Plates.
They are perfect for beginners and personal trainers. They are incredibly strong, durable Olympic plates that have been tested to 10,000 drops, made from good-quality virgin rubber so that you know they will last you a long time and repay your investment.
Now, of course, colour coding isn’t unique to Jordan. Many companies offer it, including the makers of many of the products on this list. However, the combination of their stylish aesthetic and colour coding really makes them stand out.
If you’re seeing ten clients per day, or if you’re just finding your feet and want to keep things simple, this is actually a big deal (trust me, I’ve been there). Rather than having to read numbers and check and double check, you simply grab the colour you need. It’s immediate, it’s identifiable, it’s simple and useful.
They even have a steel centre bronze sleeve for easy loading and deloading (again, if you’re a PT and need to do this for hours every day, this makes a surprisingly large difference.)
They are also very clean plates. They won’t scuff or damage an Olympic training or deadlift platform – though they may mark domestic floors a little, so be careful to use them somewhere where this isn’t too much of an issue or invest in some protective gym flooring.
They look great, work well, and can make your life a whole lot simpler.
The Jordan Olympic Colour Training Rubber Plates are available in the following weights:
25kg (Red)back to menu ↑
Primal Strength Urethane Bumper Plates
This is perhaps the highest-quality set of plates on our list. Of course, you pay for what you get – they are roughly double the price of some of our more economical picks. However, it’s worth it. They are fantastic.
The urethane bumper plates have a machined-steel core and every disc is calibrated and tolerance tested to under 5g. This means a degree of hard-wearing durability that few products can match. If you can break these, you can break anything. They won’t scratch, dent, warp, break or wear down, no matter how many times you drop them. Primal Strength urethane bumper plates are also thinner than most other discs, as is common with urethane products, so that you can load higher volume to any single bar and lift.
They are perfect for heavy deadlifts and repeat drops in an Olympic lifting program.
They are also colour coded for simplicity, meaning that you can put your focus where it is needed – in reaching for perfect technique and higher numbers.
The range comes colour-coded in:
5kg (Grey): 20mm
10kg (Green): 40mm
15kg (Yellow): 48mm
20kg (Blue): 53mm
25kg (Red): 58mm
They are extremely heavy-duty and hard-wearing and come with a 3-year warranty that applies to all indoor use.back to menu ↑
York Barbell Olympic Solid Rubber Bumper Plates
York are a staple of heavy lifting equipment. Their whole range has adapted and grown with a pedigree almost unrivalled in the modern fitness sphere, with eight decades under their belt and counting. Their solid rubber bumper plates are the beneficiary of this lineage – they have been designed to enable a new generation of athletes, both professional and casual, to do what they do.
They have been specifically designed for use in sports teams, gyms and high-end training facilities.
This is all rubbish, though – forget all of this, for a moment. What you get with these rubber plates is a worthy addition to any home gym that will do exactly what you need them to do, admirably. They are premium quality, durable, made from virgin rubber, and will bear the brunt of any intense powerlifting or Olympic lifting training regime with ease.
The central hole is precision drilled and reinforced with a sturdy 2″ steel central sleeve for durability and quick plate loading, so you can save time as you train for more important matters (like resting, recuperating, getting into the right mindset for your next lift, or simply shortening your rest periods for volume and intensity work).
York’s bumper plates are available in:
They limit damage to flooring (though not as much as urethane products) and come sold in singles.back to menu ↑
Power Gym Olympic 2” Bumper Weight Plates
Now let’s turn to a rubber crumb offering. It’s the only one on this list simply because, despite their cost and their sustainability, they are just generally not as good as virgin rubber. In the interest of only bringing you the best, we have therefore overlooked a good few fairly decent rubber crumb plates.
We could not overlook Power Gym’s Olympic 2” Bumper Plates, however. Nor should you. They are great.
The plates are all the same diameter, which is common enough. This comes with some good and some bad.
They are bad in that they are harder to load. Rather than getting the bar raised with the 25kg plates and then simply slotting light ones on, you need to elevate the bar to add weight when the plates are all the same size. This can be done easily enough with a special piece of deadlift kit, or by simply slipping a 2.5kg weight or folded belt under the innermost plate to raise it, but it is a nuisance.
They are good in that they distribute the weight really easily. You will have cleaner lifts and far better absorption on impact. If you can deal with the inconvenience of having to elevate the bar, this is completely worth it. Every time.
That’s an aside, however. The main thing to look at with Power Gym’s Olympic 2” Bumper Plates is the sheer quality you get. They are not just good for crumb rubber. They are good for any material – rubber or urethane or anything else you can think of! They make deadlifts particularly nice, with a soft, even landing with a slight, pleasing amount of understated bounce. They have been tested up to 30,000 drops, so you know that they will last and last.
They are also environmentally friendly, which is nothing to sniff at in today’s world. They are made from 100% recycled rubber.
For dimensions, we’re looking at:
5kg – 30mm
10kg – 60mm
15kg – 90mm
20kg – 120mm
They are incredibly well made, built to last, easy to handle, a delight to deadlift and are very environmentally friendly. Unless you have a specific reason to pick another product, I would strongly urge you to consider them. Though not the best on the market, they are perhaps my own personal favourite.
You have a good selection here, with all three major materials represented – virgin rubber, rubber crumb and urethane. Everything on this list is great. You will get a fantastic workout from each set of bumper plates, and each set will last you for years. Some are tougher, some are bouncier, some are friendlier to the environment – whichever you pick needs to be based on your own priorities.
Whichever you go with, however, you will be very pleased with the product that arrives. You have many hours of sweaty joy ahead of you as you perfect and build your compounds.