choosing weight plates for your home gym

Choosing Weight Plates for Your Home Gym

Discover the key to an effective home gym with our guide on choosing weight plates. Learn the crucial differences between standard and Olympic plates, the pros and cons of materials like cast iron and rubber, and essential care tips for lasting performance.

You might think that weight plates matter the least of all the equipment for your home gym. After all, a weight is a weight, right? Well, not exactly. There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to buying weight plates. If you get it wrong, your workouts are going to be affected.

As an in-home personal trainer, I have often gone into people’s home gyms only to find that the plates they’ve invested in are less than ideal. In this article, I’ll outline the critical considerations for gym owners to ensure you get it right the first time

Understanding Weight Plate Types

There are two types of weight plates: standard and Olympic. Their main differences are their size, weight, and the bars they fit on

Standard plates have a center hole diameter of 1 inch (25.44mm). This will fit a standard but not an Olympic bar. Standard bars are lighter and not as durable as Olympic bars.

These plates also come in smaller weight increments than Olympic plates. You can get standard plates in 1.25. 2.5, 5, and 10 lb increments.

Olympic plates have a center hole diameter of 2 inches (50.88mm). This fits an Olympic bar. Olympic plates typically come in larger weight increments, such as 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs), 5 kg (11 lbs), 10 kg (22 lbs), 15 kg (33 lbs), and 20 kg (44 lbs).

I strongly recommend buying Olympic weight plates instead of standard plates. Olympic plates are designed to handle heavier loads than standard plates. They are far more durable and will fit more securely onto the bar than a standard plate

Most plate-loaded home gym machines will be designed to take Olympic plates. For instance, a plate-loaded leg extension/curl machine usually has a 2-inch diameter weight loading bar. A standard weight plate will not fit on this, so you won’t be able to use standard plates on it

You will also find it much easier to find other compatible training equipment to go with Olympic weight plates. These include collars, racks, and attachments

You’ll need to buy an Olympic bar with your Olympic plates. This will cost considerably more than a standard bar but will provide you with many more training options. You can perform Olympic lifts, such as the snatch, and clean and jerk

You will also find no uniformity in diameter and thickness for standard-weight plates. One manufacturer’s 10lb plate maybe twice as thick as another manufacturer's. This lack of consistency can be a real hassle

Plastic-coated standard weight plates tend to be especially thick, making it hard to load enough weight onto the bar.

Weight Plate Materials

Having narrowed our choice to Olympic plates, we now have to consider the different types of weight plate material. Here are the pros and cons of each one:

Cast Iron Weight Plates


  • Cast iron plates are known for their durability and long lifespan.
  • Many lifters appreciate cast iron plates' traditional, no-frills appearance.
  • Cast iron plates are often more affordable than other types of Olympic plates.


  • Cast iron plates can be noisy when dropped. This can be an issue if you’re working out early in the morning or your home gym is in close proximity to neighbors.
  • Cast iron plates can be susceptible to rust if not properly maintained.

Rubber-Coated Weight Plates


  • The rubber coating helps protect the floor and reduces noise when plates are dropped.
  • The rubber coating provides a better grip, making it easier to handle the plates.
  • Rubber-coated plates are less prone to chipping and rusting than bare cast iron plates.


  • Rubber-coated plates are more expensive than cast iron plates.

Bumper Plates

Bumper plates are made from dense, durable materials, typically rubber or a combination of rubber and metal. They are designed to be dropped from overhead without causing damage to the plates, the barbell, or the floor.


  • Bumper plates can be safely dropped from overhead, making them suitable for exercises like snatches and clean and jerks.
  • Bumper plates have a lower bounce, minimizing the risk of injury and damage to the equipment.
  • Bumper plates are often color-coded, making identifying the weight at a glance easy.


  • Bumper plates are generally more expensive than standard cast iron or rubber-coated plates.
  • Bumper plates are bulkier than other types of plates, which may limit the weight you can load onto the barbell.

Urethane-Coated Weight Plates


  • Urethane coating is highly durable and resistant to chipping and scratching.
  • Urethane-coated plates often have less rubbery odor compared to rubber-coated plates.
  • Urethane plates are available in a variety of vibrant colors.


  • Urethane-coated plates are among the more expensive options.

Steel Weight Plates


  • Steel plates can have a slimmer profile than cast iron plates, allowing for more weight on the bar.
  • Steel plates are durable and resistant to chipping.


  • Steel plates can be more expensive than traditional cast iron plates.

Types of Olympic Plates

Over the years, several weight plate variants have emerged to cater better to iron pumpers' needs. Here’s an overview of what you will likely come across:

Fractional Plates

These are small weight plates used for increasing weight during strength training.

Fractional plates are helpful for those who want to make small, gradual progress in their lifts, especially when a standard 5 or 10-pound increase is too much. They are typically available in the following weight ranges:

  • 0.25lb
  • 0.5lb
  • 0.75lb
  • 1.0lb

Change Plates

  • Change plates are small, incremental weight plates used to adjust the overall weight on a barbell.
  • They come in various weights, such as 1.25 kg, 2.5 kg, 5 kg, and are typically used in combination to customize the weight on the bar for specific lifts.

HD PLates

HD (or heavy-duty) plates are generally more durable and robust than standard plates, designed to withstand heavy and frequent use in commercial gym settings.

They may have additional features like a thicker outer shell or a reinforced construction to ensure longevity.

Standard Olympic Plates

  • These are the most common type of weight plates found in commercial and home gyms.
  • Standard Olympic plates have a 2-inch diameter hole and are available in various weights, including 2.5 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, 20 kg, and 25 kg.

Competition Plates

  • Competition plates are designed to meet the standards set by international weightlifting organizations for official competitions.
  • They are calibrated to be very accurate in weight and typically have a consistent diameter, allowing for standardized performance in competitions.

Bumper Plates

  • Bumper plates are made from rubber or a combination of rubber and metal, designed to be dropped without damaging the floor or the plates themselves.
  • They are commonly used in Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit, where lifts involve dropping the barbell from overhead.

Weight Plate Shape

The vast majority of weight plates are round. However, you may come across some brands that are either 8 or 12-sided. There is no practical benefit to this design. But there is a negative.

When you set a bar that is loaded with multi-sided plates on the floor after a lift, there is a possibility that it might not be stable. If you set it down near an edge, it might jump backward. That’s the last thing you want when you’ve just completed a new p.r. deadlift

As a result, I strongly recommend that you buy only round weight plates

Weight Plate Handles

Handling weight plates can get tricky, especially when dealing with 45lb plates. That’s why some manufacturers design their plates with inbuilt handles or grips. These often consist of a hole in the plate that you put your hand through to grasp the plate in one hand

Weights with gripping handles not only make it easier to carry the plate around your home gym. They also allow you to use the plate as a makeshift dumbbell. For instance, you can hold a 45lb plate in each arm to perform shrugs, the farmer’s walk or other exercises that involve holding weights at arm’s length

I recommend buying plates with built-in handles

Weight Plate Bevel

The best weight plates will have a beveled edge to create a lip around the weight. This notch makes it much easier to pick the weight up off the floor when it is lying flat. It also allows you to remove plates from a bar more easily. That’s because the plates are not sitting flush up against each other. This can make a difference when you’re stripping plates off in the middle of a drop set where every second counts

Buying Olympic Plates Second-Hand

Buying Olympic weight plates second-hand can save you some serious money. However, you have to be a discerning buyer, or you could end up with plates that are not fit for purpose

You should only buy second-hand plates that you are able to inspect in person. That rules out buying online. It also negates the need to pay through the roof for shipping costs

Here are some guidelines to follow when buying second-hand Olympic weight plates:

  • Inspect each individual weight plate for signs of damage, including cracks, rust and excessive wear.
  • Be ready to bargain. Know what the brand new price is and the generally accepted second hand price. This will vary in different areas, but a general rule of thumb is $2-3.00 per pound, or 50% of a brand new plate.
  • If the plate is rubber coated, check from strong odors. This can be an indication of inner deterioration of the rubber compound.
  • Try to stick to reputable brands that you are familiar with.
  • Don’t compromise safety to get a bargain. If you have any doubts about the condition of the weight plate, it's better to pass on the deal and invest in new plates that guarantee safety and reliability.
  • Make sure that the weight increments are suitable for your specific training needs. A bargain is only a bargain if it’s going to be utilized.

Why You Should Consider Iron Bull Weight Plates

When it comes to weight plates for your home gym, Iron Bull’s got you covered. Our selection includes the following:

Our fractional plates are precision-engineered for micro-progressions in your weightlifting journey. With color-coded designs for easy weight identification, these plates fit standard 2-inch Olympic barbells.

Our Olympic plates are expertly designed to cater to strength training and powerlifting. Made from cast iron, they guarantee reliable durability and top-notch performance at an unbeatable price point.

Our iron plates are manufactured using a solid, robust cast iron that ensures their longevity. The heavy-duty cast iron construction allows these plates to sustain intense workouts and heavy usage, making them an economical investment for your long-term fitness journey.

Clear, bold weight indications are embossed on each plate to avoid any mix-ups during your training sessions. With a classic black finish, these plates will bring a touch of professionalism to your home gym setup.

Maintenance and Care Tips

Having invested in some quality weight plates, you need to ensure that you take care of them. Here are a half dozen care and maintenance tips to keep your home gym weight plates in good order:

Regular Cleaning

Wipe down the weight plates regularly to remove sweat, oils, and debris. Use a damp cloth with mild soap or a specialized gym equipment cleaner. This helps prevent the build-up of grime and maintains the appearance of the plates.


Store your weight plates in a cool, dry place to prevent rust and corrosion. Avoid placing them directly on concrete floors, as concrete can retain moisture. Consider using a rack or storing them on rubber mats to minimize contact with the floor.

Avoid Dropping or Slamming

While some weight plates, like bumper plates, are designed for dropping, others may not be as durable. Avoid dropping or slamming the plates on the floor unnecessarily, as this can lead to cracks, chips, or warping.

Check for Damage

Regularly inspect your weight plates for any signs of damage, such as cracks, chips, or warping. If you notice any issues, stop using the plate.

Rotate and Flip

If possible, rotate and flip your weight plates periodically. This helps distribute the wear and tear more evenly, especially if you tend to use specific plates more frequently. It can also prevent uneven wear on one side of the plate.

Avoid Excessive Weight Stacking

Be mindful of not overloading weight racks or barbells beyond their recommended capacity. Excessive weight stacking can lead to the deformation of the plates and compromise their structural integrity. Always adhere to the weight limits specified by the manufacturer.

Wrap Up

Investing in quality weight plates for your home gym will pay off in terms of longevity, performance, and gym aesthetics. Prioritize Olympic over standard plates and then make your choices based on your specific training requirements. If you’re intending to buy second-hand, make sure you personally inspect the weights before handing over your cash

For the best quality and value in Olymoic home gym plates, check out the premium Iron Bull selection