Bumper discs are essential for every gym. How to choose the right ones for functional training, weightlifting or powerlifting?

What equipment you choose for your gym depends on your budget, preferences, the space available and so on. But you will most likely include the weighted bumper discs on your equipment list. They are essential for every functional gym, weightlifting and powerlifting gym. And the market offers a great many choices. You can choose black rubber bumper plates, recycled rubber bumpers, Olympic discs, steel plates, you can buy used ones or new and from a variety of brands. It is not easy to decide which ones to choose. I had the same problem when I was choosing a set for myself. Since I made a list of alternatives and their pros and cons when I was faced with this decision I thought I would share it with you to make your decision a little easier.

Let us start with the basics. What are the Olympic plates?

Olympic plates, in the world of cross-fitness more commonly known as bumpers, are made from hardened rubber or steel. Rubber bumpers will make less damage to your home gym flooring and will make less noise when dropped. Which comes handy if your neighbors live close by.

Rubber vs Steel – is there a winner?

If you have a small budget, steel plates are the ones for you. They are easier to find in second-hand markets. But be warned, steel plates are used in powerlifting training like deadlifts, squats and bench press. If you are planning to train cross-training or weightlifting, rubber bumpers are a better choice for you.

It is best to buy rubber bumpers new because it is harder to find used ones in good shape. But if you try hard enough you might be lucky.

You don’t want rubber bumpers but are not sure about steel plates… is there an alternative?

You could choose steel plates covered with a rubber layer. This bumpers are very durable and make less noise than the classic steel plates. But again, if you are intending to do functional training or weightlifting, these plates are not the best for you. They are not meant to be dropped.

So I would choose…

And I did choose, rubber bumpers. I train cross-training and rubber bumpers can be dropped and they will not damage your flooring as a steel plate might. And they are quieter when used, there is no cymbals effect when doing a snatch or just putting your bar down.

If you are into functional training I suggest you start with a set of rubber bumpers and then after a time add some steel plates for heavy deadlifts to your home gym.

What about the technical plates?

Technical plates are made from hard plastic and designed for beginners to master the movement of barbell exercises. The only weight up to 5 kg. If you are just starting to learn your barbell exercises you will only need one pair.

Some thoughts about different manufacturers and brands.

You’ve probably heard the names: KingsBox, Roughe, Eleiko, Vulcan Alphas, American Barbell Sports these are some of the best. There are other brands but the quality may vary. Make sure to do your research, read the reviews and then make the decision. Although the plates may be cheaper now, they may not last long and you will spend more money replacing the damaged ones.



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