So you’re decking out your home gym, and you’re in the market for some weight plates to go with your fancy new Olympic barbell?
Broadly speaking, you have two options: Steel / cast iron plates and bumper plates. We’ve previously looked at the best steel Olympic weight plates – those traditional and reliable hunks of metal that have adorned home and commercial gyms for eons.
Now, we’re going to look at bumper plates.
Bumpers are made of rubber and are perfect for Olympic weightlifting where you’re often dropping the bar from shoulder height and above.
Even if you’re not fond of Oly lifts – or you’re simply not there yet – the considerably reduced noise of rubber bumpers can be a blessing. You might miss the cold metallic sound of iron plates, but quiet gyms are excellent, especially if they’re the home variety and you have kids, or neighbors close by.
Another great thing about bumpers is that even if you don’t have protective flooring in your home gym, they have the clear advantage over iron as they won’t cause severe damage.
You’ll find that there are hundreds of choices of bumpers available. Thankfully, we’re going to review and recommend the top 5 bumpers that you can pick up today.
Best Bumper Plates at a Glance
Best Value Bumper Plates
Cheap in price but not in quality, these bumpers from Rep Fitness offer superb value. They’re made from virgin rubber with steel inserts, and have shown in testing to be able to withstand over 15,000 drops from a height of 8′. They won’t break your bar, your floor, or the bank, which makes them a perfect option for your home gym.
Top Quality Bumper Plates
If you’re after top quality bumpers at a reasonable price, then look no further than Rogue’s Echo bumpers. The quality and precision of these bumper plates is second to none. They’re made to IWF specs with high-quality virgin rubber and stainless steel inserts, and at 1% weight tolerance you can be sure you’re getting exactly the weight you pay for.
The 5 Best Bumper Plates
We start the list with Rep Fitness’ excellent black bumpers, which are arguably the best value option in the market, especially if you buy them in a set.
Amazing durability, great design, and accurate weights, these bumpers have some of the best craftsmanship while sporting a very attractive price point. If you’re worried that their lower cost impacts the quality of the plate, fear not, because Rep’s general brand quality can be felt throughout the whole product.
They can withstand over 15,000 drops from the average height of an Olympic-style lift bar drop (approx. 8′), making them perfect for CrossFit and Oly lifting. These bumper plates won’t fail or break under any circumstance.
From the excellent exterior paint finishing to the durable steel inserts, these weight plates are cheap in price but not in quality. They’re a solid investment at a perfect price for everyone from novices to serious lifters.
Despite being their lower cost option, these Echo bumpers from Rogue Fitness demonstrate the high standard of quality present in almost all of Rogue’s US-made products. They’ve created a great set of bumpers at a great price, that should suit beginners through to the most serious lifters.
They’re slightly more expensive than the Rep Fitness bumpers, but the quality is extraordinary. With 1% weight tolerance and IWF standard diameter, this is as close you can get to Olympic-level weight plates without breaking your budget.
The inserts are made of stainless steel and the cover is made of high quality virgin rubber, making them one of the most durable bumpers available.
A factor that stands out in Rogue’s Echo Bumper Plates is their incredible design that blends low diameter with excellent materials, to produce minimal bounce and noise when dropped.
These will likely be the last bumpers you’ll ever have to buy. Excellent as usual from the premier manufacture in the fitness and exercise industry.
ProSource are offering up stiff competition to the likes of Rep and Rogue through high-end products that meet excellent standards of quality.
These contrast bumpers are a great example of that. If not for their slightly higher price point, they could easily have been our favorite option. They have an amazing design with a great finish that gives them a different look to the other common black bumpers, as well as a precise diameter and very low thickness. This is achieved by using high density materials, and makes them a slick option that won’t take much space in your gym.
The materials of the bumper are also responsible for that 1% weight tolerance that we all seek in weight plates, making for extremely accurate weights that won’t leave you struggling to balance your bars.
If you’re looking for bumper plates to start increasing your reps in Olympic-style lifts, then these are a great option for beginners. Their rubber bounce is minimal thanks to a tested durometer measurement of 88° (with 65° being high bounce and 100° representing a completely hard object with no bounce, like a steel plate)
Best of all, you can get 15% discount on all ProSource products (including these bumpers) by using the code FITFREAK15, just for being an amazing reader of THFF.
Fringe Sports brings something new to your bumper plates options by providing a handsome contrasted design that stands out from the rest. The color coding on each plate will make you easily differentiate one from another, while the weights are labeled in both lbs and kgs.
However, it’s not all colors and design. All the other important factors that you should look for in a bumper is fulfilled. 1% weight tolerance, precise plate diameters, stainless steel inserts, minimum “dead” bounce, and an extremely durable rubber that can withstand even the highest intensity workouts.
Arguably the best selling point of Fringe Sport’s Contrast Bumpers is the free shipping, which makes their already competitive price point even better.
Last but not least, we have these premium bumper plates from X-Training Equipment, a great option for those with stricter budgets looking to start lifting.
If you’re starting out, these bumpers are an excellent choice since they accomplish every requirement in weight plates while maintaining a low price.
They’re durable, have a traditional black paint finishing, 1% – 2% weight tolerance, and a low bounce. However, the weight plates are thicker than most brands since they use lower density materials, meaning they will take up more space in the bar.
For beginners this may not be a deal breaker, but people who lift heavy might have trouble getting their full set of plates onto the bar. Barring that (no pun intended), these X-Training bumper plates are a great option for anyone looking to finish off their home gym without emptying their bank accounts.
Why Choose Bumper Plates?
A common concern among lifters when looking at bumpers is this: If plates (bumpers or iron ones) are essentially all the same thing, then why choose bumpers?
There are several differences to account for and “evangelists” selling both sides, but we’re here to discuss facts and provide you with all the information you need to make a considered decision between bumpers and iron plates.
The key selling points of bumper plates are:
- Weight Accuracy
- Ability to Lift Heavier Weights
It’s as simple as this: When rubber hits the ground it makes a dull thud. When steel / iron plates hit the ground they make an almighty racket. If you’re going to be dropping the bar at the end of your lifts then you’re almost certainly going to need bumpers, whether you have kids, neighbors, housemates, or a noise-sensitive partner or not.
This one goes both for you, as a weightlifter, and for your gym. Dropping a bar full of iron plates from reasonable height can severely damage your floors and in some circumstances even harm yourself.
Bumper plates are deliberately made with this in mind; to lessen the impact of the drop and have a controlled bounce that will protect yourself and your floors. Iron plates come to a thunderous stop when they hit the ground, and without serious protective flooring they will probably break or chip the floor.
3. Weight Accuracy
Bumper plates are not entirely made of rubber: They have steel and iron inserts inside and are covered with rubber, which makes the manufacturing process much more accurate than with their full iron counterparts.
Thus, you’ll be able to find lower tolerances – between 1-2% – even in cheaper brands. This means that even if you’re unlucky enough to get an uneven pair, the weight difference will be almost imperceptible.
Rubber has excellent durability and will require little to no maintenance. Also, you can use them outdoors or in humid environments and they won’t deteriorate – unlike iron plates which will rust extremely quickly.
Not only that, it will require severe mishandling of these plates to chip them or flake the rubber covering. This quality made them the go-to choice for CrossFit and outdoors exercises.
5. Ability to Lift Heavier Weights
This point derives from the previous two. Since they’re safer to work with and much more durable, bumper plates allow you to lift heavier weights without worrying about breaking the floor when dropping the bar from Olympic-style lifts, or getting noise complaints from your neighbors.
Well, there you have it: The 5 Best Bumper Plates available you can pick up now. With the information above, you can add this essential equipment to your home gym, and start banging out Oly lifts and making some sick gains.
Serious Olympic weightlifters prefer bumper plates because of their reduced impact when hitting the ground – this makes them much quieter, easier on your floors, and controlled in their bounce.
One of the greatest aspects of bumper plates is their low weight tolerance. You won’t find large differences in weight like you often do in traditional iron plates. Nevertheless, always look for the product’s specifications, regardless of the brand.
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As always, best of luck with your home workouts. Remember: We can make the effort or make excuses, but we can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)