Olympic weight plates are an essential part of any serious home gym. It’s the weight plates that create much of the resistance in many forms of resistance training. They’re the things that stimulate the development of strength, power and muscle hypertrophy when added to your Olympic barbell, sled, leg press, or lat pull down machine. While weight plates are fairly simple in appearance, they’re amongst the most versatile of training equipment.
But whether you’ve recently picked up a barbell, some dumbbells, or another piece of equipment that takes weight plates, or you’re just looking to expand your training arsenal, finding the right set of plates for your needs can be a challenge. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the massive range of products currently available. The reality is that while there’s lots of good, affordable Olympic weight plates on the market, there’s also plenty of trash.
Unless you’re an experienced lifter, finding the best set of Olympic weight plates that meet your needs and fit within your budget may be difficult. But, we’re here to help…
In this article, we take a good look at the best Olympic weight plates currently on the market: Any of the below options will make nice additions to your home gym. We’ve also included a quick buyers guide to help you make an informed decision.
Best Olympic Weight Plates at a Glance
Best Weight Plates Overall
These high-quality plates are machined to ensure they have as low as a tolerance possible. They look great and are durable enough that they should hold up against whatever (reasonable) abuse you dish out. If you’re a serious lifter and want assurances that you’re working with really precise equipment, these are for you.
Best Value Weight Plates
If you aren’t looking to break any lifting records other than your own, then these cast iron plates from Rep Fitness are a perfect option. There’s nothing fancy about them: They’re iron plates with a solid black coating that fit nicely on your barbell and will help you get big and strong. If you’re building a strength-based home gym on a budget, these are for you.
The 5 Best Olympic Weight Plates for Your Home Gym
An excellent set of US-made weight plates from an excellent manufacturer, Rogue’s Machined Olympic Plates ensure you’ll get the exact weight you ordered. This is because machined weight plates go through a unique process of machining and milling, which ensures a precise final weight to the end product.
With a 0-2% weight tolerance in 25-45 lbs plates and 2-3% weight tolerance in the 2.5-10lbs range, you can rest assured that you won’t find more accurate plates unless you’re looking at professional olympic-grade plates, which are way more expensive.
The design and Heavy-Duty Gray Hammertone finish is not only elegant but durable; it’ll take a serious beating to scratch these things and/or lousy maintenance before rust appears.
As with all Rogue products, these are among the more expensive weight plates, but for extremely high quality plates that are precision made in the US, they’re actually very reasonably priced.
If you’re training for a Powerlifting competition, then very precise machined plates are ideal. Competitions are often decided by small margins, and therefore you want to ensure that what you think you’re lifting during training is pretty much exactly what you’re actually lifting. However, as you can see with the Rogue Machined Plates above, this high degree of accuracy (i.e., tolerance) comes at a cost. Bearing this cost is unnecessary if you’re doing non-competitive strength training. In this case, finding the best value weight plates makes the most sense, which is where the Rep Fitness plates come in.
Rep Fitness’ cast iron Olympic weight plates represent great value. Their current 275 lbs set, which includes two pairs of 45 lbs and 5 lbs plates and one pair of 25 lbs, 10 lbs, and 2.5 lbs, is $245 (at time of writing) and may well be the cheapest bundle you can find.
However, keep in mind that these are solid cast iron plates and haven’t been machined or gone through an extensive balancing process, so you can expect some small inaccuracies. The weight tolerance is 3-5%, which isn’t too large but can impact your lifts if you’re unlucky enough to get a very uneven pair.
As far as durability goes, the finish on the plates has a very classic and rustic feel, so you won’t have to worry about these things unless you leave them outdoors or in very humid environments.
Ultimately, if you’re just trying to get strong by pumping iron, these Rep Fitness plates are simply the best value, good-quality Olympic weight plates you’ll find.
Rogue Fitness’ classic take on Olympic weight plate exchanges the machining process of precision for a significant cut in price.
Unlike their machined brothers, these plates don’t specify weight tolerance. That said Rogue is a brand renowned for their quality, so even though traditional cast iron is typically less accurate than machined steel, you can expect low tolerance (approx. 3 – 4% in these classic weight plates). As such, you’re unlikely to find serious discrepancies in weight that might impact your lifts.
The finish on the plates is the conventional and old-school black steel, similar to Rep Fitness and other brands, however, as with all Rogue products it’s durable and tough to break.
I have these in my garage gym (among other plates) and I love them. The tolerance is spot on and they do the exact job they’re intended for (be heavy) without hassle. The only real complaint I have is that the heavier plates are ridged on the inside of the bore hole. This is meant to help keep the plate on your bar’s sleeve if you’re lifting without barbell collars, however it makes them catch and grind occasionally and can take some of the finish off. This isn’t ideal as the sleeve is more susceptible to rust where the finish has been chipped off.
Other than that, these are a great option if you’re looking to compliment a great Rogue bar with some inexpensive but high quality Rogue Oly plates.
Cap Barbell’s weight plates are an inexpensive option that are best suited weightlifting beginners and those with outdoor home gyms.
The thick enamel finish on the plates protects the cast iron from the weather and rust, and with three grips to move them around you’ll be able to transport them easily.
One of the common drawbacks of plates with grips is that they can be weaker around the grips where the metal is thinner, and therefore they may crack if not treated properly. If you go with these plates, make sure you treat them carefully – don’t toss them around or drop them from heights (i.e., at or above waist height) – and they’ll last like any other plate.
Another small downside of these plates is that the manufacturing is obviously not as high quality as some of the above options, as you’re likely to find tolerance of up to 5% of the actual weight.
However, that lower accuracy also results in lower cost – these are cheap but effective plates from Cap Barbell.
Fringe Sport’s standard weight plates are an excellent choice if you’re looking to complete your home gym’s plate set, as they’re high-quality, affordable and consistent.
The finish is classic black steel with an enamel layer, with raised silver numbers and letters that display both kilograms and pounds. Both the paint and finish is reasonably durable, however you may find that the painted numbers flake off quickly.
In terms of precision, although not explicitly stated, the weight tolerance should be around 2-4%.
At the time of writing you could get the the 45 lbs pair for $129, which includes shipping and one year warranty on manufacturing errors. You can’t go wrong with these nice, no-frills plates from Fringe Sport.
Olympic Weight Plates Buyers Guide
At first sight it may seem that all weight plates are the same: Metallic discs to make the bar heavier. This, however, is untrue. There are significant differences between Oly plates that can significantly impact the quality of your lifts.
When choosing Oly weight plates, there are three primary factors to take into consideration:
Olympic weight plates are generally made of cast iron but there are machined cast iron plates and rubber or urethane coated plates, which are cast iron with an exterior shell for protection, they are more expensive and often sought by gyms as they are less noisy than steel plates.
Ideally, if you have the cash then you should look at machined cast iron weight plates since they’re the best value and have the highest precision. That said, machined plates are also much more expensive than non-machined plates and, realistically, they’re unnecessary if you’re aim is simply to move weight in your home or garage gym. A set of bog-standard plates like the Rogue Olympic Plates will do just fine. I have these in my home gym and have never had anything to complain about other than the ridges on the inside of the heavier plates’ bores, which can catch on your bar’s sleeves.
Manufacturers do their best to ensure their weight plates are as accurate as possible. Working with metals, however, is an imprecise art. Accurate weights is a must in serious weightlifting. There’s nothing worse than having to balance two significantly different loads on a bar – it’s difficult, ineffective, and extremely dangerous.
Tolerance is expressed as a percentage and indicates the degree of accuracy in the weight plate. It describes how close the actual weight is to the stated weight. For example, a 45 lb plate with 2% tolerance means that the actual weight will be plus or minus 2% of 45 lbs (0.9 lbs). That is, the plate will be 44.1 – 45.9 lbs.
If you’re training for a lifting competition, you want weights plates with a 0-2% tolerance. If you’re doing non-competitive strength training anything below 4% will be fine.
Finally, there’s durability. Most weight plates are made of sturdy materials like cast iron, which realistically shouldn’t break or damage from regular use. However, depending on the manufacturer, there have been reports of weight plates cracking after being dropped, especially in plates with grips. While plenty of good steel plates can withstand being dropped, they’re not made for it. If you’re looking for a set of plates that you can let go of regularly, you’re better off going with good bumper plates. If cost is your limiting factor, there are plenty of budget bumper plates on the market.
Well, there you have it: The 5 Best Olympic Weight Plates for Your Home Gym, plus a brief buyer’s guide. Armed with the above info, you should be able to grab a good set of plates that fit your needs and budget, and allow you to get the most out of your strength training.
Always remember that the most important thing to consider when buying weight plates is precision. When buying online always keep an eye out for weight tolerance values.
The weight plates we’ve reviewed above have low weight tolerances, so you don’t have to struggle to balance your bar, especially the machined cast iron plates by Rogue Fitness.
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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)