Weight Plates - What's the Difference?

Weight Plates - What's the Difference?

Here at Rival Strength we supply a variety of weight plates, and for many people the choice can be overwhelming, and they often end up asking themselves 'What's the difference? Surely a weight plate is a weight plate?'. This blog post will help you decide the best plate for you.

We only stock Olympic style plates at Rival Strength; this means they have a 2-inch (50mm) centre hole and fit Olympic barbells.

Bumper Plates

What is a Bumper Plate?

Bumpers are rubber plates, that come in varying colours, sizes and styles. The plates vary in thickness depending on weight, but all bumper plates are uniform in diameter, measuring 450mm across to meet International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) regulations. Bumpers can come in many different styles, including competition, crumb and virgin rubber. 

When to use a Bumper Plate?

Bumper plates are commonly used for lifts where the plates will be dropped, this is mostly in exercises like an overhead squat, snatch or even a deadlift. This does not mean they are limited to these exercises, they are ideal for any type of lifting! In a home gym, this is very important - you want the most versatile piece of equipment to maximise space and money. 

What are the different types of Bumper Plate?

Virgin rubber plates are often less expensive, have a clean look and feel and typically don't have any smell to them. They are very dense, meaning they have a hard (smaller) bounce and will last a very long time, whilst looking look great! Virgin rubber plates are just as popular for home gym owners and commercial gyms alike. 

Crumb rubber plates / Hi-Temp plates are made from recycled rubber mulch. This gives them a textured look and feel, and often makes them thicker then virgin rubber plates as they are less dense! This also results in a softer (larger) bounce when dropped, which is better for your bar, floor and the noise coming from your gym. Our crumb plates have a unique rubber blend, with coloured flecks to help with plate identification. This blend has also resulted in a smaller plate thickness compared to many others in the market.

Competition plates are the highest quality plates in our range, with standout looks, a premium feel and performance level strength. These plates have been designed to meet all IWF standards. They are the go-to plates for platform training, with performance at the centre of the design.

If you want your home gym or training facility to standout from the rest, these plates will do that! The key benefits to using competition plates are the tighter and more accurate weight tolerances, thinner overall thickness and metal core disc. The thickness of the plates allows for more to be loaded on a barbell, which is important for heavy competition lifting. 


Tri-Grip Plates 

What is a Tri-Grip Plate?

Tri-Grip weight plates are a versatile and unique style plate. The Tri-Grip design offers a wider variety of exercises to be performed, not only using the barbell but single or double hand exercises. The three grips on the plate can be used to improve plate loading and unloading, while also making them easier to carry around the gym. Tri-Grip plates are usually cast iron, coated in either rubber or left as they are with an old school hammertone finish applied. 

When to use a Tri-Grip Plate?

Tri-Grip plates are a great place to start - they are the cheapest plates per/KG, offer a wide variety of exercises to be performed and look great! You can perform most lifts using Tri-Grip plates, like bench press, squats and overhead press.

The only drawbacks to using Tri-Grip plates are the overall diameter, lack of bounce and noise! Unlike bumper plates, Tri-Grip plates are all different diameters, meaning if you are deadlifting with 15KG plates on your bar, the bar will be lower then if you were using 25KG plates, which can effect your form and the overall consistency of your lifts. This isn't always a negative, when using a curl bar or dumbbell handles, the smaller diameter is beneficial! They offer a better range of motion due to the smaller size.

Tri-Grip plates also shouldn't be dropped from a height, especially when using regular cast iron plates. This could result in damage to the floor, bar and plates themselves. However, crash pads can be used to safely absorb the impact of dropping the plates, this is something you may need to keep in mind!   

What are the different types of Tri-Grip Plate?

Rubber coated Tri-Grip Plates, as the name suggest these plates are coated in rubber with a cast iron filling. This provides a more premium look and feel, while protecting the floor and the plates themselves. One of the biggest benefits to the rubber coating, is the noise reduction when the plates are rattling on the bar.

Cast iron Tri-Grip Plates are simply plain cast iron, usually with a thin hammertone finish on them to keep the rugged / old school look (and to prevent rusting). This old-school look is very popular amongst the gym community, the phrase 'pumping iron' didn't come about for no reason! These plates are more thin then rubber coated plates, which is great for loading lots of weight on your barbell. 

Fractional Plates


What is a Fractional Plate?

Fractional plates are the unsung heroes for most gyms and are often overlooked by many. Fractional plates are the micro-weight plates that allow you to increase the overall weight on your bar by fractions of a KG. Our competition fractional plates range from 0.5KG-2.5KG, meaning when reaching for PB's, you can increase the weight by as little as 1KG at a time. 

When to use a Fractional Plate?

Fractional plates are ideal for those really pushing for those PB lifts, where the difference of 1KG is just enough to see growth, but 5KG is too much of a jump resulting in failure or injury. Due to the grippy rubber design, fractional plates can be thrown on the bar in-between sets, without having to release the collars. This is important for drop sets and high intensity workouts where weights will need changing frequently and quickly. 

What are the different types of Fractional Plate?

Fractional plates can be any type of plate that offers micro-changes. This can come in many forms, from 1.25KG cast iron plates, to competition standard fractional plates or regular steel discs. Competition standard plates have a much smaller tolerance, meaning they will be more accurate in weight, they also have the benefit of being grippy and colour coded for easy changeovers. 


Hopefully this guide will help you to make a decision on what plates are the right ones for you, and the benefits of each style of plate. If you have any questions, or you can think of something we've missed, please get in touch! Email us at 'sales@rivalstrength.co.uk' or give us a call on 07484 634921.