15 Types of Weight Plates Explained (Differences, Pros, Cons)

15 types of weight plates explained

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Buying weight plates isn’t as simple as opening Google and purchasing the first one that appears in the search results. There are several kinds of weight plates on the market, and they are all designed for different purposes.

The 15 different types of weight plates are:

  • Standard-sized cast iron plates
  • Standard-sized cast iron grip plates
  • Rubber bumper plates
  • Crumb bumper plates
  • Technique bumper plates
  • Competition bumper plates
  • Urethane bumper plates
  • Rubber grip plates
  • Olympic-sized iron plates
  • 12-sided plates
  • 6-shooter plates
  • Change plates
  • Fractional plates
  • Studio plates
  • Wagon wheels

In the article below, I break this list down into three categories: standard plates, Olympic plates, and specialty plates. I discuss the key features of each plate, their pros and cons, and provide an overview of who should and should not use each plate.

By the end, you’ll be able to determine which type of plate is best for you whether you’re outfitting a home gym, a commercial gym, or a boutique fitness studio.

If you’re also in the market for a squat rack, check out our guide on the different types of squat racks to make sure you get one that suits your goals and the available space you have.

Different Weight Plate Categories

Weight Plates

Before getting into the individual types of weight plates, it’s important to understand that there are three larger categories of weight plates: standard plates, Olympic plates, and specialty plates that serve very specific purposes.

Standard Plates

Standard plates have a 1” insert, which is the hole in the center that the end of the barbell goes through.

They only fit on barbells whose sleeves have a 1” diameter or a type of adjustable dumbbell called a loadable dumbbell.

I discuss loadable dumbbells and all the different kinds of dumbbells you can choose from in 12 Types of Dumbbells Explained (Differences, Pros, Cons).

Olympic Plates

Despite having “Olympic” in the name, these plates aren’t just for the sport of Olympic weightlifting (which tests the snatch and clean and jerk). You’ll also find them in powerlifting, strongman, and CrossFit gyms, as well as any gym where high-level athletes train (such as collegiate gyms or professional sports training facilities).

You can also find Olympic plates in many commercial big-box gyms, though what kind of plates each gym has will vary.

Specialty Plates

Specialty plates are plates that often have limited purposes, such as those you’d find in a group fitness studio.

While you’d only have a use for these plates under unique circumstances, it’s still important to understand what they are and what you can use them for so you can buy the right product for you when you’re shopping for plates.

Standard Plates

1. Standard-Sized Cast Iron Plates

standard-sized cast iron plates

As the name suggests, standard-sized cast iron plates are made of cast iron. You can find them in most sporting goods stores and online retailers like Amazon.

Some standard-sized cast iron plates are made entirely of cast iron, while others have a thin rubber lining around the edges.

Standard-Sized Cast Iron Plate Positives

The biggest benefit of standard-sized cast iron plates is that they aren’t as large as Olympic-sized plates, so they’re good for small gyms without a lot of storage space.

Standard-Sized Cast Iron Plate Negatives

Standard-sized cast iron plates can’t be dropped because they can break or damage the floor. 

The 1” diameter limits what kind of barbell you can put them on, and the barbells that do fit them typically only have weight capacities of 250-300lbs, which is too low for advanced lifters.

Cast iron plates are also prone to rust, especially if they don’t come with a protective coating.

Additionally, they have smaller overall diameters than Olympic-sized plates. If you use them for movements like deadlifts, you have to elevate them on blocks to put them at a higher starting position so you don’t have to bend over so much to lift the weight.

Who Should Use Standard-Sized Cast Iron Plates?

Standard-sized cast iron plates are the most ideal for home gym users beginner lifters who can’t lift much weight yet.

They can only fit on 1” barbells, which are typically shorter than Olympic barbells and don’t take up as much space and only have weight capacities up to around 250lbs. You can also use them on loadable dumbbell handles, which are good for home gym users who don’t have room for multiple sets of dumbbells.

Who Should NOT Use Standard-Sized Cast Iron Plates?

Because the barbells these plates fit on don’t have high weight capacities and can’t be dropped, they are not ideal for powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, CrossFitters, or anyone who’s an advanced gym-goer.

Standard-Sized Cast Iron Plate Recommendation

The Yes4All standard 1” plates are an excellent, affordable option. They’re made out of solid cast iron and coated with semi-gloss black paint to help prevent rust and corrosion. They’re also available from 5lbs to 25lbs, so they offer a lot of versatility.

2. Standard-Sized Cast Iron Grip Plates

standard-sized cast iron grip plates

Standard-sized cast iron grip plates are just like regular standard-sized cast iron plates, except they have triangular-shaped cutouts that allow you to hold onto them more easily.

Like regular standard-sized cast iron plates, the grip plates are either made solely of cast iron or have a rubber lining around the edges.

Standard-Sized Cast Iron Grip Plate Positives

The biggest benefit of these plates is the holes that allow you to grip them in multiple ways. This increases their versatility because you can hold them more easily for exercises like Russian twists. They’re also easier to hold onto when loading and unloading a barbell.

As well, like regular standard-sized cast iron plates, standard-sized cast iron grip plates are ideal for small gyms because they don’t take up as much space as other types of plates.

Standard-Sized Cast Iron Grip Plate Negatives

Standard-sized cast iron grip plates can’t be dropped because they can either crack or damage your floor.

They only fit on barbells with a 1” sleeve diameter, and those barbells have small weight capacities.

They can also rust if there’s no protective coating on them.

Who Should Use Standard-Sized Cast Iron Grip Plates?

These plates are suitable for beginners or anyone who has hand issues that make gripping regular plates more challenging.

Who Should NOT Use Standard-Sized Cast Iron Grip Plates?

I would not recommend standard-sized cast iron grip plates for Olympic weightlifters or CrossFitters, who drop weights from overhead frequently.

I also would advise against them for powerlifters or other high-level athletes who can lift more than 250-300lbs.

Standard-Sized Cast Iron Grip Plate Recommendation

I recommend the Sporzon cast iron plates. They’re available in weights up to 45lbs and have three large openings to improve their gripability. They have an enamel-baked coating to prevent rust and corrosion, and they have small overall diameters so they won’t take up too much space when you store them.

Olympic Plates

3. Rubber Bumper Plates

rubber bumper plates

Rubber bumper plates are iron plates that have a thick rubber covering. They’re available in black rubber or in different colors such as red, green, and yellow, which indicate their weights.

You’ll most often find these plates in weightlifting or CrossFit gyms, though some chain gyms like Crunch Fitness and Life Time Fitness.

Rubber Bumper Plate Positives

Rubber bumper plates can be dropped from overhead. The rubber they’re coated with has shock-absorbent properties and increases their durability since they won’t crack when dropped.

Because they rebound, they’re also safer on floors (though you do still need to be careful and make sure your floors can handle the weight before you drop them).

Rubber Bumper Plate Negatives

Rubber bumper plates are expensive – they can cost as much as $5 per pound or more, depending on where you buy them from.

Rubber bumper plates are also large in diameter and take up a lot of space, which can be an issue in small home gyms.

Who Should Use Rubber Bumper Plates?

Nearly anyone can use rubber bumper plates, including CrossFitters, Olympic weightlifters, anyone who does functional fitness, and home gym owners who want to protect their floors.

They’re also good for commercial gyms and strength and conditioning facilities.

Who Should NOT Use Rubber Bumper Plates?

There aren’t many people that I wouldn’t recommend rubber bumper plates to.

But if you only need plates for general strength training and won’t be doing CrossFit, functional fitness, or Olympic weightlifting, you can save some money and get cast iron plates instead.

Rubber Bumper Plate Recommendation

I recommend the Rogue Fitness HG 2.0 bumper plates. I use them in my home gym, and in the 5 or 6 years I’ve been working out at home, I’ve never had any issues with them cracking or breaking.

I’ve also used these bumper plates in various CrossFit gyms, and they’ve held up well despite being used by dozens of people multiple times a day.

4. Hi-Temp Bumper Plates

hi-temp bumper plates

Hi-temp bumper plates get their name from the company that manufactures them, Hi-Temp, but are sold by various fitness equipment suppliers such as Rogue Fitness and Rep Fitness. They’re made from recycled rubber that’s been heated and hardened with sulfur.

Some brands sell what’s called crumb or mil-spec bumper plates, but they are very similar to hi-temp plates. Even though different brands have different names for them, they’re all manufactured in a similar way.

Hi-Temp Bumper Plate Positives

A major benefit of these plates is that they’re environmentally friendly because they’re made from recycled rubber.

They’re also very durable, and you can use them both indoors and outdoors without worrying about the rubber cracking.

Hi-Temp Bumper Plate Negatives

Compared to other types of bumper plates, hi-temp plates tend to be less aesthetically pleasing. The manufacturing process can leave behind small scratches and result in color inconsistencies, so there’s a chance they won’t look totally brand new when you get them.

Hi-temp plates are also bouncier than other bumper plates, which can cause accidents if you drop the weights from overhead without control.

Who Should Use Hi-Temp Bumper Plates?

Hi-temp bumper plates are best suited for anyone who works out outdoors frequently and is looking for plates that can be dropped on concrete without damage.

Who Should Not Use Hi-Temp Bumper Plates?

Because they bounce a lot, I don’t recommend hi-temp bumper plates to anyone who works out in a tight space. And if you want your plates to look perfect and uniform when you first get them, I’d avoid hi-temp bumper plates.

Hi-Temp Bumper Plate Recommendations

The Fringe Sport hi-temp bumpers are an excellent choice. They’re more expensive than other crumb bumper plates, but Fringe Sport offers a one-year no-questions-asked warranty. If they do get damaged (which is unlikely), you can replace them for free.

And despite the fact that they’re crumb bumpers, they have a low bounce, which makes them ideal for lifting in small home gyms or crowded commercial gyms.

5. Technique Bumper Plates

technique bumper plates

Technique bumper plates are used almost exclusively by beginners who are learning the snatch and clean and jerk. They’re the same diameter as regular bumper plates but are only available in 5lbs or 10lbs.

Technique Bumper Plate Positives

Most 5lb plates are a smaller diameter than plates at a heavier weight, but the technique plates are the same diameter. This allows new lifters to practice the snatch and clean and jerk with lighter weight while using plates that are a similar diameter as heavier ones.

As well, it’s not recommended to drop most 10lb bumper plates on their own from overhead because they are very thin and bend easily. Technique bumper plates are thicker, so new lifters who are using light weight can drop a barbell with only 10lb plates from overhead.

Technique Bumper Plate Negatives

The biggest drawback of technique bumper plates is that they’re only available in 5lbs or 10lbs. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where it doesn’t make sense to use them anymore because it’s better to load a barbell with heavier plates than multiple pairs of 5lb or 10lb plates.

Technique plates are also very expensive because they’re not manufactured in the same quantities as other plates and it takes more material to make lighter weights at the same specifications as the heavier weights.

Who Should Use Technique Bumper Plates?

Technique bumper plates are best for new Olympic weightlifters, new CrossFitters, or any other athlete who’s learning the snatch, clean, or jerk for the first time.

Who Should NOT Use Technique Bumper Plates?

There’s no need for advanced Olympic weightlifters or advanced lifters of any kind to use technique plates. Since you’ll likely be using heavier plates on your barbell, you’ll be able to drop a loaded barbell without worrying about the plates bending.

Technique Bumper Plate Recommendation

I recommend the Titan Fitness technique plates. They’re available in both 2.5kg (5lbs) and 5kg (11lbs) and are made from polymers, a synthetic, plastic-like material. Polymers are durable, so they hold up well in a variety of home gym and commercial gym settings.

6. Competition Bumper Plates

competition bumper plates

Competition bumper plates are bumper plates that are used in Olympic weightlifting competitions. They can also be used in any training environment.

Competition bumpers are color-coded according to weight. This makes it easy for judges at a competition to easily see how much weight is on the barbell.

Competition Bumper Plate Positives

Competition bumper plates have a high weight tolerance, meaning they are as close to the listed weight as possible. Many weight plates can be off by as much as 4%, but high-quality competition bumper plates often have a weight tolerance of 1%.

Competition bumper plates are also thinner than regular bumper plates, which allows high-level lifters to load more weight on the barbell before running out of room.

As well, competition bumper plates also have low bounce, which can help keep lifters in a crowded gym safe. There’s also less wear and tear on the barbell because it doesn’t cause as much friction between the steel inserts and the barbell sleeves.

Competition Bumper Plate Negatives

The biggest drawback of competition bumper plates is that they are much more expensive than other types of bumper plates. This is because they are made to conform to International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) standards and are designed to be even more durable than regular bumper plates.

Who Should Use Competition Bumper Plates?

Any competitive Olympic weightlifter would benefit from training with competition bumper plates. The margin of error in weight is lower in competition bumper plates than in other bumper plates, and this can help competitive lifters ensure they’re training with weights that are as accurate as possible.

Who Should NOT Use Competition Bumper Plates?

Unless you really like the look of the different colored bumper plates, they aren’t necessary for anyone who’s not a competitive Olympic weightlifter.

Competition Bumper Plate Recommendation

The Rogue Fitness competition bumper plates are some of the best on the market. They’re IWF-certified, weigh within 15 grams of the listed weight, and have virtually no bounce when dropped from overhead.

Another unique feature with these plates is the raised flanges around the steel inserts. When the plates are loaded on a barbell or storage rack, this prevents the inserts from coming into contact with each other.

If you’re also looking for an IWF-certified barbell to use in your training, check out the Pyrros barbell from Rogue Fitness.

7. Urethane Bumper Plates

Urethane Bumper Plates

Urethane bumper plates are covered with urethane, a highly durable type of rubber. Like regular rubber bumper plates, you can buy urethane plates in black plates or in different colors that indicate their weight.

Urethane Bumper Plate Positives

Urethane has no odor, is very durable, and holds up well to being left outside, so you can use these plates outdoors or store them in gyms that aren’t temperature-controlled without worrying about damage.

Urethane bounces less than regular rubber, which means you don’t have to worry about the weight rebounding too high or bouncing far away from you when you drop it.

Urethane Bumper Plate Negatives

Urethane bumper plates are expensive, with some costing as much as $4.20 or more per pound.

Urethane bumper plates also make more noise than other types of bumper plates, which can be an issue if you live with other people or your house is close to your neighbors’ houses.

Who Should Use Urethane Bumper Plates?

Anyone who stores or uses their gym equipment outside or is sensitive to strong smells would benefit from getting urethane bumper plates.

Due to their low bounce, I’d also recommend them to anyone who works out in small spaces.

Who Should Not Use Urethane Bumper Plates?

If you don’t have a large budget or workout outdoors frequently, urethane bumper plates aren’t necessary.

Urethane Bumper Plate Recommendation

If you want to buy urethane bumper plates but don’t want to spend a lot of money, I recommend the urethane bumper plates from Titan Fitness. The urethane is brightly colored, and they have a weight tolerance within 1% of the listed weight.

Another nice thing about these bumper plates is that the 10lb plates are thicker than other 10lb bumper plates. This means you can drop a barbell with only the 10lb plates on it from overhead without the plates bending.

8. Rubber Grip Plates

rubber grip plates

Rubber grip plates are round plates with an iron core and a top layer of rubber. Despite having a rubber outer layer, they are not the same as bumper plates and can’t be dropped. They have three holes that allow you to pick them up and load or unload a barbell with ease.

Rubber Grip Plate Positives

Rubber grip plates are easier to pick up, carry, and slide on or off a barbell because of the grip holes throughout. They allow for a better grip when doing exercises like Russian twists, and the rubber helps protect floors from scuff marks.

Rubber Grip Plate Negatives

Rubber grip plates can’t be dropped. They’re not the same as bumper plates and have a higher chance of breaking when dropped from overhead.

As well, not all weights are the same diameter. This isn’t a big deal for a lift like a squat where you don’t have to pick up the barbell from the floor. But if you’re doing something like a deadlift and not strong enough to use 45lb plates, the barbell will sit lower and you’ll have to bend over further to pick it up.

Who Should Use Rubber Grip Plates?

Rubber grip plates are good for most home gym owners who want to protect their floor from scratches and don’t drop their weights frequently. They’re also ideal for general strength training and non-competitive lifters.

Who Should Not Use Rubber Grip Plates?

I don’t recommend rubber grip plates for Olympic weightlifters or CrossFitters since you can’t drop them from overhead.

Rubber Grip Plate Recommendation

The RitFit Olympic Rubber Grip Plates are a solid choice. They’re available in weights from 2.5lbs to 45lbs, and you can buy them in pairs or as a complete set. The rubber they’re coated with is non-toxic and has a sleek black finish, which not only makes them rust-resistant but makes them easy to clean as well.

9. Iron Plates

Iron Plates

Iron plates, or steel plates, are round plates made entirely out of cast iron. They are available in all black or in colors that indicate their weights. They often have raised lips around the edges to make them easier to carry.

You may see some iron plates labeled as “calibrated.” This means they are machine-calibrated to be as accurate in weight as possible, sometimes within just 10 grams of the listed weight.

Some iron plates are also called “deep dish” plates. The only major difference between them and regular iron plates is that they have even deeper lips to allow for a better grip when loading or unloading a barbell. 

Iron Plate Positives

Iron plates are durable, especially if they’re finished with an enamel coating that can help prevent rust. And because they don’t require as much material, they’re cheaper per pound than bumper plates.

I also like that they have a vintage aesthetic, which can give your gym a cool, old-school vibe.

They also tend to be thinner than bumper plates, which means you can load the bar with more plates before running out of room.

Iron Plate Negatives

Iron plates cannot be dropped from overhead, and you need to make sure you use them on a lifting platform or heavy-duty rubber flooring (like horse stall mats) so you don’t damage your floor.

They are also noisy and can disturb other people who live with you if you work out at home.

Who Should Use Iron Plates?

Iron plates are best for powerlifters or athletes such as strongman competitors who can typically lift a lot more weight than the average person.

They’re also good for bodybuilders who may not need to drop their weights frequently and casual lifters who don’t want to spend extra money on bumper plates.

Who Should Not Use Iron Plates?

Olympic weightlifters and CrossFitters should not use iron plates since they can’t be dropped. I also don’t recommend them for home gym owners unless you can build or buy a lifting platform to prevent damage to your floor.

Iron Plate Recommendation

The Rogue Fitness Olympic plates are an excellent choice for anyone who needs to add plates to their home or commercial gym. These are one of the rare products from Rogue that you can’t find for a cheaper price at some other brands, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be sacrificing quality. Like most Rogue products, these are built to last.

The plates are available in weights from 1.25lbs up to 100lbs. You can buy them in pairs or work with Rogue to create a custom set.

10. 12-Sided Plates

As the name implies, 12-sided plates have 12 flat edges. Most either have notches or holes to make it easier to hold onto them. They are available in either rubber-coated cast iron or pure cast iron.

Some people also refer to these as “hex” plates. While they’re not truly a hexagonal shape (which would mean they have 6 flat edges instead of 12), the term “hex plate” is often used to refer to any plate that has flat edges.

12-Sided Plate Positives

One of the only good things I can think of when it comes to 12-sided plates is that they won’t roll away from you when they’re on the ground. This can help protect other items in your workout area from damage and prevent injuries to you or other people.

12-Sided Plate Negatives

Because of the flat edges, 12-sided plates are difficult to do deadlifts with. If you don’t set the bar down on a flat edge after each rep, you have to reset each time, which can mess up your rhythm.

These plates also can’t be used for the Olympic lifts.

Who Should Use 12-Sided Plates?

12-sided plates are best for anyone who needs plates for plate-loaded machines, whether the machines are in your home gym or a commercial gym, and anyone who does not need plates for deadlifts and other exercises where the barbell starts on the floor.

Who Should NOT Use 12-Sided Plates?

Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters, CrossFitters, or anyone else who deadlifts frequently should not use 12-sided plates.

12-Sided Plate Recommendation

Rogue Fitness 12-sided plates

If you’re set on buying 12-sided plates and want ones that you’ll never have to replace, I recommend the Rogue Fitness 12-sided plates. They’re pricey, but they’re made in the USA and covered with urethane for extra durability.

They have a weight tolerance of 1-3%, depending on the weight, so you can rest assured that the listed weight is as close as possible to how much the plate actually weighs.

If you have no choice but to use hex plates, follow these tips for deadlifting with hex plates.

11. 6-Shooter Plates

6-shooter plates are similar to grip plates but have six holes around them (in addition to the hole that goes on the barbell sleeves). 

Some brands sell 6-shooter plates that are made only from cast iron, but others sell 6-shooter plates that have a polyurethane coating that helps protect both the plate and the floor from damage.

6-Shooter Plate Positives

The biggest benefit of 6-shooter plates is how easy it is to load and unload a barbell with them or carry them around. 

6-Shooter Plate Negatives

These plates cannot be dropped, and they can be noisy if they’re only made out of cast iron.

They’re also more expensive than regular iron plates because more work is required to make them.

Who Should Use 6-Shooter Plates?

6-shooter plates are good for commercial gym owners who want to provide their members with plates that are easy to carry around. They’re also good for bodybuilding and recreational lifting.

Like regular iron plates, 6-shooter plates can be good for home gym owners as long as you use a lifting platform or put protective mats like horse stall mats to prevent damage to your floor.

Who Should Not Use 6-Shooter Plates?

6-shooter plates should not be used by Olympic weightlifters or CrossFitters since you can’t drop them. 

6-Shooter Plate Recommendation

I recommend the Equalizer plates from Rep Fitness, which are the same as 6-shooter plates even though they have a different name.

Unlike other brands that simply fill a mold with cast iron to make their plates, Rep Fitness goes even further and sandblasts and machine-drills the plates to give them a smooth texture. The plates are then coated with enamel and baked, which helps prevent chips in the enamel.

These plates also offer a snug fit on the barbell, which means you can lift without using collars and not have to worry about the plates sliding off.

I talk more about the differences between various types of plates in my article Bumper Plates vs. Metal Plates vs. Rubber Plates (Pros & Cons).

12. Change Plates

Change Plates

Change plates have a smaller diameter and come in weights from 1.25lbs to 10lbs. They can either be made entirely out of cast iron or have a rubber coating like bumper plates do (though they aren’t considered true bumper plates).

Change Plate Positives

Change plates allow you to add weight to your lifts in small increments. This is beneficial when trying to progress on lifts that are difficult to make significant increases on, such as the overhead press. For example, instead of adding 10lbs to the lift each week, you could use two 2.5lb plates and add 5lbs each week.

Change Plate Negatives

One of the only negatives of change plates is that they’re smaller in diameter than other plates. If you only use change plates for a lift like a deadlift, you’d have to elevate the barbell so that the starting position is higher and you don’t have to lean over as much to pull the weight.

A barbell loaded with nothing but change plates also can’t be dropped because the plates can break easily.

Who Should Use Change Plates?

Change plates are good for any lifter to have in their gym. They can help anyone break through a plateau by making smaller jumps in weight or progress at a slower rate if larger weight increases aren’t possible.

Who Should NOT Use Change Plates?

The only people I wouldn’t recommend change plates to are those who don’t have the space or budget for them.

Change Plates Recommendation

I recommend the Synergee rubberized fractional plates. They’re on the expensive side, but you get five total pairs of weights (0.5kg, 1kg, 1.5kg, 2kg, 2.5kg), whereas you only get four pairs of plates in change plate sets from some other brands.

My favorite thing about these plates is that even the steel insert is covered with rubber. This not only keeps the plates completely rust-free but also reduces friction on the barbell and prevents them from making a lot of noise when you drop a loaded barbell.

13. Fractional Plates

Fractional Plates

Fractional plates smaller diameter plates that are available in quarter-pound increments from ¼ of a pound up to 1 pound.

Fractional Plate Positives

The biggest positive of fractional plates is that they allow for micro-loading on a barbell. This is beneficial for advanced lifters who may only be able to increase weight on their lifts in very small increments when attempting new personal records.

When doing percentage-based work, using fractional plates can also help you load the bar with more exact weight. For example, if you wanted to do back squats at 75% of your 1 rep max of 250lbs, you could use a combination of regular plates, change plates, and fractional plates to load the bar with 187.5lbs.

Fractional Plate Negatives

There aren’t many negatives to fractional plates other than the fact that you can’t use them on their own if you want to be able to drop your weights.

Who Should Use Fractional Plates?

Anyone who does strength training can benefit from having fractional plates. Whether you are a competitive or recreational lifter, they can help you hit new personal records if you’re struggling to get past a plateau.

Who Should NOT Use Fractional Plates

If you don’t care about being exact with the weight you lift when doing percentage-based work, you don’t need fractional plates.

Fractional Plate Recommendation

I recommend the Titan Fitness fractional plates. They’re affordable, brightly colored, and have a raised lip that makes it easier to grip when sliding them on or off a barbell sleeve. They’re also covered in rubber, and while you can’t drop them the same way you can drop bumper plates, the rubber prevents them from rusting.

Specialty Plates

14. Studio Plates

Studio plates are designed specifically for shorter, lightweight bars that you’d find in group fitness studios. They’re often sold in packages with these bars, but you can buy them separately as well.

Studio plates typically feature an inner shell that’s filled with cement and have a rubber or vinyl coating.

Studio Plate Positives

Studio plates are small and don’t take up a lot of room. This makes storage easy in fitness studios where you may need a lot of them to accommodate large class sizes.

Many studio plates also have holes so you can grip them easily and quickly load or unload them from a bar in the middle of a class.

Studio Plate Negatives

Studio plates are only available in weights up to 15lbs or 20lbs. While you could use them on an Olympic-sized barbell if you needed to (as long as the inserts have a 2” diameter), many lifters would need to use a lot of 15lb plates to make the barbell heavy enough for the weight to be challenging.

They also don’t have a large enough diameter to put a barbell in an optimal starting position for a deadlift or other exercises where the barbell starts on the floor.

Who Should Use Studio Plates?

Studio plates are best for group fitness studio owners or those who do take virtual group classes at home.

Who Should NOT Use Studio Plates?

Studio plates are not meant for heavy strength training, so they’re not ideal for powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, strongman competitors, weightlifters, and even most recreational lifters. 

Studio Plate Recommendation

The ZIVA Performance Studio plates are a great option if you’re in the market for studio plates. They’re encased in rubber, so whether you use them at home or in a studio, you don’t have to worry about getting scuff marks on your floor.

You can buy these plates as a set with a compatible barbell or purchase them in pairs of 1.25kg, 2.5kg, or 5kg.

15. Wagon Wheels

As the name implies, a wagon wheel is a large circular plate with multiple spokes that extend out from the center. They are primarily used for deadlift variations that use a partial range of motion where the barbell needs to start at a higher point.

Wagon Wheel Positives

Wagon wheels make it easy to do block deadlifts if you don’t have access to a set of blocks or another way to elevate your barbell. They’re also thinner than bumper or iron plates, so you can fit more weight on the barbell and overload a common sticking point in the deadlift (when the bar reaches the knees).

Wagon wheels are also good for beginner lifters to learn proper deadlift technique before attempting full deadlifts or very tall lifters who have to bend far down to reach a barbell loaded with regular plates.

Wagon Wheel Negatives

Wagon wheels are large and difficult to store, and they have few uses outside of deadlift variations. They are also very expensive.

Who Should Use Wagon Wheels?

Wagon wheels are best for competitive powerlifters who like to incorporate a lot of block deadlifts into their training and don’t have access to blocks.

I’d also recommend wagon wheels for very tall lifters because they raise the starting point of a deadlift so you don’t have to bend over so far to grab the barbell.

Who Should NOT Use Wagon Wheels?

Anyone who doesn’t have a large budget, a large amount of storage space, or isn’t a competitive powerlifter can do without wagon wheels.

Wagon Wheel Recommendation

The Titan Fitness wagon wheels are some of the most affordable on the market, and they’re high-quality for the price you pay. Even though they aren’t rubber coated, they have a black enamel coating that can protect them from corrosion. I also like that it’s easy to use these plates in combination with other bumper or cast iron plates.


About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.