Bumper plates (or just bumpers) are the hard rubber equivalent of standard cast-iron training plates for weightlifting. They’re meant to help prevent damage to your equipment if you drop the bar (accidentally or purposefully). Depending on where you do your workouts, you normally risk damaging the lifting platform, the plates or even the floor itself (usually occurs in a home environment).
With bumpers, this risk is drastically reduced, so you can focus on your exercises without worrying about potential damage to your surroundings. Having to fix the floor or buy new (potentially pricey) equipment can be a major demotivating factor that causes people to give up on working out or makes them afraid to exercise due to fear of damaging their garage/gym further.
Luckily, bumpers give you the same weight options as regular plates, and the ones meant for the competition are helpfully color-coded according to their weight. There are three main types of bumper plates to consider, with different characteristics depending on the environment they’re used in. In this article, we will examine them and explain what kind of qualities you should look for when purchasing bumper plates for personal use.
The Current Best Bumper Plates On The Market – My Reviews
With all these things in mind, I’ve isolated 5 top products that are worth your time and attention. Some of it is still up to personal preference and what you want to do with the bumper plates, but good quality is a pretty objective thing.
1. Premium Color Bumper Plate Solid Rubber
X Training Equipment brings us this set of color-coded training bumper plates, tested and developed by CrossFit and certified weightlifting coaches and athletes. The rubber is very durable, which means you won’t have to replace any of these bumper plates for a reasonably long time.
The plates also just feel powerful and heavy, like a metal baseball bat. The inserts fit on all Olympic bars, so you won’t have to invest extra money to be able to use these plates. That versatility also helps make the bumpers affordable, especially compared to other home workout options.
The main downside is that the smell of rubber is about as hard to kill as the rubber itself, so try not to use these bumper plates in your bedroom, even if you have the space for them (though the smell goes away after some time).
- High quality
- Surprisingly cheap
- Can take a lot of abuse
- Nice solid feel
- Color-coded by professional standard
- Strong rubbery smell may put some users off
2. Rep Bumper Plates for Strength and Conditioning Workouts and Weightlifting
The main advantage to these bumper plates is the extreme durability. They can withstand more than 15000 drops without any damage occurring in a factory environment. I don’t know what kind of neglect you’d have to put these plates through to see any kind of drop in performance, but I’m pretty sure you can make a show on Discovery Channel about it, probably involving dynamite and crashing trucks.
These bumper plates also don’t bounce that much, so you don’t have to chase them around your garage/gym. You can get a set of plates that go from 10 lbs to 45 lbs in increments of 5. The heavier ones have a longer warranty, which is basically like comparing the lifespans of two celestial bodies. You can build nuclear shelters from these things; they’re so durable.
Another helpful feature is a set of hooks embedded in the rubber to keep the steel plates locked in place. These plates should fit any Olympic bars you have lying around, and the 45 lbs bumpers are thinner than average, which lets you control your weight without much effort as you add or take away plates.
- More durable than anything ever needs to be
- Doesn’t make your garage smell like rubber
- Thinner plates
- Can be a bit pricey, depending on where you get them
3. Premium Black Bumper Plate Solid Rubber with Steel Insert
The first thing you may notice about these bumper plates is the increased size compared to their competitors. They’re big and bulky, so don’t be surprised if your storage plans need to be changed to accommodate these bumpers. Despite their size, however, they’re relatively easy to use, and they fit on your standard Olympic bars without any hassle.
The bumper plates were tested by professionals who know more about what makes a good plate than you or I will ever know and as a result of that testing, they’re more durable than most competitors, and they make next to zero noise as long as you don’t kick them down a flight of stairs. Thankfully, the bounce is also reasonably low, so there is no risk of (possibly comedic) injury unless you count the brutal assault on your sense of smell as a potential injury.
That’s probably the main problem with these bumper plates, so try to use them in your garage if possible, or maybe a local cave if you have access to one. The only other issue could be a lack of color-coding, but the quality of the plates is enough to make that a non-factor unless you’re buying them for your gym.
- Easy to use
- Quite durable
- Tested by coaches and other professionals
- They don’t make a lot of noise
- Low bounce
- Unpleasant smell
- No color-coding
4. CAP Barbell Premium Bumper Plates
Probably the best choice for beginners, these bumper plates scream ease of use. They’re made of both virgin and recycled rubber, so if you’re conscious about your footprint, these are probably your choice. You get two 25 lbs plates with steel inserts that don’t damage your bar and a cast iron core.
This is what the best cooking pots are made of, and those last for many years and can withstand not just a careless drop or fifty, but insane temperatures as well. Don’t test that heat thing, though, as the rubber smell would probably make someone call the police on you. They smell bad enough as it is, so avoid bringing them into the house if possible, at least initially.
My dog went berserk when I first unpacked these bumper plates, and this was in the front yard. The bounce is just right, so you won’t feel like you’re dropping an anchor or a car tire. There isn’t any variety in plate weight, so these are not ideal for purchasing for your gym unless their specific weight is what you’re missing. But if you’re just starting your deadlifts, these bumper plates are probably ideal. Their durability will last you long enough to the point where you consider adding more weight options to your routine.
- Easy to use, perfect for beginners
- The smell is really bad
- No real weight options
5. Body Solid Bumper Plates
These bumper plates come with very thin metal sleeves that make sliding them on effortless. They only fit Olympic bars, but since those are the best possible investment anyway, this isn’t a problem. Your weight options with these bumper plates are 45 lbs and… that’s it.
The plates are not too thick, and they’re fairly sturdy, as long as you don’t throw them around aggressively. The rubber has the usual issue of smelling like a medieval witch burning took place, but if you keep the garage door open, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with that. You don’t get other weight options, but that reduces the price considerably, making the purchase easy to plan.
The rubber isn’t as durable as it can be, but it’s strong enough to withstand personal use unless your idea of training involves throwing the bar frequently, which can cause cracks or splits. Overall it’s a solid set of plates, especially if your budget doesn’t quite match that of a Hollywood film studio.
- Pretty cheap
- Easy to use
- Good for home use if their weight works for you
- No variety in weight options
- The rubber isn’t the most durable on the market
- The smell of rubber takes time to go away
Three Types of Bumper Plates
1. Basic Bumpers
If you mostly workout at home, this is the kind you want. They’re the cheapest variant and provide everything you need to start getting huge in your garage, backyard or living room. There are many brands to choose from, but we find that Rogue HG and Vulcan Strength work best.
If you run into bumpers and the brand name doesn’t seem familiar, try to avoid purchasing them without first putting some time into research, as they could suffer from serious problems that may ruin your workout experience and even risk injuring you. When we get into specific characteristics below, you will see some of the risks and issues obscure bumper plates can introduce.
Other than that, you shouldn’t run into any trouble, as these plates are still superior to standard cast-iron plates when it comes to convenience and risk reduction, especially if you don’t want to disturb your neighbors.
Pro tip: Try to find thinner plates, as you can fit more of them on a bar and adjust the weight efficiently.
2. Training Bumpers
Very similar to competition bumpers. They’re not as expensive, but they are also usually not certified (because of minute differences that mean nothing if you’re just trying to get fit, so we won’t go into them in this article). There are two kinds of training bumpers, and the color is the first indicator of which one you’ve encountered.
3. Black Training Bumpers
Black training bumper plates are the best choice if you’re looking for a versatile all-purpose plate to plan your workouts around. They’re made of high-quality, high-density black rubber and last a long time. Their durability and versatility makes them ideal for general fitness training and achieving personal health goals. If you want higher quality than what basic bumpers offer but aren’t quite sure which exercises you want to spend time doing in the near future, black training bumper plates are probably your pick.
4. Color-coded Training Bumper Plates
These bumpers are colored to match the International Weightlifting Federation or International Powerlifting Federation standards. This means the colors will be laid out in the following way, depending on the weight of each plate:
- Red - 25 kg or 55 lb
- Blue - 20 kg or 45 lb
- Yellow - 15 kg or 35 lb
- Green - 10 kg or 25 lb
Having this kind of agreed upon color scheme helps coaches and gymgoers easily determine what kind of weight is being used, and lets them make quick, efficient changes as needed. For these reasons, the color-coded training bumper plates are more suited for a gym. Moreover, you should decide the muscles to combine before starting your exercise.
5. Competition Bumpers
The more expensive of the two categories, certified bumper plates used in competitions offer a significantly higher level of quality. They consist of steel discs hidden behind a thick layer of hard rubber, which is helpful both as a way to reduce noise and a way to prevent the bolts that hold the plates in place from loosening over time.
This actually helps make up for the difference in price you get when comparing competitive bumper plates to cheaper variants, as you save money on bolts you would otherwise have to replace. The bumpers also tend to be thinner and more durable overall, compared to any other kind of plates.
However, certified competitive bumper plates are really unnecessary unless you’re serious about lifting professionally. They cost way more than a pair of basic bumpers and only make a real difference in a professional environment. Only purchase them if you absolutely need that extra durability.
What Goes Into a Good Bumper Plate?
Splitting the bumper plates into categories doesn’t do much good if you don’t understand what to look for. From the weight to how bouncy the plate is, there’s a handful of qualities you want to cover when choosing a product. Here we will examine all the important characteristics of a good plate. Some of them depend on how you plan on using the bumper plates.
If you can afford it, it’s best to have as many different weight options available as possible. This lets you fine-tune how heavy your bar is, so you can steadily work on your performance without overworking yourself or slowing down progress. The color-coded training bumper plates are extremely useful if you have a workout plan prepared.
Lower-quality bumper plates sometimes can’t withstand being dropped for extended periods of time, and crack along the inner ring. This can destroy the balance of the bar even while it’s not being used. It’s much wiser to spend a bit more on the bumper plates if it means you don’t have to replace them as often.
The main way rubber plates avoid the risk of damaging the surroundings is by bouncing. However, as anyone who has played with tires as a child can tell you, too much bounce can even lead to injury. You want your bumper plates to have some spring to them so they can be safely dropped, but not enough bounce to fly back up at you like a yo-yo.
You’re looking for thick rubber or urethane coating. While there are steel/iron alternatives sometimes used in powerlifting, it’s best to stick to the bouncy stuff. A high-quality coating contributes a lot towards the bumper plate’s overall durability.
All of these are good choices. But I would be lying through my teeth if I said they’re all equal because there’s a clear winner here. Unless you’re adamant about needing color-coded bumper plates, I strongly suggest getting the Rep Bumper Plates, as their ridiculous level of durability lets you use them the longest, and you get enough weight options to adjust the load you’re lifting and track your progress with ease. Of all the bumpers on this list, they also smell the least, so you won’t have to explain anything to the forensics if guests accidentally stumble into your garage. For more effectiveness, let’s pay attention to other gears such as dumbbell set, adjustable weight bench, etc.
Let us know if you have any feedback! We’d love to hear your weightlifting stories, especially your methods for getting rid of that rubbery smell we all know and hate.