The best bumper plates in 2016
Once you are all set up with your olympic bar, and you have a few kettlebells around the gym, of course you are going to want to start lifting some heavy weight. The only way you can get around to doing this is to get a good set of weight plates, or bumper plates, to throw on that bar and get lifting. Bumper plates are weighted olympic lifting plates that are made of thick, hard rubber so that you can feel confident in lifting, and dropping, the bar without fear of damage – to equipment and the gym building.
A bumper plate is a pretty basic piece of equipment, yet there are key components of it that make it totally necessary for crossfit specific workouts. Unlike usual gym plates, which exposed steel, as well as holed with a smaller diameter hole, your bumper plate is designed to fit on olympic bars only, the staple abr for crossfit. The rubber is also vital for in a normal gym, there is very little dropping of weights, onto a platform or the floor, however, the basis of crossfit is repetition for time, and the need to drop a loaded bar is key.
The rubberising of a weight plate means that no damage is caused when it hits the floor, or platform, but it also helps with the durability of the plate – which is probably the most important factor to look out for when choosing a bumper plate. There are steel plates, there are even Technique plates, which are 100% rubber and meant to be really abused, but for this review, it is only worth looking at plates made for crossfit.
What to look out for when picking your bumper plate
There are not too many factors to distinguish between when picking a bumper plate, it is more about balancing good quality with a reasonable price tag.
The essential parts of the plate are the steel inserts, and the entire construction of the plate with quality material.
While a bumper plate is majority a hard rubber construct, usually, the inserts are stainless steel or equivalent material in order to allow for easy racking of plates onto a steel olympic bar. This also allows for a close, and tight, fit onto the bar to stop movement or warping around the insert. Sometimes, the insert may be part of an extended steel inner ring, with the rubber construct attached onto this, while there are cases where the steel ring is also rubber coated.
Because there is no point in doing crossfit with steel plates, all bumper plates in this review will be hard rubber in construct. There are cases where the plates can be plastic coated, but these again are not good for crossfit. Because rubber is not as durable as steel, there are chances of the rubber suffering over constant use, therefore it is important to aim for quality when it comes to the material and construct of the bumper plate.
Our Top 7 choices for Bumper Plates
Troy VTX Olympic Bumper Plates
When starting out, and building up your first home or garage gym, one of your biggest expenses will be your bumper plates. They are large pieces of equipment, and of course you will need a range of them, so they can run you up a few dollars. To this end, there are a number of really budget, but really decent starter plates, which the Troy VTX range falls into.
Again, with such a basic piece of equipment, you are not going to get your selection wrong. As long as they are olympic lifting plates, and they are rubberised, they will do a job for you. The Troy bumper plates are sturdy in construction and appear to be reliable and durable. The construction of the rubber plates is firm, yet they have enough give as to not be brittle or prone to cracking.
The insert is solid steel and also feels well constructed and smooth. Set into the plates, but with still room to turn and spin on a flush steel surface.
There is no doubting that you will have to eventually replace these plates. They simply will not be tough or durable enough to last the ages for the price they are going at. However, they will be a great starter set.
CAP Olympic Rubber Bumper Plates
The CAP Bumper Plates vary a little from the usual mold by having a rather large steel insert through which the bar goes through. Instead of the entire construction being a rubber plate with a hole in the middle, into which the insert goes, the CAP range is more donut shaped with there being a steel, circular plate in the middle into which the insert is attached.
There are pros and cons to this construct Firstly, it offers a lot more rigidity and sturdiness to the plates as there is a steel base onto which the plate binds. It also allows for a more streamlined look as weight can be compounded in the steel ring, slimming out the entire construct.
However, it does also lead to some durability issues as instead of being one solid piece of equipment, there are two parts, and the seam between the steel plate and the rubber can be prone to coming apart.
All in all however, the CAP bumper plates are very nicely constructed, and you have to feel only plenty of wear and tear will eventually cause any breakage problems. The plates are also brightly colour coded, and good looking with their slimmer design and shiny steel insert.
Vaughn Competition Bumper Plates
As soon as you hear competition in the name of a piece of crossfit equipment you know you are in for a well designed and practical bit of kit. It is the same when you look at the Vaughn Competition Plates. Perfectly symmetrical and designed, the plates are attractive with their matt finish and raised lettering, bit more than that, they look and feel well constructed.
In fact, they back up this feel with a guarantee of five years “Bumper to Bumper” as well as a full year satisfaction guarantee. These types of guarantees on equipment that is subject to such abuse and rigours of gym work is rare, and a real statement of the belief in their quality.
So with the durability of these plates through the rough, you also get competition grade weighting and sizing. Each plate is weighed and guaranteed accurate to +/- 3 grams to stated weight. They are also colour coded for that competition ease and look.
Of course, such a piece of equipment does not come cheap, but the fact is you will not need to buys a new plate for at least five year, and in all reality, probably not for the next 10.
OneFitWonder solid weight plates
OneFitWonder have addressed the biggest issue with bumper plates, and that is their durability, especially in a sport like crossfit where there is so much repetition and strain on equipment.
They have produced a very good standard set of bumper plates, nothing special or over the top, just good quality rubber plates that they Guarantee for 1 year, or 3 years for the heavier plates. A really good indication that they take the durability of these plates seriously.
They have also tried to make a few slight adjustments to the usual production of bumper plates to make them better for crossfit, firstly they have looked to slim them down as much as possible, which helps with loading the bar for some heavy One Rep Maxs. And with that solidness comes a good dead bounce, which means they do not spring away and cause more damage, rather just hit the ground with little momentum coming from the bounce.
Again, bumper plates are hard to get wrong, but it is really nice when they have a few added extras just to make them so right. Added durability is huge, and a bit of focus on crossfit makes these great plates for a box or a busy home gym.
OneFitWonder Coloured bumper plates
OneFitWonder have outdone themselves on their ultra durable, but standardized, bumper plates, however, they also have done a great job on a colorful training set of plates that are more suited for a good garage gym.
Much like their black virgin rubber set, these plates have a big focus on durability, but probably won’t last as long as the black ones. They are not as dense, or as slim, but they do still come with a 1 year warranty on all plates.
The colourful plates make them good for a nice garage gym, but they are good enough to be used in a box or affiliate as competition plates as they are still slimmed down and offer a dead bounce.
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Rep Bumper Plates
Rep are a recognisable brand when it comes to fitness equipment, and their specialisation on olympic lifting pieces means you can trust the plates and bars they put out. Their bumper plates are a no frills, no fuss answer to crossfit weights, but they are extremely high quality, having undergone multiple tests and processes.
The quality of rubber is the most noticeable facet of these plates, they are solid and durable, and also low odor which is a good clue as to what good material these are made from. Rep have also adjusted the thickness of certain plates to make them better to use, especially in crossfit. Thicker 10 lb plates are made to withstand more abuse, while thinner 45 lb plates give you more space to rack up for heavy lifting.
Again, Rep and their high quality equipment, are happy to put a guarantee on their plates. 1 year warranty on 10’s and 15’s, 3 years on 25’s, 35’s, and 45’s for home use, and they have been Factory tested to withstand over 15000 drops from a height of 8 ft.
These are plates that have been made with a lot of knowledge as to what the strains and requirements of weight lifting equipment is, and as such, they are huge value for money.
X Training colour bumper plates
A set of handy, coloured bumper plates are your stock need in a home gym, as well as in a box. Their price is often the problem and that is why when you can find some good value for money plates, that are designed to put up with crossfit demands, they are worth it.
X training’s bumper plates are designed with crossfit in mind, and that is immediately a key word for durability. They can take high rep drops and will not crack or break. Although not top of the range, the fact that they are a dead bounce rubber, and colourised, means they will work in a box, and take that sort of abuse, for a good while before needing replacing. However, ideally they are a good beginner set for home gym.
Having coloured plates in a home gym is also an added bonus when setting workouts for oneself as it becomes that much easy to change weights efficiently and easily between, or during, metcons.