Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best Olympic bumper plates

Creating the ideal home gym involves finding the best equipment for your needs and your space while taking the necessary measures to exercise safely. You don’t want to hurt yourself, and you also want to protect your surroundings and your equipment. For those who enjoy weightlifting and powerlifting, Olympic bumper plates are a vital accessory. 

Olympic bumper plates are made of dense rubber over steel and are used on barbells in lieu of traditional steel plates. Weightlifters may suddenly drop the barbell, intentionally or otherwise, resulting in a lot of weight landing forcefully. Bumper plates have a responsive, soft exterior to hit the floor safely and evenly. The plates are protected, barbell integrity is maintained, and the floor is cushioned against the blow.

Because of their specialized design, bumper plates are no small investment. It’s important to figure out if you need them and, if so, know how to best use and maintain them. Our guide details why Olympic bumper plates are so popular and effective and how to find the right ones for your fitness needs, as well as some of our favorites. 

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Olympic bumper plates are made to withstand a lot of use, and many come with a warranty. Check the coverage on whatever plates you buy.

Key considerations


Olympic bumper plates are used by strength trainers and weightlifters. They fit on Olympic barbells, which have a 2-inch diameter as opposed to the 1-inch diameter of standard barbells and weights. While the standard size is employed by casual fitness enthusiasts or those just starting out, the larger size is more durable, provides more support, and is best for those lifting a lot of weight.
Specifically, Olympic bumper plates are used during the clean and jerk and any other barbell lifts or exercises in which you may suddenly drop the barbell. Even if you regularly perform deadlifts, lifting the bar to your waist, a drop could still damage the plates or the floor. Olympic bumper plates are also regularly employed in programs like CrossFit


You can choose from three common types of Olympic bumper plates based on how you intend to use them.

Technique: These bumper plates weigh the least and are often used by beginners working on form and technique.

Training: These come in various weights to help you develop strength and endurance. For most individuals, training Olympic bumper plates will suffice. 

Competition: These bumper plates are used by competitive weightlifters. They fit a standard set forth by the weightlifting governing body so they can be used legally when competing against other weightlifters. These are the most expensive. 


The quality and durability of Olympic bumper plates go a long way in determining how effective they will be. 

Quality: Thinner plates may perform poorly over time because repeated drops can start to weaken them. Bending or flexing of the bumper plates affects the balance of the bar and your performance. You also want the plates to slide on and off the barbell easily (though they should be locked in place when in use — any shifting of the plates while lifting is unsafe).

Durability: Purchase your Olympic bumper plates from a trusted brand. A cracked bumper plate is a useless bumper plate.

Bounce: When dropped, the bumper plates should bounce slightly, which helps lessen the impact. If they don’t bounce, the plates can get damaged more easily. However, if they bounce too much, you could be injured. 


Olympic bumper plates are all the same diameter because they’re intended to be the first thing that hits the ground when the barbell is dropped. 

Olympic bumper plates are not all the same weight or thickness. The weight corresponds to the thickness. Weights typically range from 10 pounds to 55 pounds. The lightest are the thinnest at around 1 inch, while the largest are 3 to 4 inches thick. Keep this in mind and make sure you have enough room on the barbell sleeve to fit the plates. 

Bumper plates are designed to be gentler on floors, but you should still use mats and extra padding to protect the floor and make your workout more comfortable.




Olympic bumper plates are coated in rubber, which may feature a color or design. In many cases, each color denotes a particular weight, which is useful if you have various sets. The International Weightlifting Federation has its own color standards: from heaviest to lightest, the colors are red, blue, yellow, and green. Many companies use similar colors, but some have their own system. You can also purchase a set entirely of one color, such as black or gray.


Most Olympic bumper plates are sold in pairs. You can also buy sets with multiple pairs of different weights. You can save money by buying a set versus buying pairs individually. If you frequently work out and vary your exercises in such a way that you need different weights, consider a set.

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Crumb, or soft, rubber plates are durable and long-lasting with a decent bounce. Hard rubber has less of a bounce and may wear down more quickly over time.


Olympic weight bench: Marcy Olympic Weight Bench
A durable Olympic weight bench allows you to train with the right equipment at home. This versatile, heavy-duty bench from Marcy is reasonably priced.

Barbell: CAP Olympic Barbell
You need the right barbell for your Olympic bumper plates. CAP is a trusted name in weightlifting, and its 6-foot, cold-rolled steel barbell will stand up to the job.

Plate rack: CAP Olympic Plate Rack
Keep your plates organized and off the floor. CAP’s tree has seven posts and holds up to 500 pounds. 

Hex bar: HulkFit Olympic Trap Bar
If you’re doing deadlifts, you want a hex bar. This option from HulkFIt is easy to grip and helps support your lower back as you work out. It can support up to 1,000 pounds.

Olympic bumper plate prices

Inexpensive: For under $100, you can find a pair of small bumper plates that are relatively durable but don’t weigh more than 15 or 25 pounds. You may find heavier single plates at this price, too.

Mid-range: Spend between $100 and $250 and you can purchase a good-quality pair of plates of almost any size. 

Expensive: Spend over $250, and you’ll get the most durable and heaviest Olympic bumper plates, including sets of multiple pairs.

Virtually all Olympic bumper plates have a rubber smell at first. The odor should subside over the course of a few weeks.



  • Color code the bumper plates. If you have black or silver bumper plates, you can add some colored tape to help you more easily identify plates of different weights.
  • Work out safely. Olympic bumper plates protect equipment and floors, but they don’t do much for your own safety. Warm up before and cool down after your workouts, use a spotter when lifting, and get plenty of rest between workouts.
  • Track your workouts. To monitor your progress, track the days you work out, as well as your sets, reps, and weights.
  • Switch it up. Bumper plates aren’t just effective on a barbell. One can also be gripped in your hands to do a variety of core and strength exercises like squats and Russian twists.
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Olympic bumper plates have an added bonus: they tend to be quiet when dropped. The rubber dampens the sound when the plates hit the floor.


Q. Are Olympic bumper plates necessary for lifting?

A. In most cases, it’s wise to invest in a pair of Olympic bumper plates to maximize the longevity of your equipment and floor. If the only lifts you regularly do are controlled and you don’t drop the barbell, you may be able to get away without bumper plates. Still, for those times when you drop the bar suddenly, it’s good to have them.

Q. How long do Olympic bumper plates last?

A. Even with regular use, they should last a few years. Store them in a cool, dry location, and regularly wipe off any dirt, sweat, and dust.

Q. What other equipment do I need to use Olympic bumper plates?

A. As mentioned above, you can use an Olympic bumper plate on its own as a weight to do various core exercises. However, that wouldn’t be particularly cost-effective. You need an Olympic barbell — they come in different lengths with various features — to hold the bumper plates. While beginners may not be using too much weight, more experienced lifters need more, so additional plates may be required. The Olympic barbell can be used on its own or in conjunction with a squat rack, power rack, or Olympic weight bench, all of which can add diversity to your workouts. Just make sure your equipment is Olympic size and not standard size.


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