What Are Bumper Plates, And Are They Worth It?

photo of a woman lifting a barbell

Alright bumper plates, what are they, are they better than regular cast iron plates, are they even worth the cost? All questions that will be answered in this article – so keep reading.

I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen bumper plates in YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and even in our own gym at some point. They all look like 45s, you can’t miss them because they glow every colour of the goddam rainbow, and they’re all weighed in ancient European hieroglyphics known as kilograms.

They definitely stand out and are commonly viewed as the best option when picking plates (unless you’re lifting over 405 lbs). But are they really the best option? Well, let’s find out.

What Are Bumper Plates?

what are bumper plates

Alright so by the above image alone, you can probably already tell what my preference is, but I’ll save the rubber vs raw debate for later, right now I am going to be answering the question of what are bumper plates. A bumper plate is a plate that is specifically designed for the purpose of being dropped overhead.

They are meant to be used with standard Olympic barbells with 2-inch diameter sleeves, and all bumper plates are the same diameter as the standard 45 lb cast iron plate(roughly 17 inches), regardless of the bumper plate’s weight.

Alright cool, they’re meant to be used with Olympic barbells and all have a 17-inch diameter, but what are bumper plates made out of?

Bumper plates consist of either an iron or steel core, coated in thick protective rubber. This protective rubber coating makes them extremely durable and allows them to be dropped from fairly high heights without being damaged, or damaging the bar, or surface it’s being dropped on.

The highest-tier bumper plates are coated in a special rubber called polyurethane that increases their durability even further, making them basically indestructible. Be prepared to dip into your 401k for these bad boys though, as they aren’t cheap.

Why Use Bumper Plates?

Ok so now that you know what a bumper plate is, what are bumper plates used for? Well if you’re planning on doing any sort of Olympic lifts, such as power cleans, snatches, or even clean and jerks(heh heh), bumper plates are pretty much essential.

Also for those of you who do a lot of exercises off of the floor such as deadlifts, and pendlay rows, you may want to invest in a set of bumper plates just to protect your lifting surface and bar.

Another great use for them is for beginner lifters who can’t use 45s yet. Since all of the plates have a diameter of 17 inches, you won’t have an increased range of motion when learning movements such as deadlifts, bent-over rows, and anything else that is performed off of the floor.

They are also a lot easier to load and unload compared to their metal counterparts, which will save you some time during those long lifting sessions. And lastly, they have a much longer shelf life, than metal plates do.

So far so good, what about the price?

Are Bumper Plates Worth It?

what are bumper plates

Alright, the big question on everyone’s mind is, what are bumper plates worth? Well after a quick google search, it turns out the average price on bumper plates is $3.33 per pound. Now, this price can vary depending on things like branding, and the rubber quality.

If you’re on a budget you’ll probably want to get these used or stick to cast iron. However, if you have the funds, and want the best possible home gym experience, or are looking to build your own public gym, a set of high-quality, urethane bumper plates are totally worth it.

You won’t have to worry about rusting, chipping, or damaging any lifting surfaces. However, steel plates aren’t totally outclassed by bumper plates as they do bring their own advantages to the table.

Should I Use Bumper Plates Over Metal Ones?

Now the answer to this question should obviously be bumper plates, right? Well not exactly. While bumper plates are better than steel plates, steel plates beat out bumper plates in 2 areas. Feel, and size.

The former is not that important and is just a personal preference, however, the latter is a fairly important factor to consider especially if you’re serious about strength training. You see although bumper plates are the same diameter as their steel counterparts (17 inches), they are quite a bit thicker than standard steel plates.

Steel or cast iron 45 lb plates are usually 1.3 inches thick, whereas most 45 lb(20kg) bumper plates are 3.5 inches thick. Now that may not sound like a lot, but as a wise man(me) once said 2 inches is quite a bit.

Now, this may not affect the average normie lifting population who can barely pull 185 off the floor without suffering a herniated disc, but for serious lifters, 3-4 20 kg bumper plates will pretty much take up most of your bar space.

Now, this isn’t the biggest issue in the world, and it will take a bit to get to that level of strength anyways but it is a flaw to watch out for. So are those 2 minor flaws enough to give steel plates the edge over bumper plates, well let’s compare them.

Bumper Plates Vs Steel Plates

Bumper Plates


  • They bounce
  • Far more durable.
  • Easier to load and unload
  • All bumper plates, regardless of weight have a diameter of 17 inches
  • Safer than cast iron, and steel plates
  • They will not damage your bar or lifting surface


  • They are much more expensive than cast iron
  • Bumper plates are much thicker than cast iron which gives you less bar space to work with
  • They’re European

Steel Plates


  • They sound, and feel cool as shit while lifting
  • You can load far more of them onto your bar
  • They come in all different sizes and can be loaded onto special adjustable dumbbell handles
  • They are much more affordable and available
  • They’re patriotic


  • They can scratch up, and damage other equipment, and lifting surfaces
  • They’re a bitch to load and unload
  • They can rust, and be chipped
  • The actual weight of the plate can vary quite a bit, depending on where you buy from
  • They don’t bounce

Now ideally you would want to have both, but if you could only pick one I would have to say bumper plates are the way to go. They’re more durable, they’re much safer, and they bounce! However, if you don’t have bumper plate money, steel plates are still a great option.

Where Should I Buy Bumper Plates From?

what are bumper plates

Ok, so where should you buy bumper plates from? Well, I will be giving 2 options. Option #1 will be for those of you who want the best quality bumper plates available regardless of price. Option #2 will be for those of you who want a quality pair of bumper plates without breaking the bank.

Most of you will probably be going for option #2, but for those lucky few of you who are successful and don’t need to really worry about money anymore here’s the best place to buy bumper plates online(for rich people).

Rogue Color LB Training 2.0 Plates

The rogue color lb training 2.0 plates are the best bumper plates on the market(in my opinion). First off they are extremely durable with a durometer rating of 86, making them stronger than most other bumper plates on the market.

Second, they are thinner than other bumper plates which allows for more bar space. Third, they come in pounds, which means you don’t have to constantly have your phone out for lb to kg conversions.

The rogue color lb training 2.0 plates fix the main issue I have with bumper plates which is bar space. The 45 lb blue rouge 2.0 bumper plates are almost 1.5 inches thinner than the standard 3.5 inch generic 20 kg bumper plates that you see in most gyms.

With a width of 2.125 inches, the 45-pound rouge bumper plates are only 0.4 more inches wider than regular cast iron 45s. There is also a 50.40MM collar opening and steel disc insert that helps keep the plates in place while exercising.

Now, although these are my pick for the best overall bumper plates on the internet, I would recommend staying away from these if cash is tight, and checking out the next option. However, if money isn’t an issue you should check these out.

REP Black Bumper Plates

So the REP Black Bumper Plates won’t be cheap, but they are sure a hell of a lot cheaper than option number 1. This is the option that I think the majority of you should go for. The REP black bumper plates bring a lot to the table.

They’re high quality, affordable, and come in black. Now they may not be as thin, or as durable as the Rogue plates, but they are still very durable, and they’re thinner than most other bumper plates on the market.

Also, I will take the sleek black finish over that colour-coded crap any day of the week.

This is the most well-rounded option and the one that I would recommend going with.


1) What’s the point of bumper plates?

Bumper plates were designed to be dropped overhead, and are most commonly used for performing, and practicing Olympic lifts.

2) What is the difference between bumper plates and regular plates?

Regular plates are usually made out of iron or steel. They are not designed to be dropped from high distances and are less durable than bumpers. Bumper plates were specifically designed to be dropped overhead, and are made out of either rubber or urethane.

3) What is the difference between bumper plates and Olympic plates?

Calibrated Olympic plates are made out of steel, and are much thinner than bumper plates. They are designed for power lifts and are not meant to be dropped overhead. Bumper plates are much thicker than calibrated plates and are designed to be dropped overhead, due to being out of bouncy materials like rubber or urethane.

4) Is it easier to bench with bumper plates?

No, weight is weight. Bumper plates only affect lifts that are performed off of the floor. The type of plate you use will not really affect your bench.

5) Are Bumper Plates Worth It?

Yes, if you wish to do any Olympic lifting movements long-term bumper plates are pretty much essential. Even if you don’t do any Olympic lifting they are nice to have for any other movements performed off of the floor such as deadlifts, pendlay rows and bent-over rows.

6) Can You Use Bumper Plates for Bench Press?

Yes, you can indeed use bumper plates for the bench press.

7) Are Bumper Plates more expensive than Metal Plates?

Yes on average bumper plates are more expensive than metal plates.

8) Will bumper plates last me longer than metal plates?

Yes, bumper plates will last longer than metal ones.

9) What are bumper plates?

Read the article buddy

10) Do bumper plates make a difference?

Yes, bumper plates will make a huge difference when performing the Olympic lifts, and even some of the power lifts.

Concluding Thoughts

Well, now you know about the whats, whys, and wheres of bumper plates. If you found this article helpful, and insightful like the post, and share, I really need more traffic.

If you’d like to read similar content check out the rest of the blog by clicking here.

Alright guys, catch you in the next one, peace.

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