Best Bumper Plates
I like old school, cast iron plates. They look great, they’re fun to use, they’re no nonsense. However, they don’t tick every box – there are times when they simply won’t do. If you’re going for heavy bench presses, overhead presses, and squats, they are magnificent. If you want to throw a heavy barbell around for some deadlifts or Olympic lifts, not so much.
They will ruin your floor and they will likely snap after a little while.
This is when you need bumper plates. They are far more resilient than regular plates, and they give you a good amount more bounce. This is because they are made from rubber – or, at least, they are coated in a thick, thick layer of it.
Bumper plates can be pricier than regular plates. They also aren’t so great for lifts for which they aren’t strictly needed. As they are rubber, not iron or steel, they are bigger, which is far less efficient on the barbell and can throw your balance off.
However, as you can drop them on the ground with far less worry about damaging them, the floor, or the deadlift platform, they are perfect for more athletic, explosive movements that require floor to body to ceiling action. They are also a lot quieter than iron, as their rubber coating deadens the noise, making them perfect for use in home gyms where you may want to limit the noise.
There are some fantastic options out there, and some poor ones; there are some that are greatly overpriced, some that are expensive but worth it, and there are some great value options for those looking to make the most of their compounds without breaking the bank.
Types Of Bumper Plates
Bumper plates all fit a basic mold. They are large, rubber coated plates (often solid rubber) with a two-inch hole so that they can fit all conventional bars. They are durable and bouncy, designed to be thrown about a fair amount.
However, there is some variation within these parameters. Where you go with it will depend on your training requirements and budget.
Are you a big spender or looking to do this on a shoestring? (I always try to go for the latter!) There are options for all in my list below.
Are you looking to max out your deadlifts with a new one rep PR, are you an Oly lifter looking for speed and power, or are you looking for conditioning work at higher volumes (and thus lower weights)?
These will affect the weight you need, and therefore the size of plates you can look at (it’s easy to overcrowd a bar with bumper plates, making them highly unsuitable for advanced lifters looking to deadlift triple their bodyweight – a nice problem to have, but a problem nonetheless).
Materials will vary. Bumper plates are always at least predominantly rubber. However, this can be recycled rubber (my favorite, for purely environmental reasons) or, more expensively, virgin rubber (often denser, giving you slimmer plates better suited to heavier lifts). Recycled rubber will often have a bit more bounce.
If you’re looking to go heavy, or have money to burn, therefore, go with virgin. Deadlifters should look into it. If you can go lighter and want something cheaper, and/or with a bit more bounce (for example, if you want to be able to drop your power clean from the top), recycled rubber is the way to go.
Our Top Bumper Plates
All bumper plates are built to take a lot. They are designed to be thrown around, dropped, and generally mistreated for a long lifetime. We have cheaper options on this list (looking at you, CAP) that can take a certain amount of punishment. We have others that can take all the punishment, forever. We have a range of materials, a range of budgets catered to, and a range of different uses to which these items can be put.
Essentially, however, they are all good. They are all worth considering.
CAP Barbell Black Rubber Bumper Plates
You get a couple of decent quality CAP Black Rubber Bumper Plates with each purchase, here.
This means a couple of things. Firstly, it’s even (which is always helpful with a barbell!). Secondly, you’re going with CAP. They have around three decades of experience making decent quality, budget friendly strength training equipment.
These plates may not last you a lifetime. They can degrade and snap over time. However, you’ll get a good few years out of them, they will be weighed accurately, and they work tremendously well.
CAP use a good mixture of virgin and recycled rubber, here. This allows them to keep costs down whilst increasing the density and durability of their plates. It also allows you to rest easy, knowing that you have used some recycled materials, whilst giving you a good set of heavy plates.
The core of each CAP plate is cast iron, further allowing them to keep themselves slim and giving you a nice balance to the weight.
They use good quality steel inserts around the inner rims. This is always good to see – I really don’t like plates that don’t use them. Rubber is a great product for bouncing around and being heavy. However, it is sticky as hell – you get a lot of friction from it. That means that it is awkward to slide onto a barbell. You will spend ages juddering and coaxing your plates into place. Steel allows for a smooth, fast fit. It is also tougher, meaning that you won’t damage your plates around the inner rim.
There is little bounce. Add this to their density and durability and you have a recipe for deadlift success.
I read on CAP’s product description that their black rubber bumper plates are odor free. They aren’t. They come coated in oil, which is unfortunate. The rubber also has a bit of smell to it. However, nothing is too excessive, and it all fades with time, so it shouldn’t bother you too much.
They are a genuinely decent set of no frills, wallet-friendly plates.back to menu ↑
AMGYM Color Olympic Bumper Plate
Now we’re going to move onto our first color coded Olympic bumper plates, with AMGYM’s offering to this list.
I really like color coded plates. It makes everything simpler (and, let’s be honest, a little bit more cheerful) when you’re mid-workout and needing to change weight. Rather than sorting through all the generic looking black plates, you can simply pick a couple of red ones, or a couple of green ones.
It’s a nicer process.
These are good quality plates, too. The new series of AMGYM Color Olympic Bumper Plates use advanced, precision machining for superior durability and chip prevention. They are 100% natural virgin rubber, which is high density and durable with little bounce going on, meaning that they can withstand repeated drops, session after session. They will also help to protect your floor as you drop them.
You get stainless steel inserts with AMGYM’s bumper plates, making them easy to load and de-load with little friction, and also adding to their durability, all at a standard two-inch diameter.
I’m also a little Eurocentric in my weights and measurements – I like kilograms. I measure all of my PRs in kilograms, scale my workouts using them, and weigh myself in them. Many bumper plates are labelled in both pounds and kilograms. Therefore, using some plates, like BalanceFrom’s Everyday Essentials bumper plates, is a joy.
It’s a stupid, simple little hack, yet it makes all the difference!
AMGYM don’t do this – everything is just in pounds. Again, a small difference, but I noticed it.
Nevertheless, these plates are wonderful, and are super well-priced. You might think that virgin rubber that has gone through this level of craftsmanship would be super expensive. However, this is far from the case – AMGYM’s bumper plates are incredibly well-priced, especially for what they offer.
I really, really like them, and would recommend them to any serious-minded lifter.back to menu ↑
HulkFit Color Coded Olympic 2-Inch Rubber Bumper Plate
Again, we have a range of bumper plates that are constructed of high-density rubber, with solid stainless-steel inserts, that are very much able to withstand repeated drops, offering minimal bounce, and are beautifully color coded to Olympic standards. This time, it’s in the form of HulkFit’s Olympic Bumper Plates, a supremely lovely entry for this list.
Each plate has the usual – though greatly appreciated – inner ring with a 2-inch diameter, meaning that they will fit pretty much any Olympic barbell, regular barbell, dumbbell bar (or even sled, come to think of it!) with minimal fuss whilst racking. The color coding makes it all very easy to do, too.
You can buy them in singles or pairs, which is a nice range of versatility. Many manufacturers offer one or the other.
HulkFit also make a very good point with their sales spiel. They tell us that their 10lb plates can bend when dropped if they’re not racked with other plates.
This can indeed happen – though not with all brands, most will struggle to withstand that kind of impact at the low density required of a 10lb plate. They are not designed to be used alone in any kind of power or Olympic move, or anything with any kind of drop. They will bend or snap.
However, few lifters will need to drop a sixty-five-pound bar – which is what most bars plus two 10lb plates will weigh – so this is kind of a non-issue. It’s just good of them to point it out.
HulkFit’s other plates are tough and durable, made from high-quality, dense rubber that will leave the plates themselves intact, will leave your floor unscuffed, and will give you minimal bounce.back to menu ↑
Synergee Competition Bumper Plates
Synergee Competition Bumper Plates are designed to take a lot – they are tough as hell. This is in large part down to their steel cores, which allow them to be densely made and heavily weighted without taking up much space.
Their steel cores also negate a lot of the bounce usually associated with rubber coated plates. I actually found these to be amongst the easiest plates to control through heavy lifts. Deadlifts didn’t bounce much, which is pretty ideal. Less bounce means you can better lift from inertia – or from a ‘dead’ position – and that you can better control the bar, giving you a smoother, safer bar path.
They are color coded Olympic plates, which of course makes for easy identification. This gives you an easier time of it in training, and also makes them a solid option for competition organizers. They have a 2-inch diameter sleeve, so will fit most bars.
Their steel cores are sheathed in high quality rubber polymer, which adds to their durability and also absorbs a lot of motion.
They are perhaps not quite so good for Olympic lifts – their hard contact with the ground may damage the floor and will likely erode the plates themselves over time (though, perhaps, a very long time). The lack of bounce also makes them quite awkward for springing up into higher rep cleans and snatches (though this may suit some lifters nicely – I always prefer a still bar).
I would, however, highly recommend these plates for anybody looking to get some serious deadlifts going.back to menu ↑
BalanceFrom Everyday Essentials Color Coded Olympic Bumper Plate Weight
It is very hard to beat the quality you get with BalanceFrom’s Everyday Essentials Bumper Plates for the money. They really are impressive. For just a few dollars, you get an incredibly durable set of bumper plates, ready for action, that can withstand a lot of punishment.
These bumper plates are made from high-quality, premium rubber, with solid steel inserts – hence their toughness. They will keep your floors, your bar, you, and themselves super safe no matter how hard you throw them around.
They also have a 2-inch inner steel ring, making them easy to slide on and off the bar in a hurry, and adding to their durability. They will fit on any commercial barbell or trap bar going.
The plates are all black, but the writing and numbers are color coded. This isn’t the most useful – it’s better than simple black and white, but is nowhere near as immediately useful as having the whole plates colored. However, for the price, and quality you get, this is a small price to pay.
BalanceForm also make a point of noting that their 10lb plates shouldn’t be dropped in isolation. Load up the bar with more than that, to ensure they don’t break. There are some items on this list that I would think can stand up to more punishment – that I think could have their 10lb plates dropped safely. I would have thought this of BalanceForm. Perhaps they are being overcautious, or perhaps their plates really do need a little more care than I first thought.
I didn’t test it, anyway. As above, who needs to drop a 65lb bar?
These are probably the best value for money option on this list – which is high praise, given how good some of the other cheap options are.back to menu ↑
CAP Barbell 2-Inch Olympic Grip Plates
I like grip plates. A lot.
Plates are all well and good. They are fantastic, in fact. I use barbells more than any other type of weighted implement, which is quite common, and you can get a full array of compound exercise going with them. If you had nothing but a bar and a good set of plates, you could work every muscle and energy system in your body.
However, I do like a little variety. Grip plates give you this. Not only are they easier to handle and rack onto the bar, but there are plenty of exercises you can perform with nothing but the plates. Get a set of 45lb plates and go for some longer distance farmers carries. Hold onto them for walking lunges or step ups. Use them for front raises. Get better purchase for your around-the-worlds, your weighted back extensions, your hanging crunches.
They are great. I was therefore very excited to get my hands on CAP’s second entry onto this list – their Olympic Grip Plates.
They are made from solid cast iron with a durable, black baked enamel finish (hence I can just about justify using them in a bumper plate list – they will give you a good drop and are chunkier than simple steel or iron would be). They have a 2-inch center hole to fit on Olympic bars and so on, which is also smooth enough for decent racking speed.
The baked enamel makes for a durable, reliable weight that will last through grueling workouts. I really do think these will last you a lifetime if you want them to.
That is, if you treat them nicely and don’t throw them around too much. The lack of rubber means that they will feel it if you regularly drop them from a great height or slam them down too hard, too often.
All this, and they are cheap as hell. I very much enjoyed training with them and would thoroughly recommend them to anybody.back to menu ↑
PINROYAL Bumper Plate
PINROYAL’s Bumper Plates are a good example of recycled, natural rubber done really well. I always like to see this – it’s more environmentally friendly and healthy than making plates from virgin rubber and can also be really nice to handle.
These bumper plates are also pretty thin, which will allow you to load more weight on bars and so forth.
Each plate has a strong stainless-steel hub insert, giving you a low bounce and plenty of durability. Force will be absorbed and disbursed more efficiently, meaning that you can focus more on good form than controlling an errant bar. It will also better protect your floor, which is, of course, always nice.
PINROYAL are also well known for their craftsmanship, which really shows through with these. There are no ragged edges, no scratches or bumps from the manufacturing process. The weight deviance is also low, so that you know a 20lb plate weighs 20lbs (which is not always a dead cert unfortunately).back to menu ↑
Iron Bull Strength’s HD Bumper Plates
I don’t like the design of Iron Bull Strength’s Bumper Plates. They are fully matt black, with little detailing, with no color highlights on the lettering and numbers.
This isn’t unique to them, of course. Plenty of plates do this. However, bumper plates can be so colorful and so usefully signposted that it’s a bit of a shame to see an opportunity wasted like this.
Nevertheless, they are very good plates. The coloring, and lack thereof, is insignificant once you’re actually handling a bar racked with these plates. At this point, you realize what a joy they are.
They are made from high quality rubber polymer to achieve a low bounce and high durability, all designed and made to IWF standards. They are regimental in crafting their plates with the regulated 450mm diameter and 50.4mm (1.98 inch) collars. They have measured their plates and achieved an average of 90 on the Shore A Durometer scale. Long story short, this represents the ideal hardness for delivering a consistent dead blow with very, very little bounce.
Deadlifters take note – these plates are for you. You will love them.
All this, and they are another very economical option – they cost way less than they should.
Hats off to Iron Bull Strength.