Choosing the Right Weight Plates for Your Gym

Weight plates are just heavy discs with a hole in the middle, right? Technically yes, but not when you come to purchasing them.

To the uninitiated, looking for the most appropriate weight plates for your training facility or home gym can be a confusing venture. The many varieties, sizes, engineering specifications and materials make it difficult to find a set of weight plates which not only suit your intended gym usage, but fit your budget too. Some are designed for repeated dropping, some are made from recycled materials, some are more economic and some are even (paradoxically) lightweight. So what are the real differences? And what should the different varieties of weight plates be used for?


To help, we’ve given a quick rundown of the types of weight plates you can expect to see when purchasing from Absolute Performance for your gym.



Rubber Bumper Plates

These weight plates are most common in athletic training facilities and high-end gyms where barbell training is more likely to involve repeated dropping. These more premium training weight plates are usually constructed from virgin rubber (i.e. not recycled or reconstituted rubber), which means they are denser and slimmer. The inner portion of the weight plate includes a reinforced metal disc – often made of steel or tungsten – which constitutes most of the weight and ensures a more accurate weight tolerance. Due to their slim profile, more of these weight plates can be loaded onto a standard barbell sleeve end. This makes them excellent training weight plates for weightlifting and powerlifting training, where heavy loads are required but constant use of metal weight plates may result in damage to flooring or equipment. High-grade, IWF accredited Werksan training plates carry a higher price tag than our more wallet-friendly black rubber bumper plates, but have greater longevity and precise engineering.

Werksan Rubber Bumper Plates

At Absolute Performance, we are the sole UK importer of Werksan fitness equipment. Made in Turkey, this premium range of weightlifting engineering is designed for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who desire a professional edge to their regime. Werksan weight plates are International Weightlifting Federation accredited. This means that their production weight tolerances are much more accurate (often less than a few grams), giving more elite weight training athletes the opportunity to use heavier loads without worrying about loss of accuracy. Their IWF accreditation also means that the materials used in their engineering are harder wearing and lower profile, allowing longevity of weight training use and more weight to be added to the barbell.

We supply Werksan Rubber Bumper plates in two main varieties. First, there are the Werksan Lionfit Coloured Bumper Plates. Used by athletic clients such as Team GB at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, these high-grade virgin rubber plates are ideal for pro-level training. With their complete colour-coded rubber moulded surround, each weight plate is easily identifiable in their 10kg (green), 15kg (yellow), 20kg (blue) and 25kg (red) colours. This not only makes them very practical in your gym, but gives your gym environment a striking signature strength and conditioning facility look and feel.

The second variety of Werksan Rubber Bumper Plates which we supply are Lionfit Black Rubber Bumper Plates. These elite plates are our clients most common choice for customised weight plates. With a slick, low profile thickness and rounded edges which make them easier to pick up from gym floors and barbell sleeve ends, they instantly make any gym or training facility look like a professional weight training hub. Around their outer edge, a bevelled strip of easily identified colour makes each weight plate simple to select, and also never wears away even after the continued dropping of aggressive barbell training. With our customised weight plate printing service, we’ve supplied hundreds of gyms and training facilities with professional level bespoke weight plates. We’ve supplied custom weight plates to organisations such as the Team GB Olympic team, Newcastle United Football Club, England Rugby and the Royal Air Force. They not only give the optimum in weight training technology, but give the ultimate level of pride and performance to your gym.

Eco Black Rubber Bumper Plates

These weight plates are the most economic Olympic size weight plates of our range. Greater in thickness than higher grade virgin rubber weight plates, you can’t fit quite as many of these bumper plates onto a standard Olympic barbell sleeve. Where they excel, however, is in thier value for money. A full 150kg set of economic black rubber bumper plates can cost little more than the price of a pair of 25kg premium training plates.

For this reason, our black rubber bumper plates are ideal for the home gym user or more industriously styled gym. They’re used by crossfitters, military installations and garage gyms all over the world, as well as entry level weightlifters. They’re designed to take a little rough-and-tumble, and providing they’re looked after (used on appropriate flooring, cleaned and not dropped too hard too often) they’ll last for years.

Black Rubber Bumper Plates

Polyurethane Plates

Polyurethane weight plates (also known as ‘PU Plates’) are extremely hard wearing. Most commonly used in commercial gyms for their incredibly long-lasting durability, these plates have been known to last for decades. They are constructed from a metal inner frame layered in polyurethane, one of the most hard wearing materials used in gym equipment production. They often include ergonomic grip holes to make them easier to move around in a gym environment. This also makes them excellent for use as free weights in exercises like shoulder shrugs and lat raises. Because they’re so hard, they’re not suitable for repeated dropping exercises commonly used in barbell training as they can damage flooring or other equipment. More commonly, polyurethane weight plates are used for plate-loaded weight machines like leg presses, static lat pulls, belt squat machines and smiths machines.

APEX PU Grip Plates

Technique Plates

Made from high-density (often recycled) plastic or a hollow plastic ‘bubble’ design, these plates are the same size as regular Olympic style weights, but are much lighter, allowing lifting technique to be developed without overpowering the user. These plates are often used in crossfit boxes, during circuit training or with younger or less physically capable lifters in schools or rehabilitation exercises.

Fractional Plates

These weight plates are much smaller and lighter than the regular 450mm diameter plates. Available in rubber bumper format or often in steel or tungsten, these weight plates allow the user to make incremental changes to the weight load on a barbell or machine. They come in a variety of weight ranging from 0.5kg up to 5kg, with fractional changes of 0.25kg-0.5kg between them.


Still can’t decide? Maybe you know exactly what you want but don’t know where to get it or would like to discuss prices or a quote on weight plates. Either way, we’re always happy to talk about the best weight plates for your gym and help you select the best choice. Give us a call or drop us an email to discuss your options.

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