As a gym owner, I tell people that my plates are as important to me as a restaurant’s plates are to them. They’re literally fundamental to gyms–buying poor quality plates can be an absolute disaster (I’ve been there) and can restrict your gym versatility, your workout options and your overall enjoyment of your training.
Bumper plates can be confusing to many; there’s differences in plate types, materials used and construction methods, so you have to make an informed decision. Your plates are likely to be one of the more expensive items you buy for your home gym, so make sure you’re armed with enough information on them before you click the buy button.
I own every different type of bumper plate, all bought for different reasons, so I’ll pass on that knowledge to you in this article.
In the content below, you’ll find how I ranked the bumper plates, my in-depth top 4 ranking list, and helpful bumper plate information I think you’ll find great value in knowing at the bottom (which I highly recommend reading before buying).
For those who want a quick overview, below is our comparison table:
The plates need to be well-constructed, have useful features (not gimmicky add-ons that don’t improve usability) and they have to be accurate (45kg needs to be 45kg).
Most importantly, they have to offer a great user experience and value for the money. Where applicable, I’ll mention retailer benefits such as free shipping.
Let’s dive in.
You should always buy your bumper plates in a set because the savings are huge. When it comes to quality and value for money, the Rogue Color Echo is the best combination in my opinion.
If you’re a crossfitter, a serious lifter, or you simply want the highest quality bumper plates money can buy, that won’t empty your pockets, these are the ones I would go with.
It has 508 reviews and a 4.9 average rating–both are excellent.
These are colored bumpers. They’re made from high quality virgin rubber and they’re thinner than a lot of other plates–and they’re accurate to within 1% (which is phenomenal).
When you consider their price per lb, build quality, the fact they’re so hard-wearing, quiet, bounce softly when they hit the ground (88 durometer score), and excellent warranty, it’s a killer combo–and an easy decision for the #1 spot on the list.
You could save some money and buy black plates, but in my mind I could justify the extra money for the colored plates–they make it easy to identify plates by weight & prevent mistakenly putting different weights on the bar (yes, it happens).
The black equivalents aren’t available in sets up to 350lb either, which further sways my decision. You should always buy as many plates as you can afford to allow for strength progression.
The Verdict: These bumpers from Rogue are suitable for pretty much everyone. As a set, they cost just over 2 bucks per lb. For plates of this quality, including free shipping and after-sales support, that’s a steal. If you are looking for the best quality bumper plates that will last a lifetime, these are the ones you want.
If you want good quality bumper plates at a reasonable cost, you could do a lot worse than the 350lb set from Rep Fitness.
Where they lack the refined elements of the Rogue (the extra thick smaller plates aren’t ones for the purists), they’re a great all-rounder that offer excellent value for money.
Again, I’ve gone for the colored plates because with Rep, the price difference between black and color is miniscule and I love the look and feel of the colored plates.
They’re low bounce, hard wearing and relatively thin. Although they may appear cheaper than the Rogue set that beat them to the top spot, they don’t free shipping and the warranty comes with plate-pairing caveats, so just be aware of that.
For shipping to Arizona (I just confirmed), it would be an additional $75 for standard shipping via UPS (see screenshot).
The Verdict: At the price point this bumper plate set from Rep will cope with anything you can throw at it. Hard wearing and well made, these are suitable for all types of lifting.
I believe that for the vast majority of garage gym lifters, competition bumpers are an unnecessary expense.
However, if you are serious about your lifting, train competitively, and are looking for high-quality competition plates, this competition plate set from Rep is fantastic value and should be on your radar.
Boasting a two-piece zinc-coated steel disc insert, these plates are accurately weighted and with their 92 score on the durometer, are very low bounce. They’re slightly on the thick side for competition bumpers, if that’s important to you.
They’re very hard-wearing and have been tested with over 30,000 drops. These things are built to last and represent fantastic value for money.
Rep is so confident with these that they offer a 5 year warranty, which is largely unheard of. Although shipping isn’t free, at $400 less than their Rogue competition bumper equivalents, the price is unlikely to be an issue.
If you are looking for high quality bumper plates that won’t break the bank, I can’t recommend these ones from Rep enough.
The Verdict: A competition plate set for only $750 is an excellent deal. They’re very well made, low bounce, and are super hard-wearing. These are a fantastic value for your home gym and will suit you for competition preparation.
Budget shouldn’t just mean ‘cheap’–it’s an issue of quality combined with price.
The Rogue Mil Spec Echo Bumpers aren’t the cheapest black bumpers on the market, but they’re made with a good quality crumbed rubber and are versatile enough to cope with any style of lifting you want to do in your garage gym.
As a crumbed rubber construction, they’re softer and quieter than other bumpers.
They have over 80 reviews and a 4.8 average rating–which shows I’m not the only one who values these.
The plates are a decent thickness for the price and thanks to the 90 (10 & 15lb plates) and 88 (all others) durometer rating, they’re low bounce and suitable for tight spaces in a home gym. For the price, you won’t find many plates with this quality of construction. They’re accurate to within 1%.
The standard Rogue free shipping makes this a more attractive bumper plate set. If you’re on a budget, or you just need a no-frills plate set that doesn’t go to super heavy weights, these are an excellent choice.
The Verdict: If you need a functional, well-made yet basic bumper plate set, you don’t need to look any further than this budget option from Rogue. They’re accurate, they’re tough, and they’re cheap.
Faced with so many options, you really need to narrow down your requirements for bumper plates. You might end up paying over the odds for something you simply don’t need. Likewise, you might overlook the importance of a feature and end up with something that isn’t suitable.
Here are the key considerations:
I could waste your time explaining all of the detailed reasons around why you should buy bumper plates for your home gym, but the reality is it comes down to a handful of reasons: versatility, sound, floor protection, and dropping.
You can do any kind of lifting with a bumper plate–weightlifting, bodybuilding, powerlifting, high-rep CrossFit style lifting. You can’t match that versatility with other plates–for example, you can’t use standard cast iron plates or powerlifting plates for weightlifting.
Bumper plates are rubber coated/constructed and are usually lifted on a platform, so they are significantly quieter than other styles of plates when it comes to dropping them on the floor. If you have neighbours, this is important. You don’t want to upset them every time you train!
Bumper plates are more forgiving to a floor than iron plates. They’re also much wider, so the weight is distributed across a larger surface area. These two factors help to protect garage floors from the potential weight damage!
If you’re performing weightlifting or powerlifting movements, you’re going to drop the weight on the floor. While other types of plates will crack and become unusable after enough drops–You can do this perfectly fine with bumpers.
Historically bumper plates were only used in weightlifting. Since the turn of the millennium when CrossFit exploded onto the fitness scene, they’ve become far more popular and widespread.
They’re the only plate you can use for weightlifting, but they’re also versatile enough to use for other types of lifting. They’re thicker plates, made with rubber and are designed to be dropped on the floor.
Bumper plates are color coded in line with the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) guidelines. The colours represent their weight and derivatives:
This allows you to see the weight on a bar quickly and only colored plates are competition legal.
To confuse matters slightly, there’s two different types of bumper plates–competition bumper plates and standard or ‘training’ bumper plates. They’re made with different materials and are different thicknesses.
Here’s a selection of the bumper plates I own–they’re all 25kg (55lbs), but you can see the differences.
The competition plates (colored red) have the central steel hub, whereas the training plates are black and have the metal insert rather than the whole central section.
The competition bumper plates are the most expensive. They have a steel hub in the centre, securing the rubber or urethane that the rest of the plate is made from. With the steel hub being heavy, it allows the plate to be thinner. Depending on the construction material, competition plates tend to bounce less than the training plates.
Competition plates are always color coded and in order to be ratified by the IWF, have to pass weight accuracy tests (although any good bumper plate will also be accurate).
The IWF certified plates are big bucks and not necessary for the vast majority of lifters.
Competition bumper plates are generally really hard wearing because they’re made with more expensive materials.
The standard bumper plates are usually constructed from either a composite recycled rubber (crumb rubber bound with an adhesive and moulded into shape) or virgin, vulcanized rubber which is rubber that hasn’t been used before.
Vulcanized rubber has been treated to make it harder. Standard plates typically bounce higher than competition plates when dropped. If you want a low-bounce plate, you’ll need one with a high durometer score (over 85).
Rather than having a steel hub in the centre of the plate, training plates typically have a metal insert which protects the rubber from the bar, but the use of less metal makes the training bumpers thicker.
Whilst this isn’t an issue for most, it’s something to bear in mind if pushing massive weight around and need to fit more plates on the bar.
Standard bumpers are usually black, or in some cases they’re ‘colour coded’ by the inclusion of colored rubber crumbs in the material mix to show their weight.
Generally the cheaper the material, the thicker the plate (although not always the case). In the picture below you can see the differences in thickness between the plates (they’re all 25kg).
The biggest difference is between the competition plates and the standard training plates.
The exception here is the $475 Eleiko plate (in darker red) is thicker than the Primal Strength plate (in lighter red), despite being more than double the price!
The thicker plates on the right are made from crumbed rubber.
The black plate in the middle is made from virgin rubber. It’s a combination of quality, sturdiness and price that will suit most people.
The plates on the left are very expensive and not worth the expense for most garage gym users.
With bumper plates it’s not a question of features–they don’t differ much in terms of design. They’re roughly the same size and they’re exactly the same shape! Instead you have to look at price, materials and suitability.
Buy the hardest-wearing plates you can afford–solid rubber rather than crumbed. If you can only afford crumbed, buy mats for dropping the bar on to protect the plates.
That being said, if sound is really important to you, consider the crumbed rubber–they’re much quieter than other plates.
A low bounce is ideal in a garage gym, so look for plates that score at least 85 on the durometer.
If you can afford colored plates, they’re slightly easier to work with because you can identify the weights immediately. If not, it’s not a huge deal.
I’ve looked at four different bumper plate sets here, because rather than waste time reviewing sub-par sets, I’d rather just show you great plates that I’d be happy to have in my own gym.
There’s no bad set here, but I’ve picked the Rogue Color Echo Bumpers as the winners. In my opinion, they’re the best combination of quality and price and if your budget stretches to the $700 region, I’d urge you to grab them with both hands–they’re a great addition to any garage gym.