Bumper Plates: A Complete Guide

Bumper Plates Complete Guide

Bumper plates are one of the several types of weight plates that can be loaded onto a barbell. Home and garage gym owners often choose them because they are less likely to cause floor damage, offer a quieter experience, and provide a more aesthetically looking appearance.

We’ve created this bumper plate guide to answer some of the most pressing questions first-time buyers often have about purchasing this type of weight plate for their gym.

If you own a full functional trainer, you won’t need bumper plates. If you are using a barbell at home, you’ll want to find out what the best bumper plates are for you.

Our guide is focused on the most common type of bumper plates that fit on standard 2″ barbell collars. We’ve also focused on the most common types of plates widely purchased and compatible with the largest number of available barbells.

Bumper Plate Reviews By Brand
Rep BlackBells of Steel – Dead BounceHi-Temp
Eleiko XFBells of Steel – CompetitionVulcan Alpha
Fringe SportRogue Color EchoTitan Fitness

What Are Bumper Plates Made Of?

Bumper plates are typically created using one of three types of materials and processes. You can purchase plates produced with crumb rubber, virgin rubber, and urethane.

  • Crumb rubber bumper plates: Made with recycled rubber pieces that are melted together.
  • Virgin rubber: As the name suggests, they are made from brand-new rubber poured into a mold, allowing for a far more dense plate.
  • Urethane: These plates are produced using polyurethane, allowing for a much dense and stronger plate.
  • Olympic or competition: These bumper plates tend to be created using a steel core that is then covered with either virgin rubber or polyurethane. Bells of Steel Dead Bounce Conflict is an example of an Olympic bumper plate.

What Are Crumb Rubber Plates?

Crumb rubber plates are produced using recycled pieces of rubber that are melted into form. The plates produce significantly more bounce than other types of plates, but they are also less prone to “taco,” which occurs when lighter-weight plates warp when dropped, often when heavier plates are added to the mix.

Crumb rubber plates tend to be much thicker than virgin rubber bumper plates. Here’s a Rogue chart showing the width difference between its regular and crump bumper plate types.

Plate WeightRegular Bumper Plate WidthCrumb Bumper Plate WidthWidth Difference
10lb 0.83” 1.20” 1.80” 0.37” 
15lb 1.04” 1.80” 0.76” 
25lb 1.50” 1.95” 0.45” 
35lb 1.90” 2.50” 0.6” 
45lb 2.40” 3.0.” 

Because crumb rubber is thicker per plate, there is less room on a bars sleeve, which means you can’t lift as heavy. If you’re not attempting 500-pound deadlifts or squats, this probably isn’t much of a consideration.

Crumb rubber also tends to bounce more than virgin rubber plates; this can cause concern when plates “bounce back” or pop up and hit you in the face; however, it also means impact to your flooring is lessened, protecting floors that might be damaged during heavy lifts or high drops from your chest level or when dropped from above your head.

Remember that recycled rubber often has a distinct and often strong smell caused by the off-gassing of chemicals used in the vulcanization process while manufacturing these recycled rubber-weight plates. Remember that odors vary, and companies that use better binding agents produce crumb rubber plates with a lower odor.

Crumb Rubber plates are often used in outdoor settings or when no rubber flooring is available because they are less likely to break down when dropped on rough surfaces. If you lift outside or don’t have rubber flooring (which we highly recommend where possible), crumb rubber plates might be the right option for you!

These plates offer a more “rough looking” design because of their creation process, but that’s often a selling point for lifters looking for something a more rugged looking.

These plates also offer an environmental aspect since they are produced using rubber from old tires.

What Are Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates?

Bumper Plates made with virgin rubber are often a favorite among home gym owners. Virgin rubber is denser than your typical plate, allowing for a superior durometer rating. A durometer rating is associated with the level of bounce.

Virgin plates bounce less than crumb rubber, so there’s less of a chance you’ll have a plate bounce back and cause injury during lifts.

Because virgin rubber is denser, they are also less likely to separate from its center steel columns when dropped. Keep in mind that all bumper plates will degrade over time, but with virgin rubber, natural degradation is slowed, allowing for a longer-lasting product.

Virgin rubber bumper plates are thinner than crumb rubber, as shown in the chart above, allowing for heavier lifts.

They also smell less because they don’t rely on the binding agents required to vulcanize the recycled rubber found in crumb rubber plates.

If you have the money and don’t mind spending $10 to $100 more per pair on average (based on weight), virgin rubber is almost always a superior option.

What Are Urethane Bumper Plates?

Urethane bumper plates are considered the best material among current options and are made from the most durable and flexible material available for commercial and garage gyms.

The material used to make urethane bumper plates is less prone to cracking, preventing general wear and tear.

The very dense material featured in urethane weight plates means they bounce less than other materials, adding a level of safety you won’t find in other plate options.

The dense material means urethane will protect your floors while remaining ultra-quiet compared to traditional steel weight plates.

These plates are also less oily when they arrive, and there is almost no significant odor because of their material design.

Urethane bumper plates feature a smoother appearance than most other options. They are less likely to scratch, providing a long-term aesthetic appeal you won’t get from most other bumper plate material types.

What Are Competition Bumper Plates?

Bumper Plates Guides
Photo Credit: Rep Fitness

Competition plates offer a superior experience over other bumper plate types, which means there’s a significant price bump for these types of plates.

Competition bumper plates are typically made with a steel core that provides for a near-exact promise regarding their weight.

The steel plate design allows these plates to maintain their form for longer periods of time. In comparison, some virgin rubber bumper plates wear down faster and often lose their uniformity.

The rigged steel core means these plates bounce less than other options. Remember that dropping them on harder surfaces, such as gravel, permanently damage your plates. May lifters who perform heavy lifts build an Olympic-style platform for use with these plates. We recommend a 3/4″ stall mat when using Competition bumper plates.

Because of the steel core design, Olympic bumper plates are less likely to separate with the rubber surrounding them, be they virgin rubber or urethane.

The steel hubs used in the bumper are often constructed in two parts and then bolted together to hold the rubber tight.

These plates also feature different colors that match the color of each weight based on IWF requirements.

  • Red = 25 kg (55.1 lbs)
  • Blue = 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Yellow = 15 kg (33 lbs)
  • Green = 10 kg (22 lbs)
  • White = 5 kg (11 lbs)
  • Red = 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs)
  • Blue = 2 kg (4.4 lbs)
  • Yellow = 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)

Our Bells of Steel Competition Bumper Plates review featured a great option. Those plates provide a raised rubber ridge, ensuring your steel cores don’t bite each other during drops.

One note about the Bells of Steel Competition bumper plates we reviewed, they are in pounds and therefore fail to meet full IWF standards. However, the company also offers a KG option that complies with IWF requirements.

Are Bumper Plate Weights Accurate?

This is a great question! Any gym product company worth its weight in gold will provide a weight tolerance for its bumper plates. A poorly designed bumper plate might be off by as much as 10%, but that’s not the norm!

Typically, a crump plate will have a weight tolerance of +/- 1%, while virgin rubber plates will have a weight tolerance of +/- 0.1%, and competition bumpers can be within 10 grams of their promised weight.

Weight tolerances are usually more refined for competition bumper plates because of their design and because serious lifters need to train with very defined weight totals as they prepare for competition.

Are Bumper Plates All The Same Size?

Competition Bumper Plates
Photo Credit: Garage Gym Products

The answer here is yes and no. Let me explain.

First, most serious bumper plate manufacturers choose a diameter of 450mm for all of their bumper plates regardless of weight. That means 10-pound plates will have the same weight as 50-pound weight. The International Weight Lifting Federation will only certify plates with this diameter.

The standard diameter of bumper plates is great when you want to change between Bells of Steel, Rep Fitness, Rogue, Titan Fitness, Fringe Sport, and other manufacturers.

A standard diameter, unlike steel plates, also means all of your plates will sit level on the bar. This is great for stability but can cause lighter weights to “taco” when dropped alongside heavier weights. This is why 10 and 15-pound bumper plates tend to only have 90-day warranties on average.

When it comes to thickness, this is where you’ll find a variety of sizes. Crumb bumper plates are much thicker because of their design, while standard virgin rubber and urethane plates are much thinner. Competition bumper plates are the thinnest of all designs because of their solid steel core.

If you want to lift heavy, a competition bumper will allow you to load a lot more weight on your bar. My Olympic bars all have 15.5″ loadable length, although you’ll need to leave a little room for your sleeve collars to give you an idea of loadable weight sizes. A cool fact about competition bumper plates is that their steel core design often allows them to reduce their thickness by up to 40% compared to other bumper plate types!

Why Do Some Bumper Plates Have Bevels?

This is an overlooked part of many bumper plate purchases. The bevel found on the edge of some bumper plates allows for two important uses.

First, when a plate is laid on the ground, you can get your fingers under it and lift it much easier.

Second, separating plates on a barbell makes it much easier to grab at the beveled area.

I admit this isn’t a big consideration for me when buying bumper plates but a bevel is always a welcomed addition.

What are Bumper Plates Durometer Ratings Used For?

Bumper Plates Durometer Rating
Photo Credit: Rep Fitness

A Shore A Duromoter rating is used to measure the level of bounce found within bumper plates. Durometer ratings range from 0 to 100. The higher the rating, the less bounce each plate will produce.

While not all manufacturers provide a durometer rating, a competition bumper plate will typically feature a rating of at least 90.

Typically the harder the rubber, the less it will bounce. That’s why competition plates with a solid steel core and urethane (the hardest material currently used) will have a much higher durometer rating.

Because not all bumper plates display a durometer rating, we like to look at reviews to determine if users are having any issues with the bounce level they experience with their purchased bumper plates.

You can typically look for a durometer rating under a product specifications section on product pages.

How Much Do Bumper Plates Cost?

This is a complicated question because the cost of bumper plates depends on the type you want to purchase, the manufacturing processes used, and the promises made by each manufacturer.

To give you an idea about pricing, we’ve gathered the cost of 25-pound plate pairs from Rep Fitness. The company includes shipping in its pricing.

  • Rep Fitness Hi-Temp (Crumb Rubber) Bumper Plates: $147
  • Rep Fitness Black Bumper Plates (25 Pounds): $86
  • Rep Fitness Competition Bumpers (25 Pounds): $233

If you’re on a budget, we recently created a list of the Best Bumper Plates on a Budget that I recommend checking out.

What exercises can I do with bumper plates?

Bumper plates can be used when performing hundreds of different exercises. Because the plates are most often used on barbells, there are definitely a common set of exercises that benefit from these plates.

Bumper plate exercises using a barbell include:

  • Snatch
  • Clean and Jerk
  • Press
  • Thruster
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Bench
  • Overhead lunge
  • And many others!

Bumper plate exercises that don’t require barbells include:

  • Front Raises
  • Plank Plate Switch
  • Lateral Raise
  • Halt With Bumper Raise
  • Overhead Press
  • Squat Reach
  • Heel raises
  • And many more!

Editor Note: As a 40-something guy with grip strength issues, I like the thickness of bumper plates for performing simple holds. Gripping a 35-pound plate is a great way to work on your grip without needing to rely on any specialty accessories in the gym.

Bumper Plate Reviews

As you’ve probably gathered, we created this Bumper Plates complete guide because we’re big fans of these plates at Garage Gym Products.

We’ve reviewed numerous plates, and below, you’ll find a small list of our most recent favorites.

This Bumper Plates complete guide is meant to give you a great starting point for all of your bumper plate needs. If you didn’t find the answer to the questions you’re looking for, please let us know, and we’d be happy to address the rest of your questions and update this post so more readers can gain the knowledge they need to make the right decisions when purchasing new bumper plates.

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Written by James Kosur

James is a 20-year veteran of the digital media industry, an avid gym builder, and a dad to four kids, three dogs, and two cats. He's a DIYer who loves building stuff with his hands and a gamer who enjoys all facets of gaming.