It can be quite difficult to build a home gym and remain inside your original budget. Just like when you're planning your purchases for anything, it can be quite easy to get carried away. I've done this myself, looking at a £149 Olympic barbell, comparing it with a £199 bar and then eventually spending £249.99 on one!
I'm someone that likes to find little cheats and hacks to save some money, and today I've got something for you in terms of Bumper Plates.
What are Bumper Plates?
If you've ever visited your local gym, but instead of finding those cast iron and usually freezing cold weight plates you find rubber coated weight plates… you've just spotted bumper plates.
The main advantage of using them is that they can be dropped from height, without the fear of them breaking. This is due to the way the plates are made, with a solid steel core alongside the thick rubber protection.
It's important not to get these mixed up with traditional olympic weight plates, which will likely shatter if dropped. Bumper plates are the go-to option for the Clean and Press movement, alongside other crossft workouts.
Reasons why you need Bumper Plates
Bumper Plates are fantastic, albeit more expensive weights than your typical iron or rubber radial weight plates.
They have been designed purely for heavy lifts, offering safety and convenience at the very same time. Where a 5kg iron weight might be shorter than a 25kg one, all bumper plates have the same height. This is important, as it means you won't drop too low, when doing an exercise such as hip thrusts or even deadlifts.
Iron Plates are built with high precision, but they don't handle drops very well. In my years of weightlifting, I've seen chipped and cracked plates, not to mention completely destroyed floors.
Bumper Plates are a different type of technology, made with high density rubber which acts as a shock absorber when the weight is dropped. They will bounce if dropped from a moderate height.
We've all been in the gym and heard someone slamming cast iron plates down on the floor, which creates an almighty clinking noise. Bumper plates won't do this & they create much less noise.
If your workout is focused on explosive power, I would recommend you grab some Bumper Plates. Your focus here will be on lifting as much weight as possible, as quickly as you're physically able to. With Bumper plates, if you have to drop your barbell from above your head, you can do-so without the worry that you'll shatter your weights.
How to Mix Iron Plates with Bumper Plates
My personal preference are bumper plates, but they are a little more expensive than traditional iron plates. This could cause potential problems if you're working on a strict budget. Your best option here is to combine Bumper Plates with Iron Plates.
You need to ensure that the weight of your Iron Plates do not exceed the weight of your bumpers. This will help you to avoid any potential damage to your floor, or the iron weights.
For example, if you have a 20kg Iron Plate on the barbell, you should combine that with a 20kg Bumper Plate. You can have heavier bumper plates than Iron Plates, but your Iron Plates shouldn't exceed your bumper weights.
When combining plates, you might notice that the sides of your bumper plates wear a little, as your spring lock collar will be pushing the iron plates against the bumpers. When you drop the weight, the plates have no option but to rub together. Remember, your bumpers will bounce, but they will also be carrying the weight of the Iron plates which don't bounce.
Although you can wear the plates out, this is purely aesthetic and it won't affect your weights. You can mix and match these weights, providing you follow the above rule for maximum allowances.
Iron Plates vs Bumper Plates
If money was no option, I would definitely be telling you to stock up on Bumper Plates. However, in the real world it's not going to be possible to get the best specification for absolutely everything, unless you build your collection over a few years.
Given the durability & flexibility, I would 100% vote for bumper plates. They are designed to be given the rough treatment, and you can train without the fear of cracking one of them if you drop them from height.
Conclusion: Bumper Weights or Iron Plates
You can grab a 20kg Bumper Plate for around £80. In comparison, a Cast Iron plate will cost around £50. This is a significant difference, especially when the likelihood is that you'll be purchasing around 200kg worth of weights.
You should definitely consider combining the weights, so you have a good mix of bumpers and cast iron weight plates. This will work out significantly cheaper, although your Home Gym won't have that ‘uniform' aesthetic.
If you're working on a budget, you should definitely consider it. Remember, replacing your floor isn't going to be cheap!