What Is The Point Of Bumper Plates?

Bumper Plates are one of the best investments you can get for your home gym.

They allow you to deadlift, Power Clean and a lot more!

But what exactly are bumper plates, and what is the point of them exactly?

Bumper Plates, also commonly called “bumpers”, are special weight plates constructed of a steel/iron core wrapped in a dense rubber coat. They are built to bounce and prevent damage to your floor, your barbell and, of course, your plates.

The main reason for using bumper plates is pretty simple: they allow you to drop the weight without destroying your plates or your lifting space. 

Whatever you’re more worried about breaking, I guess.

However, in this guide, I go over the pros and cons of bumper plates, bumpers vs Olympic plates and more!

You can also check out my guide on the best bumper plates to learn more.

Let’s get started!

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Pros & Cons Of Bumper Plates

Bumper Plates have a bunch of positives and negatives, just like any equipment.

Just like anything I recommend, you need to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons for your own situation.

If you only do some Powerlifting/Bodybuilding training and have no need for competition bumper plates, they’re probably not a good idea for you!

That being said, let’s go over the pros and cons now!

Bumper Plate Pros

  1. Quieter – Bumper Plates are going to be a lot quieter than iron plates. They absorb impact when you drop them, so they will not sound like an explosion like iron plates. They will not clang or bang either. So if you want to be as quiet as possible, Bumper Plates work well.
  2. Less Damage To Your Bar & Platform – Since bumpers absorb the impact, less of that impact is going to affect your barbell collars. Sure, no solid bar should have any issues anyway, but if you plan on doing the Olympic Lifts, Bumper Plates are a must. Plus, using bumpers will prevent damage to your platform as well.
  3. More Durable Than Iron Plates – This is a solid reason to go with bumper plates if you can afford them. Bumpers absorb force much better than iron plates. Plus, because of what they’re constructed of, they have to be more durable to handle the abuse thrown at them.
  4. Minimal Bounce For Better Quality Bumpers – The better the quality of your plates, the less they’re going to bounce overall. You definitely want this as sometimes one side bounces higher than the other and can smack you in your shins. I’m talking from experience here, trust me!
  5. No Need To Worry About Rust – Rust is definitely an issue with iron plates. With bumper plates, they aren’t completely constructed of iron, so they aren’t really going to rust much at all. If you go with training bumpers instead of competition, they absolutely won’t rust as they only have an iron insert instead of a core!

Bumper Plate Cons

  1. More Expensive – Obviously, with all the cool features that bumper plates have, there’s gotta be a catch; that catch is the price. Sure, if you buy cheaper hi-temp plates, they’re going to be priced similarly to iron plates. But you’re going to have a ton of other issues with them, as you’ll soon find out! If you don’t want those issues, you’ll need competition bumpers, which are more expensive. Simple as that.
  2. They Smell Like Rubber (Duh) – Since they’re made mostly of rubber, a lot of them are going to have a strong rubbery chemical smell. Sure, this will go away eventually, and I’m sure there are things you can use to make this smell go away, but some people get severe headaches from this. Just something to consider if that’s you!
  3. Cheaper Bumpers Are Harder To Load Because Of Their Width – I’m sure you’ve seen tons of pictures and videos of people lifting with massive bumpers that make it look like the person is lifting a ton of weight, right? But then, in reality, it’s like 225 on Deadlift. Which is still an impressive lift for many people, but it looks like a lot more with those wider bumpers. If all you have are those types of plates, it’s going to be difficult to lift heavier weights when you literally can’t add any more plates to the bar. I’m just saying!
  4. Too Much Bounce With Lower Quality Bumpers – Again, this is more of a problem with cheaper bumpers rather than bumpers overall. However, some of them have a ton of bounce and will destroy your shins if you’re not expecting the massive rebound they have. Something to be aware of if you get cheaper plates is that they will try to kill you.
  5. Once Again, Cheaper Plates Have Lower Durability – I’m talking from experience once again, but the first bumpers I got were the cheap recycled rubber plates from sports authority. No joke, these crumbled and started cracking from a single training session. Just save yourself the headache and invest in some higher quality/more durable plates. It’s going to be a much better idea and even save some money!

Bumper Plates Vs Olympic Plates

There’s a variety of differences between bumper and Olympic plates.

The biggest ones are the feel, durability, the sound they make, and even how they smell.

Overall, though, depending on which type of plate you decide to get comes down to three major factors.

Price, if you plan on Olympic Lifting, and of course the diameter/width.

PRICE

The price is easy to figure out, if you have a massive budget and don’t need to worry about money, just get the highest quality bumper plates you can and call it a day.

They’re going to last longer, don’t require any maintenance, and you can throw them around with no worries.

Plus, if you train early in the morning and don’t want to wake up your family or neighbors, bumpers are much quieter than iron plates.

On the flip side, if you have a much smaller budget and want to maximize the investment you’re making, just get iron plates.

They’re a great deal cheaper and are still very durable as long as you’re not throwing them from overhead positions.

I crunched the numbers of Rogue, Rep, Titan and various other equipment manufacturers for their average cost per lb for their bumpers as well as their iron plates.

What I found is that on average, training bumpers are only around 3.34% more expensive while competition bumpers are around 27.1% more expensive!

That’s definitely a huge difference, so I really recommend you just get the training bumpers if you must.

Plus, if you don’t plan on doing any Olympic lifts, bumper plates just aren’t necessary anyway!

Are You Going To Do Olympic Lifting?

This is something you have to ask yourself if you decide to get some bumper plates for your home gym.

If you just want to do powerlifting and bodybuilding movements, you don’t need bumper plates.

Are they nice to have? Sure!

Do they look awesome? Absolutely!

But if you aren’t Olympic Lifting regularly and just want to buy more weight overall, iron plates are for you.

Bumper Plate Diameter & Width

This is another thing you have to consider with bumper plates. They’re a great deal wider, and the diameter is greater than typical iron plates.

The diameter of the bumper plates is going to be the same, mostly.

As long as you buy from the same company, every plate from 10 lbs up to 55 lbs is going to have the same circumference.

The cool thing about this is that if you’re new to Deadlift or Olympic Lifts you can start with 2-10 lb bumpers on the bar from the same height as a bigger 45 lb iron plate.

This is a tremendous benefit that removes the headache of pulling from blocks or a rack to make sure the starting position with weights under 135 lbs is the same.

Plus, since they’re all the same diameter, they have a wider surface area over the entire collar, which makes dropping them even safer.

As for the width, this is where things get a little difficult.

The heavier the weight is, the thicker it’s going to be, this is especially true for bumpers!

Here are Rogues Lb Competition Plates for your reference.

ROGUE LB COMPETITION PLATES width

In comparison, some of Rogue’s Hi-Temp Bumpers are as follows.

Rogue Hi-Temp Bumper Plates

As you can see, these are a great deal thicker by a lot!

The biggest reason you need to pay attention to this is that they take up a ton of space on the bar.

A couple of Rogues’ hi-temp plates and your bar might already be completely full of plates!

That’s why it’s important to check the specs of the plates you decide to get.

Luckily, we’re going to cover it right now!

Questions People Also Ask

What is the point of bumper plates?

The whole point of bumper plates is to help with Olympic Lifting.

After doing something like a Clean & Jerk or a Snatch, you need a safe way to return the bar from a clean or overhead position.

Reversing the motion and trying to control it back to the floor is going to cause a ton of extra wear and tear that’s completely unnecessary.

By using bumper plates, though, you can safely return the bar back to the platform by just dropping the weight from over your head or from the clean position.

Simple as that!

Are Bumper Plates Lighter?

Bumper plates aren’t actually lighter, but compared to the size of iron plates, they look heavier to the untrained eye!

If you compare a 45 lb iron plate to a cheaper 45 lb bumper plate, the bumper looks massive in comparison!

One definitely looks heavier than the other, and yet, they weigh the same.

Do I really need bumper plates?

You only need bumper plates for your garage/home gym if you plan on doing Olympic Lifting.

If you just plan on doing the Big 4 and bodybuilding work, they’re unnecessary.

What is bad about bumper plates?

There are a couple of negatives about bumper plates that I touched on earlier in this post.

The main ones are that they smell like chemical rubber, they’re wider, so you can’t load as many onto the average barbell, and of course they’re more expensive, mostly.

That’s about all I can think of, but check out the section above if you want to learn more!

Can you use bumper plates for bench press?

You can definitely use bumper plates for bench press, however, there’s no actual point in doing so unless you don’t want to hear iron plates clanking around.

There isn’t any real benefit to using them with the bench press though, but use them if you want!

Can I deadlift without bumper plates?

Just like the bench press, you can absolutely deadlift without bumper plates.

However, because they absorb the force better than iron plates, it can help keep your plates, your barbell, and platform in the best condition possible.

Why do people like bumper plates?

People like bumper plates because they look cool.

That’s the only reason…

Okay, but seriously!

Being able to drop weight and not worry about them exploding on impact with the ground is nice.

When you buy nice things, you probably want to keep them from breaking as much as possible, right?

Same with bumper plates!

However, they look cooler for sure…

Why does everyone hate bumper plates?

I wouldn’t save EVERYONE who hates bumper plates. I just went over why everybody likes them just a second ago, remember?!

Anyway!

Some people hate bumper plates because they just like the feel and sound of old school iron plates.

They feel more manly hearing the weights clang, and usually they’re easier to grab and load as well.

So it’s less that they hate bumper plates and more that they’re in love with their iron plates.

That’s how love is sometimes!

Can you mix bumper plates with regular plates?

You can mix bumper plates with regular plates, but only if you aren’t planning on dropping the weights.

If you decide to mix them together and drop them, though, all of that weight is going to be distributed directly to the plates that are touching the ground first.

Since bumper plates are a little wider than iron plates, that means all the force will be transferred to your bumper plates.

They’re built to absorb the force of their own weight. Once you add a bunch of bumper plates to the bar, the surface area of all the added plates distributes it along ALL THE plates.

If you only use 1 or 2 bumpers and then load up a couple of hundred lbs of iron plates too, all of that force is distributed into your bumper plates only.

That’s too much weight over a small surface, so it’s very possible to damage your bumper plates like that.

If you aren’t dropping your bar, you can do whatever you want.

If you are, though, I definitely recommend just using bumper plates, or at least as many as possible.

Is it okay to drop bumper plates?

Absolutely!

That’s the whole point of them. Just make sure you don’t do what I mentioned in my last answer, and you should be good!

Are metal plates cheaper than bumper plates?

Metal/iron plates are going to be a lot cheaper than bumper plates, for sure.

It depends on if you’re getting expensive calibrated Olympic plates or not, but other than that, they’re definitely cheaper.

Will bumper plates crack concrete?

They definitely can still crack concrete if you’re not careful.

To remedy this, make a platform out of plywood and ¾” horse stall mats.

This will keep your garage floor safe no matter what you throw at it.

Are competition bumper plates worth it?

This is going to depend entirely on if you’re an Olympic Lifter or competitive CrossFit athlete.

If you aren’t planning on competing, then no, they’re not worth it.

If you are, it’s definitely a solid investment that will serve you well!

Conclusion

With that, I turn it over to you!

What do you think of bumper plates after reading this post?

Do you plan on getting some regular training bumpers, or some more expensive competition ones?

Regardless, let me know what you think in the comments’ section below right now!

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