If you’ve been working out for any length of time, you may have noticed that weight plates typically come in standard weights of 5 pounds, 10 pounds, 25 pounds, and 45 pounds. But why do weight plates stop at 45 lbs. and not go right up to 50? It seems the main reason for this type of weight distribution is that the Olympic standard for the largest weight plate is actually 20 kilograms. This equals to 44.09 pounds, making a 45-pound Imperial weight plate the closest corresponding size. A 50-pound plate would weigh 22.68 kilograms which don’t make for an easy or convenient conversion, so the 45-pound weight plate has become standard.
Olympic Versus Standard Weight Plate Sizes
Another difference between Olympic weight plates and those known as standard is that Olympic weight plates have a two-inch diameter hole whereas standard plates feature a hole that’s one inch in diameter. Therefore knowing whether your weight plates are Olympic or standard will play a very important role in the type of weight lifting bar you buy. That said, weight sets for home use are typically standard, whereas those for commercial use are generally Olympic.
Studio Weight Plates
To make things even more confusing, there’s a line of weight plates known as studio. These weight plates have a hole that’s 30 millimetres or 1.18 inches in diameter. You’d need to purchase a specialized studio bar for use with these plates. Studio weight plates also normally feature hand grips to allow them to be used without a weightlifting bar.
Olympic Weight Plates
There’s actually a wide variety of Olympic weight plates that each have a specific role in weightlifting routines.
Rubber Weight Plates
Although constructed of cast iron, these plates have a coating of rubber to prevent damage to the floor when dropped.
Technique Bumper Plates
These weight plates are actually composed entirely of rubber. They are used for overhead lifting competitions and allow the lifter to drop them from a height without causing damage to the floor.
Training Bumper Plates
These plates are also composed entirely of rubber, but they don’t come in standardized thicknesses that are typically found in the more expensive technique bumper plates.
Competition Bumper Plates
As the name suggests, these are used in competitions and therefore their weights are highly accurate. Official competition rules state they must be within 0.1% accuracy.
Also known as incremental plates, these are small weight plates that generally range between 0.5 and 5 kilograms and are used to add small amounts of weight to a bar.
These plates are thinner than Olympic plates and allow the lifter to place them closer to their centre of gravity which reduces the amount of bounce that occurs when the bar is lifted.
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