What are the best weight plates for a home gym?

What are the best weight plates for a home gym?

Strength training has a low barrier to entry, and you don’t need much equipment to get a good workout at home.

But as a lifter, one of the core pieces of gear you do need is a set of weight plates. Without them, you can’t barbell squat, bench, or deadlift: the most important exercises for building strength. 

After looking online, you may be feeling confused about what weight plates you need. Do you need bumper plates, or will cast-iron plates be enough? 

This guide will explain the different types of weight plates, how many plates you’ll need, and our recommendations.

In this article: 

  • What are the different kinds of weight plates for lifting? 
  • What weight plates should I buy?
  • How should I store weight plates? 
  • Why buy Strength Shop weight plates?
  • FAQ

Whether you’re a novice lifter building your first home gym or an elite athlete, we have weight plates to suit your set-up.

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What are the different kinds of weight plates for lifting? 

At first glance, weight plates might look fairly similar. However, if you’re looking to invest in your home gym, it’s essential to understand the different types of weight plates.

Here are the main types of plates: 

Bumper plates

Bumper plates are recycled rubber (sometimes with a metal core). They’re commonly used in  Olympic weightlifting, as they effectively absorb shock from the impact of the bar hitting the floor. Nowadays, they’re also popular for functional fitness, bodybuilding, and general strength training.  While they’re thicker than cast-iron plates, they’re far quieter, so they’re a good choice if you don’t want to wake up the neighbours during your morning deadlifts.

Bumper plates are also far friendlier to your floor than cast iron or steel plates.

Competition Olympic Bumper Plates - CLEARANCE - Strength Shop

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Cast Iron Plates

These plates are probably the most familiar to the average lifter. Cast iron plates are economical and incredibly durable. They’re more compact than bumper plates, so you can get more weight onto the bar, making it a good choice for heavy squats. Due to their smaller profile, they’re also relatively easy to store. Deep Dish Cast Iron Plates are also popular with many lifters, thanks to their unique retro look. 

The downside of cast iron plates is that they’re noisier than bumper plates, which is something to consider if you like to work out early in the morning or late at night.

Deep Dish Cast Iron Plate Sets: 17.5kg / 90kg / 100kg & 107.5kg - Strength Shop

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Steel Plates

Steel plates are typically the most expensive plates you can buy. These are typically reserved for competitions, as they’re calibrated for precise weight accuracy. They’re thin, and you can fit a lot of plates onto the bar. Unlike iron, steel is more resistant to wear and rust. 

25KG - Steel Plate, Galvanized Zinc (B-WARE) - Strength Shop

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Rubber-Coated Plates

Not to be confused with bumper plates, rubber-coated plates are cast iron plates with a thin rubber coating. This coating protects the plates and your floor and makes them quieter than cast iron.

They often have ergonomic handles for easier (and safer) handling. Rubber-coated plates are a good compromise if you want the quietness of bumper plates but don’t plan on doing Olympic lifts or dropping the bar. 

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Fractional Plates

Small but mighty, fractional plates are essential for any lifter serious about their progress. These plates are in small increments (from 0.125kg), making progressively overloading each workout easier.

Without fractional plates, you’re forced to increase your weight in larger increments. This is doable for a novice lifter, but for intermediate and advanced lifters, you will likely plateau without fractional plates. 

Olympic Extra Thin Competition Style Steel Plate 0.5kg (B-WARE) - Strength Shop

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Technique Plates

Technique plates are shaped like bumper plates but made from lightweight materials such as plastic. They allow users to practise Olympic lifts without the intimidating weight of standard plates. They usually weigh 2.5kg or 5kg.

Technique Plates - Strength Shop

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3 questions to ask yourself before you buy plates: 

It’s important to consider:

  1. How much space do you have? Do you have limited storage? If you’re not planning on dropping the barbell, cast iron or steel plates might be a good option. 
  2. What is your flooring like? Bumper plates might be essential if you can’t afford to add a lifting platform to your set-up. They’re less harsh on your floor (compared to cast iron plates) and are relatively quiet. 
  3. What’s your sport? Bumper plates are essential if you do a lot of Olympic lifting or functional fitness. If you’re bodybuilding or powerlifting, cast iron, rubber-coated, or steel plates are a good choice. 

How should I store my weight plates?

Once you buy the weight plates, you need to consider how to store them. Here are the most common options:

Power rack plate holders

Many power racks offer plate holder attachments– such as our Riot Garage Cage. These make loading and unloading the barbell off the rack far easier. They’re perfect for storing a fair amount of weight plates without taking up extra space in your gym. 

Weight tree

Bumper Plate Tree - 4 Bar Holders - Strength Shop

A weight tree is a great option if you don’t have a power rack with plate holders or need more storage. Our Bumper Plate Olympic Weight Tree is popular with lifters looking to build a home gym. It can store plenty of plates and has four holes to store barbells. A tree helps to save space and keep your weights organised and off the floor.

Toast rack

Bumper Plate Toast Rack – Horizontal Storage, Black - Strength Shop
These are excellent for bumper plates and are typically positioned next to a lifting platform. Because you store your plates horizontally, they’re extremely easy to access. Our Bumper Plate Toast Rack also includes an extra sleeve for fractional plate storage.

How to store your plates properly

When looking at plate storage solutions, you ought to consider the following factors: 

  • Accessibility: Position your plates so that the ones you use most frequently are the easiest to reach. This will help streamline your workouts by reducing the time spent searching for the right weights. While it might be your private home gym, properly organising your weights is still important. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find your 10kg plates and realising they’re buried under the 25kg plates. Be organised, and save your energy for the workout!
  • Protection: Try to store your plates somewhere dry and free from humidity to prevent rust.
  • Safety: Securely install all racks and ensure they’re stable to avoid broken toes from dropped plates. Similarly, if you’re using a power rack with plate holders, regularly inspect it to ensure it’s safe and stable.

How many plates do I need for my home gym?

The number of plates you need for your home gym depends on several factors, including the exercises you plan to do, your strength level, and your training goals. 

Whatever you buy, we’d always recommend a set of fractional plates. They make it easy to progressively overload each workout without taking on too much weight. 

Regarding how many plates you need in general, it can be helpful to consider strength standards for men and women. A novice lifter can improve fast (often session after session), while progress slows down as you move into intermediate and advanced lifting levels.

For most lifters looking to build a home gym, buying a set of weight plates is cost-effective and should give you room to grow. You can always purchase individual plates as you outgrow your set.

A 157.5kg weight set is a great choice for most novice and intermediate lifters.

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Why buy Strength Shop weight plates?

Now you understand the differences between weight plates, why should you choose Strength Shop?

Here’s why:

  • Over a decade of experience: We've supplied home and commercial gyms with high-quality weight plates for over ten years. We've listened to our customers and continually improved our products during this time. Choosing Strength Shop means you benefit from a decade of product development and enhancement.
  • High-quality materials: Lifting is a lifelong endeavour, and we build our weight plates to last. They are made from durable materials with finishes that resist wear and tear, so you can rely on them for years to come.
  • Suitable for both elite athletes and novice lifters: At Strength Shop, we understand that everyone's fitness needs differ. We offer a range of weight plates, from affordable cast-iron plates perfect for home gyms to competition-grade calibrated. Olympic plates.
  • Trusted by customers: Our commitment to quality is reflected in our customer reviews. With a 4.8 rating on Trustpilot, you can be confident in your purchase, knowing that other lifters have had positive experiences with our plates.

Here’s what our customers have to say about our plates:

So far after 3 months of intensive training using these plates, I have nothing to complain about. Comfortable handling, good look and no sign of damage in the coating. 10/10 would order these again

A review of our Competition Olympic Bumper Plates on Strength Shop Europe

Fantastic customer service, fantastic quality of product. Will have a customer for life here, would highly recommend. Plates are well made, sturdy, robust and of high quality.

A review of our Competition Olympic Bumper Plates on Strength Shop UK

For the price, you get high-quality, beautiful-looking plates—way better than other companies’ plates, where the paint wears off or the weight is inaccurate.

A review of our Riot Cast Iron Plates on Strength Shop Europe


Do I need calibrated plates? 

Calibrated plates are essential if you are a competitive lifter or if precision in weight measurement is crucial for your training goals. They are especially useful in powerlifting or Olympic lifting, where exact weight measurements can impact competition outcomes. However, calibrated plates might not be necessary for general fitness or casual lifting.

Can I deadlift with cast iron/steel plates?

Yes, you can deadlift using cast iron or steel plates. These plates are durable and suitable for heavy lifts like the deadlift. However, bumper plates might be a better option if you frequently drop weights or are concerned about floor damage due to their shock absorption qualities.

What are the best weight plates for an Olympic lifter?

Bumper plates are the best choice for Olympic lifting. These plates are designed to be dropped from a height and have a standard diameter that ensures the barbell starts at the correct height. Competition Olympic bumper plates, calibrated for accuracy, are ideal for competitors.

What are the best weight plates for a powerlifter?

Powerlifters should look for plates that offer high durability and precise weight accuracy. Calibrated steel plates, often used in competitions, are preferred because they provide the exact weight needed for training and competition. Their slim profile allows for loading more weight onto the bar, which is beneficial for high-load exercises like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts.

What are the best weight plates for strong(wo)man?

Strong(wo)man training often involves varied, heavy lifting that can be rough on equipment. Deep dish cast iron or bumper plates are suitable as they are robust and can handle being dropped. The choice between these depends on whether the training involves more traditional lifts or dynamic movements.

What are the best weight plates for functional training?

Functional training often includes a mix of lifting techniques and non-traditional movements. Rubber-coated plates are ideal because they offer durability, floor protection, and quieter operation when dropped. Their versatility makes them suitable for a wide range of exercises typical of functional fitness routines.

Is there a warranty on Strength Shop plates?

Yes, we offer a 2-year performance warranty on our plates. 

What barbell should I buy? 

Choosing the right barbell depends on your lifting style and goals. Strength Shop offers a variety of barbells suitable for powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding, and general training. For detailed guidance on selecting a barbell that meets your needs, check out our barbell blog

Build your home gym with Strength Shop weight plates 

If you’re a lifter looking to build a solid home gym, you’ll need high-quality weight plates. In this guide, we’ve shown you the difference between different types of plates so you can decide on the best product for you. 

Whatever plates you need, Strength Shop has got you covered. 

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