Bumper Plates really set the tone for what kind of gym you want. I can tell immediately what kind of lifting is being done in a gym and how serious they are about it by the type of bumper plates that reside there. It’s also one of the biggest expenses you’ll encounter when you’re outfitting your garage.
The kind of plates you’ll want to get is will depend on a couple things. First, it will depend on what type of lifting you’ll be doing. Are you going to be Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, Crossfitting or just general working out?
Second, it will depend on the amount of weight you’re going to be moving. Is 135 a warm-up set or a work set? If 135 is a warm-up set, then you’re going to need quality plates. If 135 is a work set, then something cheaper might work out fine. Speaking of cheaper, the final deciding factor will be how much money you’re willing to invest. (Isn’t it always?)
I use the word ‘invest’ very purposely. A really good set of bumper plates, especially in a garage gym where they’re not going to be used by hundreds of athletes every day, will last longer than you do. I’ve seen Uesaka and Eleiko plates in college weight rooms that were 15-20 years old and, other than some faded text on the side of the plate, they still looked (and worked) great. If they can hold up over that much usage, imagine how long they’ll last when it’s just you and your garage.
Unfortunately, when I looked around at some of the other ‘garage gym’ websites out there, some of them were recommending absolute cheap garbage. Why? Because it’s what they could find that they could attach some affiliate links to and try to make a few bucks.
A couple things I want to mention when it comes to this. One, there are really no inexpensive bumper plates. Even the cheap ones are going to cost you a decent amount of money. Then they’re going to tear up and you’ll be buying plates again in a year or two (or less). This is the best case scenario with cheap plates. If the center ring pops off while rotating under a clean you could end up getting seriously hurt.
Before we go any further, here is my “affiliate disclosure”. Read it. I think it’s important to know.
Garage Gym DIY does not use any affiliate links when it comes to lifting equipment. This includes barbells, bumpers, racks, med balls, etc. I include links to purchase bumpers in this article for your convenience, but I will not make a dime off any of them. For more info, check out my Affiliate Policy.
I’m going to start with bumper plate recommendations for the serious (or at least wanting to be serious) Olympic lifter. This is my current emphasis. I’ve always done Cleans as an athlete and enjoyed Olympic lifts, but I’ve now made it a goal to qualify for the US Nationals Masters.
I’m starting here because if you’re going to be spending the bulk of your time Cleaning, Jerking and Snatching then you’ll want the best plates you can afford.
Then I’ll start working my way down through the Crossfitter to the general lifter. Finally, if you’re a Powerlifting chances are you don’t really want or need bumper plates period, unless you’re really concerned about your garage floor. (Bumper Plates vs Iron Plates)
If that’s the case I’d recommend one of the more economical plates because the only time you’re dropping plates is for deadlifts which is only one exercise and the plates aren’t really being dropped from height.
Before we get into all the in depth reviews, here is the price guide for all the plates that I’ll be talking about below. I understand that price always plays a big role is most of our decision making so I wanted to give a clear price breakdown before we get into the reviews.
- 1 Bumper Plate Price Guide
- 2 The Big Three (Uesaka, Eleiko & Werksan)
- 3 Everyone Else (Rogue, Titan Fitness, Rep Fitness)
- 4 Know Your Bumper
Bumper Plate Price Guide
For comparison sake, I’m showing you the difference in price of a 20kg bumper. For a true cost comparison, you’ll have to figure out what your plate needs are and total everything together. Many companies offer bundles, or sets, of plates at a discount. This table should at least get you pointed in the right direction though.
|Company||Plate||Price of a 20kg bumper||Current Pricing & Purchase|
|Uesaka||Competition Bumpers||$638/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Uesaka||Training Bumpers||$550/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Uesaka||Pro Series||$506/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Eleiko||Competition Discs||$674/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Eleiko||Training Discs||$620/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Eleiko||Sport Training Disc||$386/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Rogue||Color Training Plates||$303/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Rogue||Black Training Plates||$245/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Rogue||Color Echo||$145/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Titan Fitness||Elite Bumper – Color||$260/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Titan Fitness||Elite Bumper – Black||$220/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Rep Fitness||Competition Bumper Plate||$220/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
|Rep Fitness||Hi Temp Bumper Plates||$157.50/pair||Check Current Pricing & Availability|
The Big Three (Uesaka, Eleiko & Werksan)
The 3 Best Brands for Weightlifting Bumper Plates
In my opinion, there are three companies that stand apart from all others when it comes to making bumper plates. Eleiko, Uesaka and Werksan. In that order if I’m splitting hairs, but you’ll never regret purchasing any of the three.
Uesaka and Eleiko go hand in hand in terms of the highest quality weightlifting equipment. In my opinion, Eleiko makes the best Olympic Barbells that money can buy with Uesaka being a very close second. However, when it comes to bumper plates, I give the edge to Uesaka.
Uesaka has been the official supplier (6 times) of equipment to the Olympics. Uesaka bars and plates have been used at the US Olympic Training Center since 1996 with zero fails or maintenance. Let me repeat that. Uesaka bumper plates have been used at the US Olympic Training Center since ’96 with zero fails or maintenance. That’s crazy.
Uesaka Bumper Plates
Uesaka Competition Bumpers – The bumper itself is made with a blend of natural and synthetic rubber. The centerpiece is made with Hagane steel, the same steel that Uesaka bars are made of. I don’t actually recommend buying the Competition Bumpers, even though they’re the best plates money can buy.
Why is that? There is really no difference between the competition bumpers and the training bumpers except for extra calibration steps that have to take place for them to be deemed competition worthy.
However, if price is no option and you really want the ultimate flex (pun intended) then put some Uesaka Competition Bumpers in your garage gym. You’re dogs will be super impressed. ($638 for a pair of 20kg plates)
Uesaka Color Training Bumpers – Uesaka’s Training Bumpers are the same quality of the Competition Bumpers without the extra calibration. I’ve been in college weight rooms with Training Bumpers that were over 15 years old and still looked almost brand new. Think about how much use that equates to over time.
That’s why I made the comment earlier about plates lasting longer than you do. Are these plates a big investment? Absolutely. But, if you do it right, you’ll never have to purchase plates again, ever. ($550 for a pair of 20kg plates)
Uesaka Pro Series Bumpers – What if you could have the best plates money can buy, but without some of the color so they can be more cost-effective? You’d end up with the Uesaka Pro Series Bumpers, which is exactly what bumpers I have in my garage gym. Can you get good quality plates at a bit of a cheaper price, yes, and I’m going to cover some of those options.
But, the Uesaka Pro Series Bumpers are my top recommendation for the best garage gym bumpers. ($506 for a pair of 20kg plates)
What is different about the Uesaka Pro Series?
The first thing you’ll notice about the Pro Series is the color. Instead of the bright blues, yellows and greens that you see with many Olympic Bumper Plates, the Uesaka Pro Series plates are black. However, they do have a color strip going around the outside edge of each plate so you can easily distinguish them apart. This lack of color is actually what makes them a great bumper plate for your garage gym.
If you’ve ever priced out t-shirts or really anything that involves customization the more color you add to something, typically the more it costs. This is essentially the only difference between the Pro Series and Uesaka’s Competition Plates. The plates use the same Grade A rubber and manufacturing process, but by removing the color they are able to make a plate that is the same elite quality, but at a better price.
Eleiko bumper plates have been the official plates of 5 Olympics and over 40 World Championships. I don’t know what else I can say to convince you that Eleiko is one of the elite weightlifting companies. They were the first to introduce rubber plates and the first to install needle bearings within weightlifting bars.
I’ve had the pleasure of working in two college weight rooms that used Eleiko plates. The Competition and Training plates are made in Sweden by a company that obsesses over quality. They are close to absolute perfection – perfectly balanced and ultra durable.
Eleiko Bumper Plates
IWF Weightlifting Competition Discs – This is Eleiko’s top of the line plate (or disc as Eleiko likes to call them). I’m going to say the same thing about Eleiko’s Competition Disc as I did with Uesaka. I just don’t think they’re is a need to spend the extra money on the Competition plates.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll even be able to tell the difference between the two and in the case of Eleiko, there is a pretty good difference in cost between them. ($674 for a pair of 20kg plates)
IWF Weightlifting Training Discs – Like Uesaka, Eleiko’s Competition plates go through insane testing to make sure they are perfectly calibrated to competition standards. Eleiko Training Discs are made exactly the same and provide the same quality as the competition plates minus the extra calibration.
The plates aren’t a lot cheaper, but you will save a bit of money without sacrificing any quality. ($620 for a pair of 20kg plates)
Eleiko Sport Training Disc – While the Competition and Training Discs are manufactured in Sweden, the Sport Training plates are manufactured in China by a company/factory that manufactures bumper plates for multiple brands.
The difference here between Eleiko and some of the other brands is Eleiko still holds the plates they have made up to a high standard and back them with a 3 year warranty. You also don’t have to worry about Eleiko not being around when and if you have to take them up on that warranty. ($386 for a pair of 45lb plates)
Bottom Line with Eleiko
If you want to buy Eleiko, go with the IWF Training Discs. If you’re wanting to save some money I’d recommend going with a different brand rather than buying the Sport Training Disc. The difference being you’re paying for the superior quality and craftmanship with the Training Disc and with the Sport Discs I believe you’re more paying for the name and there are better options out there in my opinion.
Werksan is a solid third behind Uesaka and Eleiko. I also firmly believe their plates are a solid third ahead of whoever you’d like to place fourth (For me that’s Rogue which we’ll get to in a second). We purchased brand new Werksan bars and plates at the school that I was just working at.
I thought they were great. Bars had great spin, plates were well balanced with a good amount of bounce. Knurling was grippy without slicing up your hands. We used them daily for a year and they still looked brand new.
Unfortunately, Werksan as a company doesn’t seem to be doing well. I’m not totally sure about Werksan as a whole, but at it seems that their US branch has gone out of business. I could fill up an entire article on why this may have happened, but that’s a different topic for a different day.
It wasn’t because of their quality though. Seems to be more of a management and marketing issue which is really unfortunate.
I don’t think you can buy new Werksan bumpers (again, at least not in the US). I still wanted to mention Werksan, because I really liked their bumpers. If you happen to find a good deal on a set of used Werksan bumpers, I wouldn’t hesitate on snatching them up. Let me clarify – if you find their Training Bumpers (not the Lionfit bumpers), go ahead and grab them.
Everyone Else (Rogue, Titan Fitness, Rep Fitness)
Here’s the truth. Outside the companies in the top three, most bumper plates are made by the same one or two factories in China. Companies then add their own logos and writing, but the plates themselves, are basically the same. Having said that, there are some differences in level of quality.
There are economical options and pure trash. I’m going to go over a few of the economical, but still good quality, options.
Rogue is a name that is very familiar to anyone in the Crossfit community. Rogue has quite the variety of options when it comes to bumper plates and I’m not going to mention all of them here. If you’d like to compare all the different plates they offer you can do so here
Rogue continues to push the envelope in trying to improve their plate options. Their Competition Plates and Color Training Plates are now IWF certified. This is not where I’d recommend Rogue though. If you’re going to drop top dollar on plates I’d strongly suggest Uesaka or Eleiko.
However, if the price of those plates is a little too steep, take a hard look at some of Rogue’s more economical plates.
Rogue Color Training Plates – These are one of Rogue’s best quality plates. Are these at the level of a Uesaka or Eleiko plate? In my opinion, no, not at all. However, they’re also also two hundred dollars less for a pair 20kg plates. When you start adding together a full set of plates (whatever a full set is for you) the difference in price can be pretty significant.
So if you’re saying to yourself, ‘I want a good pair of bumper plates, that are going to look good, perform well and last over time, but I just can’t justify the amount of money a Uesaka set is going to cost’ I totally get it. If that’s you then the Rogue Color Training Plates and Black Training Plates (up next on the list) are great options. ($303 for a pair of 20kg plates)
Rogue Black Training Plates – Similar to the Pro Series concept, Rogue’s Black Plates don’t have the bright colors of the color training plates, but come at a lower price. This is actually the plate that I’d recommend as ‘Best Bang for Your Buck’.
For the large majority of at home garage lifting individuals, this plate is going to the do the job that it’s asked to do and comes in at a pretty affordable price. ($245 for a pair of 20kg plates)
Rogue Color Echo – This is Rogue’s best budget bumper. I’ve honestly never used them myself, but people seem to really like them. ($145 for a pair of 45lb plates)
I’m going to be honest. When I first started building out my garage gym, I didn’t know a lot about Titan Fitness. Titan is not a company that you see in college weight rooms. At least not ones I have worked in. So outside of the high end companies that I was used to, the only other company I was really familiar with was Rogue. Because, well, Crossfit.
However, now I’m becoming more of a seasoned Garage Gym Vet. What I’ve learned is that Titan makes bumpers that are every bit equal to Rogue and usually at a lower price point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still not outfit a college weight room with Titan Fitness and the enormous amount of volume those plates would have to endure. However, when it’s just me in my garage, Titan makes a solid bumper plate for the money.
Elite Bumper – Color – Titan Fitness’s Elite Bumper is competitive with Rogue’s bumpers. I got a pair of 10kg plates to test them out and they’ve been great. If you’re a casual lifter or recreational crossfitter, these bumpers will do the job.
Elite Bumper – Black – Want to save even more money? Like most of the other companies, Titan offers a non-color version of their Elite Bumper if you’re willing to trade color to save a few dollars.
The last company I’m going to mention is Rep Fitness. In my opinion, if you want to know where the line is between good economical bumpers and garbage – that line is Rep Fitness. Rep Fitness bumpers may not be the highest performing plates, but they are quality enough to hold up and not fall apart on you after a year.
If you are on a strict budget and need to save every dollar possible, give Rep Fitness a look.
Competition Bumper Plate – Rep Fitness’s top bumper is still at a lower price point than almost everything else on our list. For the money, you’re going to be really happy with grabbing these plates from Rep Fitness.
Hi Temp Bumper Plates – These are the lowest priced bumpers on the list. These plates definitely have their flaws. They have a thin center ring which is going to be more prone to tearing up and/or coming loose. They’re recycled rubber and not virgin so the quality is going to be less.
Having said that, if you really want bumpers and you really don’t have the money to spend you can give these plates a go. They’re not perfect, but they are better than what is going to be available at your local big box store.
There are a ton of ‘low-cost’ options out there when it comes to bumper plates. I’m not going to name names, but you can now pick up bumper plates anywhere from Dick’s Sporting Goods to even Wal-Mart. Many of the companies you’ll find in big box stores are going to tear up quickly.
American Barbell and Fringe Sport at least have positive reviews of the people who use them. So if you’re a casual lifter and you want some bumper plates to save your floor a bit, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money you can give these companies a look.
Know Your Bumper
I wanted to take a minute and do a little Bumper Plate education and go over some of the specs and terminology you’re going to run into when doing your own research on bumper plates.
International Weightlifting Federation. This is the governing body for all elite level Weightlifting competitions. For a plate to become IWF certified it must meet the highest standards of quality.
Knurling is basically the rough, textured part of the bar. Knurling helps with gripping the bar and is used often as a reference point for aligning grip.
Kilos or Pounds?
If you’ve noticed that bumper plates come in both kilos and pounds and you’re wondering which you should get – understand that there is, in fact, a right and wrong answer to that question. The correct answer is kilos. Kilos. I will not argue this point.
Bumper Plate Dimensions/Specs
Weight Tolerance – This is the amount of weight that the plates are allowed to be “off” of what they are supposed to be. High quality plates are going to have weight tolerances in the grams, usually less than 20g. (Reminder: 1 pound equals roughly 453 grams) On the other hand it’s not uncommon for cheap plates to be off a couple pounds, yes pounds.
Diameter – This is the diameter of the center hole of the plate. This should be EXACTLY 450mm. This is the size necessary for the plate to fit on the bar properly. I don’t know of any plates that aren’t 450mm, but if you ever see one that’s not, run away.
Disc Width – Most high end bumper plates are pretty close is width. On the 20kg plate, Uesaka’s Competition Plate is 52.95mm – the Eleiko Disc is 54mm. Close. Some of the lower cost plates are much wider. Wide plates take up more room on the bar which means less plates can go on the bar. If you’re moving serious weight this can become an issue.
Keep Disc Width in mind too with the 10kg bumpers and lighter if their offered. These are the plates that, if cheaply made, will be the first to tear up. The lighter weights are thinner and don’t hold up to thousands of drops if not well made.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Here are my final recommendations depending on what your lifting and budget preferences.
Best Plate, Period – Uesaka Competition Plate
In my opinion, Uesaka makes the best bumper plates in the world and this is their highest quality plate.
Best Plate for the Serious Weightlifter on a Budget – Uesaka Pro Series
These are the plates I have in my garage gym. I don’t know of a stronger recommendation I can give than that.
Best Plate for the Crossfitter or Casual Lifter – Rogue Training Plate
Solid plate at a good price.
Best Plate on a Shoestring Budget – Rogue Echo
Don’t forget that you can also try to find a really good used plate. Really good bumpers will last a heck of a long time especially if they’ve been in a garage or home gym. Aside from that, the Rogue Echo is the best of the low cost options.
I’ll wrap this up on this and it’s basically the same way I started this review. Bumpers are one of the biggest expenses you’re going to incur when equipping your home gym. If you buy quality plates though, you’ll only purchase plates once. That’s even more of a reason to get the plates you really want. You and the plates you buy are going to be together for a long, long time.