Bumper Plates-What's the difference


3 min read / Tom Haynes

June 28th 2024

Unsure of what bumpers to go for? Take a moment to read this buyer's guide.

Suppose you're an athlete, coach home gym lifter, or corporate user who incorporates barbell work into your programming. In that case, you will understand how crucial it is to have suitable bumper plates to meet your training needs. Perhaps it's the uniform size, noise reduction, vibrations reduction versatility in loading, preparing, and moving that bar you are interested in, or the assurance that it's robust enough to withstand when it is dropped from overhead.

Investing in bumper plates is a worthwhile investment, however, the quality varies hugely from brand to brand and all are not created equally. If you are a professional sports team and perform cleans or variations of, then bumpers will help this be programmed, however, if your team are shifting some serious tin, you will not have enough space on the bar.

The term, the right tool for the job is very valid here.


In short, a bumper plate should be suitable for the intended use, be it Olympic Lifting, Crossfit WODs or general use. As coaches ourselves, we have been lucky enough to use and in many cases abuse a wide variety of plates over the years.

We have broken plates, where they have snapped, and we have sheered poor-quality bolts, but, more often than not, we have enjoyed training and coaching with some incredible kit.

So what plate options are there?

Urethane Bumper:
PRO: Thinner, won’t discolour, has little to no bounce and can be branded if ordering large quantities.
CON: Price, they are MORE expensive than traditional solid rubber plates. Harder, so may cause more impact noise.

Competition Type Bumper:
PRO: Thinner, more accurate weight measure, sit tight on the bar, have a large steel hub for other plates to fit up to. More plates can fit on a standard bar sleeve. +/- 0.02% Weight Accuracy
CON: Price again and aren’t as durable as solid rubber plates in high volume sites such as CF boxes. Designed for Olympic lifts, with the majority controlling the bar on the way down.

Quality Solid Rubber Bumper:
PRO: Great durability, suitable for CF Boxes where dropping often happens. Wide Variety and choices of black or coloured. High-quality bumpers do cost but will last. Typically they have a 15000-30000 drop test. +/- 0.5% Weight Accuracy. Mainly made using virgin rubber.
CON: Thicker than Urethane and Comp Spec, coloured mark up easily, cheaper plates have a pungent smell when new.

Crumb/Granular Bumper:
PRO: Superb durability, excellent for noise vibration reduction due to the granular design. +/- 2% weight accuracy. Good at protecting your bar and floor when used in high-volume environments. Great for CF Boxes, garage gyms or where the function is over the form.
CON: Much thicker than all the other plates (50% in some cases). 5kgs are soft and will flex if lifted on their own. Higher bounce rate due to the softness of the compound. You will max out a bar sleeve capacity easily.

Use and final thoughts:

When using bumper plates, always check them before using for cracks, chunks missing and the centre ring condition. On competition type plates that have bolted hubs, listen for loose hubs or rattles.
If used correctly there is no reason why a set of plates won’t last you a lifetime, which makes them great value over their lifetime. When it comes to bumper plates, we will always be honest in our appraisal of brands and if we don’t mention them or list them on the website, it’s probably because we don’t rate them. We don’t push a certain brand, we give an independent review of them and will guide you towards what is best suited to your intended use or environment.


Brands to consider:

Eleiko, Werksan, Zhangkong and Uesaka

RAZE, Jordan, Bulldog, Escape, Intek, Hammer Strength

Blk Box, York, Apollo