Product Reviews

Are Fractional Plates Worth It To Purchase? My 2cents

June 22nd 2019

If you have been strength training for a little while, you will know that progress may not last forever, especially with your linear progression program. In your attempt to figure out how to continue to progress using a beginner progression template, you dabbled with the idea of microloading. You have read that you can increment the weight on the bar less than 2.5lbs on each side, which may not seem like much.

But the overall question you have is, are fractional plates worth it to purchase and should you get them?

Do I need fractional plates?

If you are stalling with your upper body compound lifts and you are a relatively new lifter, getting fractional plates will help you break through your old plateaus. In one year, I broke through four overhead press plateaus and one bench press plateau, while dealing with an elbow and wrist injury.

It can be difficult to predict what your results may be but from the hundreds of testimonies of older lifters who have used fractional plates before me, I know that they have broken at least one plateau by using the microloading approach.

Which fractional plates do I have?

When I was doing my linear progression programs, Starting Strength and Greyskull LP, during my first two years of strength training, I purchased my fractional plates on April 11th 2014. I believe around the four months I was doing linear progression, I was beginning to stall multiple times on the overhead press and the bench press was also getting a bit hard.

So, I did what any other eager strength athlete did, I purchased my set of fractional plates in order to continue my progress.

What were my results?

The million dollar question! You want to know if by using fractional plates, did I continue progressing in my lifts? You have probably read a dozen reviews about fractional plates and there is no resource that actually details the workouts done with fractional plates. Well, I will give you some insight from my training logs from years ago:

Prior to getting microplates:

Weighing between 158lbs-163lbs at the time, I broke through multiple plateaus in my overhead press. In two months, I failed once at 105lbs which I was able to break through after one deload.

The following two months, I failed at 115lbs twice, which I was able to get 3 sets of 5 reps on my third try. However, those were very hard sets for me and I knew 120lbs (my next weight) would be tough.

In terms of my bench press, I deloaded once during the third month of strength training since I got sick. I did 175lbs for 3x5 with bad form and 170lbs with some self-correction for 3-2-2.

Starting Strength Workouts with microplates:

  • 4/18/14 - 120lbs overhead press for 3-3-2 (decided to use microplates the next workout)
  • 4/22/14 - 117.5lbs overhead press for 3-2-2 (decided to just deload)
  • 5/10/14 - 115lbs overhead press for 3-2-2 (Was not focused)
  • On 5/15/14 - I injured my lower back and took three months off training

Greyskull LP Workouts with microplates:

After 3 months off, my lower back was no longer in pain and I decided to do a different linear progression program. For my entire upper body workout, here were the progressions I followed. At the time, I also picked up some training methodologies from George Leeman, who was one of the few young Youtubers deadlifting 800+lbs. One of the things that stuck out to me was that he mentioned that as a beginner, you want to maintain progress at the slowest rate possible. That way, you can still make progress while increasing weight slowly and by pushing yourself to the absolute limit.

I took his advice quite literally and I envisioned using microplates in prolonging my linear progression:

    • 8/25/14 - 115lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 8/27/14 - 75lbs overhead press for 5-5-11
    • 8/29/14 - 117.5lbs bench press for 5-5-10
    • 8/31/14 - 77.5lbs bench press for 5-5-12
    • 9/2/14 - 120lbs bench press for 5-5-11
    • 9/5/14 - 80lbs overhead press for 5-5-12
    • 9/7/14 - 122.5lbs bench press for 5-5-11
    • 9/9/14 - 82.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-12
    • 9/12/14 - 125lbs bench press for 5-5-11
    • 9/14/14 - 85lbs overhead press for 5-5-11
    • 9/16/14 - 127.5lbs bench press for 5-5-11
    • 9/19/14 - 87.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-11
    • 9/21/14 - 130lbs bench press for 5-5-11
    • 9/23/14 - 90lbs overhead press for 5-5-10
    • 9/26/14 - 132.5lbs bench press for 5-5-10
    • 9/28/14 - 92.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-10
    • 9/30/14 - 135lbs bench press for 5-5-9
    • 10/3/14 - 95lbs overhead press for 5-5-9 (2 days ago, bodyweight was 153lbs)
    • 10/6/14 - 137.5lbs bench press for 5-6-8 (I didn’t like my form, reset)
    • 10/7/14 - 97.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-8
    • 10/10/14 - 115lbs bench press for 5-5-15
    • 10/12/14 - 100lbs overhead press for 5-5-8
    • 10/14/14 - 117.5lbs bench press for 5-5-16
    • 10/17/14 - 102.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 10/19/14 - 120lbs bench press for 5-5-13
    • 10/22/14 - 105lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 10/25/14 - 122.5lbs bench press for 5-5-10
    • 10/27/14 - 107.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 10/29/14 - 125lbs bench press for 5-5-11
    • 11/1/14 - 110lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 11/3/14 - 127.5lbs bench press for 5-5-10
    • 11/5/14 - 112.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-5
    • 11/7/14 - 130lbs bench press for 5-5-9
    • 11/10/14 - 115lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 11/12/14 - 132.5lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 11/14/14 - 117.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-5

 

  • 11/19/14 - 120lbs overhead press for 5-5-5 (Broke my previous ohp plateau)

 

    • 11/20/14 - 135lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 11/23/14 - 122.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-5
    • 11/25/14 - 137.5lbs bench press for 5-5-8

 

  • 11/27/14 - 125lbs overhead press for 5-4-3 (First ohp deload)

 

    • 11/30/14 - 140lbs bench press for 5-5-10
    • 12/2/14 - 110lbs overhead press for 5-5-9
    • 12/5/14 - 142.5lbs bench press for 5-5-10
    • 12/7/14 - 112.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 12/9/14 - 145lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 12/13/14 - 115lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 12/14/14 - 147.5lbs bench press for 5-5-7
    • 12/16/14 - 117.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 12/18/14 - 150lbs bench press for 5-5-7
    • 12/21/14 - 120lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 12/23/14 - 152.5lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 12/25/14 - 122.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 12/28/14 - 155lbs bench press for 5-5-7

 

  • 12/30/14 - 125lbs overhead press for 5-5-5 (Broke another ohp plateau)

 

    • 1/1/15 - 127.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-5
    • 1/4/15 - 157.5lbs bench press for 5-5-7

 

  • 1/6/15 - 130lbs overhead press for 1-2-2 (Second ohp deload)

 

    • 1/8/15 - 160lbs bench press for 5-5-7
    • 1/11/15 - 115lbs overhead press for 5-5-8
    • 1/13/15 - 162.5lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 1/15/15 - 117.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 1/19/15 - 165lbs bench press for 5-5-6
    • 1/20/15 - 120lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 1/22/15 - 167.5lbs bench press for 5-5-5
    • 1/25/15 - 122.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-7
    • 1/27/15 - 170lbs bench press for 5-5-6
    • 1/29/15 - 125lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 2/1/15 - 172.5lbs bench press for 5-5-5
    • 2/3/15 - 127.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 2/5/15 - 175lbs bench press for 5-5-5

 

  • 2/8/15 - 130lbs overhead press for 5-5-5 (Broke another ohp plateau)
  • 2/10/15 - 177.5lbs bench press for 5-5-5 (Broke my previous bench plateau)
  • 2/12/15 - 132.5lbs overhead press for 5/4.5/4 (Third ohp deload)
  • 2/15/15 - 180lbs bench press for 5-5-4 (First bench press deload)

 

    • 2/17/15 - 117.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-9
    • 2/19/15 - 160lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 2/22/15 - 120lbs overhead press for 5-5-8 (I started to implement a new deadlift cycle to replace my 1x a week deadlifting)
    • 2/24/15 - 162.5lbs bench press for 5-5-8
    • 2/26/15 - 122.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-8
    • 3/1/15 - 165lbs bench press for 5-5-7
    • 3/3/15 - 125lbs overhead press for 5-5-5
    • 3/5/15 - 167.5lbs bench press for 5-5-7
    • 3/8/15 - 127.5lbs overhead press for 5-5-6
    • 3/10/15 - 170lbs bench press for 5-5-7
    • 3/12/15 - 130lbs overhead press for 5-5-5
    • 3/15/15 - 172.5lbs bench press for 5-5-6

 

  • 3/17/15 - 132.5lbs overhead press for 3-2-3 (Fourth ohp deload, 2nd at 132lbs) 

     

    • 3/19/15 - 175lbs bench press for 5-5-6

After this point, I began to modify everything about Greyskull LP until I was no longer doing anything that resembles it.

Final Results:

  • OHP: From 120lbs -> 132.5lbs in 1 year
  • Bench press: From 170lbs -> 180lbs in 1 year

Final Takeaways

I was a true strength training beginner when I began to use microplates. For my overhead press, it definitely elongated my progress until I failed 132.5lbs twice. In fact, I deloaded four times and was still able to break through my plateaus. For my bench press, I was battling elbow and wrist discomfort for the entire time. I was also deciding whether or not I should train paused or not in my training logs.

Did microplates help me get results? Yes. Were my results guaranteed mostly because I was a beginner and I was being consistent in the gym? Also a big yes.

Microplates are just another tool that can be used in order to help you organize your training. Instead of messing with the rep and set schemes, adding fractional plates is one option that lifters can use in order to still increment weight after every workout, basically maintaining linear progression.

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