Product Reviews

Are Metal Barbell Plates the Best Choice for Your Workout?

July 11th 2019

As you sit down on your bench, bent over and picking up your metal barbell plate, do you ever wonder if it is the best bang for your buck?

Many of us out there are looking for the ultimate fitness workout. A workout that tones our muscles, builds them up and renews our energy for the day ahead. Cultivating the optimal fitness routine can be challenging, but with the right tools- your ultimate fitness workout is right ahead of you. 

If you’re looking to add a new weight type to your basic workout, metal barbell plates are the way to go.

They’re a great way to add incremental weight to your lifts, by using either steel metal plates, fractional plates, or both. In addition, you’ll want gym chains, which can help you to add variable weight to your workouts, including squatting, benching, and deadlifts. Rigorous lift training is impossible without metal barbell plates. 

Many weight lifters choose to stack their workouts with regular barbell exercises, which while beneficial, can cause a muscle strain from repeated reps with the same weight. They also don’t give quite the range of motion that metal barbell plates too. With regular barbells, you are limited to mostly pumping action, only focusing on certain core areas of your muscles. By including metal barbell plates, and in the same way, squatting, benching, and deadlights, you are training your core muscles and contributing to a stronger you. In addition, whole-body workouts will help limit fatigue and strain over time. 

Should I get metal barbell plates?

Metal barbell plates are an excellent low-budget option for any gym. Premium or machined metal plates are fairly inexpensive for its quality.  Calibrated, competition plates are the most expensive but are the most accurate. Lifters need to look at both their budget and training goals before deciding on which metal plates to purchase.

To properly explain why you should include metal barbell plates in your workout, it’s absolutely vital to discuss the different types of plates, and the differences between them. This will help enhance your understanding of this fantastic workout tool. 

Cast Iron Plates

The first plate type to discuss is cast iron plates. Cast iron plates have their advantages, including being on the cheaper side of the spectrum. They are the cheapest way to purchase a lot of plates for not a lot of money. You can load up on weight plates in a gym by buying these basic cast iron plates. The best cast iron plates can be bought for anywhere from about a dollar per pound to about 50 cents per pound. They can be purchased in stores, and online (more on this later). If you go the extra mile and try to find them used, they’re much cheaper (and this means you can buy more plates!). 

The disadvantage of cast iron plates is they can be extremely inaccurate. Whether they are new or used, you run the risk of not having completely accurate weights. The cheaper brands can deviate from their advertised weight as much as 5-10%. Unless you are willing to upgrade your metal barbell plates to machine plates, you may be dealing with some inaccurate cast iron plates for your workouts. 

Something else to consider is the price of shipping if you’re purchasing online. The price of shipping could be high, and you could be paying a lot for plates that could be inaccurate. It’s important to consider all of these things when purchasing your cast iron plates. 

Better go Olympic 

One of the great types of cast iron plates is cast iron Olympic plates. When we talk about plates to buy, we are always talking about Olympic plates with a 2-inch diameter. There are very few gyms that have 1-inch plates; these are usually referred to as standard plates. Some advantages of Olympic plates over standard plates are: 

-More stability on the lifting bar

  • Better workouts, more stability, stronger you

-More versatility

  • You can add more weight and do more exercises with an Olympic barbell

-Weight lifting bars are built to last

  • The weight lifting bars that work with Olympic plates are built in a way to hold more weight. There are also some power racks and weight benches that can fit 7-foot Olympic bars, as opposed to a standard 5 or 6-foot bar. 

Price Points 

For cast iron metal barbell plates, you can look here for the best budget deals. Usually, metal barbell plates come at the lowest price point.

Fringe Sport offers the advantage of having frequent sales and boasts free shipping on most weights and lifting accessories. You can check their deals here for cast iron plates.

Machined Cast Iron Plates 

While not perfectly precise, machined cast iron plates are a step up on the scale of plate quality. This type of plates has a tendency to be far more accurate than normal cast iron plates. Machined cast iron plates are a more refined product, and this comes from the machining or milling process that is used to make the plates. While these plates can come in non-calibrated types, the calibrated type (within 2% accuracy) is the best choice when buying this type of plate. It will lead to a more accurate weight and keep discrepancies from different weights from interfering in your workout. The final weight of this product is, therefore, easier to control, and can also lead to increased tolerances in the center hole of the plate and in the overall diameter of the plate. 

The Middle Ground of Metal Barbell Plates

Machined plates are a great choice for those lifters that want a great weight without going all the way to very expensive options. They are a great addition to any workout, boasting more accuracy than less expensive plates. If you are a lifter who doesn’t want to break the bank but still wants to know the weight you’re lifting during your workouts, these plates are the best choice for you. These balanced, machined plates will be within a 2% accuracy, which is well within the range needed to be confident about the weight that you’re lifting. 

Machined Olympic plates are of course also considered the gold standard here, and boast the same benefits as cast iron Olympic plates do. Olympic plates, aptly named because of the 2” diameter center hole (in comparison to the 1” diameter center hole of standard plates), are a standard across the lifting industry. They are also able to fit most commercial bars and equipment ranges, making them easily versatile across different gyms or workout spaces. 

Price Points

Because this type of plate is more accurate and versatile, the price point is usually a little more. You can check for awesome deals here. You can also get premium metal plates from Fringe Sports, only up to 10lbs (for now).  

They come in a unique gray hammer tone finish, making you sure to not only be strong, but stylish while lifting. These plates are considered the gold standard for serious lifters.

You can also look for “premium” or “machined” metal plates on other sites but that is more work for you to do. For me, I enjoy a simple shipping process that does not charge me any costs. With the above two links, you will not be disappointed.

Calibrated, Competition Metal Plates

Finally, we should consider the real gold standard of professional weight lifting. These IPF styles, steel powerlifting plates are chosen by serious and professional weight lifters. These plates are calibrated to the best of standards. They are able to be machine calibrated to extremely tight weight tolerances, meaning they are accurate to within about 10 grams of their advertised weight. These will be the most calibrated and accurate plates on the market. 

The plates also boast a precise opening of only 50mm. This is much slimmer than what other cast iron plates have. They are also painted according to the IPF coloring scheme so that you can make it known you’re lifting with the best of the best. Most of the calibrated plates available are advertised in kilograms.

These plates are simply the best to lift with if you have an eye for accuracy. Whether you are a serious weight lifter or bound to be professional, these accurate plates are calibrated so well, you don’t have to wonder about any gaps between what you’re lifting and what you think you’re lifting. While other plates have advantages such as cheaper pricing, these plates are what you need when you want to get the most out of your workout. Building the best gym starts with getting these calibrated style plates. They boast all the benefits of Olympic style plates while being fully authentic, right down to the color scheme. 

Price Points

It’s no secret that these plates will be within a higher price range. It’s the price you’ll pay for certified and calibrated plates. The best way to save when purchasing this type of plate is to buy them in sets. The best prices out there are from Rogue, Vulcan, Strongarm sports; they all use great calibrated plugs to increase the accuracy of their product. Searching for better prices is a must no matter what type of plate you’re thinking of ordering. 

For IPF certified plates, one disc came be very pricey. Eleiko has this great price for these elegantly designed powerlifting discs. They are made of cast iron and have an extra thin profile to help you be able to load the bar for heavy lifting. Eleiko also offers the Olympic color coding, so that you can train and compete authentically. 

One More Thing

There are a few more tips to know when considering where to buy plates from. Previously Rogue Fitness was discussed. In addition, York Barbell is well-recognized as a leading retailer in powerlifting. Why mention York Barbell? They’re just that reputable. York Barbell plates carry with them a legacy of many weight lifters before them. They are dedicated to being as precise as possible within 2% of their indicated weight. The plate itself has a unique design, with milled backing and edges that help to provide these plates with a smoother look than many others. A serious weight lifter can feel truly confident using York cast iron plates, or York machined plates, knowing that the weights are precise and attractive. Trusting yourself is an important step in determining whether or not you can handle making these purchasing decisions. No matter what choice you go for, the information provided here will make you well-aware of all the different choices you have.

Pick and Choose, Decide Your Fate

Deciding on the right type of metal barbell plate could determine the fate of your workouts. So why should you choose metal barbell plates for your workouts? These plates, no matter the type, offer a versatility not found in other pieces of weight lifting equipment. By climbing the ladder of accuracy, you can be more confident than other lifters that you are lifting the true weight. Not only that, but it can be easy to start with cast iron plates, the cheapest price point option. 

While machined plates offer more accuracy, IPF competition-style plates are the ultimate choice. They come at a higher cost, but with a greater sense of confidence. There are a variety of sources from which to purchase metal barbell plates, and it’s important to search for the plate type and a price point that’s right for you.

Depending on your level of commitment, some types of plates may be better for you than others. In conclusion, metal barbell plates will increase the effectiveness of your workouts. By choosing Olympic over standard plates, you can also increase stability during your workouts. There are so many options, but only one of them is right for you. If you’re out there seeking the ultimate fitness workout, include metal barbell plates in your routine. Start your new rigorous weight lifting routine today, and become a better lifter, and a stronger you. 

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