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Thread: Urethane vs rubber bumper plates

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    107

    Default Urethane vs rubber bumper plates

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    I may be building a home gym in the near future. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of urethane and rubber bumper plates? Here's what I've come up with through a little online reading:

    Urethane plates
    • don't smell
    • are typically narrower by weight, so you don't need to worry about running out of space on the sleeves for your heavy deadlifts
    • are much more durable. You can load one urethane bumper followed by 45lb iron plates of a slightly smaller diameter and not wreck the bumper plates' centre ring
    • have a slicker surface, making it much easier to lose your grip and drop one on your foot
    • are typically calibrated to much tighter tolerances, typically within 1-2% of the stated weight (or so they say...)
    • are more expensive

    Rubber plates
    • smell
    • are typically wider by weight
    • are not as durable, in particular meaning you will eventually wreck the centre ring if you load iron plates of a smaller diameter beside them (I've seen this happen in gyms, but I don't know if any single lifter at home would be capable of destroying a bumper plate in the same way over any time frame which mattered)
    • have a grippier surface making them easier to hold onto
    • are typically not calibrated to anywhere near the tolerances of urethane plates
    • are cheaper

    Does anyone have any other thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    North Texas
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    53,420

    Default

    That's pretty complete. We call the rubber plates "composition" plates, as they are made from tires.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    132

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MWM View Post
    I may be building a home gym in the near future. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of urethane and rubber bumper plates? Here's what I've come up with through a little online reading:

    Urethane plates
    • don't smell
    • are typically narrower by weight, so you don't need to worry about running out of space on the sleeves for your heavy deadlifts
    • are much more durable. You can load one urethane bumper followed by 45lb iron plates of a slightly smaller diameter and not wreck the bumper plates' centre ring
    • have a slicker surface, making it much easier to lose your grip and drop one on your foot
    • are typically calibrated to much tighter tolerances, typically within 1-2% of the stated weight (or so they say...)
    • are more expensive

    Rubber plates
    • smell
    • are typically wider by weight
    • are not as durable, in particular meaning you will eventually wreck the centre ring if you load iron plates of a smaller diameter beside them (I've seen this happen in gyms, but I don't know if any single lifter at home would be capable of destroying a bumper plate in the same way over any time frame which mattered)
    • have a grippier surface making them easier to hold onto
    • are typically not calibrated to anywhere near the tolerances of urethane plates
    • are cheaper

    Does anyone have any other thoughts?
    I think I started running out of room with rubber plates around ~400lbs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    270

    Default

    During the 2020 imprisonment I bought some used Hi Temp bumpers (45's) for a great price locally (no shipping). I don't have a set of bumpers but I needed two 45's and everything was scarce so I bought them.

    They have no smell and are slightly wider. They have functioned well for me mixing them on the bar with iron. I'm at no risk of filling up a barbell and I don't toss any loaded bar to the platform so I could see them lasting a long time, like forever.
    They are slightly smaller in diameter than my 60 year old milled York 45's and The Strength Co. 45's which actually makes the Hi Temp easier to load over the iron plates when deadlifting.

    All additional plates I have purchased since have been Strength Co and they are top of the line equipment. I have not priced bumpers but unless you really need them for your type of training I would recommend The Strength Co iron for home gym use. They will definitely last forever.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
    Posts
    527

    Default

    I don't think all the rubber ones are made from recycled tires. Some are listed as virgin rubber. With a cursory look at for the same weight goes urethane > virgin rubber > recycled rubber, thinnest to thickest. I would suspect that weight tolerance and durability are on a similar spectrum.

    When the Age of House Arrest began, the only plates I could get right away were a major brand's virgin rubber plates, and they have never had a noticeable odor for me.

    I'm guessing smell is a consequence of the recycling process, like with stall mats. (Even those, while coming with an odor, weren't very bad or noticeable for very long, at least for me.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Posts
    1,900

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    Unless you're focusing on the Olympic lifts, I second what Lost and Found said above.

    Similarly, I was building my gym during the lockdowns (frustrating, because I had planned on building my home gym in 2020 for a couple of years). Unlike Lost and Found, I started with collecting the Strength Co plates (the best you can get for a home gym at a reasonable price). Once I reached the point where I needed to add another pair of 45s, I went with the American Barbell urethane 45's, which measure just a touch above 450mm and are pretty spot-on the listed weight. They had a bit of a smell for a couple of weeks, but I don't notice anymore. Those bumpers are first on the bar, closest to the collar during any cleans or deadlifts, but I try not to slam the weights down on the platform.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2023
    Posts
    247

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    I have cheap rubber plates from X Training. I actually miss the smell. It went away after about a month.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    215

    Default

    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by MWM View Post
    I may be building a home gym in the near future. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of urethane and rubber bumper plates? Here's what I've come up with through a little online reading:

    Urethane plates
    • don't smell
    • are typically narrower by weight, so you don't need to worry about running out of space on the sleeves for your heavy deadlifts
    • are much more durable. You can load one urethane bumper followed by 45lb iron plates of a slightly smaller diameter and not wreck the bumper plates' centre ring
    • have a slicker surface, making it much easier to lose your grip and drop one on your foot
    • are typically calibrated to much tighter tolerances, typically within 1-2% of the stated weight (or so they say...)
    • are more expensive

    Rubber plates
    • smell
    • are typically wider by weight
    • are not as durable, in particular meaning you will eventually wreck the centre ring if you load iron plates of a smaller diameter beside them (I've seen this happen in gyms, but I don't know if any single lifter at home would be capable of destroying a bumper plate in the same way over any time frame which mattered)
    • have a grippier surface making them easier to hold onto
    • are typically not calibrated to anywhere near the tolerances of urethane plates
    • are cheaper

    Does anyone have any other thoughts?

    Yes, you can't have more than 180kg on the bar if you use rubber discs.

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