Bumper Plates vs. Competition Plates

What’s going on, Fringe Fam? Today, we’re talking bumper plates: competition plates vs standard bumper plates, to be exact. Jason Inoue is here with us to take us through the differences between these two kinds of plates (of many) we offer.


Let’s start with competition plates.

bumper plates vs competition plates


The biggest difference you’ll notice visibly right away is the big, metal insert in the center. These plates are specifically designed for snatching and clean and jerks. When we say “competition bumpers,” we mean that these plates are designed for use in weightlifting competitions.


So, why use competition plates for weightlifting?


First, they offer a super dead bounce, are extremely durable, and the weight tolerance.


Because of the steel inserts and their durability, competition plates will likely last you a lifetime in your home gym. (For real!) But, for competition weightlifting, these bumpers take a lot of drops in both training and in meets.


The durometer of these plates are 90 to 95 sHA, so when you drop it from overhead, the weight will drop dead and not roll away from you or bounce back up really high.

bumper plates vs competition plates


The competition plate tends to be much thinner than a regular bumper plate, sitting at 2.15 inches, or 55mm so you can get a lot more of the competition plates on a barbell than you can with regular bumpers. A regular bumper plate, in thickness, is generally going to sit around 2.9 inches for a regular 45lb plate.


The weight tolerance has to be super strict with competition bumper plates because they’re used for just that. The tolerance is going to be as high as +.1% all the way down to -.05%, so when stamped with 45lbs, these bumpers are going to likely be right there at 45lbs, whereas regular bumper plates are going to have a larger weight tolerance.


Typically, you’ll buy competition bumpers for your garage gym as a one-time investment (you heard that right!) to be used primarily for clean and jerks and snatching, but they can really be used for anything.


Let’s move on to a standard bumper plate.

bumper plates vs competition plates


Pictured is one of our favorites, our contrast plates. It’s the same weight as the 45lb competition bumper plate. Again, you’re going to see a difference in thickness: 2.9 inches vs. 2.15 inches, so you’re not going to be able to get as many regular bumper plates on your barbell as you might when using competition plates.


As far as durability goes, durability is still going to be high with a regular bumper plate, such as our contrast plates, but not as high as a competition plate. The durometer on the regular bumper is about 85, so still a super hard rubber, still dead bounce, but not as hard of a rubber as is used in a competition plate. Our Milspec plates also feature around the same durometer: the 10s and 15s are 90 sHA; the 25, 35, 45 and 55 pound bumpers are 85 sHA. Milspec bumper plates are an awesome choice for long-lasting, durable and dead bounce bumper plates for your garage gym.


The weight tolerance in regular bumper plates is different as well. We’ve talked about how the competition bumper plate is going to be around +/- .1%, sitting very close to 45lbs, and a regular bumper plate is going to settle around +/- 1%. Still super accurate, but not as accurate as a competition plate because the competition plates must meet IWF standards.


bumper plates


So, what we have here is two different bumper plates. Both can be used for virtually anything, with the same warranty. If you’re dropping (or not dropping) your plates in your garage gym, both the contrast bumper plate and competition plates are going to be great options. The competition plates are really geared towards clean and jerk and snatching, and regular bumper plates are more of an all-purpose plate that can be used for any type of lifting, anywhere.


Pricewise, the standard plate we’ve been talking about is our contrast plate, so it’s going to be a little more than a standard black bumper, but you’re going to spend quite a bit more on the competition plate. That’s because the competition plates are calibrated to meet IWF standards, have a sturdy steel insert, and the durability-factor on the competition plate is much higher.


If you like what you see here, comment below and let us know your thoughts! If you’re interested in getting some plates of your own, send us an email at team@fringesport.com and we can help you find the best plates for you and your garage gym.


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