Rubber vs. Iron Plates (which should you buy?)

Fringe Fam, do you know when to use metal, and when to use rubber plates on your bar and why? This blog and the above video dives into the details and can help you make a decision for your garage gym gear.

What’s the difference between rubber and iron plates? You probably see conflicting opinions all over the internet making fun of people who use bumper plates (which we definitely don't condone) or saying that iron plates are the only way to go… and we’re going to break that down for you.

1. Iron plates tend to cost less

To start, the biggest difference between rubber and iron plates is that iron plates tend to be cheaper. Yes, there are tons of iron plates out there, and some can be super expensive, but in general, iron plates are less expensive than rubber plates. A 10lb rubber plate and a 10lb iron plate weigh exactly the same amount, and are both going to get you the gainz you’re looking for.

If you’re on a budget, iron is a solid way to go to get some weight on your bar in your garage gym, and nobody can blame you for that.

2. Iron and rubber plates are different sizes in diameter

The second difference between rubber and iron plates is the size difference in diameter. All rubber bumper plates are the same diameter across all weights, and iron plates vary in diameter. The reason for this is that rubber plates are designed to fit on the bar and hold the bar at the proper height for a deadlift or starting position for an Olympic lift, a snatch and clean and jerk. Iron plates are used much less frequently in those movements, so they vary in their width.

3. Their width and density

The third difference between iron and rubber plates is that iron plates tend to be denser and thinner on the bar, and thus tend to be preferred by powerlifters who are moving massive weights. Rubber plates, because they’re made out of rubber, tend to sit more widely on the bar because they get their density from their width.

4. Rubber is much quieter when in use and when dropped

The fourth difference between rubber and iron plates is that rubber plates are much quieter on the bar, and if you’re lifting in a garage gym (or even a commercial gym), this is huge because you won’t hear the iron clatter when you’re moving weight. You might love that sound like PK does, but we know your family inside your house, your neighbors next door, or even down the street probably don’t appreciate it as much.

5. Rubber is meant to be dropped

The fifth difference between rubber and iron plates is that rubber plates are designed to be dropped, and iron plates are not. Whether you have a concrete floor, a drop pad, some rubber on the floor, it’s never a great idea to be dropping iron weights as it can damage the floor, the bar, or even the weights themselves. The last thing you want is to crack your precious metal plates.

6. Rubber can do everything iron can... but better

The sixth, and final, difference between rubber and iron plates is that rubber plates can do everything iron plates can, but iron plates cannot do everything that rubber plates can do. If you’ve got the room in your budget and space in your garage or commercial gym for rubber bumper plates, we highly recommend and encourage you to go for rubber bumper plates over iron. You get all of the benefits of iron plates, but even a little bit more with a rubber plate.

Have questions about which kind of plate would work best for you and your garage gym? Let us know in the comments below, send us an email at, or send us a message in our chat on our site. We're here to help you improve your life through strength, and that starts in your garage or community gym. 

As always: lift heavy, lift happy :)

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