How to Choose the Right Bumper Plate

Evolution Bumper Plate, Barbell drop
/ Aug 17, 2023
Eric Botsford

The choice of which bumper plate to bring into your home or commercial gym is an important one. These inanimate objects, standard in weight and relative dimension, vary greatly in their overall performance and durability. Again Faster is here to help you choose the types of bumper plates that are best for you, whether you're a competitive weightlifter, garage gym warrior, or commercial gym owner. There are many variations of rubber bumper plates but we will focus on four high-quality bumper plate options that suit most applications.

Before we go into the weight plates, it's worth taking a step back and identifying what makes the RIGHT type of bumper plate for you and your situation and what makes a GOOD bumper plate, period.

  • Weight and Thickness - Important because it affects how well the plate will hold up over the course of thousands of lifts and drops. Thicker weights take up more space and fewer can fit on a bar. Thinner weights are denser and bounce less.
  • Construction Material - Important for the amount of use you will put them through. All the bumpers we will review are made of dense rubber, offering lower noise levels than iron plates. But the difference in rubber types affects cost and longevity.
  • Brand Reputation - Again Faster has been making fitness equipment since 2006 and has our products dialed in. For some consumers, economical bumpers may be attractive but the construction is not proven and you may waste time later on with warranties and broken plates just because you wanted to save money upfront.
  • Plate Design - A small design component of a beveled edge can make moving weights around much easier. The construction material makes plates stack higher than others and others lower so you can get more on a weight stack. And just as I mentioned earlier, the thickness can affect how much can be loaded on a bar or machine.
  • Warranties - Defects happen and unforeseen problems can come up. We are dealing with weights, after all. Most of which are dropped or slammed on the ground repeatedly in classes.

Let's dive into our selection of bumper plates and decide which bumper plate is right for your needs.

Performance Bumper Plate

The Performance Bumper Plate is a wonderful place to begin your research. It is a solid virgin and recycled rubber plate that lands right in the sweet spot for thickness and price. Perfect for commercial gyms and garage gyms, these plates load four wide on a standard power bar for Olympic lifts and are easily moved with a beveled edge.

In the drop test, these are second only to the Evolution Bumper plates in their "deadness". This means they bounce very little and are good for competitive folks that don't want the bar walking away from them on high-rep workouts. The downside of this bumper plate is its longevity. Due to its hard rubber construction, I have seen weakening of the collar and the interior rubber itself over time. After a few thousand drops and years in the gym, I have seen them crack and the collar gets loose. But for the price, it's worth the gamble.

Key Points:

  • Economical plate for first-time gym owners
  • Perfect for powerlifting gym
  • Least amount of bounce
  • Shortest lifespan

Crumb Rubber Bumper Plate

These are the workhorses of the commercial gym industry. Embodying the design, functionality, accessibility, and price; these bumpers are the way to go whether you are building your first gym or your 10th.

Crumb Bumpers, made from recycled, vulcanized rubber, bounce the most. As the name implies, the construction is not solid but melds thousands of rubber pieces together to create the design. For gyms that do high rep, high-intensity workouts and drop plates A LOT, this is the plate for you. You can be assured that the collar life will last due to the shock absorption of the rubber, and your neighbors won't be complaining about the excess noise coming from the facility.

Because of the thickness, there is a limit to how many will fit on an Olympic barbell or a machine. Also, the identification of the 45s and 35s and 15s, and 10s can be a bit confusing for athletes who are just grabbing plates to load the bar. But they are "softer" than solid rubber plates and, therefore, more accessible for athletes who are new to Olympic weightlifting.

Do you lift on turf? Well, the Crumb Bumper is going to be the plate that doesn't beat up your turf as badly as some of its harder rubber cousins. You can take them to the park even and the wider width won't make massive divots in the grass like the solid rubber plates.

From a pricing perspective, they tend to be a little more expensive but pay dividends when it comes to longevity.

Key Points:

  • Perfect for high-use commercial gyms
  • Bigger bounce regardless of your flooring
  • Won't tear up your turf
  • Slightly thicker plate
  • Good grip for ease of movement

Evolution Bumper Plate

Gym equipment design and aesthetics are important in commercial gyms. You want your members to feel like they are using premium pieces of equipment that feel as good as they look. The Evolution Bumper plate checks these boxes. From a construction perspective, the solid rubber makeup and thickness make it sleek and durable. Though it is solid rubber, the exterior coating makes it easy to move, even without the beveled edge. They stack neatly (for you OCD folks out there) and the contrasting white logos on the black finish ensure there is never any mix-up on what size plate is on the bar or machine.

Plus, black goes with any gym concept. If you are looking to revamp your current supply of Olympic weight plates, you won't have to change the design aesthetic or have random colored bumpers ending up in your plate stacks.

The drop test is nice on this bumper. You won't have bars bouncing all over the place but the rubber is slightly softer than the Performance Bumper Plate. So for economics, construction, and premium look and feel, the Evolution Black Bumper Plates are the winner.

Key Points:

  • Premium feel but fits any design aesthetic
  • Good grip for ease of movement
  • Medium bounce
  • Long-lasting

Evolution Color Bumper Plate

All the same features and applications as the Evolution Bumper Plate, but with vibrant colors, colored plates offer a premium look that is highly desirable in high-end and specialty markets like Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting.

In my years as a gym owner and touring facilities all over the world, I can say gyms that have neat and tidy stacks of color bumpers on platforms and in the classroom can charge more for monthly memberships as well as keep athletes coming back more. It is a small touch that classes up the place and makes everyday members and visitors understand that the ownership is making an attempt to provide the best equipment necessary.

For home use, the Evolution Color Bumper Plates are amazing. Impress your family and friends and simply enjoy the space you are training more when you buy this weight training plate. As well, in the garage gym application, plates get mixed around more frequently and the hits of color can help you in a pinch when changing weights.

So higher on the price point but worth every penny, especially for gym owners.

Key Points:

  • Great for high-end and specialty gyms
  • Can help increase customer retention
  • Higher resale value
  • Built for durability
  • Smooth texture, but the grip is good

Use this guide to help with your next purchase. Look at how you will be using the plates over the course of the next few years and make the choice based on that rather than only looking at the sticker price.

Good Luck, and go LIFT!