Bumper plates have gained immense popularity among weightlifters due to their durability, versatility, and ease of use. They are especially popular among those who are into competitive weight training. These plates consist of a hard iron or steel core and have a rubber coating encompassing it.
If you are new to weight training or are an Olympic weightlifter whose move ends with dropping the weight from an overhead position, bumper plates will save your day. Even if they come down with a thud, these plates do not damage the floor or make a loud, deafening noise.
Athletes also claim that bumper plates feel lighter and easier to lift. Although it does not sound very feasible that an iron plate and bumper plate of the same weight can impact the strength required to lift the weight, a few scientific phenomena justify why bumper plates are easier to lift.
This article will clear your misconceptions about bumper plates being lighter. You will also understand why athletes find it easier to lift bumper plates.
Are Bumper Plates Lighter?
Bumper plates are not lighter than steel or iron plates. An iron plate and bumper plate of the same weight measure precisely the same if they are measured.
A bumper plate, however, looks bigger than an iron plate. Bumper weights have a steel or iron core which is covered by a layer of thick, dense rubber. As a result, they are more voluptuous as compared to iron plates. Nevertheless, that has nothing to do with the weight of the plates.
There are a few phenomena that make it easier for athletes to lift bumper plates. This imparts the impression that bumper plates are lighter than iron or steel plates of the same weight.
Hence, bumper plates are not lighter. It is just a matter of perception.
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Are Bumper Plates Easier To Lift?
Bumper plates are significantly easier to lift than weight plates made of steel or iron. People prefer bumper plates to iron plates because they are encapsulated in a dense sheath of rubber. This acts as a layer of insulation and absorbs shock when the plates are dropped.
When you are deadlifting and push yourself beyond your capacity, you can drop the bumper plates from an overhead position without worrying about damaging the floor. The rubber coating acts as a layer of insulation and absorbs most of the shock when the plates are slammed. Bumper plates also allow you to enjoy a noise-free workout session.
Bumpers are ridiculously thick, so they take more space and induce more bending of the bars. They have better tolerance. They work the best when they are used in combination with deadlift bars. This whippiness makes it easier for the athlete to perform deadlifts using bumper plates.
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Why Do Bumper Plates Feel Lighter?
Bumper plates have a colossal structure, yet they feel lighter and easier to lift than steel or iron plates. This, however, has nothing to do with the weight of the bumper plate. The massive structure is due to the additional layer of rubber. The rubber insulation only adds to the volume; it has no impact on the weight.
As has been mentioned above, the bending of the bar makes it easier to lift bumper plates. The bending of the bar is a result of adding weight plates on both its ends. A force acts on the point where the weight plates are positioned away from the central position.
There are two ways in which an athlete can gain a larger momentum. Torque is the product of the force exerted and the distance of the weight from the axis or center. Therefore, one can either place the weight plates further away from the center or add heavier plates. The further you position the plates, the greater the momentum will be.
When bumper plates are stacked one after the other on a bar, the thickness of the bumper plates causes the force to be exerted further away from the axis, i.e., your hand. This, in turn, increases the torque.
The larger the moment, the more will be the deflection of the bar. Due to the deflection of the bar, while using bumper weights, you can attain the lockout position while lifting the same weight but for less distance.
As your bumper plates are closer to the ground, an athlete has to put in comparatively lesser mechanical labor. Hence, bumper plates feel lighter when lifted.
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This discussion reminds us of a common riddle we came across as children: “Which is lighter, a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?”
There are scientific reasons in support of the fact that bumper plates feel lighter than iron plates when lifted. Alongside being infused with amazing features like being less noisy and absorbing shock, bumper plates also make lifting a little effortless.
Therefore, bumper plates are suitable for everyone ranging from beginners in weightlifting to those involved in competitive lifting.