Bumper Plates vs. Iron Plates: Which One is Better?

Having to choose between iron plates and bumper plates for weightlifting can be very challenging.

Requirements vary from person to person. For example, some people might need weight plates that won’t burn a hole in their pockets. On the other hand, others might need less noisy weight plates for their home gym.

Iron or steel plates have a body that is made of metal. Although they are cheaper, they can make your heart skip a beat if dropped accidentally. Bumpers have a core made of steel or iron. The core is secured inside a shock-proof layer of rubber that keeps the plates from making a rattling noise when an athlete drops them from an overhead position.

Both iron and bumper plates have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. This article draws a thorough comparison between the two and reveals how both are advantageous in their own ways. This will also help you make an informed decision!

Bumper Plates vs Iron Plates

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What’s The Difference Between Bumper Plates And Steel Plates?

The differences between iron/steel plates and bumper plates are quite remarkable. The most striking difference between them is their appearance. While iron/steel weight plates are dense, compact, and heavy, bumper plates are coated in a rubber sheath, imparting immense volume.

Have a look at the table below to note the key differences between steel/iron plates and bumper plates.

Key Differences


Steel/Iron Plates

Bumper Plates


Made entirely out of iron or steel

Steel or iron core with rubber coating






More volume










Suitable for competitive lifting






Impact on flooring

Brutal; Might crack the floor

Forgiving; The rubber absorbs most of the shock

If you are looking for plates for a quiet workout session at home, you should buy a bumper plate. However, if you are tight on budget, go for iron plates.

Bumper Plates vs. Steel Plates: Head-to-Head Comparison


Bumper Plates: In terms of durability, bumper plates gain an edge over iron plates. The rubber coating prevents direct contact with air and moisture and curbs the accumulation of rust on the iron/steel core.

Iron Plates: These plates do not have an additional protective layer. Therefore, when iron plates are dropped, they come in direct contact with the floor. This increases the risk of the plates getting damaged. Iron plates also catch rust easily.

Width & Density

Bumper Plates: Iron is denser than rubber. Bumper plates mostly consist of rubber. As the width of rubber plates is responsible for their density, bumper plates are much wider than iron plates.

Iron Plates: As iron is denser, only a small quantity of iron can make up for a massive volume of rubber that is required to make a bumper plate of a given weight. Therefore, iron plates are thinner.

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Bumper Plates: Rubber bumper plates are designed in such a way that they can be dropped from an overhead position. The rubber covering the iron or steel core acts as a shock absorber. Also, since they are wide, the pressure gets equally distributed over a larger area on the floor.

Iron Plates: Iron plates are thin. When dropped, the pressure is concentrated on a single point on the floor. As a result, the floor might crack. It also makes a loud, rattling noise when it comes in contact with the ground.

Lifting Experience

Bumper Plates: Bumper plates feel easier to lift. As they are wider than iron plates, they induce considerable bending on the bar. This wobbliness reduces the amount of mechanical effort that an athlete has to put while lifting bumper plates.

Iron Plates: When you are working out using an iron plate, the bar does not show any kind of deflection and stays rigid. It takes more effort to lift iron plates than bumper plates.


Bumper Plates: The price of bumper weights is slightly on the higher end. For instance, a pair of 25 lbs Rogue US-MIL Spec Bumper Plates costs $87.50, and a pair of 25 lbs LB Competition Plates costs $203. A pair of CAP Barbell Bumper Plates also costs $139.99

Iron Plates: If you are low on budget, working out using iron plates is your forte! A pair of Rogue Fitness Steel Plates weighing around 25 lbs costs $84.00. A single CAP Barbell Standard Cast Iron Plates weighing 25 lbs is priced at $37.45.

Benefits of Bumper Plates

The following reasons will justify why buying bumper plates is a better and safer option:

  • They are quiet: As bumper plates have a thick, dense rubber coating around the iron core, it is well insulated. This absorbs the shock when the bumper plates come down with a thud and ensures a quiet, noise-free workout session.
  • They can absorb shock when dropped from a height: The molecules of rubber have a long-chain structure. The secondary force between them is also feeble. This imparts the shock-absorbing and cushioning property to rubber. As a result, when you drop a bumper plate on the floor, it will not incur any damage to the floor, the plates, and the bar.
  • They are available in bright, vibrant colors: Who does not like to use quirky gym equipment and add sass to their workout sessions? The iron or steel core of bumper plates is encapsulated in vibrant and radiant rubber sheaths. They will jazz your workout environment up and energize you!
  • They are better in terms of durability: Bumper plates last longer than iron plates. In bumper plates, the iron or steel core lies underneath a rubber covering. It does not come in direct contact with air or moisture, and therefore, does not acquire rust. The rubber insulation also protects it against any kind of damage.
  • They seem easier to lift: Bumper plates induce a bend on the bars. This whippiness makes it easier for athletes to lift bumper plates. This is why bumper plates are used for competitive lifting.

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Benefits of Iron Plates

Stated below are some of the benefits of using iron plates:

  • They take up less space than bumper plates: Bumper plates are more voluptuous, covered in a thick layer of rubber. On the other hand, iron plates are lean and sleek. As iron is denser than rubber, a small volume of iron can weigh the same as rubber of greater magnitude. Therefore, if your home gym is not very spacious, you should stick to iron plates.
  • They are cheaper: Iron plates are available at affordable rates. If you are low on budget, you can go for iron plates.
  • They are easier to grab: Iron weight plates have a sleek design. They are narrower than bumper plates. Therefore, they are easy to grab and can easily be hoisted up on the bars.
  • They boost your motivation: Lifting iron plates can release a gush of adrenaline and make you feel motivated. They are age-old, primitive equipment that are used for weight training.

When Should You Use Bumper Plates?

When Should You Use Bumper Plates

Bumper plates are mainly popular among CrossFit or Olympic weightlifters who often have to lift hefty weights and push themselves to their extreme.

The weights that competitive weightlifters lift are extremely heavy. If they try to bring down the weights from the overhead position, they might be at risk of spraining their wrists. Therefore, they have to drop the bumper plates from a height.

The rubber insulation of bumper plates absorbs the shock and protects the floor against damage.

Bumper plates are also a popular choice among those who want to haul equipment for their home gym. As bumper plates ensure a noise-free workout experience, you can lift weights in your garage gym without scaring your family members with the deafening noise of iron plates being dropped.

They are also good for beginners who have not mastered the art of lifting weights and are at risk of dropping the plates. Bumper plates will help to avert any injury.

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When Should You Use Iron Plates?

When Should You Use Iron Plates

Iron plates are the most common kind of weight plates. You will find them in your neighborhood or college gym.

If you want to have a primitive feel in your workout, you should opt for iron plates. Some athletes also find lifting iron plates instills a sense of motivation and propels them to shred like a beast.

Iron weight plates are also narrower, which makes it easier to grab or store them. Therefore, if you have a space crunch, iron weight plates can cater to your requirement of weight training equipment that does not take up a lot of space.

What Is Better Steel Plates Or Bumper Plates?

After a thorough comparison of both the products, we can conclude that:

  • If you want to haul a weight plate for your home gym, bumper plates are a great option to resort to. They let you exercise in silence. You also do not harm your floor; this saves you from the cost of damage-proofing your home or garage gym floor.
  • Iron plates are more conventional. They are mostly used by powerlifters who want a nerve-ripping workout experience. They are sturdy; they do not induce bar bending or make the bar wobbly. They are also cheaper and do not go harsh on your pocket.


Hope this gives you a thorough idea about the two different types of weight plates.

If you are counting on beginners’ luck, or are a competitive weightlifter, go for bumper plates. Nevertheless, if you are looking for something that you can use every day at the gym, an iron plate should suffice for your needs.

Choose the one that suits you the best!