Bumper plates take a beating, so it’s no wonder they need to be replaced. But, when it comes to replacement, how do you evaluate which ones are best for your gym? “Usually, where a bumper plate is starting to fail is when you start to see cracks coming outside of the rings,” said Scott Keyser, the owner of CrossFit Stevens Point in Plover, Wisconsin. “For me right now it’s all about durability versus price. I had bought some lower-end bumper plates before and the center rings always seem to come loose or there’s a lot of cracking because we do drop a lot of weight.”
He noted that by instructing his athletes not to drop bars less than 55 or 65 pounds, 55 pounds being on a women’s bar, it can take strain off of the plates. “We try to instill in our athletes that we want to maintain a good-quality gym with good-quality products and the best that they can do [is] not to drop things they don’t have to,” said Keyser. “If you’ve got 25-pound plates and a 10-pound plate on each side, and it’s dropped, it doesn’t hurt them as much as it would if it was just the 10s, because they’re just so much thinner.”
Keyser admitted his favorite bumper plate is Rogue’s Hi-Temp. “When I needed to drop $20,000 on equipment across the board … I did price it all out and I did ask a lot of questions about warranties and service and shipping, etc.,” he said. “Some people like Again Faster, some people like Rogue. It’s really more of a personal preference, but at the end of the day … I’m more of a service-oriented guy, and that’s how we run our business. We focus on service and I want to partner up with companies that have the same reputation as I like to instill.”
For his Box, the 10-pound Hi-Temp is a staple. “If an athlete is just working strictly with the 10-pound plates and they’re dropped, then they tend to bend, so most of my athletes will use a more firm, ridged 10 pounder,” he said. “But when it comes to the quality of it, the Hi-Temps Rogue are the best.”
However, Keyser said Olympic lifting plates could be a huge benefit, as they are thinner and enable more weight to be piled on bars. “The other issue that you run into is if you’ve got a big class, and you’re doing a lot of heavy work — especially on deadlifts and things — you can only get with the Hi-Temp bumper plates … maybe a maximum of 500 pounds on a bar unless you’ve got a deadlift bar, because they’re much, much thicker,” he said. Yet, the cost of Olympic plates can be about two times that of Hi-Temps.
Your Box’s demographic is one way to evaluate bumper plates. For example, if your gym has more of a powerhouse feel, Olympic plates might be your best bet.
Still, Keyser said it is about quality. “Athletes want nice stuff,” he said. “They don’t want cheap stuff because they’re paying a premium for the membership as well.”