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How To Use Bumper Plates Like A Pro

Maybe you're new to lifting, or perhaps you've always just been a “bench press in the garage with your dad's old set of iron plates” kind of person. On behalf of Tru Grit and lifting enthusiasts everywhere, welcome to the wonderful world of lifting with bumper plates!

Aside from a whole new world of exercises, bumper plates also offer you the reliability, uniformity, and safety that iron plates traditionally lack. For being so common, there tends to be quite a bit of confusion regarding bumper plates vs iron plates, their function, and when/where to use them. If you have questions about bumper plates, don't worry, you're not alone.

Let's take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about bumper plates to get you familiarized with what a bumper plate is, how it works, and how to use it in your own workouts. By the end of this bumper plate FAQ article, you'll know how to use bumper plates like a pro!

What is the point of bumper plates?

So, what are bumper plates and what is their purpose? The short answer to this question is protection. Bumper plates were designed to be able to withstand impact without damaging whatever the plates made contact with.

Bumper plates help to protect the surfaces around where you are lifting, but they also help protect the weights and the barbell too. When iron plates are dropped the way athletes do with bumper plates, the weights shift and grind on the bar. Unlike iron plates, hi temp bumper plates bounce and spin, causing less friction between the weights and the bar protecting your equipment from prematurely degrading.  

Bumper plates are a great way to introduce rigidity and routine into your workout, which is especially important if you are training for an event, practicing for a competition, or even working toward a specific personal goal.

Are Bumper Plates Safe?

Bumper plates promote safety in two ways. First, they keep your equipment and the environment protected against the harsh damage that can easily occur with iron plates. Second, they keep the athlete safe by encouraging correct techniques and promoting proper lifting strategies.

Correct technique, also known as proper form, helps keep you safe from injury. When you use proper form, your body is able to move in a way that builds strength rather than causing injury.

Obviously, it is not the actual bumper plates that cause good form but rather the exercises which most commonly use bumper plates demand proper form in order to be executed to their fullest extent. It is for this reason that we can say bumper plates promote safety by encouraging proper form.

Just as the exercises that require bumper plates require good form, so too do these same exercises require a partner. A partner helps keep you safe from accidents ensuring that even if something goes wrong with your form, you have a failsafe who can help assist you.

Again, it is not the action of using bumper plates that requires a partner but instead the types of exercises where bumper plates are used where a partner is strongly encouraged.

How do bumper plates work?

A bumper plate is a type of weight that slips onto the sleeve of a barbell. Often called "bumpers" for short, bumper plates are of the smooth circle edge variety and are used as an industry standard in gyms across the world.

Bumper plates are a weight made with an iron core and hard rubber exterior. This allows the bumper plate to be used for exercises like squats, deadlifts, and power cleans, where the athlete often drops the weights on the floor at the end of the set.

Bumper plates can be dropped on the floor due to their rubber nature. Often bumper plates bounce when dropped. Even though they have a solid iron core, the rubber coating of bumper plates allows athletes to safely drop the weight-loaded barbell without harming the weights, the bar, or the surface of the floor.

How high will bumper plates bounce?

It's very possible that you read the first few sections and began to wonder about the bounciness of bumper plates. After all, they're made of rubber, right!?

It's true; bumper plates do have a little bit of rebound to them, but to call it a full "bounce" really isn't accurate. Bumper plates bounce the same way a baseball does if you drop it from your hand. It gives you a couple inches, maybe even a foot, and then it returns to the earth remaining relatively stationary.

Even though bumper plates are made from rubber, there are a few aspects of the design that keep them from bouncing wildly out of control.

The first is that bumper plates have an iron core. This iron core ensures that the vibration sent through the rubber upon impact with the ground is absorbed and controlled.  

Secondly, bumper plates are heavy! This means that gravity keeps bumper plates from bouncing too high. The more weight is on the barbell, the less the bumpers will bounce. It may be counterintuitive considering that more rubber usually means more bounce, but in this case, the additional rubber is not enough to outdo the effects of gravity.

If you're concerned about bumper plates bouncing out of control, don't be. You can safely use your bumper plates next to the wall in your garage without fear of the weights busting through the drywall on a rogue bounce.

Do bumper plates make lifting easier?

Bumper plates make the entire process of lifting weights easier...except for the part where you actually have to lift the weight. That part is still hard, but isn't that the whole point? No pain, no gain!

Here are some of the top ways using bumper plates makes lifting easier:

  • Bumper plates make lifting easier by adding uniformity and consistency to your workout...especially if you are using Olympic or competition plates. And yes, there is a difference between bumper plates vs Olympic plates.
  • Bumper plates make lifting easier by helping your weights last longer. Durability is something every serious lifter craves from their weights, and quality bumpers are made to last.

Is it okay to drop bumper plates on concrete?

In the same way, your bumpers are not going to hurt the surface you drop them on, the surface your bumpers make contact with is not going to harm the plates. Bumper plates can be used on all sorts of surfaces, making them the ideal plate option for those who don't have the luxury of a well-padded gym floor.

For those who are training in an outdoor area, it should be noted that bumper plates can be easily cleaned. A quick wipe with a damp towel is all it takes to remove dirt and debris from the surface of your bumper plates. Make sure you dry them well so as to avoid any rusting on the iron core.

Can you squat with bumper plates?

Before we understand whether or not we can squat with bumper plates, we first have to identify which kind of squat we're doing.

Many serious lifters prefer doing squats in a rack as doing so allows them to focus on form, knowing that the rack is there to serve as a spotter should they need help.

However, there are a large group of athletes who prefer the challenge of reckless squats, in which case bumper plates are the preferred choice over iron plates.

When performing a squat outside of a rack, the athlete often drops the weight behind or in front of them, indicating that such a maneuver is one best suited for the durability of bumper plates.

Is it okay to bench with bumper plates?

It is absolutely okay to bench press with bumper plates. Certain bench press purists hate the idea of benching with bumpers, but it's only due to their own personal preferences.

One good rule of thumb is to avoid mixing bumper plates and iron plates. Mixing iron plates and bumper plates can lead to mistakes in how much weight you add, damage to the equipment, and other avoidable errors.

Should you deadlift with bumper plates?

The deadlift is one of the most common exercises to engage in while using bumper plates. The deadlift requires an athlete to lift as much weight as possible and hold it for a specified amount of time.

Once the athlete is finished with the lift and hold, they are allowed to drop the weight. Obviously, this is the perfect job for bumper plates!

If an athlete were to attempt a deadlift with iron plates, the athlete would risk potential damage to the equipment, the gym, and even themselves.

If you're going to deadlift, you best be sure that you have bumper plates on your barbell.

Time To Get Bumpin'

Now that you're totally familiar with bumper plates and their function, you can start incorporating them into your workout. If you're still faced with the problem of needing bumper plates, don't worry, Tru Grit has you covered!

Our selection of premium bumper plates ensures that you can customize your at-home gym or industrial workout facility, with a wide variety of bumper plates for every possible scenario. Whether you're just beginning your lifting journey, opening a gym, or setting up a garage workout station, Tru Grit has the perfect bumper plates for you.

Bumper plates are a great way to optimize your workout and add lifting exercises that incorporate your entire body. It's no wonder bumper plates are a staple in every gym; they truly are the gateway to learning how to lift the right way. Happy lifting!

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