With bumper plate options more than covered across the Internet (here included), I figured it was time to tackle the options for standard weight plates, coated plates, and powerlifting discs. In this guide I’ll cover multiple styles, numerous brands, and offer up enough product examples for you to be able to evaluate any brand or style of plate you happen to stumble upon in your quest for iron.
If you know of a good set of plates not listed here, feel free to comment. We don’t so much need to hear about any more of the cheap plates though. If I listed every Body Solid, VTX, Weider, and X-Mark plate on the market this page would crash your browser.
- Simple Cast Iron Plates ($)
- Machined Cast Iron Plates ($$)
- Calibrated IPF Powerlifting Discs ($$$$)
- Rubber/Urethane Coated Plates ($$)
Cast Iron Plates – Cheap and Inaccurate
Purchasing basic, cast iron plates is the cheapest way to load up on weight plates in a gym. Cast iron can be had new for as little as ~$1 a pound; both in chain stores and online. Make some effort to find them used and you can pay as little as $.50 per pound.
Whether you buy new or used you’ll want to keep one thing in mind, cheap cast Iron plates are known to be wildly inaccurate. Some of the cheaper brands and styles can deviate from the stated weight by 5-10%; brands like CAP Barbell for instance. Matter of fact, these kind of inaccuracies are going to be hard to avoid unless you upgrade to machined plates.
Online prices are competitive, but you generally still have to pay for shipping for all but the shittiest of plates. This is what makes at least checking the box stores appealing. If you do plan to buy cast iron plates in a local store you absolutely must bring a scale with you. It’s unlikely that you’ll find plates that are the stated weight, but you can at least try to make sure that each pair of plates you buy are the same weight. It seems better to have a pair of 47-lb plates than a 41-lb and a 48.5-lb plate, right?
Price Comparisons (45-pound pair)
Rep Fitness Basic Cast Iron Plates
Basic cast iron sold in pairs or sets. 3% accuracy guarantee. Best internet price for plates with any accuracy guarantee.
Pair of 45’s: $80
Rogue Basic Cast Iron Plates
Basic cast iron with black finish and silver lettering. No accuracy guarantee, 100-lb plates available, sold in pairs.
Pair of 45’s: $105
CAP Barbell OP Cast Iron Plates
Basic cast iron with black finish and silver lettering. No accuracy guarantee, 100-lb plates available, potentially found in box-stores to avoid shipping, sold individually.
Pair of 45’s: $110
Champion Cast Iron Grip Plates
Basic cast iron plates with black enamel finish and multiple hand grips. No accuracy guarantee, sold individually.
Pair of 45’s: $110
Troy USA Model O Cast Iron Plates
Basic cast iron plates with milled edges and grey enamel. No accuracy guarantee, 100-lb plates available, sold individually.
Pair of 45’s: $102
VTX Model GO Cast Iron Plates
Basic cast iron with rust-resistant baked enamel finish, precision drilled hole, and handles. 100-pound plate available, sold individually.
Pair of 45’s: $160
CAP Barbell OPHG3 12-Sided Plates
Basic cast iron plates with 12-sides and handles. Has grey enamel finish, no accuracy guarantee, and sold individually. Stick with round plates though.
Pair of 45’s: $176
There are countless brands & models of simple, cast iron plates out there. Honestly these cheap, inaccurate plates are so easy to find used that I think you’re throwing your money away by buying them new. If you care about accuracy even a little bit then you’re throwing your money away by buying them at all. You should be looking at machined or milled cast iron, which I’ll cover next.
Non-Calibrated, Machined Cast Iron Plates
While still not accurate enough to be considered ‘precise’, non-calibrated, machined plates tend to be far more accurate than the cheap plates from the previous section. Machining or milling plates leads to a more refined product. The final weight is easier to control, as are tolerances to both the center hole and overall diameter.
If you’re not willing to drop the cash for calibrated powerlifting discs, but you would still like to have a fairly good idea of how much weight you’re lifting while knowing both sides of the bar are balanced, machined plates are the way to go. Expect a 2% accuracy with machined plates. Here are some brand and pricing examples.
Price Comparisons (45-pound pair)
Rep Fitness Equalizer Cast Iron Plates
Machine, cast iron plates with drilled hole and grey or black enamel. 2% accuracy guarantee, sold individually or in sets. Great pricing if shipping to you is decent.
Pair of 45’s: $130
York Legacy Milled Cast Iron Plates
These cast iron plates are replicas of York’s original Olympic Standard Plate. They are milled to within 2% of indicated weight, and are sold individually. 100-pound plate available.
Pair of 45-lb plates: $166
Rogue Machined Cast Iron Olympic Plates
Machined cast iron plates with grey hammertone enamel and raised black text. Weights are accurate to within 2%/-0%. Sold in pairs and a 245-pound set.
Pair of 45-lb plates: $146
Rogue 6-Shooter Olympic Grip Plates
Cast iron plates with grey hammertone enamel, raised black text, and symmetrical grip holes. Large plates are accurate to within 1%. Sold in pairs and a 245-pound set.
Pair of 45-lb plates: $142
Troy Barbell Model HO Cast Iron Plates
Machined cast iron plates with grey hammertone enamel. Weights are accurate to within 2%, and 100-lb plates are available. Sold as single plates.
Pair of 45-lb plates: $170
Ivanko OM-Series Machined Cast Iron Plates (lb & kg)
High-quality casting, fully machined, drilled hole (not cast), and chip resistant baked-on-polyester paint. Available in pounds or kilos. 100-pound plate is available. Sold in singles.
Pair of 45-lb plates: $201
Ivanko OMEZH Machined E-Z Lift Cast Iron Plates
Sand-casted and machined cast iron plates with multiple EZ grip holes and chip-resistant baked-on-polyester paint. 100-pound plate is available. Sold in singles. Very nice, very expensive.
Pair of 45-lb plates: $224
Again I strongly suggest you buy machined plates versus simple cast iron if you take your lifting seriously. The price difference isn’t that much (if you avoid Ivanko) considering that you get a pretty solid level of accuracy and a refined surface texture that’s far less likely to damage the sleeve finish and/or cut your hands.
When shopping around, please note that Troy has three divisions: Troy Barbell (commercial line), then VTX and Troy USA. The last two are much lower quality and not recommended.
Calibrated, Professional IPF Powerlifting Discs
IPF-style, steel powerlifting plates are machine calibrated to very tight weight tolerances; typically to within about 10 grams of stated weight. They have a precise 50 mm opening, a much slimmer profile than basic cast iron plates, and they are painted according to the IPF coloring scheme. Most calibrated plates on the market are in kilograms, but Rogue Fitness was kind enough to offer these in pounds as well.
Pricing for calibrated, certified plates is obviously going to be more than what you’d pay for non-calibrated, machined plates. Needless to say it’s a whole lot more than what you’d pay for simple cast iron. Don’t expect much in the way of savings for buying sets unless you buy massive sets (400 kg or more.) Rogue has the best prices by far, and they also utilize the calibration plugs for increased accuracy; making them a clear winner in this category.
Price Comparisons (25 kilogram pair)
Rogue Calibrated Powerlifting Discs (IPF)
Precision steel with calibration plugs; accurate to within 10 grams of stated weight. Change plates and a 50 kg plate are available. Sold in pairs and sets. IPF approved.
Vulcan Calibrated Powerlifting Discs
Calibrated to within 10g of stated weight, these are priced comparably to the Rogue’s but just might have a cooler look to them. Sold in pairs or sets.
Pair of 25 kg plates: $221
Eleiko Powerlifting Competition Discs (IPF)
Precision cast iron discs. No weight tolerance is offered by Eleiko, but they are IPF-approved so they are accurate. Sold in pairs and sets.
Pair of 25 kg plates: $258
Titex Powerlifting Competition Discs (IPF)
Precision cast iron plates that are calibrated to within .25% of stated weight. They are IPF-approved, ugly as sin, and sold in both pairs and sets.
Pair of 25 kg plates: $334
Ivanko Calibrated Powerlifting Discs (IPF)
These are similar to Rogue’s discs. They are extremely accurate thanks to the calibration plugs. They come in all the same sizes as Rogue; including a 50 kg disc. Sold in single discs only.
Pair of 25 kg plates: $367
Strength Shop UK Slim Powerlifting Discs
Available only in Europe, these are not calibrated or IPF-approved, but they are accurate to within 1% and a viable option for those without these US-based options. Sold as singles.
Pair of 25 kg plates: £190 (EU ONLY)
There is a slight lack of consistency among the different brands when it comes to the size of the plates. All 25 kg plates are 450 mm in diameter and about 26-27 mm thick, but 20 kg plates can be either 400 mm or 450 mm depending on brand. Titex has smaller diameter 20 kg plates, while Rogue, Eleiko, and Ivanko maintain the 450 mm on 20 kg plates. If you ask me, the 20 and 25 kg plates being the same diameter is best.
Rubber / Urethane Coated Steel Plates
Generally considered more of a commercial gym product, coated plates are becoming more commonplace in home/garage gyms. People tend to like them because of the handles (they are easy to move around and use for random exercises), the lack of rust issues versus iron, and the fact that are just nice looking. While more expensive than simple cast iron, they are still more affordable than calibrated discs, and they do last a long time.
Technically speaking, urethane is a better and longer lasting material than rubber. It is also more expensive. If your plates are stored indoors and not exposed to the elements, there is probably no need to pay for urethane over rubber. Also, keep in mind that coated plates are not bumper plates.
Price Comparisons (45-pound pair)
CAP OPHR Rubber Coated Plates
Rubber coated, cast iron plates with no guarantee of accuracy. Sold only in pairs. Not really recommended.
Pair of 45’s: $125
Vulcan Quad Grip Rubber Coated Plates
Rubber coated, cast iron plates with minimal odor and stainless steel insert. Weight tolerance is within 2% of stated weight. Sold in pairs or sets. Highly recommended at their price point.
Pair of 45’s: $182
American Barbell Rubber Coated Plates
Rubber coated, cast iron plates with stainless steel insert and no guarantee of accuracy, though AB is a solid company and these plates have never been reported as inaccurate. Sold only in pairs.
Pair of 45’s: $188
Ivanko Olympic Rubber E-Z Lift Plates
Proprietary rubber coated, cast iron plates with minimal odor and high accuracy rating. Available in black, colored, pounds and kilos. Sold as single plates only.
Pair of black 45’s: $317
Rogue 6-Shooter URETHANE Grip Plates
Urethane coated, cast iron plates with no odor, stainless steel insert, and high accuracy rating. Sold in pairs and sets. Very fair pricing for urethane discs with 1% accuracy.
Pair of 45’s: $249
Troy Barbell URETHANE Grip Plate
These urethane coated, cast iron plates are Troy’s commercial plates. They feature no odor, 2% accuracy, and Troy’s interlocking plate system. Sold as singles.
Pair of 45’s: $343
Ivanko Olympic URETHANE E-Z Lift Plates
High-quality urethane coated, cast iron plates with no odor, high accuracy, and available in both pounds and kilos. Sold only as singles. Very high-end plates.
Pair of 45’s: $382
Iron Grip URETHANE Encased Olympic Plates
Impact resistant urethane coated, cast iron plates with no odor and high level of accuracy. These are extremely common in commercial gyms, but sadly are not round. Sold in pairs. Made in USA.
Pair of 45’s: $361
When it comes to coated plates, there are really nice options and super shitty options. Just about every box-store manufacturer makes rubber-coated discs; CAP, Body Solid, X-Mark, and Troy’s non-commercial division (VTX and Troy USA); among many others. Just like the economy cast iron plates, accuracy is crap on the cheap coated plates. Save your money.
My Personal Recommendations
My best advice would be to avoid anything in the CAP price range or below unless you can somehow weigh out the discs prior to purchase. I can think of no situation in where it would be acceptable to have weights with tolerances in excess of 10%, and I can’t even begin to imagine being okay with having trash like that in your own gym for your own personal use. I mean talk about not valuing your training.
In terms of brands and value, Rogue has fair prices and highly accurate options in almost every plate style imaginable. Ivanko produces comparable equipment to Rogue, but at one heck of a premium. Troy’s commercial line is also solid for both steel and coated plates, but also expensive. Vulcan has great prices on their coated plates, but currently does not offer any steel plates.
Again, if you’re going to go with simple cast iron, try to find them used before buying them new. If you end up having to pay for brand new, opt for machined plates. Price difference is minimal, but quality and accuracy is night and day.
Share me, please.