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When you go in most gyms, the weights area has lots of large cast iron or brightly coloured round discs. These are Olympic discs and are designed to be used on Olympic barbells. Olympic sized plates have a 2” diameter sized hole which means they will only fit an Olympic bar. The bore hole on standard weight plates is 1” in diameter.
Weight plates can come in a rubber coating or cast iron finish. The advantage of the rubber coated ones is that they protect floors, you get less disc noise and they are protected against rust. Iron plates are easy to grip and handle due to their wide edges.
There are also urethane plates which are the most durable of all plates. These have a good grip and are heat resistant and odour free. Bumper plates are solid rubber and are a good choice for heavy lifting particularly for clean and snatch. If you do buy these then you will need to get rubber mats. Grip plates are characterised by raised holes around the edges so they are easy to pick up and grip. Finally economy plates are, as the name suggests, the cheapest plates you can get. They have less weight accuracy than other plates but they will still get the job done for you.
Ok so you want to invest in some Olympic discs to help you sort out your strength training. But have you considered how heavy they will be in your first floor flat? What about storing them? And what about buying a barbell that takes them? Why not check out a few of the more pressing things you need to think about before spending hundreds of pounds on a 200kg weight set.
Buying an Olympic plate and barbell stand could be a good idea. Many will store up to 6 lots of full sized 450mm Olympic plates and 4 Olympic bars.
This is really all about your expertise level. In a nutshell the more plates you have the wider the range of exercises you will be able to do. If you are a beginner you may initially get away with just buying a pair of each Olympic weight sizes.
Plates tend to come in sizes from 2.5 pounds to 100 pounds. Our advice would be to get a pair of each weight plate and then add to this as you progress. Generally for curls and triceps you will need about 20-100 pounds of weight plates. For shoulder and bench presses you will needs weights of between 40-300 pounds. The key buying tips are to always buy in pairs and only get heavier as your expertise grows.
As you progress with the Olympic bar you may want to add to your equipment. Collars and muscle clamps can be very useful in securing the weight plates so they don’t fall off.