Competition plates are usually a luxury in my eyes and for the typical garage gym or even affiliate, not a necessity. Of course there are exceptions to that, like if you’re a competitive weightlifter, maybe even crossfitter too. Why is that? Well, because competition plates will usually run you double what a comparable set of “training” plates would cost you. Though prices of competition plates have come down considerably over the years, it’s not every day you’re going to find a full 140kg set for under $800…until now. Rep Fitness has managed to bring the best value of any competition bumper plate sets to the market and they’re not only cheaper, they’re actually pretty damned good too.
I think it’s hilarious when people trip out when they find out Rogue’s bumpers aren’t made in the USA. No competition bumper plates are made in the USA, folks. And no, the Rep Fitness plates aren’t made in the USA either, but that doesn’t mean the quality is bad. China’s got the factories, the processes, and the molds. Many of which, serve as same bumper plates for a lot of the brands you’ll find out there. Surprise surprise.
I’m not saying all competition plates are exactly the same, but if you look carefully, you’ll see a LOT of similarities between many of them. Rep’s bumper plates have one of the better hub designs that I like because there’s not a lot of play between the shaft and the sleeve. This design also has an inner ring to help with durability over time so that the impact from dropping the plates doesn’t transfer directly into the hub. The plates fit the barbell so well that it can be hard to put them on at angles, but is better for performance because there’s less slack when pulling on the bar. It’s zinc coated for added durability, but make sure you wipe them down if you get sweat on them because they can rust.
Rep’s competition plates use a mold that has a sharper edged design that I personally dislike after using others that have rounded edges. This isn’t something that’s exclusive to their bumper plates and you’ll find it on tons of other brands, but I wish people would stray away from this design because it is a b**** and a half to pick up the plates when they’re laying flat. Although, for what it’s worth, the sharper edges and raised contrast lettering give the Rep competition plates an extremely high quality look compared to those with rounded edges, in my opinion.
When using bumper plates, all we’re really doing is picking them up and dropping them so there’s no real “performance” aspect of using them (aerodynamics? lol). So what I’m grading in “performance” of a bumper plate are these factors: hardness of the plate for (lack of) bounce, thickness, durability and stated weight tolerances. The last one is going to be almost impossible to test without industry grade equipment, so I’m not going to even bother with my bathroom scale.
Rep’s plates have a Shore durometer rating of 92ShA, which is right up there with some of the best in the industry. Bounce is some of the lowest that I’ve ever used from a bumper plate, even compared to the harder Rogue competition plates (94ShA) I use in my affiliate. Impact when drop sounds and feels solid against rubber stall mats, which I always drop my plates on. The lighter plates are going to be slightly more bouncy than the heavier ones, for obvious reasons, but even the 10kg’s don’t go too crazy if you like to drop your bar after every lift. 20kg’s almost don’t bounce at all when dropped and multiple plates stay put when dropped.
Since they are made of a fairly dense material, the sound that you’ll get from them when dropped is going to be more of a “smack” than a “thud”. Sound is also going to be largely dependent on what you’re dropping the weights on to as well. Softer recycled rubber bumpers do a better job with sound dampening, but also bounce more.
Thickness of the plates are as follows:
- 10kg – 1.25″
- 15kg – 1.75″
- 20kg – 2.125″
- 25kg – 2.75″
10kg, 15kg, 25kg plates are slightly thicker compared to Rogue or Eleiko, but the 20kg are slightly thinner. Still the differences are only a few millimeters off from each other in comparison and unless you’re an Olympic athlete loading the bar to the brim, it shouldn’t affect you much.
All competition bumper plates are made from virgin rubber which does tend to show scratches and dings more than recycled rubber. They’re bumper plates and are made to be dropped, so it’s just part of the territory. If you want to keep your plates in pristine condition, don’t lift with them. Durability of the plates were factory tested to 30k+ drops, which is a lot more than I’m probably ever going to use the plates for. Only time will tell for the durability of the hub construction, but I’m sure that would go before the plates were to crack. Even if somehow they failed you prematurely, you get a 5 year warranty from Rep Fitness.
The best way to shop for plates is like this:
Can you pick it up and drop it? Yes. Are you a highly competitive Olympic athlete? No, most of us are not. Even if you were, you’d probably be sponsored and have all your equipment given to you to train on. Still, I doubt even those guys care what plates they lift with because they’re so damned good. Do you care what’s it say’s on the side of your plates? If you do, go ahead and spend more, I won’t judge, but keep in mind that brand won’t make you a better lifter.
I’m going to be really honest when I say this, people that say there’s a huge difference in performance of bumper plates are bullshitting you. That being said, the Rep Fitness plates are probably the best bang for the buck when it comes to colored competition bumpers. They do exactly what they’re intended to do perfectly at a lower cost than pretty much everyone else out there. A 140kg set will only set you back $750 plus shipping, compared to a “higher-end” bumper which would easily cost you into the $1000’s. If you’re looking to upgrade to a set of competition bumper plates but don’t want to break the bank, I couldn’t recommend Rep’s offering any higher. Use the money you saved here for a nice barbell upgrade that will make more of a difference.