When choosing weights for your gym, you will have to decide between Olympic and standard. There are a number of differences between them, the most notable being the size of the hole that you use to load the plate onto the bar – Olympic weight plates have 2 inch diameter holes, whereas standard ones have 1 inch diameter holes. The two are not interchangeable. In the list below, we’ve covered everything that you need to know about Olympic plates.
Certain models of Olympic weights are actually quality controlled to ensure a precise weight. A small inaccuracy isn’t going to matter much with a single plate, but with several loaded on either end of the bar those differences can add up, throwing off the balance.
▪ Bar Options
There are a number of different Olympic bars to choose from, including power lifting and weightlifting ones. Each is geared towards different exercises and feature different knurling patterns, steel and so on in order to meet the needs of different exercises.
▪ No Torque
Olympic bars have revolving ends (also known as sleeves), so that there isn’t any added torque when performing certain exercises (like snatches or cleans, where the bar needs to rotate quickly). You’ll find that this even helps for movements like squats, where your grip will slightly rotate.
▪ Plate Options
Bumper plates are solid rubber, are all of the same diameter and are designed to be dropped. Grip plates have in-built handles that make them easier (and safer) to carry. Rubber encased plates are resistant to noise, chipping and rust. Olympic weight plates have the best variety.
▪ Rack Compatibility
Power racks and Olympic width bench racks are made to take 7 foot bars – they’re about 48 inches wide, whilst Olympic bars are about 52 inches long so they’ll fit with room to spare. Most standard bars are only 5 foot or 6 foot long, so aren’t going to fit.
Olympic bars are thicker and heavier on the ends. When loading heavy weights whilst the bar is racked, you’ll also find them less likely to inadvertently tip over. You can easily load a 20kg plate without worrying about it tipping; good luck doing that with a standard bar.
When they reach around 90kg or more, standard bars will start to flex pretty severely and will likely develop a permanent bend. In contrast to this, Olympic bars can accommodate more than that – they will flex under load, but will return to straight when unloaded.
The middle portion of the bar has a slightly larger diameter on Olympic bars. A standard bar is generally 25mm (1 inch exactly), whereas Olympic ones can range from 28mm (1 inch) to 32mm (1 and a quarter inch). There are also special 25mm bars for women.
If you are trying to choose between standard and Olympic weight plates for your gym, we hope that the information provided above has allowed you to reach a decision. As you can see, there are a number of differences between standard and Olympic plates – don’t be fooled into thinking that you can use them interchangeably. We hope that the many benefits offered by Olympic weights has convinced you that this is the best choice.