Recently I’ve been looking into getting a new home gym setup that would allow me to start Olympic lifting. Making the jump from traditional steel weight to bumper plates. Allowing me a little more freedom and the ability to introduce more compound lifts into my home gym routine. But that raised the question, how many bumper plates do I need? And in what weight increments should the weights be in? Below I’ll break down my thought processes. And after talking a to a few people, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good strategy.
How Many Bumper Plates Do I Need?
When I started looking at bumper plates, and after seeing how much they cost. I realized that I probably wouldn’t need as much weight as I would with a traditional steel set. You can still use steel plates for deadlifting, squats, and bench. So any traditional steel plates you have will still be getting used as long as you are using an olympic barbell. That means all I would really need weight wise was enough for my major olympic lifts. The Clean, Jerk, and Snatch.
The simplest way to determine how much weight you need is to take the number you can clean and add 50 lbs. Or the number you would “realistically” love to clean, and get that much weight plus 30 lbs in bumper plates. Minus the weight of the barbell. So if you can currently clean 225 lbs, I’d get at least 230 lbs (275 lbs – 45 lb barbell) in bumper plates. If your realistic goal is to clean 225 lbs, then get 210 lbs (275 lb – 45 lb barbell).
Why do you need more than your goal weight? Having this extra weight will allow you to perform workouts like clean pulls, or high pulls with heavier weight than your max. Next, if you’re currently cleaning 225 lbs then you can realistically add 10-20 lbs with 6 months of strength and technique work. So get the weight now so you can get stronger later.
What Weight Increments Do I need?
Here are the starting weight increments for a set of bumper plates I would recommend most people starting with.
5 lbs – 2x (can be steel plates)
10 lbs – 4x
15 lbs – 2x
25 lbs – 2x
45 lbs – 2x
Total Weight: 220 lbs
Add in a barbell and you have 265 lbs of total weight. Which is going to be more than enough weight for most people. I’d also highly recommend investing in a micro weight set that includes ¼, ½, and 1 lb plates. These are very helpful for olympic lifting and breaking plateaus.
If you need more weight, I’d add two more 15 lbs then two 35 lbs. That’s an extra 100 lbs and would be 365 lbs total with the bar. And if you need less weight, start by ditching the two 15 lbs and then one set of 10 lbs next.
When adding new equipment to your home gym, there is always a fine line between getting what you need and spending too much. And with bumper plates and weights in general, it’s easy to get carried away with the more is better mentality. But going in with a plan and shopping responsibly will go a long way to saving money and space in your gym.