Whatever the case may be, buying your first steel-weight plates set can often be some combination of excitement and confusion. It can be exciting, in that you are finally building that home gym you've been dreaming of. However, you likely have a few questions as you start this process. My goal is to help you better understand what makes steel plates unique, how to pick the right steel plates, and where to ultimately find and buy them.
What is a Steel Weight Set?
If you are brand new to lifting weights, you may not be aware of the subtle differences between different types of weight plates.
The two main types of weight plates are rubber and steel. Both steel and rubber do very similar things as far as functionality. They both generally come in standard weight increments - 45lb, 25lb, 10lb, and 5lb. They both are loaded onto a barbell in the same way and can be stored using the same storage equipment. Both types of plates are also generally incredibly durable and made to withstand hours and hours of training.
One difference is that rubber plates can handle being dropped. For this reason, rubber plates are more commonly used in Olympic weightlifting where exercises like jerks and snatches are performed. Whereas, it is not recommended that you drop steel plates. Steel plates are also thinner, allowing for more to be loaded onto a barbell. The only exception to that is the deep dish plates. These metal plates can hold a deep-dish pizza and then some.
Steel plates also are a little bit noisier. They clank and rattle when performing exercises like squats or bench press; however, this may be one of the most beautiful sounds on earth so don't let that change your mind. For real, some scientists report that it may actually be the sound of muscles growing.
Which Steel Weight Set Is Right For You?
Steel is steel. I say this because there aren't a ton of differences between steel-weight plate sets. Steel is one of the strongest, densest, most durable materials, so of course it makes sense to use it for weight plates.
Of course, like anything, companies can find a way to take shortcuts. So let's consider a few good ideas when looking at which company to buy from. One way to do this is by checking out the reviews. Previous customers will let you know if the plates are cheap and chip easily.
You should also consider your goals. For the vast majority of people reading this article, you are likely looking for your first weight set and don't need to really care about this part. However, if you are seriously considering powerlifting and don't mind spending a little bit more, you can look into steel-calibrated plates. These plates are certified to be calibrated to within a fraction of the weight they say they are. Basically, they are a more precise and accurate weight than just your typical steel weight plates.
But, it is worth noting that pretty much any new plates you buy are going to be incredibly close to the weight displayed on the plate.
Similar to calibrated steel plates, there are plates that are certified for certain competitions or organizations. These are often the most expensive plates you can buy, but if that is your goal and have the means go for it.
At the end of the day, it's hard to go wrong with a steel weight set. Do your research on the company, evaluate your goals, and make the best decision. The best steel plates are the ones you use.
Where to Find and Buy Steel Weight Sets?
If you are looking for new sets, one of the best options is to simply do a Google search. While you can certainly find new plates nearby at places like Dick's Sporting Goods, the biggest selection for new plates is online. However, shipping can be pretty expensive. Who knew shipping 300 lbs of steel was costly?!
Another option - probably the best option for most people reading this - is to buy used plates. Because steel plates are incredibly durable they can last for many years, often getting use from multiple home gyms or even commercial gyms.
So where can you find used plates?
1) Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is one of my favorite places for finding used and even sometimes new fitness equipment. You can find plates that are local, eliminating the shipping costs. You can also see the plates in person before buying.
When evaluating used plates, be sure to check for rust and chips. Even if the plates have rust or chips, that doesn't mean they are unusable, just be sure to not pay top dollar. Another tip that might sound a little crazy - it's not - is to bring a scale with you and weigh the plates to ensure that you are buying accurate weight plates.
2) Used Sports Equipment or Fitness Stores
Stores like Play it Again Sports often have weight sets. Many of the same pros and tips apply from above. The one drawback of a store like this is that the plates will likely be a little more expensive. However, you likely get the option to return the plates and you know that you have a little more liability coverage and protection from a brick-and-mortar store than a Facebook user.
3) Your Local Gym
Commercial gyms and even high school and college weight rooms often undergo renovations. One benefit to you during this process is that often they will be looking to get rid of their old plates - which can be a great way to stock your new home gym. Be sure to check with the owner when they are going through renovations, you never know what can happen.
4) Freedom Fitness Equipment
We sell it all! From rubber plates to metal plates, both new and used. With new inventory constantly coming in, we can help you build the home gym of your dreams. So as you are looking to buy your first set, consider letting us help you. Based in Charlotte, NC we offer local pickup or can ship nationwide. We want to be your one-stop-shop for all things home gym and fitness equipment.
Check out our selection here.
There you have it! Hopefully, the process of buying your first steel weight set is a little easier to navigate now. Once you settle on the perfect weight set be sure to check out our article on barbells. Your weight plates are only as good as your barbell.
As always we want to help you in this process, so please reach out with any questions or leave us a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!