Bumper Plate Maintenance Guide

Almost every gym setup has a selection of bumper plates. But how much thought have you ever really put into how to care for your bumper plates to make sure they last as long as possible?

Whether it's as part of a home gym, a commercial gym, or your nearest CrossFit box, a culture of care is essential to protect your equipment and to make sure it lasts. By taking extra care, you will need to replace equipment far less often. The humble bumper plate is no exception to this rule.

We have put together these bumper plate maintenance guidelines and tips for taking care of your plates, so you can maximise your chances of many years of use and high performance. Sure, some of this might seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how often we hear at Again Faster about bumper plates being damaged because they haven't been taken care of properly!

So, let's get started.

Looking to buy bumper plates now? Shop our range of bumper plates or check out our useful bumper plate buying guide instead.

Why is Proper Maintenance and Care of Bumper Plates Important?

They're heavy, and they bounce a little, so you'd think a bumper weight plate could take a lot of punishment, right? While it's true they can take quite a beating, that doesn't mean they don't need looking after to make sure you get the best out of them, just like any piece of gym equipment. Taking care of your bumper plates is important because:

  • Encouraging careful use of your bumper plates helps create a culture of care; careful bumper plate use is likely to lead to careful, considerate use of the rest of your gym equipment too.
  • Bumper plates are subject to intense usage, especially in functional gyms, being dropped repeatedly onto the floor. You want anything that is in such frequent use to stay in top condition.
  • Over time, bumper plates will be subject to wear and tear from repeated drops. You can minimise this damage with proper care, and in turn, the lifetime of the plates will be extended.
  • Bumper plates can be an expensive investment for home and commercial gyms alike. If your plates are properly protected, you will be protecting your investment too.
  • Any supplier of quality bumper plates will offer a warranty, and our bumper plates are no exception. However, these warranties are only valid if you stick to the care guidelines laid out in the warranty.

Bumper Plates on Decking

Setting up a Bumper Plate Friendly Lifting Area

You can handle your bumper plates, load them onto barbells, and drop them as carefully as you like; but they will still get damaged if your weightlifting area isn't properly set up to be bumper plate friendly. Our top tips for setting up a bumper plate friendly lifting area are:

  • To protect your bumper plates and ensure your warranty terms are maintained, we recommend that you have shockproof rubber flooring with a minimum thickness of 20mm. Ensuring you have the right flooring is key to maintaining your whole range of equipment, reducing noise while protecting your bumper plates and the structure of your gym.
  • Ensure that the weightlifting area is flat, to reduce the chances of an unpredictable bounce when dropping.
  • It is advised to have a generous lifting area (for example, 1 barbell per 3 rubber mats at least) with the lifting centred in the middle mat.
  • Unused plates should be stored away from the lifting area and well away from the barbell, to minimise the chances of contact damage (kicks, scrapes, drops etc.)
  • Prepare all the bumper plates you need before lifting as you change loads (weight on the bar).
  • Never keep plates lying around close to the lifting barbell, especially not behind, to avoid a dangerous fall and of course unexpected kicks, scuffs and scrapes.

Lifting Area Flooring

Inspecting your Bumper Plates

When your bumper plates are receiving intense use, it's important to monitor their condition and watch out for the below:

  1. Over time, your plates will be subject to wear and tear. If maintained and used properly, your bumper plates will last a long time; but it's important to monitor wear and tear to know when it's time to replace your plates. Once any wear and tear stops being purely cosmetic - perhaps it even starts to affect the shape of the plate - it may be time to replace.
  2. With some plates, such as our competition plates, the inner metal inserts may start to cause a rattling sound once the drops really start to add up. This simply means that the middle inserts are coming loose. You will need to grab an allen key/hex key to tighten the bolts down on the steel inserts. If left un-tightened, this can cause damage to both the steel inserts and the bumper plate. This could even lead to the steel insert coming out of the bumper plate.
  3. Look out for damage to the rubber on the plate, as contact with other equipment in the gym or improper storage can dent the rubber and make them potentially unsafe. 

How to Store Bumper Plates

When bumper plates are not in use, they should be stored safely in a bumper plate holder that is fit for purpose. Bumper plates should not be left lying around on the floor of the training area. This is an important but often overlooked aspect of bumper plate maintenance.

There is a wide range of bumper plate storage solutions out there, but they will usually keep your bumper plates flat (either vertically or horizontally) and well out of harm's way. This will mean fewer scuffs, kicks, dents, and will altogether ensure a longer-lasting bumper plate.

Bumper Plate Storage

Caring for Competition Bumper Plates

There are a few extra things to consider when it comes to caring for our competition bumper plates:

  • When using competition bumper plates, these should be the only plates used on the barbell. Mixing competition bumper plates with other black rubber plates, for example, can cause the coloured competition plate surface to become black from other rubber plates. This can also remove the print from the face of the bumper plates over time.
  • Again Faster bumper plates (all types) are designed for indoor gym use. Using bumper plates outside on asphalt or pavement will damage the plates and shorten their lifespan.
  • The best use of Again Faster competition plates is either on a lifting platform or on high-quality, shock-resistant rubber gym flooring.
  • Competition plates are constructed with a 5-bolt steel insert that holds the plate together, these bolts can come loose if used on incorrect, harder flooring.

Competition Weight Plates

How to use your Bumper Plates Safely and Carefully

Simply put, using your bumper plates safely and carefully is one of the best ways to keep them in top condition. To put it another way, less bumper plate maintenance will be needed if they are used correctly in the first place. By following the 10 points below, you can get the best out of your Again Faster plates:

  1. When loading the barbell, always use the least number of bumper plates to add the most weight.
  2. Load the heavier bumper plates onto the barbell first and the lighter plates on last, in descending order.
  3. Forcefully slamming bumper plates to the ground from an overhead position will drastically shorten the lifespan of the plates and will void all product warranties.
  4. As a general rule, most gyms have a strict rule to prevent members from dropping plates from above the waist unless absolutely necessary. This will reduce heavy overhead drops in the gym.
  5. Dropping sometimes can't be avoided, but if you stick to the established gym etiquette of placing weights down in a controlled manner wherever possible, your bumper plates will thank you for it.
  6. It is strongly recommended that 5KG and 10KG plates are not dropped to the ground when they are the only plates on the barbell. In our experience, dropping the lower weights of any plate from above the head repeatedly will break them down faster. The smaller surface edges of these plates mean there is more impact on the plate when dropped, and therefore more damage is caused.
  7. A "drop from the hip" rule in the gym can also help to minimise overhead drops, as they can still happen in a weightlifting environment, this will make members aware of the policy.
  8. When dropping bumper plates from any height, you must ensure they are being dropped onto a flat surface to avoid the bumper plates bouncing off in a random direction in the gym - this can easily happen if bumper plates are left lying around the gym.
  9. When the bumper plates are being dropped, where possible we advise a controlling hand to stop the barbell motion as it rises from the drop.
  10. It essential that the barbell is dropped evenly and both bumper plates hit the floor at the same time. Dropping the barbell at an angle will cause one bumper plate to take the full force of the drop, which can cause significant damage.

Close up of Black Rubber Bumper Plates

How to Clean Bumper Plates

When being handled frequently, bumper plates do have a habit of getting dirty. Smears, sweat, lifting chalk, even skin - it can all build up on your bumper plates after a while. Plus, many bumper plates are greased during the manufacturing process, and this grease can sometimes stick around on your bumper plates if not cleaned. So, what's the best way to clean your bumper plates? Here's what you'll need:

  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Soft cloth, like a dish cloth or microfibre towel (a soft sponge would also work)
  • Optional: separate dry cloth or towel for drying

Did you get all that? Because that's really all there is to it. Wash those bumper plates down with your warm, soapy water and a cloth. Make sure to rinse well once you have got any dirt and grime off. Then just leave to dry!

We'd recommend getting most of the water off with a separate, drying cloth or towel, but after that, simply leave those bumpers to dry in their own time!

No chemicals are needed, and in fact, there are many cleaning products out there that may actually harm your bumper plates. If you carry out this cleaning process at semi-regular intervals, it really is very simple to keep your bumper plates clear of dirt and looking their best.

Need any more information? We'd love to help. Drop us a message via social media or email and our team will assist with anything you need. You'll also find reviews of all our bumper and weight plates below.

Otherwise, we hope this guide helps you keep your bumper plates in top condition!

Happy lifting!