Which Olympic weight sets are best?
Home gyms can be a convenient alternative to the often crowded, unsanitary fitness center. But if you’re someone who likes to lift heavy weights, dumbbells and kettlebells can’t match the effectiveness of a good barbell routine. Luckily, there are a number of Olympic weight sets on the market for home-gym users looking to put on muscle and build strength. And because these are Olympic barbells, they make great additions to gyms looking to expand their equipment arsenal.
If you’re looking for a high-quality Olympic barbell set, check out the Fitness Gear 300-Pound Olympic Weight Set for its zero-fuss approach and basic functionality.
What to know before you buy an Olympic weight set
Olympic weight sets are pretty straightforward. You get a bar and some weighted plates to put on the bar. But you’ll want to think about how much weight you’d like to be able to lift with your first set. You’ll also need to consider which accessories you’ll need to optimize your Olympic barbell workout.
Olympic weight sets vs. standard weight sets
Olympic weight sets differ from standard weights in two areas: the bar’s diameter and the hole’s diameter in the weights. Because of this, the weights are not interchangeable between Olympic and standard weight sets. For example, Olympic bars are 2 inches in diameter with 2-inch diameter holes on the weight plates. They’re 86 inches and can hold up to 600 pounds before bending. On the other hand, standard bars are 1 inch in diameter with 1-inch diameter holes on the weight plates. Competitions only use Olympic bars, so if you’re training to compete, you’ll want to ditch the standard equipment.
An Olympic bar weighs 45 pounds. The most common plates that come with an Olympic bar are available in the following denominations: 2.5, 5, 10, 25, 35 and 45 pounds. If you’re looking to add weight incrementally — often referred to as microloading — you can also purchase smaller weights in .25, .5, .75 and 1 pound denominations. Weighted washers can also be used to adjust the total weight of the bar in smaller amounts.
While an Olympic bar and weights can be used on their own to perform a variety of exercises, these accessories will help you maximize their potential:
Racks: Weight racks allow you to store your plates and position your bar vertically so that you can begin your exercise with the bar at the right height without having to lift it all the way up to your starting point. Many racks also have guard rails to catch the bar should you fail a lift, so you don’t get stuck or injured. Racks are best for squats and bench presses but can also be used for many other exercises.
Benches: An adjustable bench allows you to perform seated and prone exercises using free weights, resistance bands, or other accessories. They can be paired with a rack for safety and ease of use. However, adjustable benches aren’t recommended for heavy compound weightlifting, like bench pressing a heavy barbell.
Mats: Lastly, you’ll want to consider mats if you’re working out at home as weights can damage your floors. We’ve set a few home gym mat options aside for you.
What to look for in a quality Olympic weight set
While most Olympic weight sets are generally the same in their offerings, there are a few key differences to look out for when purchasing your own set. All Olympic plates are rounded, which allows users to reset the bar to the correct position after every repetition by rolling it.
- Iron: Iron plates are uncoated, raw weights. These are cheap and efficient but can damage floors if dropped.
- Rubberized: Rubberized or coated plates allow users to protect their floors and walls from some damage, though it is still advisable to pair these with mats.
- Bumper: Bumper plates use a much thicker layer of rubber around their iron core and are best at protecting the floor from damage. These can get pretty bulky and even bounce when dropped.
An official Olympic bar has a center knurl; this allows for improved grip when placed on your back for squats or good mornings. Some companies have left these off their Olympic bars, however, for commercial audiences. So if you want that added grip and won’t be using a pad, look out for center knurls.
Number of weights
Most Olympics weight sets come with one pair of each weight denomination. This means most weight sets max out at 300 pounds. If you know you’ll need more weights, you’ll want to consider additional sets and a weight tree or rack to store them.
How much you can expect to spend on an Olympic weight set
Because you can expect to pay anywhere from $1-$3 per pound, Olympic weight sets, for the most part, start at $300 and can cost as much as $900. But you should be able to purchase a utilitarian and quality set for around $400.
Olympic weight set FAQ
What workouts are Olympic weights best for?
A. Olympic weights are great for strength training and putting on muscle. They’re by and large incorporated into powerlifting and hypertrophy routines (volume-based lifting), where strength and muscle mass are the priority fitness goal.
Do I need a rack or bench to lift Olympic weights?
A. While these accessories will allow you to maximize your workout potential, they are not strictly necessary. Olympic weights can be used to supplement other calisthenic or dumbbell and kettlebell-focused routines. Since using a barbell and weights already requires a large amount of workout space, you’ll want to be sure you have room for any accessories should you want them.
What are the best Olympic weight sets to buy?
Top Olympic weight set
What you need to know: The Fitness Gear set is a no-fuss, comprehensive weight-lifting solution for heavy fitness routines done at home.
What you’ll love: This set comes with a pair of plates at every weight denomination (and a second pair of 5-pound weights) for a total of 300 pounds. You also get a set of spring-collar clips to prevent the weights from sliding off during use, and the bar is knurled in the center for improved grip.
What you should consider: Because these plates aren’t coated with rubber, they’re prone to marking up and denting floors and walls.
Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Top Olympic weight set for the money
What you need to know: These AMGYM bumper plates are perfect for rounding your home gym set up and adding more weight to your workout.
What you’ll love: The AMGYM plates are purchasable in pairs (10, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 pounds) or weight sets (160, 170, 190, 210 and 260 pounds). Their thick rubber padding makes them ideal for home gym setups or users looking to add weights that they can drop to their cast-iron collection.
What you should consider: This set does not come with a bar.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Available for purchase in various weight and plate totals, this bumper-plate set is one of the few on the market that includes a bar.
What you’ll love: With bumper plates and an impact-resistant, 1,500-pound weight capacity bar, this set is great for heavy lifting — and dropping. Users can purchase plates in pairs separately, a 260-pound plate set or a full 230- and 260-pound set that includes an Olympic bar.
What you should consider: This set is pricey but easily expandable.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Karl Daum writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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