You need a good set of weight plates in your home gym. But don’t know where to start? Buying a complete set is an easy way to get started. But what are the best weight sets for a home gym? Here’s what you need to know.
An all in one weight plate set is a great way to get started although there are some drawbacks. The included barbell is often not a very high quality one that will last a long time or can grow with you. If you plan to outgrow your starter set one day, getting a higher quality barbell is necessary.
To find the best sets in every category and what to look for when selecting one, keep reading below.
- 1 Set or separate?
- 2 What to look for in weight plate sets
- 3 Best weight plate sets
- 4 Best weight plate + Barbell set
- 5 Make your own weight plate set
- 6 Recommended barbells
- 7 Favorite home gym tools
Set or separate?
Should you get a set with all the weight plates in one combo or just get all the plates separately?
There are a few considerations to think about.
- Complete sets are usually focused towards beginners
- Buying a combo is very easy
- You can’t pick the plates you want in a combo
- If the barbell is included, it’s usually not the best quality.
- There are more choices for separate plates.
Buying a complete set of weights is easy but there are some drawbacks like selecting the exact weights you want. Also, with weight sets, there are much fewer choices than for separate plates.
Whether you want to buy a complete set or build your own is up to you. There are recommendations for both down below.
There are a few sets out there that include the barbell with a weight plates set. Is getting one of those a good idea?
It seems like a good idea to get a set with a barbell is an easy way to get started. And it is but there are some drawbacks.
Most barbells that are included in a set, are not the highest quality and that’s being generous. These barbells are good enough to use with the weight they’re sold with but, they can’t handle much more. So if you have aspirations of outgrowing your starter set some day, it’s a good idea to go for a higher quality separate dumbbell. Yes it will cost a bit more now but, in the long run you’ll save money.
And there are a few producers out there that do a good job but there are also a lot of these sets that come with a barbell that’s just not very good. While you don’t need a competition grade barbell in a home gym, getting one that is of good quality is a good idea.
It’s the part of a home gym you’ll be touching the most often. It should feel good and solid and have decent corrosion protection. Your hands leave a lot of sweat on the bar and sweat can corrode steel pretty easily.
If you get a decent barbell, it’s easy to get one that lasts for decades. Since It’ll last so long, it’s really worth paying a little extra for one you really like. Buying separately, you’ll have way more options to choose length, finish, quality, etc.
You might be worried about getting a barbell that fits with the weight plates. That’s not really something to worry about. There are only two sizes of weight plates and barbells. It’s all about the diameter of the hole in the middle of the weight plate and the diameter of the ends of the barbell.
You want the ends of the barbell the plates slide onto to be just a tiny bit smaller than the hole in the weight plate. That might sound like it’s difficult to select the right combo but it really isn’t.
There are only two sizes;
You want the barbell and weight plates you get to have the same diameter. 1” plates obviously won’t fit on a 2” barbell. 2” plates will fit on a 1” barbell but that isn’t very safe because the plates can move around a lot.
I highly recommend you go for a barbell and plates with 2” Diameter hole/sleeves. There is a lot more choice in that category and the barbells tend to be of higher quality. Also, it’s the only way to get spinning sleeves (the end parts of the barbell). Spinning sleeves are a bit easier on your joints.
I’ll also recommend a few barbells that will work well with the recommended sets below.
What to look for in weight plate sets
Not all sets are great. What are some things to look for when shopping for a weight plate set? Here are the most important things to keep in mind.
- Total weight: The total weight of the set is important. You want enough weight to be challenging. However, with weight plates, it’s pretty easy to add extra 45 lbs. plates later on. If you’re not too strong yet, starting with 225 lbs. is OK 275 lbs. would be better.
- Amount of different plates: You want a good distribution of 2.5, 5, 10, 25 and 45 lbs. plates so you can linearly increase the weight. Click here to find the correct amount of plates of each weight.
- Diameter of the inner hole: If you’ve already got a barbell, match the inner hole in the weight plate to that. If you don’t have a barbell yet either, go for a 2” weight set.
- Bumper plates or cast iron: Bumper plates are made out of rubber. These plates are meant to be dropped from overhead (Olympic style weightlifting). For most home gyms cast iron plates are fine because the weights are lowered in a relatively controlled manner and have to absorb less of an impact.
- Rubberized or not: Cast iron plates can be covered in rubber or not. Rubberized is slightly more expensive but protects your floor, equipment and is quieter.
- Grip holes: If you don’t get bumper plates, get plates with grip holes in them. Grip holes are the holes not in the middle of the plate. Grip holes make the plates easier to move around and use for other purposes.
- Quality: Weight plates are honestly one of the parts of a home gym where quality is not a primary concern but it does depend on how you use them. If you always lower your barbell in a relatively controlled manner, almost any plate is going to survive that. If you’re dropping weights from knee height or higher, it’s a bit more of a concern.
- Suggested post: Can weight plates break?
Best weight plate sets
Now we know what we’re looking for, here are some of the best options. First we’ll look at the sets of just weight plates. Below you can find a few sets that include a barbell.
XMark Texas Star
The best option for a home gym weight set is the XMark Texas Star sets. They are rubberized grip plates and are very well made. They will last you for a long time.
It’s a brand and model that’s been around for a while so chances are you can still get extra plates of this model a few years down the line so your home gym can keep looking nice even when you get stronger.
These plates are sold separately but also in sets of 225 and 275 lbs. So you’ve got the choice and can easily add on extra plates in one order. Easy, simple and they’re good plates with the features you need.
Fringe Sport MilSpec bumper plates
If you want to drop your plates from higher than your knees, bumper plates are what you need. Bumper plates aren’t usually sold in sets but here we have a good quality one.
They are sold in different weight sets up to 550 lbs. A good starter set is the 260 lbs. set. That set comes with 10, 15, 25, 35 and 45 lbs. pairs. While that is a decent starter set, you want to have a few smaller weights as well. In the beginning, you can add on weight to the bar quickly. However, after a while, you can’t add weight that quickly anymore. At that point you want to be able 2.5 lbs. to the bar instead of 5 lbs.
That means getting an extra set of so called “fractional” weight plates. This is a set with very small plates of ¼ to 1 lbs. so you can really fine-tune the weight on the bar.
Best weight plate + Barbell set
While buying your own barbell is almost always going to get you a better barbell, you can often get a good deal if you buy both the plates and the barbell together. Here are the best options.
Fitness Gear 300lbs. set
This set is a good deal for the price. The plates are cast iron and not rubberized but they do have grip holes and are machined pretty well.
There is a good distribution of plates;
- 2.5 lbs. x2
- 5 lbs. x4
- 10 lbs. x2
- 25 lbs. x2
- 35 lbs. x2
- 45 lbs. x2
That’s a great starting set where you can adjust the weights with 5 lbs. increments. This is the all in one set with the best finish and it doesn’t cost more than comparable sets which is why this is a good bet.
The barbell is a bit of a question mark. It’s only rated up to 300 lbs. That means you can fit all the weights of this set on the bar without problems but not much more.
CAP Barbell 300 lbs. set
This is a super similar set to the first one. A complete set with weight plates, barbell and clips. Here’s the weight distribution;
- 2.5 lbs. x2
- 5 lbs. x4
- 10 lbs. x 2
- 25 lbs. x2
- 35 lbs. x2
- 45 lbs. x4
The plates are bare cast iron and don’t have grip holes but will do the job. The machining is not the highest quality but the barbell and plates fit together and are heavy.
The barbell is OK. There are some nice features like spinning sleeve, black oxide coating for corrosion protection. The bar is 30 mm thick. If you like this is up to you. A normal barbell is 28 mm thick so if you have small hands this isn’t a good bar for you.
The distribution of plates is good and you can easily get a complete basic weight set.
Make your own weight plate set
The sets above are a good starting place. If you don’t see anything you like or something is not quite to your liking. In that case, the best thing to do is to build your own set. You’ll have way more options this way and it’s really not difficult.
There are many more options if you buy plates separately instead of in a combo. If you’re going to build your own weight plate set, here’s what you want;
- Get the same model plates, just in different weight. You could build a set from different plates without problems. Weight is weight. It doesn’t look very neat though.
- Make sure you get a good selection of different weights. Check out the chart below to see what the optimal distribution is so you can add 2.5 lbs. of weight consistently
- Like with the pre-made sets. Just get as much weight as you will use in the forseeable future. If you outgrow the weight, it’s easy to add extra 45 lbs. plates later on.
Of course weight plates alone aren’t much good. As you can read above, I recommend to buy a separate barbell and not to get a set that includes everything. That’s because you want to pay a bit more attention to the quality of the barbell and the complete combos don’t always come with the best barbell.
Favorite home gym tools
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.