Shopping for weight plates can lead to a pretty severe case of sticker shock. Weight plates can be one of the most expensive parts of a home gym. Why are they so expensive?
Weight plates are expensive for a few reasons. Plates are heavy and require a lot of raw material which costs money. Because of the weight and size, the shipping, handling and storage costs are high. Finally, you need many different weights to create a complete set which increases production costs.
You can find a more detailed explanation below.
Weight plates are heavy. That’s kind of what they have to do. That also means you need a lot of a high density material to make them. You could make weight plates out of cardboard but they would be impractically big.
Most weight plates are made from iron or rubber. Both aren’t super expensive for a smaller amount but in large amounts like a set of weights, it starts adding up. For weightlifting you do need a decent amount of weight so you are paying for all of that raw material.
Also, because it does take quite a lot of heavy materials, the transportation of those materials throughout the supply chain to the factory is going to be more expensive than a lighter material.
Weight plates do need to be made to a reasonable standard to be good and usable. Iron plates are usually cast. This is a relatively cheap way of forming iron into a shape. However, there cannot be any fault lines in the metal otherwise the plate can crack quite easily.
So there has to be a decent level of quality in manufacturing and quality control. The higher the quality has to be the more effort has to go into improving the quality and checking the quality which all requires more money.
Shipping, handling and storage
Weight plates are heavy and bulky. That means shipping and handling costs are going to be higher all the way along the line.
Heavier things cost more energy to transport and put more strain on the vehicle that’s transporting them so the costs are going to be higher already. Also, the mailman isn’t just going to add a set of weight plates to his daily rounds. To deliver it to your house, it will have to be delivered by someone that’s more equipped for heavy lifting.
In normal times, weight plates don’t sell too quickly. That means they have to be stored somewhere. Storage needs space and space costs money.
Amount of plates
Another reason for the price of a whole set of weight plates being quite high, is that you need quite a few different weighted plates. You want a selection of 2.5, 5, 10, 25 and 45 lbs. plates.
All those different sizes mean different production lines. More different production lines means more costs. You need different machines, molds, staff, etc. All those costs are being put into the final cost of the product. You can see that lighter plates are cheaper overall but more expensive per pound than heavier plates.
This is because the fixed costs of producing a weight plate don’t go down as much with lighter weights so they directly relate to the weight of the plate. In other words; the fixed costs of making a weight plate aren’t directly related to the weight.
Also, because there are different weighted plates, the shipping and storage becomes even more expensive because there are more different products to be shipped, stored and kept track of. All of that costs more money and time.
If you’re reading this while the world is still affected by a certain pesky virus, that is the biggest reason for sky high weight prices.
Lockdowns around the world have closed down gyms. Places where many people work out every day. People still want to work out though. That’s why there was a sudden and dramatic increase in the demand for fitness equipment. That alone sold out many manufacturers and retailers around the world of any free weight equipment. That means anything that’s left over is going to rise in price because there is just less supply with increased demand.
In a normal situation, you would think that the manufacturers would increase their production and everything would balance out again. That’s not really how it worked however. Most gym equipment is made in China. That means that production couldn’t increase suddenly because of the situation there. Supply lines have been disrupted all over the place so it’s difficult to increase production and transportation to the rest of the world is much slower as well.
Much more demand + lower supply = much higher prices.
In 2019 weight plates could be had for about $1-2 per pound depending on brand and model. Now, $2-3 per pound is a decent deal for weight plates. Hopefully, over time the prices will come back down but, I don’t have a crystal ball so who knows?
How to save money on weight plates
Because they are so expensive, you’re probably going to want to save some money. What’s the best way to do that?
The best way and also the most obvious is to shop second hand. Craigslist, Facebook market place and otherwise are a good bet. Especially after January is a good time to keep an eye out. People had new years resolutions but are now noticing they aren’t actually using the equipment they bought and want to recoup some of their money. This means good deals for you. Maybe you won’t find a good deal immediately but if you keep an eye out for a few weeks you will probably find something good.
Weight plates don’t really wear out. They might not look as good as they were new but as long as they’re not broken and are heavy, you’re good. Of course if they are in terrible shape, a lower price is warranted.