How to choose weight and dumbbells
How to choose weights?
To help you select the right weights, we will introduce the basic classification of weights first. The most elemental division is into compact weights and dumbbell weights.
Dumbbell weights can be further divided into e.g. aerobic weights, zumba weights, vinyl weights, neoprene weights and last but not least professional commercial gym weights. Aerobic, zumba and similar weights weigh a maximum of 5 kg. You may know them thanks to their usually very colourful finish – red, yellow, green, purple, pink, etc. Such weights are usually purchased by women for their trainings.
Professional weights can weigh from 0,5 kg up to 100 kg. These are fixed weights with no possibility of adding more weight.
Special introductions to the market are adjustable dumbbells. These weights have a special system of weight adjustment and replace several pairs of dumbbells at once.
The second type is compact weights. Compact weights have a great advantage and that is adding or removing weights – plates. When purchasing compact weights, you first need to buy a bar, then plates and bar collars. Let us go through individual components in more detail.
Weight bar, weight rods, weight lifting rods, weight barbells
These are the basic names that people use when searching for weight bars. With weight bars, there are 4 important parameters.
The first parameter is the diameter of the bar. The basic diameters are 25 mm, 30 mm and 50 mm. However, there are atypical diameters on the market, too, such as 26 mm, 28 or 29 mm. Based on the diameter of the bar you have to select the plates as well.
If you have a 25 mm barbell lying around at home, you can easily load them with 30 mm plates. The only downside will be the tilt of the plates. It is not possible the other way round so keep that in mind when purchasing!
The second parameter is the length of the bar. Classical dumbbells come with 35 cm and 40 cm long bars. The longer the bar, the more space for stacking plates. Large weights, the so called bicep weights, weight-lifting barbells or bench weights are from 120 cm up to 220 cm long. If you already own a bench, do not forget to measure the span of the rack.
The third parameter is the shape of the bar. Basic bars are straight along the entire length. They are suitable for classic bicep lifting or bench press. Subsequently, there is the EZ bar, curl bar, tricep bar, trap bar, Swiss bar, etc. There are variously shaped bars for various exercises. 80% of users buy a 160 cm or 180 cm long classic straight bar with a diameter of 25-30 mm.
Active users however buy Olympic bars and also Olympic plates, as you know them from gyms.
The fourth parameter is the load capacity of the bar. This parameter is not so important for basic home workouts. Cheap bars usually have a load capacity of 100 kg. In case of overload for squats for example, the bar could bend. This parameter is especially important when referring to olympic bars. The load capacity influences the price of the bar as well. The standard capacity is around 200-300 kg. Good quality bars can bear 700-900 kg of weight. They are made of special steel and their price is ca. 200€. Competition bars with certified quality can cost 1100€. High quality Olympic bars have turnable ends with bearings.
Plates and weights
When choosing plates, you need to consider the diameter of the bar. In practice this means that if your bar is 50 mm in diameter, your plates will have to have a 50 mm diameter hole. We can divide plates into several categories as well: cement plates, metal plates, rubber coated plates, Olympic plates, bumper plates also called throwing weight-lifting plates.
The cheapest plates are made of cement. It is a consequence of the ever-increasing price of metal. Manufacturers therefore decided to react to the demand for cheap plates. Cement plates are usually coated with plastic. And the advantage? Low price compared to the classic metal plates. The disadvantage, on the other hand, is larger volume and with more frequent use or when dropping them too often, the plastic coating can break and the cement fall apart. And thus cement plates do not have a long lifespan and can break in case of incautious use.
Classic plates are made of metal. These are practically indestructible and will last you up until your retirement. With metal plates you should pay attention to their shape. There are plates without grips which means they are flat on the surface. It is a cheaper alternative but they are more difficult to pick up. The more expensive kind has grips. Such plates are manufactured by good quality brands only. You should keep this parameter in mind when purchasing as well. You are not buying your plates for a month but for a lifetime. And a couple Euros are a practical investment.
Rubber coated plates are more expensive than classic metal plates. The advantage is that they do not clink against each other, they have a pleasant surface and they protect the floor from damaging.
Olympic plates have a hole diameter of 50 mm. You can find several shapes and forms on the market. The basic type is the classic rounded metal one. Olympic plates sometimes have a 12-sided design and thanks to this practical design they do not slide across the floor. You can also find rubber coated plates with grips for easier manipulation. The so called bumper Olympic plates are special weight-lifting plates that can resist throwing and dropping without any issues. These plates are always flat without grips and their globally known manufacturer is Eleiko.
There are several types of bar collars on the market. The basic types are: spring collars, screw collars, lock-jaw collars and special collars. On the market are many types of collars.
Spring collars offer easy attachment but they do not hold onto the bar very tightly. So in case you would tilt the bar to the side, the plates could slip.
Screw collars hold onto the bar very well, the only issue is that during workout they can loosen and it is necessary to tighten them back from time to time.
Lock-jaw collars are suitable for smooth bars without thread for classic screws. They are suitable for Olympic bars. You can just slip it onto the bar and tighten the little screw on the collar.
Special collars come in different shapes and sizes and are made of various materials. They offer easy adjustment to the bar and sturdiness, however they are on the pricier side compared to classic collars.
What brand of weights to choose?
Just like with any other product, buying from a certified brand means buying good quality. And the same goes with plates. If you are buying brand plates, the price may be higher but you will get a precisely crafted piece with the right and guaranteed weight.
A good quality plate has a good surface finish resistant against scratches and holds its shape properly. Cheap ones do not always have nice and precise shapes. Good quality plates are never made of cement.
When purchasing your plates, avoid buying from supermarkets. The plates may be cheap there but their hole diameters are often atypical. It often happens that customers buy cheap 10 kg bars and when they want to buy plates later, they find out that the seller does not offer plates at all. And they are left with a bar with no use.
Purchase your products at specialised fitness stores that are dedicated to this market and you can be sure that in the future you will be able to find plates for your bars when adding to your personal gym.
We are very pleased to be able to share our long-standing experience in the field of fitness, where we have been working since 2008. We hope that the aforementioned information will be put to good use and will help you choose the ideal partner in achieving your goals and dreams. Whether it is your dream body, great condition or solving your health problems.
Our company is a direct importer of several brands as well as an exclusive distributor for the Czech and Slovak Republic.
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