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When building a gym, the thought of so many different pieces of equipment can be intimidating. Our advice is to start with the most versatile pieces of equipment. Equipment that can be used to work a variety of muscles is where you are going to get the most value for your dollar.
Why Use Free Weights
Some people in the gym consider free weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, old-fashioned. We are here to shout from the rooftops that free weights are actually the overlooked hero of the gym. This is especially true in a home gym or small studio.
Not only do free weights take up less space, but they can also be much more versatile. Any muscle can be hit with a barbell and bumper plates versus a machine that can only serve a select muscle group.
More power is able to be derived from free weights as well. The fact that they are not attached to anything allows the body to really drive power when completing certain exercises, which can be compromised on some machines.
When working out with free weights, the assistance of smaller helper muscles to be engaged becomes possible. For example, if we are completing a deadlift, the larger muscle at work is the glutes, and the smaller muscles are the hip flexors. When doing a deadlift with some weights, these helper muscles are more easily activated than when using a machine.
While there is a time and place for machines, free weights supply flexibility and muscle targeting that can otherwise be difficult to achieve.
Standard vs.Olympic Barbells & Bumper Plates
There are two general types of bars and bumper plates available. The first option is standard, meaning that the bar is 1” in diameter and the bumper plates have a matching 1” opening. Olympic plates have a 2” diameter opening and olympic bars are 2” in diameter.
Olympic plates are the clear better option because they can fit on both olympic and standard bars. Standard plates, however, do not fit olympic barbells and are limited in the bars that they can be used on.
Olympic barbells are twice as thick as standard barbells, meaning that they are much more durable and can handle more weight before bending. When it comes to barbell racks, olympic barbells are still the superior choice yet again. Bar storage racks are typically designed to fit 7ft olympic bars as compared to the standard 5 or 6ft bars.
If you are ever planning on weight lifting on a competition level, you should certainly train with Olympic barbells and bumper plates, as those are the only ones used in competition. Standard bars and bumper plates are an option, however, when looking at the whole picture, it makes more sense to invest in olympic equipment.
Here are some great Olympic Barbells to add to your gym:
- Black ZINC Women’s Olympic Ball Bearing Bar
- Black ZINC Olympic Ball Bearing Bar
- CERAKOTE Women’s Needle Bearing Olympic Bar
- CERAKOTE Needle Bearing Olympic Bar
- Multi Grip Olympic Bar
- Trap Bar | Lunge Bar
Benefits of Bumper Plates vs Traditional Plates
After you choose the diameter sizing that you want to train with, the next choice is traditional plates or bumper plates. The difference between the manufacturing of these plates is that bumper plates are coated with rubber.
Unlike iron plates, rubber plates are completely durable. When doing powerful exercises, the plates themselves begin to see a lot of wear and tear. The rubber coating on bumper plates allows for the plates to be protected during intense workouts. The bumper plates will not crack as much and will not need to be replaced nearly as often.
Traditional iron plates vary in diameter. While this may be a small factor to some, this can lead to disorganization and confusion in a small studio. For the more anal folk, this could also become quite frustrating. Bumper plates, on the other hand, do have standard sizing, giving a cohesive look and feel to your gym.
Let’s be real, rubber simply has more protection than iron. This means protection from chipped and scratched floors as well as protection for the athlete. Unfortunately, sometimes the bars do come down hard and a rubber bumper plate is much more forgiving to toes and floors than iron is.
Due to the metal being encased in rubber, there is substantially less clanking when using bumper plates. Especially in a Crossfit gym when there can already be quite a decent amount of noise, slightly less banging and clanking can be welcomed. If you intend to use bumper plates in a home gym this can also be helpful in reducing noise that your family or neighbors will be hearing.
Recycled Rubber Bumper Plates
Recycled bumper plates are most commonly made out of shredded tire rubber, also known as “crumb rubber.” This is the rubber used in ARCHON’s Spec Bumper Plates whereas ARCHON’s Atlas Bumper Plates are made from pure rubber. Both serve different purposes.
Recycled rubber bumper plate pros:
- Recycled and better for the environment
- Most cost-effective
- Have more bounce, so better used outdoors where there is not a mat
- Rough look, so you see scratches less
Pure rubber bumper plate pros:
- No binding agent in the rubber, as it is pure
- Tends to be more durable
- Safe and minimal bounce back
Both options are wonderful options and the choice is truly dependent on price point and type of use.
The ARCHON Difference
At ARCHON, our main priority is to create equipment with the end-user in mind. We pay special attention to materials, the design, colors, and overall usability of every product manufactured.
Our ARCHON olympic barbells and bumper plates are durable, safe, and the perfect addition to your commercial or home gym. When you purchase a piece of workout equipment from us, our relationship is just beginning.
Whether you’re just beginning your journey toward fitness or you are well on your way to healthier living, you are important to us. Take a look at our website to purchase your ARCHON equipment today.