What are Barbell Plates?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
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Barbell plates are a kind of fitness equipment that allows for graduated strength training, particularly in the upper body. A barbell is simply a metal rod that is intended as the basic structure for a number of upper body exercises that include the lifting of weight. Barbell plates are placed on this metal rod and secured into place to add varying amounts of weight to the rod, depending on the intended exercises that will be performed and the type of strength training that is being practiced.

Most barbell plates are round with a circular hole in the center. The hole is the space through which the barbell rod is inserted. Barbell plates are usually sold in sets that range in weight. As more than one barbell plate can be added to each side of a barbell at a time, various weights can be created in order to strengthen the muscles and increase the intensity of the exercises as needed. The plates, like the rod, are made of metal but with various kinds of coatings and finishes depending on the company that manufactures the equipment.


It is important, when using barbell plates, to make sure that the weight is equally distributed on either side of the rod. Otherwise, the equipment could become unbalanced. This could lead to serious injury, especially when lifting large amounts of weight. It is also very important to make sure that the barbell plates are fitted securely in place before beginning any kind of exercise. Again, failing to do so could lead to serious injury, the severity of which only increases with the amount of weight that has been added to the rod.

There are two basic kinds of rods that are used with barbell plates. One is a long rod that is used for exercises that work both arms at the same time. In these sorts of exercises, the motions that the arms make are performed in tandem. Bench presses are a common kind of exercise that are performed using this longer kind of rod.

The shorter rod that is used with barbell plates is for exercises that work the individual arms. Exercisers may use one or two of these shorter barbells at the same time. Barbell plates fit onto these rods in exactly the same way that they fit onto the rods for the longer models. An common exercise that uses this kind of barbell is the bicep curl.


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