Home Gym Hideaway is supported by its readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
How Many Weight Plates Do You Need

How Many Weight Plates Do You Need? (10 or 50…)

Weight plates (and a barbell) are not a cheap investment. When building a home gym, you need to spend some time working out how many weight plates you need now – based on your current level of strength – and also how many plates you are going to need once you factor in progression through training. 

A beginner might only start out with a requirement for 100lb total weight but given 1 – 3 months of dedicated training, this can soon increase to a need for 200lbs. That’s quite a difference in just a few months!

How many weight plates do you need? Before getting into this article, a good starting point for a minimum requirement in terms of weight plates is the following:

  • 4 x 2.5lbs (1kg)
  • 2 x 5lbs (2.5kg)
  • 4 x 10lbs (5kg)
  • 2 x 25lbs (10kg)
  • 4 x 45lbs (20kg)

Now that you’ve seen an initial minimum requirement we’ll get into the article in more detail and cover exactly how many weight plates you need when setting up a home gym. 

How Many Weight Plates Do You Need (of Each Weight)

You should have at least two of each size available, I know this might seem obvious but plates need to be loaded symmetrically. Trying to lift with a 45lb plate on one side of the bar and a 35lb + 10lb plate on the other side will not work. The sizing will be off and you’ll also be off-balance due to the increased diameter on one side of the bar. 

These are marginal points but once you get strong enough, these minor imbalances can pose safety issues as well as creating muscle imbalances while one side of your body needs to work harder to balance the weight. 

When selecting weight plates for your home gym, the two key considerations would be the size and weight of the plate or weight stack you want to use on your barbell setup. 

Weight plates are commonly measured in pounds or kilograms depending on where you live in the world but the plates themselves are often universal (a 45lb plate in the US is the equivalent of a 20kg plate in the UK). 

Weight Plate sizes can vary widely depending on weight and material, a bumper plate or vinyl plate will be much larger with a wider diameter than an iron plate. This is mainly down to material density and manufacturing design. 

Weight Plates in general though, are usually made from cast iron, rubber, or vinyl. The most common size weight plates for home gyms consist of:

  • 5-pound (2.28 kg)
  • 10-pound (4.53 kg)
  • 25-pound (11.33kg) 
  • 35-pound (15.87kg) 
  • 45-pound (20.41kg)

Other sizes exist to accommodate specific needs (like change or technique plates), for low-impact training or to make marginal weight progressions for heavy compound lifts. 

These require lighter weight loads over prolonged periods of time without joint wear and tear from more significant weight loadings. Heavier weight plates are only necessary for those more experienced when it comes to weightlifting (though it only takes 3 – 6 months for most people to progress to a decent strength level).

Do You Need 35 Pound Plates?

The need for 35-pound weight plates all depends on what weight loads you need. If your goal is to squat, bench press, or deadlift weight that exceeds the capabilities of a set of plates with 15lb (or less) increments, then yes! 

You’ll want 35-pound weight plates for most commercial gyms because they offer a more incremental weight loading that can be used for weight training exercises like squats and other compound movements.

When it comes to incremental progress in the weight room though – and once you get to a certain standard of strength – the 35s can become unnecessary. As long as you have some 45lb plates, some 25lb plates, and some 10lbs plates, you have much more variety when it comes to loading the bar. 

I personally have 2 x 35lb plates in my home gym and the only thing they get used for is warm-up sets. The only time I’d recommend people getting a set of 35lb plates is if it’s part of an initial bundle or job lot offer. They can also be useful if you are a beginner and can’t easily progress to lifts using the 45lb plates, I know when I first started training the jump to 45lbs on a bench press seemed impossible!

If you want a nice symmetrical selection of plates, you can opt for 35s but my 35lb plates are collecting rust and dust in a corner and only get used for warm-up sets on most exercises so if you don’t have a big budget, you can skip the 35s.

Weight Plates for a Weight Stack 

A weight stack is often used for fixed machines and is not something that should be confused with traditional weight plates which are designed for a dumbbell or barbell. 

These are primarily used for cable machines or other fixed machines that are non-plate loaded. The terminology is confusing but when getting started out with a home gym, these are not the kind of plates you need so don’t get these.

These usually come as flat and rectangular designs and do not have a diameter that will fit around a barbell. 

One type consists of two long cylinders with metal disks mounted at either end; these discs slide up and down inside the cylinder as weights are added or removed from each side.

In another design, short hollow metal tubes hold stacks of heavy cast iron plates added or removed from the weight stack.  

However, some people may prefer using machines that have preset weight settings like a multigym.

Weight Plate Alternatives

For a weight machine with preset weight settings, the number of plates is usually limited to one’s max weight capacity on that particular exercise (up to 200 lbs). The weight stack for these machine weights generally starts at 45lbs and can be adjusted by adding or removing from the weight stack as needed until it reaches the desired weight level. 

If someone doesn’t have enough room in their home gym, they might want to consider purchasing smaller sets like those containing dumbbells rather than larger sets containing many different types of equipment.

A typical set of alternative options may include: 

  • A set of 2” dumbbell handles (you can then use your standard weight plates with these dumbbell handles)
  • An adjustable dumbbell set (space-saving and some options like Bowflex have a good weight capacity)
  • 12-16 pairs of iron hexagon-shaped weights ranging anywhere from five pounds up to fifty pounds.

Home gyms come in a variety of sizes. Still, for those who have limited space or are just looking to purchase smaller sets like those containing dumbbells rather than larger sets that contain many different types of equipment, dumbbell sets may be an ideal option. 

What is the Best Mix of Weights for a Home Gym?

You will probably find that between a pair of 25lb weight plates and three pairs of 10lb weight plates, you’ll be able to get any workout done, especially if you are just starting out and have a barbell and loadable pair of dumbbells. 

If you are inexperienced, it is not really needed (or recommended) that you start with heavyweight until your form is perfected with lighter loads. Lifting plates that are too heavy may lead to injuries or improper form during lifts will result in soreness, pain, physical limitations, and other issues.

A good starting stack for most basic barbell setups is a 6ft Olympic barbell and the following weight plate mix:

  • 4 x 2.5lbs (1kg)
  • 2 x 5lbs (2.5kg)
  • 4 x 10lbs (5kg)
  • 2 x 25lbs (10kg)
  • 4 x 45lbs (20kg)

This would be the most cost-effective solution to get started and realistically, this will last a few years of training until you get to an intermediate level of strength. You’ll also find scope for growth as this stack would not even be close to a barbell weight limit

Weight plates come in different:

  • Shapes
  • Sizes
  • Weights
  • Materials

To continue with the cost-effective solution as well as one of necessity, most people will opt to get an iron set of weights. These are reasonable on cost at around $2 per 1lb of weight. a 290lb (recommended above) starting stack would therefore set you back around $550 – $650 depending on the price you can get per pound of weight.

A good guide for weight plate requirements is how much can deadlift, squat, or bench press. If this costs you a day pass at a gym to test your lifts, do it. For complete beginners, 290lbs is a good long term purchase but for anyone stronger, use the compound lifts about as a guide and add 10% to the weight requirement. 

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to getting a mix of weight plates for a home gym, people will often overthink this. You’ll either have people greatly underestimate the number of plates they need and others who buy an outrageous amount of plates that never get used. 

8 x 45lb plates will definitely look cool and symmetrical in a home gym but realistically, how many people will be racking 360lbs in 45s alone? 

Therefore, start within your current level of strength and budget. A varied range of sizes between 200lbs – 300lbs will be a great mix for those looking to start a home gym. Anything less than 200lbs will not give you enough range of plates or room for progression so definitely use my suggested earlier in this article for a good guide.