Most gym equipment is fairly low maintenance (when talking specifically about home gym equipment). As gym equipment is also relatively expensive to purchase though, you want to make sure it lasts for as long as possible so low maintenance or not, you’ll still want to maintain equipment as regularly as possible.
Cast iron plates need to be treated to prevent rusting and urethane needs to be cleaned for hygiene reasons but one type of plate in particular that needs more attention when it comes to maintenance is a bumper plate. Bumper plates are made with thick rubber but the steel ring in the centre of the bumper plate means different cleaning methods are needed to ensure longevity.
Bumper plates also take the most impact when it comes to weightlifting so if you want to extend the life of your bumper plates, you’ll need to apply some general maintenance routines. In this article, we’ll therefore cover how to maintain bumper plates.
How to Maintain Bumper Plates
Bumper plates are fast becoming a staple in weightlifting equipment, and if you want your home gym to feel complete and broaden the range of exercises to add to your program they are a very worthwhile investment. No matter how good of an addition they are to your home gym, they won’t last even half as long as they should without proper care and maintenance.
As you’re probably already aware, bumper plates are designed to take some serious punishment (with most bumper plates lasting at least 10 years of heavy-duty use), and sure dropping them isn’t going to damage them too much as long as you have appropriate flooring installed.
Where your bumper plates can become vulnerable however is how you look after them between your workouts.
How to Store Bumper Plates
Although you might have seen stacks of cast iron plates lying about in corners of gyms or even your own home gym, this is definitely not the way you should be storing your bumper plates. It’s a surefire way to drastically reduce the lifespan of your plates.
Bumper plates are also much wider in diameter than your standard cast iron plates so we know that no matter how much you try they’re going to take up quite a lot of space wherever you store them.
Weight plate trees provide one of the most practical solutions there is when it comes to bumper plate storage.
Not only do these trees allow you to store your plates off the ground and separately, but they also make very efficient use of space, and anyone who has or is currently building their own home gym knows that space is a priceless currency.
The downside to weight plate trees is that, while you can definitely find one on a budget, it is another piece of equipment that you’ll have to invest in. It’s definitely a purchase that will benefit you and your plates though and could save you much more in the long run compared to replacing a whole set of damaged bumper plates.
There is a whole load of options out there when it comes to racking up your plates after a workout:
- Wall-mounted – You can mount your plates on a rack on the wall or just individual pegs. This option is great for saving space as it takes up zero space on your floor, but you’ll want to be very confident in the sturdiness of your walls, especially if you’re lifting heavy and have more plates
- A-frame – These racks are strong and stable, and will fit on all the plates you’ll need at the cost of taking up much more floor space.
- Vertical – These taller, vertical plate racks are great for saving space, and if you can find one on wheels as well you’ll have a much easier time moving your weights around your home gym.
- Squat Rack Pegs – Squat rack pegs are a convenient storage solution for bumper plates. They keep them off the ground and easily accessible, however, due to the large diameter for most bumper plates, space will be limited when using these pegs. A standard peg will only hold around two bumper plates.
- Bike Rack – The most DIY or unorthodox method for bumper plate storage is to use a bike rack available on Amazon or at your local hardware store. These racks (designed to hold wheels in place) are the ideal diameter to hold your bumper plates in a secure and upright position.
The list above is by no means a complete list of options for storing your bumper plates, so simply find the right one for your space and budget. Whatever you do you should always try to avoid just piling the plates up on the floor as they will degrade much more quickly this way.
Can I Store Bumper Plates Outside?
If you really are at a loss for more space to store your plates inside, storing them outside isn’t the end of the world. If you are going to be leaving them outside though make sure to store them out of direct sunlight and wrap them under a waterproof cover or tarpaulin – although the urethane should be absolutely fine in the rain, the metal collar will suffer for it and they will degrade much quicker.
How to Clean Bumper Plates
No matter how little or how much you spent on your bumper plates, cleaning them regularly is a big part of maintaining their longevity. As they are made from urethane or rubber, however, it’s best to make sure you know how to clean them properly beforehand, as a lot of cleaning products and chemicals can cause irreversible damage to the plates.
One of the benefits of bumper plates is that the majority of metal in the plate is protected by the urethane coating, so rusting should never really be an issue. The steel collar on the inside of the plate will however rust over time, especially if you’re storing them outside.
For the collar, a standard metal cleaner (Barkeeper’s Friend is a solid choice) and cloth should do you just fine.
When it comes to cleaning the actual rubber that makes up the bulk of the plate, however, your best bet is to stick to a very basic cleaning method. Warm water and a little regular dish soap should be more than enough to wipe away the oil and dirt that builds up over time. Make sure not to use too much water – a damp cloth with this cleaning solution is absolutely fine.
You should definitely avoid harsher cleaning products as the chemicals will wear away the urethane itself, and degrade the plates very quickly.
Like all weight plates and barbells, it’s recommended to wipe them dry with a towel or cloth between uses. This will save you having to give them a full clean so often and is best practice with all gym equipment, whether you’re in a commercial gym or in your own home.
Bumper plates are designed to withstand impact from Olympic lifts and as a result, they take the most beating in-home gym setups. To properly maintain a bumper plate is not difficult though. Bumper plates are relatively easy to clean and resistant to rust for the most part.
Therefore, to maintain bumper plates you need to keep them securely stored away from damp or direct sunlight (though this can be tricky due to them being a lot thicker than standard weight plates). Warm water and a cloth is the best method to clean your bumper plates while using some WD-40 will prevent rusting on the inner ring.
For simple maintenance, clean your bumper plates every two weeks, ensuring they are stored correctly.