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What Are Technique Plates

What Are Technique Plates? (Are They Necessary)

If you’ve trained in a good gym or training facility (usually an Olympic weightlifting gym) then chances are you’ve come across a technique plate. If, however, you’ve been looking for new weight plates for a home gym and noticed a category called “technique plates” then chances are you have no idea what they are. 

Technique plates look like regular Olympic weight plates or bumper plates – especially when just looking at an image of them – yet are considerably lighter and oftentimes considerably more expensive. 

So, what are technique plates? Technique plates match the diameter of full-sized Olympic weight plates and bumper plates but are much lighter weighing 10lb – 20lbs. Technique plates are used by rehabbing athletes, beginners, or youths to learn correct weightlifting form before moving onto full-size Olympic plates. 

These weight plates are typically considered to be specialist plates as they serve a very specific purpose. In this article, we’ll explain what exactly technique plates are, who should use them, and why there aren’t alternatives…

What Are Technique Plates?

Technique plates are full-size Olympic standard weight plates. Whilst being a full-sized equivalent to a 45lb Olympic plate, they are much lighter, typically weighing 10lbs, and are used to develop the proper weightlifting technique for snatches and clean and jerks.

Technique plates are primarily used by weightlifting beginners, rehabbing athletes, or youths that want to learn how to safely perform Olympic lifts. They are made from tough and durable plastic which means they can be dropped, provided this is done on a rubber gym floor or deadlift platform. 

A technique plate is a very specialist type of plate. They have the following specifications and dimensions:

  • Diameter – 450mm
  • Weight – 10lb – 15lb
  • Thickness – 12mm – 35mm
  • Collar opening – 50mm (fits all standard 2” Olympic barbells)

These dimensions, especially the outer diameter are designed to be the same as a full-size Olympic weight plate but the weight is much lighter. They are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic which makes them incredibly durable and is one of the reasons they can be dropped from height (unlike lighter weight plates with a smaller diameter and material). 

Why Use Technique Plates

Technique plates are used to develop and perfect a lifter’s technique/form for Olympic weightlifting exercises. 

Traditionally, people would use an empty barbell to practice correct lifting technique and if you go to any Crossfit or Olympic weightlifting gym as a beginner, you won’t be allowed to progress away from an empty barbell until your coach feels confident that you are using the correct form. 

This, however, doesn’t translate very well to then doing Olympic exercises with more weight. The reason is that key Olympic lifts involve pulling weight from the floor. Most start from a deadlift position and the clean, clean and jerk, and snatch all involve deadlifting the initial weight. 

When progressing from the barbell to using additional weight, no beginner can just jump from lifting the 45lb bar to then lifting an additional 90lbs (45lb plate on either side). Therefore, to add an increment you’ll need to use a plate that matches the diameter of a full-size Olympic plate. 

Technique plates allow beginners, youths, or injured athletes that are rehabbing a way to progress from the bar to heavier weights while maintaining correct form and movement patterns. They, therefore, make use of a very specific purpose because once you start to progress with your lifts, you’ll no longer need to use technique plates as they get replaced by factional/change plates.

What Technique Plates Should I Buy for a Home Gym?

If you’re looking for technique plates the first key consideration to be aware of is that technique plates are expensive!

Technique plates are a specialist type of weight plate and as they are not mass manufactured, you’ll be paying a higher price than if you were to simply use a 10lb bumper plate or Olympic weight plate. 

With that being said, you still want to opt for a quality plate to justify the investment so we’d recommend using an industry leader like Rogue or Eleiko. 

If technique plates are out of your budget, the final option to consider is some DIY technique plates. Check out the video below to see how these can be made on a budget. 

Technique Plates vs Bumper Plates: What’s The Difference?

Technique plates and 10lb bumper plates both look very similar and seem to serve a similar purpose, so, what’s the difference – if any? 

Technique plates are used from a different material than bumper plates but are the prerequisite to a bumper plate. Bumper plates are competition plates in Crossfit while Olympic weight plates are competition-size plates for Olympic weightlifting. 

This can sometimes cause confusion between lifters, especially when Crossfit incorporates Olympic weightlifting exercises. The key difference is that technique plates are made to be much more durable and can be dropped from a height. 

This means that technique plates are used when no other plates are on the bar. If you have a set of 10lb bumper plates, they are not so durable and cannot be dropped when they are the only plates on the bar. This is because the impact will either damage the exterior and warp the shape of the plate or it could damage the insert rendering the plates unusable. 

The main reason for this is that technique plates are made from hard and durable plastic making them ideal for dropping without taking damage. 10lb bumpers on the other hand are made from less durable rubber and don’t have the same solid construction as a technique plate. 

The key difference between the two plates is that technique plates are used when no other plates are on the barbell whereas 10lb bumper plates should only be used when there are other plates on the bar to absorb impact when dropped. 

Technique Plates vs Fractional Plates vs Change Plates

The difference between technique plates and fractional weights is that technique plates are primarily sold in single units and weight increments. 

On the other hand, fractional weights usually come as pairs or sets of four like 20kg, 40kg, etc., while you can buy weight incrementally if you want with a few pounds at a time.

Fractional plates, often called microplates, are small increments of weight that help you build muscle and increase the effectiveness of progressive overload – a better physique. 

They come in under 5lbs (2.5kg) and are available at 0.25kg increments from .25-.75kg, 1-1.25kgs, 2.5-3 kgs. Fractional weights are less expensive than technique plates, and weight increments are sold in smaller weight ranges.

Change plates are weights designed explicitly for weight changes and are usually sold in increments of 2.5lbs. Using change plates and fractional plates will allow you to safely increase the weight you are using as you go from week to week.

In Summary

Technique plates are a specialist type of weight plate used primarily for Olympic weightlifting, though they are also commonly seen in Crossfit gyms. The purpose of a technique plate is for beginners, youths, or rehabbing athletes to learn the correct technique before progressing onto heavier weights. 

As technique plates have the same outer diameter as Olympic weightlifting plates, you can learn the correct technique when lifting from the floor which will have a perfect transfer over (from a movement pattern perspective) to then training with heavier Olympic weight plates. 

As they are specialist plates, they are often more expensive than other types of plates and you shouldn’t use these plates from incremental weight increases. Once you get stronger, you can only really use these plates for warm-up sets, if you need incremental weights then it’s best to use the following:

  • Fractional plates
  • Change plates
  • 10lb bumper plates