I've been lifting weights on and off for the past decade and as one who's been weight training at home, I've worked mostly with barbell and dumbbell weight plates. These gym plates were bought new from sports hobby stores in malls. I was attracted to the nice black shiny new plates and as a beginner back then, who wouldn't want to workout using shiny new equipment?
I suppose I was just too lazy to look around for used equipment. Somehow, I was sort of expecting to see worn out, dirty, rusted plates with plenty of dings that were retrieved from an old dungeon of a gym somewhere.
But in retrospect, buying used barbell and dumbbell weights makes sense.
Why it's Better to Buy Used Barbell and Dumbell Weight Plates
- Generally Cheaper
Used equipment of any kind is generally cheaper. Many bodybuilding and weight lifting wannabees quickly lose interest after discovering it's hard work to build muscles. Having these heavy stuff around the house is a burden and selling them cheap is the quickest way to offload them.
- Plenty of Resources
If there was eBay many years ago, I would've looked in there first for used gym weight plates. You know how so much organized and searchable Ebay is nowadays that looking for any particular kind of gym equipment is a breeze. And not just eBay. There are other online shopping websites on the internet.
- Tough and Durable
Weight equipment such as gym weight plates are generally tough and do last long. It will take a lot to break metal plates. Even bought used, they'd still probably outlive you. That means, you'll get to use them until you've no more use for them. About the only damage they'd likely get is rusting. But this is largely cosmetic and you could easily clean and paint rusty old plates.
- Weight is Weight
Probably, the most compelling reason to buying used barbell and dumbell plates is that, well, weight is weight. Your weight plates may be colored yellow, have rust spots and just look plain ugly - but your muscles won't know that. Muscular development will simply respond to the stimulus afforded by the weight. But of course, beyond aesthetics, quality is something else.
Unlike new barbell and dumbbell plates, your mileage may vary with used gym plates. With new plates, you can be sure (more or less) that you have nice, shiny ones that are consistent in size and shape and clean with no rust.
What to Look For in Used Barbell and Dumbbell Weight Plates
- Uniform Hole Sizes
Be consistent with the equipment specifications. Remember there are two hole sizes as far as gym plates are concerned: 1-inch holes and the 2-inch holes - and no, they're not interchangeable. The 2-inch holes are the Olympic plates and are loaded on to Olympic barbell bars. Many commercial gyms have these kind of equipment. If you're the typical home trainer, you're probably using the Standard plates which have 1-inch holes. These plates match up with the Standard barbell bars.
- Consistent Shape and Type
Thus far, I've not seen any square or hexagonal shaped gym weight plates, but who knows? So it's always a best bet that most used barbell and dumbbell plates are of the round shape, and it's a good idea to stick to those. The rule of thumb is get the most common type you can find so there's little chance you'll get a mishmash of odd-looking gym plates.
- Even Diameter Pairings
Unless the only exercise you do is T-Bar rows where you load only one end of the bar, you need to be concerned with each pair of weight plates you buy. Of course, each pair should be of the same weight. But they should also be of the same diameter. When loaded, a dumbbell or barbell should be horizontal, and not one end higher than the other.
- Even Thickness Pairings
Make sure that the plate pairs you get have the same thickness, more or less. Nothing can be more frustrating than to be able to load 4 plates on one end of the barbell or dumbbell bar and only 3 plates on the other - because the 4th plate won't fit in.
So, in general, be on the lookout for weight plates that do not pair up consistently to a reasonable degree. An unbalanced barbell or dumbbell can be a safety risk around your home gym.
Having a wide assortment of barbell and dumbbell weight plates is always an advantage for the home gym trainer. It shouldn't matter that they're not exactly of the same type or bought from different sources. It shouldn't matter to you anyway, but another good reason for working out at home.