Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bumper Plates - The Best Way to Save Your Investment

When making an investment in equipment for your gym - whether it be a full fledged commercial facility or a garage gym, you want that investment to last.  And we do, too.  Replacement of damaged or broken equipment is never a planned expense for anyone.

And we're aware that training with intensity requires quality equipment.  There is a big difference between using a set of bumpers in your garage once a day to placing those same bumpers in a gym with 100+ athletes using them daily.


As a gym owner, you probably experienced a broken 10lb or 15lb bumper plate from time to time.  Many of these lightweight bumpers will meet an untimely fate if they are the only bumper on the bar when dropped.  But we've got a simple, easy to follow barbell loading chart that can put an end to the early demise of those lightweight bumper plates.

We wrote a while ago on bumper math...that's the time you get to scratch your head to think about what bumpers you need to get on the bar to get a certain weight.  We know it can be a mad scramble after the warmup for all your athletes to get bars out, bumpers, collars, etc, then get all loaded up with their weight of choice.  It's at this 'hectic' time when sometimes we load whatever is the quickest to get set up quickly.  But that can also mean that the bars are not loaded in a way that is most favorable to saving bumpers from an untimely death.  Believe me, we've been there.

I've been training with and talking to gym owners for years and one of the best I've seen at having a game plan together for saving lightweight bumpers is Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester.  CrossFit Rochester is the 156th CrossFit affiliate in the world so when it comes to having experience with what does and doesn't work, Joe knows.  It does take a little coaxing of your athletes, but Joe's method is a seriously easy, foolproof way to protect your investment.  He put it all into a barbell loading chart which, with his permission, we posted below.

"Failure of the lightweight bumpers occurs most often with bar weights of 95lbs or less."

When the whiteboard has prescribed weights of 95lbs and less, it's then that you've got to be the most careful.  The lighter weight bumpers don't stand up well when they are the only bumper on the bar sleeve.  But, this simple, printable loading chart [below] that makes it easy for your athletes to load their bars in a way that will protect the bumpers from failure.

Assuming that the commercial gym has three different bars for their clients - the 20kg [or 45lb] Men's Bar, the 15kg [or 35lb] Women's Bar, and the 15lb Training Bar, the loading diagram is easy to follow.  If you don't own Training Bars, they are well worth the investment.  That 15lb bar is easily the difference between keeping your bumper plate investment for years or spending $500 plus every year or so on replacing them.

There is a little prep work involved to make the barbell loading diagram the easiest to use.  We promise that it will take no longer than an hour.  Run out to the local hardware store and pick up one roll each of three different colors of electrical tape - red, blue and green.  With the tape, color code each bar where the bar shaft meets the sleeve.  I'd recommend doing that on both ends of the bar.  Training bars - blue, Ladies 15kg bars - green and Mens 20kg bars - red.  If you have multiple storage locations for bars, store each type in a separate area - that makes our barbell loading diagram even easier for your athletes to use.

As I mentioned, Joe Celso came up with a fool-proof barbell loading diagram that we've re-created below.  It details how to load barbells for total laden weights of 25lb - 95lb.  Weights above 95lb always involve multiple bumpers on each side of the bar sleeve so no worries there.  The lightweight bumper plates are at most risk when they are the only bumper on the bar.

We know that drops from shoulder height and above are unavoidable, but by following Barbell Building 101 below, the life of the 10lb and 15lb bumpers will increase dramatically.   Only in two instances are the 10lb and 15lb bumpers allowed as the only bumper on the bar sleeve - for 35# and 45# total weight.  In these instances we strongly recommend the use of Hi Temp Bumper Plates for commercial facilities.  Hi Temp Bumpers are thicker and more  resilient than many of their high density counterparts.  For the 25# barbell, use 5lb steel weight plates on the 15# training bar.

Feel free to print our Barbell Building Guide below, laminate it, and post it up around the gym.
Save your lightweight bumper plates from an untimely death!  Print out, laminate and put this chart up in your gym.
Hammerhead Strength Equipment is a strength equipment manufacturer outfitting Commercial Facilities and Garage Gyms alike throughout the US and beyond.  Starting a new gym or expanding your current facility?   We can help!  Reach out to us for more info here.