Can You Deadlift Without Bumper Plates?

July 29, 2023

When fitting home gym equipment into your budget, you want to avoid buying multiple plate types as it gets expensive quickly. So, it pays to know if you can deadlift without bumper plates.

You can deadlift without bumper plates, but you must ensure you have the correct plates, barbell, and flooring to protect your equipment.

If you can deadlift without bumper plates, why do many lifters use bumper plates when deadlifting?

Can You Deadlift Without Bumper Plates?

You can deadlift without bumper plates, which Powerlifters regularly do. In fact, within Powerlifting competition, only iron plates are used for deadlifting. But even if you’re not a Powerlifter, you don’t need to use bumper plates to deadlift.

However, there are things to consider whether you should deadlift with bumper plates.

Strength Level

While bumper plates are all uniform in diameter, iron and rubber plates are not. Bumper plates are all 450 mm in diameter, similar to iron 45 lb (20 kg) plates which are 445 mm. But iron plates get smaller in diameter as the weights decrease.

For example, here is the diameter of each iron plate:

  • 1.25 lb = 127 mm (5.0”)
  • 2.5 lb = 160 mm (6.3”)
  • 5 lb = 197 mm (7.75”)
  • 10 lb = 226 mm (8.9”)
  • 25 lb = 277 mm (10.9”)
  • 35 lb = 355 mm (14.0”)
  • 45 lb = 445 mm (17.5”)

If you’re a rank beginner and struggle to deadlift 135 lbs (60 kg), you will need to deadlift with bumper plates to pull from the standard height since you can’t use 45 lb (20 kg) iron plates. Your other option is to use the smaller iron plates but elevate the barbell on blocks.

If you don’t, you’ll be pulling from a deficit that is much harder on your lower back and unsuitable for beginners.

The issue is reversed if you’re very strong. Bumper plates are much thicker than iron plates, so you can’t load as many on the bar.

However, this also depends on the brand of bumper plates. Premium quality bumper plates like the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training plates allow 290 kg loaded on a men’s bar, which is more than enough for most people.

But if you’re using other bumper plate brands, you may only fit 160 kg – 200 kg, which is very little for most trained men. Therefore, you will be forced to deadlift without bumper plates.

Type Of Plates

Do You Need To Invest In Bumper Plates For Deadlifts

Outside of bumper plates, there are many types of Olympic plates. You’ll find them rubber coated, with holes, handles, or shaped like an octagon. Some types of plates break easily, specifically rubber-coated Olympic plates with handles.

In my time, I’ve seen far too many broken handles from deadlifting among many commercial gyms. Then you have the problem of plates that aren’t round. Whoever designed octagon plates shouldn’t be allowed in a gym ever again.

When deadlifting with these plates, they roll each time you lower the bar to the floor, so your setup is ruined each rep.

In these instances, bumper plates are a better option. You may even deadlift with a mix of bumper and iron plates to avoid these programs.

Type Of Barbell

The type of barbell may also dictate whether you deadlift without bumper plates. Avoid deadlifting without bumper plates if you’re using an expensive Olympic Weightlifting barbell with needle bearings. The crashing of iron plates on these bars can kill the needle bearings and spin.

Instead, use a dedicated Powerlifting barbell with bushings designed for this abuse.

Protection For The Floor And Equipment

Unlike bumper plates, traditional plates do not have shock-absorbing properties. This lack of cushioning can cause more impact on the floor and potentially damage the floor, plate, or barbell.

Either have rubber mats or a robust deadlifting or Weightlifting platform to absorb most of the shock.

What Other Exercises You Regularly Perform

If you’re stocking your home gym, having one type of plate is cheaper than having sets of each. If you only dabble in the Powerlifts and other heavy strength exercises, you can use iron plates to deadlift without bumpers.

If you regularly perform the Olympic lifts and CrossFit, bumper plates are essential, and you can deadlift with bumpers.

Do You Need To Invest In Bumper Plates For Deadlifts?

It is not necessary to invest in bumper plates for deadlifts unless you’re performing Olympic lifts as well that require them. Olympic plates have been used for deadlifting for decades. You need to ensure you have a platform and power bar to protect your floor and equipment.

If you’re looking for the best bumper plates, look for thinner plates so you can load more weight.


Deadlifting without bumper plates is possible and is just as effective as using bumper plates. Opt for bumper plates if you’re dropping weights with the Olympic lifts and more cost-effective iron plates if you only perform heavy strength exercises.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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