Why Do Olympic Weight Plates Have Colors?

Rogue Color Kg Training 2.0 Plates - high quality bumper plates for training in the garage or home gym

The Olympic bumper plates used in competition weightlifting are colorful – and this is no accident.

This isn’t just so they look nice – these colors serve a useful purpose.

The colors allow someone to quickly and easily visually identify the amount of weight loaded on the bar.

Who sets the standards for these colors? The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) sets the specifications and rules for the equipment used in all Olympic weightlifting competition. The International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) requires a similar color code.

And this is where we get the weight plate color coding required by the IWF:

WeightColor
25 kgred      
20 kgblue      
15 kgyellow      
10 kggreen      
5 kgwhite      
2.5 kgred      
2 kgblue      
1.5 kgyellow      
1 kggreen      
0.5 kgwhite      

How accurate are these weights? The plates used in competition are expensive – because they are high quality – but also because they are calibrated. It’s not uncommon for a competition bumper plate to be +/- 15 grams of the claimed weight. Training plates and economy bumper plates could be significantly off from the rating.

Want to find out more about bumper plates?

In addition to the colors required, the IWF specifies the competition Olympic plates 10 kilograms and heavier must be 450 mm (18 inches) in diameter.

Do you need the proper color coding for gym use? No, not really. But it does look nice, and it helps ensure you are loading the bar accurately.

Many manufacturers including Rogue Fitness, Eleiko, and Uesaka make these products.

How to calculate the weight of a fully loaded barbell?

When calculating the fully loaded weight of a barbell – don’t forget that an Olympic bar typically weighs 20 Kg (15 kg for a women’s bar) and the collars (which ensure the plates don’t come off – and are required in competition) weigh 2.5 kg each.

A women’s Olympic bar weighs less than a men’s bar because the shaft is smaller in diameter (typically 25 mm vs 28-29mm) and it is shorter, with less loadable sleeve length.

Find out more about Olympic Barbell specs and options in our Olympic Barbell guide.

What about pounds?

A Rogue Fitness calibrated steel plate.  The blue color denotes that this is a 45 pound (45 lbs) plate - which is also labeled as such

The IWF and IPF require the use of plates in kilogram denominations. But you can buy Olympic plates in pounds as well. For those the color coding is typically as follows:

  • Red = 55 Lbs (24.9 kg)
  • Blue = 45 lbs (20.4 kg)
  • Yellow = 35 lbs (15.88 kg)
  • Green = 25 lbs (11.34 kg)
  • White = 10 lbs (4.54 kg)
  • Blue = 5 lbs (2.27 kg)
  • Green = 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg)
  • White = 1.25 lb (.57 kg)

WeightColor
55 lbsred      
45 lbsblue      
35 lbsyellow      
25 lbsgreen      
10 lbswhite      
5 lbsblue      
2.5 lbsgreen      
1.25 lbswhite      

References

Photo & Image Credits

  • All Rogue Fitness product imagery is property of Rogue Fitness, and provided by Rogue Fitness.
  • Other imagery is provided by the product manufacturers.


Olympic Weight Plates from Eleiko

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