When it comes to choosing new weights for your home gym, there are plenty of options to choose from. In fact, we covered many of these options in our free weights buying guide and how to choose free weights that are the right fit for you. A common question among those looking to purchase weights is regarding the difference between Olympic weights and standard weights. In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about both types of weights and which one suits your needs the best.
Although we dive into the details below, at the highest level, the biggest difference is that standard weight sets are ideal for the beginner fitness enthusiast. On the other hand, olympic weight sets provide a higher weight capacity and are intended for those who have goals of lifting heavier weights.
When looking at the two types of weights side by side you’ll notice that Olympic bars have thicker ends (sleeves) where the weights are placed. Olympic weight plates holes are just under 2” in diameter and the bars are also just shy of 2” in diameter on the ends.
Standard weight plates have a one inch or 25mm diameter hole and the bars are one inch in diameter on the ends and middle shaft. The standard weight bar will have a limited load and weight capacity. These are generally to be used in aerobic and HIIT training classes.
Keep in mind that due to these size differences, the weight plates are not interchangeable.
There are some pros to choosing standard weights over Olympic weights. First, they look less intimidating versus picking up a 45lb Olympic plate, making them ideal for beginners. They also tend to be more affordable which is appealing to many buyers. However, as mentioned previously, standard barbell weight sets have a limited capacity to around 200lb before the bar starts to bend. Standard barbells are shorter, lighter, will take up less space, and are easier to manage.
Olympic weight sets have a much higher capacity with high-quality bars rated at 1500lbs. Weights are available in heavier sizes (up to 100lb plates) and tend to have been precision tested with normal tolerances less than 3% and lower than 1% for International Weightlifting Federation competitions. Olympic bars are much more stable than standard bars due to the added thickness, which makes plate loading easier and safer. Olympic barbells are longer and heavier than regular barbells and are more durable.
Finally, most Olympic bars or power bars have rotating ends which allow for a smoother lift by allowing the bar to spin inside the weight. These revolving ends are known as “Sleeves,” and are meant to diminish or eliminate “the torque” on the bar. This is crucial for fast, explosive movements such as a Power Clean, Clean & Jerks, and Snatches, where you need the bar to rotate quickly. These Olympic bars are ideal for completing CrossFit WOD workouts. It is also helpful for exercises where your grip needs to rotate slightly like squats or deadlifts. These sleeves help to both reduce strain and injury on the user.
For standard weight sets, we suggest the York Barbell Aerobic Weight Set Club Pack which includes (20) 40lb Aerobic Weight Sets, with each set including (2) 10lb weights, (2) 5lb weights and (2) 2.5lb Vinyl Coated plates, a 54” bar and collars and (1) Mobile Aerobic Set Rack. This package has everything you need to get started with your standard weight strength training.
We recommend our best seller, the York 2″ Cast Iron Olympic Weight Plate Set which comes in a 210lb or 300lb capacity. This 300lb Olympic weight set can be used by the novice or experienced weightlifter and will be sure to meet your fitness needs.
Anyone who is starting out in weightlifting can begin with a standard weight and bar set. For most users, standard strength equipment will be suitable for your needs and will not need to upgrade. However, for those who are looking to build strength over time and work towards using higher weight amounts, an Olympic weight set is ideal. Another factor to keep in mind are the type of workouts you intend to do with the weight set. If you plan to do exercises that require heavy lifting, an Olympic weight set is the way to go.
If you are in the market for a new weight set, our expert sales staff are standing by to assist you with your purchase. They are familiar with the various weight sets we offer and can help you purchase one that will meet both your needs and your workout and fitness goals. Contact us today at [email protected] or by messaging us on our website.