CHANGE PLATES VS. FRACTIONAL PLATES: WHICH SHOULD YOU USE?
Remember those first few months when you began hitting the weights? Sure, it seemed like you were constantly sore and hungry, but the gains came fast. Before you knew it, you had gained muscle, lost body fat, and increased your strength.
The honeymoon phase of weightlifting is met with that inevitable plateau that all newcomers hate.
What’s more, once you reach the top of where your limit is, throwing on another 10-pound plate every week typically isn’t possible. You begin to have a battle with your ego and your ability. If weekly ten-pound increases are too much, where do you turn?
The answer is change plates and fractional plates.
Table of contents
- Getting Realistic With Weight Increases
- What Are Change Plates?
- What Are Fractional Plates?
- Change Plates VS. Fractional Plates: Which Should You Use?
- Do You Use Change Plates Or Fractional Plates?
1. GETTING REALISTIC WITH WEIGHT INCREASES
Change plates and fractional plates are a safe way to responsibly increase the weight you’re using from week to week. They are designed to fit on Olympic barbells, ensuring you won’t have any issues with your current weight set.
As we mentioned, throwing 10-pound and 25-pound plates on to the barbell every week isn’t sustainable. But increasing the weight you’re using in micro doses is both sustainable and encouraged.
This is where fractional plates and change plates can help you. Let’s explore the difference between changes plates vs fractional plates. We’ll also explore when you should use each one.
2. WHAT ARE CHANGE PLATES?
When you walk into a standard weight room, the typical lowest or starting weight plate you’ll see is five pounds. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a few dusty two-and-a-half-pound plates.
Change plates provide you with more options for lower amounts of weight. They are often sold in two different types of sets, depending on your measurement preference.
If you prefer kilograms, you can typically buy a set of six plates:
- 0.5 kg. (1.1 lbs.)
- 1 kg. (2.2 lbs.)
- 1.5 kg. (3.3 lbs.)
- 2 kg. (4.4 lbs.)
- 2.5 kg. (5.5 lbs.)
- 5 kg. (11 lbs.)
Change plates are also available in Imperial measurements; this set usually consists of only four plates:
- 1.25 lbs.
- 2.5 lbs.
- 5 lbs.
- 10 lbs.
ADD CHANGE PLATES TO YOUR HOME GYM ARSENAL
3. WHAT ARE FRACTIONAL PLATES?
Also called micro plates, fractional plates are a type of change plate that provide you with more lower-weight options:
- ¼ lbs. (0.25 lbs.)
- ½ lbs. (0.5 lbs.)
- ¾ lbs. (0.75 lbs.)
- 1 lbs.
You can also buy a fractional plate kit that includes several 0.5-pound plates, allowing you to stack them to form two pounds on each end of the barbell.
4. CHANGE PLATES VS. FRACTIONAL PLATES: WHICH SHOULD YOU USE?
You get the gist: change plates and fractional plates are lower-weight options that can help you incrementally increase the amount of weight you’re lifting. But when is the ideal time to use each type?
4.1 When You Should Use Change Plates
As we discussed in the beginning, change plates will probably seem like a laughable idea when you’re first starting out. But once you max out and hit that plateau, you’ll need to start taking baby steps to continue that progress.
Change plates are recommended for anyone who has maxed out but still wants the option to take a semi-dramatic leap during one of those workouts where you feel like your lift game is on-point.
We’ve all had those workouts where we know we can throw on a heavier weight plates than usual. We can’t guarantee we’ll hit those numbers the following week, but in the moment, it feels right.
So, change plates give you that low-weight option with the possibility of testing yo
4.2 When You Should Use Fractional Plates
Fractional plates are for anyone who can’t hit their recommended repetition mark because even a pound is too much.
There’s no shame in slowly advancing. The point is that you’re moving forward, even if it is only a quarter or half pound at a time.
4.3 Change Plates and Fractional Plates: A Great Investment
So long as your committed to lifelong fitness, we highly recommend adding both change plates and fractional or micro plates to your home gym.
You never know when you’ll plateau. But with change plates, at least you’ll be prepared to smash through it.
5. DO YOU USE CHANGE PLATES OR FRACTIONAL PLATES?
Have you hit a plateau and you’re using change plates to push past it? Have a video of your workout when you’re using fractional plates? Tag us on Instagram so we can share it!
Change Plates VS. Fractional Plates: Which Should You Use? is written by Cindy Pelletier for ironbullstrength.com