Olympic weight sets can help take your strength and conditioning training to a whole new level. But with so many different styles to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.
In this review, we’ll show you some of the best Olympic weight sets, what you should consider before spending any money, and do a deep-dive into a few of our favorite styles.
By the end of it, you’ll have a much better idea of which weight set is best suited for you.
Let’s get into it!
What is an Olympic Weight Set?
A standard Olympic weight set comes with a 45 lb barbell and set of weight plates that total 255 lbs. They’re designed to look like the equipment used by Olympic weightlifters.
Olympic vs. Standard Weight Set
Olympic and standard weight sets look very similar at first glance, but there are several notable differences between the two.
The Olympic barbell weighs 45 lbs and a standard barbell ranges from 15-25 lbs. Olympic bars are taller at 7 ft compared to the standard 5-6 ft. You can find shorter Olympic bars, but your typical gym setup is fitted with a 7 ft Olympic bar.
Both Olympic and standard bars measure 1 inch in thickness, except for the ends. The Olympic bars have 2 inch ends with sleeves.
The sleeves rotate and allow the weights and barbell to move independently of each other during exercise. This reduces the amount of torque on your wrist or grip during certain exercises where the bar needs to rotate quickly.
The thick ends on an Olympic barbell also require their own weight plates with 2-inch center holes, compared to standard plates with a 1-inch hole. This means each set has their own weighs and can’t be interchanged because they won’t fit.
These features are what enable Olympic weight sets to support more weight compared to the standard. Olympic bars can support (at least) 300 lbs of weight whereas standard barbells only support a maximum of 200 lbs.
Who are they for?
Olympic weight sets are great if you’re looking to improve your strength and/or explosiveness.
You can also use your Olympic weight set for more traditional strength workouts like shoulder press and rows,
If you’re new to weightlifting and looking for something simple to start, you might be better off picking up a set of free weights instead of buying an expensive Olympic set. You can always upgrade later.
Why are they beneficial?
Olympic weight sets are great for ballistic lifts and powerlifting which help you improve your speed and power.
Ballistic lifts are a form of strength training where you lift, accelerate, and then release the weight (e.g. snatch). Powerlifting is where you try to improve your (one rep) max on squats, bench press, and deadlifts, and is done with much more control than ballistic workouts.
But you don’t have to play sports to buy an Olympic weight set. They’re also a great piece of equipment for your home gym if you’re looking for heavy lifts.
6 Things to Consider Before Buying an Olympic Weight Set
Your basic full set which includes the barbell, 255 lbs in plates and 2 spring collars ranges between $299 and $400+. Most basic sets are made out of cast iron and don’t sport any extra comfort features like rubber or “bumper” coating for plate protection or special grip cutouts.
Your basic set can be purchased in an all-inclusive, home delivery bundle or you can build it a la carte – piece by piece. The second option allows you to customize your set with extra accessories which will of course drive the price up.
Some upgraded sets that include benches, bumper plates, and chrome barbells cost $800+.
Most Olympic lifting equipment was designed for support or stability. But, that doesn’t mean you’re without choice and style options.
Quick release snap latches can replace your spring collars and make your weight loading/unloading faster.
Olympic EZ Curl Barbells are comfortable and easy to grip. These bars are longer than standard EZ Curl barbells. They typically max out at 200 lbs and are great for upper body workouts but not ideal for ballistic lifts. Stick with the straight bar for those.
Workout benches aren’t included in basic sets. You don’t always need one for ballistic training, but you might want one if you plan on doing both standard and Olympic lifting.
Weight racks don’t come with Olympic weight sets either, but can help prevent your floor and weights from damage. Plate weight racks keep your weights organized and off the floor and storage racks store your barbell collection between workouts.
Pushing, pulling, and tossing around 300+ lbs isn’t easy and can be dangerous if misplaced or dropped. You don’t want to break your floor, your wall, or worse – you!
If you’re new to Olympic lifting, taking classes for proper safety and form can be a great place to start.
If you’re recovering from an injury, checking in with your doctor before you start an Olympic lifting routine is always a good idea. Certain bone and soft-tissue conditions can be exacerbated by ballistic exercise and heavy weights.
Since good joint alignment is key, investing in support gear for your lower back and/or wrists is another safety option. Weightlifting belts and wrist wraps add support to your lumbar spine and wrists during your lifts.
#4. Size & Storage
Storing a basic set means you’ll have to accommodate a straight 45 lb, 7 ft Olympic barbell with 2 inch ends, 14 Olympic plates, and 2 spring collars that secure the weights on the barbell.
The 14 cast iron plates total 255 lbs and typically consist of: 2 x 45 lb, 2 x 35 lb, 2 x 25 lb, 2 x 10 lb, 4 x 5 lb, and 2 x 2.5 lb.
Since Olympic weight sets are made of metal, you want to avoid storing your equipment outside. Exposure to rain or high levels of humidity can erode exposed metal on both your barbell and weight plates.
If you don’t have space available indoors you might want to look into rubber coated plates. They decrease the chances of erosion and typically last much longer. You can expect to pay a bit more for rubber coated plates vs. iron plates.
#5. Delivery and Setup
Packages that include the entire set can be delivered to your front door, almost fully assembled. They come in large packages and need pretty direct access to your driveway (and doorway) to accommodate the delivery.
Some of these packages are delivered on a pallet, and if it’s not dropped near your gym setup, you’ll have to haul all the equipment piece by piece. Hopefully, it’s not upstairs!
If you buy your barbell and weight plates separately online, they’ll likely be delivered to your door. If you buy them at a store you’ll need a car or truck with the room to haul your load home. Olympic barbells are 7 ft long and won’t exactly fold nicely into your trunk.
All in all, assembly of your weight set is pretty minimal unless you add a bunch of accessories like storage racks. Be sure to ask about assembly instructions or home install options before spending any money so there are no surprises.
Most sets and accessories come with a manufacturer warranty, but they don’t apply to shipping damage. Shipping insurance can be a good way to protect your gear and ensure it arrives ready to use if you order online.
Investigate the return policy thoroughly before you buy because some companies honor returns and replacements only up to 10 days after purchase and others up to 3 years.
Some companies require you to ship the damaged equipment back to the manufacturer at your expense with shipping insurance and charge a restocking fee. Do your return homework upfront so you don’t get stuck with an unexpected replacement bill!
All companies insist that repayments will only be honored if there’s a factory defect. Each company has their own standards of assessing what is normal wear and tear vs. defective equipment.
Popular Olympic Barbell & Weights Brands
Like most fitness equipment these days, there are so many brands and manufacturers pushing similar products, it can be overwhelming to say the least. We’ve narrowed down a few of the most popular barbell and weight set brands to (hopefully) spare you some browsing time.
XMark Fitness supplies strength and boxing equipment and prides themselves on affordable prices without sacrificing quality. They manufacture popular Olympic weight sets like the XMark LumberJack and accessories like their tri-grip bumper plates.
CAP Barbell started out only producing free weights and weight benches 25+ years ago. Today they now carry more than 1000 products in 30+ categories of fitness. They are one of the few companies that offer a full Olympic weight set with a bench.
Troy Barbell & Fitness was found in 1987 in the free-weight manufacturing industry. They offer a variety of Olympic weight sets and accessories like the Troy USA Olympic Weight Set and Olympic Grip Weight Plate Set.
Rogue Fitness was founded in Columbus, Ohio in 2007. They produce strength and conditioning equipment and pride themselves on supporting their local economy. They manufacture most of their equipment in-house including most of their Olympic barbells like the Rogue Olympic WL Bar.
Best Olympic Weight Set Reviews and Recommendations 2018
Best Olympic Weight Set Overall — XMark Tri-Grip Plate Weights
- XMark premium quality rubber coated tri-grip Olympic...
- The one-piece high quality cast iron plates are hand...
- The recessed tri-grip handles have spacious openings...
- Use with an Olympic weight bar or use as hands-on...
- Packaged in pairs or sets to reduce the cost of...
These cast iron plates are designed for an Olympic barbell and sold in a variety of weight sets between 30 lbs – 335 lbs. They’re coated in a premium rubber casing (aka bumper) with rounded edges and sport tri-grip handles. These give you more grip and make it easier to move plates from the floor onto the barbell (and vice versa), and protect your floors in case you drop one.
The weights are conveniently packaged in pairs to reduce your shipping costs and delivered directly to your front door. But be warned, the rubber finish comes coated in an oily residue and can smell like “new rubber”. If the smell is too much, just give them a good wipe down and some time to air out.
The bumper coating and tri-grip handles are a great addition to both indoor and outdoor home gym setups. The rubber coating protects carpet or flooring that can easily be damaged. It also protects the weights themselves from erosion if you workout outside.
If you don’t have the full setup yet, you may want to review whole package options like the Troy USA Sports Olympic Weight Set or USA Sports Olympic Black Weight Set with Black Bar.
Best Olympic Weight Set on a Budget — Troy USA Sports Olympic Weight Set
- Chrome Olympic Bar Features Maximum Weight Capacity:...
- USA Sports 300 lb. Weight Set Includes 14 USA Weight...
- These are Standard Cast Iron Olympic Plates with...
- Plates Have Milled Edges for Comfort / Machine Bored...
- Weight Set Comes with One 7ft Chrome Olympic Bar /...
This whole set includes 14 plates, a chrome Olympic barbell, and spring collars. It provides everything you need for Olympic lifting and can support up to 600 lbs which is better than most barbells.
A traditional barbell like the one in the USA Sports Olympic Black Weight Set is usually limited to 300 lbs. The plates total 300 lbs so you’ll need to add some additional weight from your home collection to max out the barbell.
The milled edges of the cast iron plates and grey enamel finish provide some cut protection to your hands and floor, but not rust prevention. If you store your set outdoors we recommend investing in bumper plates like the XMark Tri-Grip Plate Weights to reduce plate erosion.
The delivery for this set comes straight to your door unless the package doesn’t fit. We recommend pre-arranging the delivery site so it doesn’t get left in a parking lot or on the side of the road.
This is a great set for Olympic lifts, but the size and material of this set aren’t ideal for your backyard or second-floor gym.
Best Olympic Weight Set Runner Up – CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set (Includes 7 Ft Bar)
- Item may ship in more than one box and may arrive...
- Includes 7 Ft Olympic Bar
- Included weight plates: 2 x 45 lb, 2 x 35 lb, 2 x 25...
- The combined weight of the Olympic Bar and weight...
- Spring clip collars included
This set package includes 14 plates, an Olympic barbell, 2 spring collars, and your choice of a weight lifting bench. The plates and barbell total 300 lbs and you can choose a flat, decline, or incline bench.
You’ll appreciate the convenience of this all-inclusive package if you’re just starting to build a home gym. The cast iron plates have recessed grip cut-outs to help ease your loading and unloading on the barbell.
But the plates and barbell aren’t rubber coated and both have a black paint finish. Rust could form on these if the paint is scratched or stored in a damp area.
The exposed metal edges on this set makes it ideal for your garage gym or a non-carpeted and climate controlled space.
The entire package is delivered to your door and requires direct access to your driveway so make sure you know when it’s set to arrive. The last thing you want is your package dumped on the side of the road because your driveway is jammed up.
The CAP barbell set provides you with everything you need for Olympic lifting, but it’s limited to 300 lbs. If you want to train heavier you’ll need a barbell that can sustain more weight like the one in the Troy USA Sports Olympic Weight Set.
Best Olympic Weight Set Honorable Mention – USA Sports Olympic Black Weight Set
This set comes with the complete set – 6 plate pairs, an Olympic Barbell, and 2 safety spring collars. It provides you the necessities of Olympic lifting with a max training load of 300 lbs.
The barbell comes with end rollers which make the bar easier to grip. The rollers allow the weights to spin independently of the barbell which means you aren’t having to adjust your grip during push/pull exercises like the snatch.
The whole package is delivered to you, but it’s so big it’s shipped through freight. Home delivery is only convenient if you can accommodate the package. Be sure you include your phone number with the purchase so delivery details can be arranged before it arrives.
The plates aren’t rubber coated so you don’t have to worry about odor or greasy residue from shipping but the unprotected metal is more prone to rust and erosion. These plates also don’t have hand grips like the XMark Tri-Grip Plate Weights so they’re a bit tougher to handle
You’ll find all the necessities to get started in Olympic lifting with this set, but the exposed metal of plates and barbell aren’t ideal for your backyard gym or damp storage.
If you’re looking to upgrade your entire set, you may like the bench features in the CAP Barbell 300-Pound Olympic Set.
Best Olympic Weight Set Honorable Mention – X Training Equipment Premium Color Bumper Plate
- Pro-grade: Trust the brand found in commercial gyms...
- Solid Construction: Designed for low bounce and high...
- Fits Olympic Bars: X Training plates fit standard 2"...
- Strong warranty: X Training guarantees our products...
These colorful plates are designed for an Olympic barbell and sold in pairs between 10 lbs – 45 lbs with plate sets weighing up to 260 lbs. The standard Olympic barbell is designed to support at least 300 lbs so these plates sets are lighter compared to other sets like the XMark Tri-Grip Plate Weights.
This is a great set if you’re an Olympic weightlifting beginner because it allows you start with lighter weight at 65 lbs, and slowly work your way up. The color coating is 100% rubber and reduces bounce, noise, and damage to the weight if dropped which means they can be used almost anywhere without having to worry about noise, dings or erosion.
But the X Training warranty is there too in the event something happens to your plates. The 10 lb and 15 lb plates are covered up to 6 months, and the heavier ones up to 3 years.
The bumper coating may come with a “new rubber” odor and the center holes of the plates are only designed for an Olympic barbell. For safety and comfort, we recommend airing the bumper plates out for 24 hours and only using them with your Olympic barbell.
If you don’t have the full setup to use these, or you want heavier weight, you’ll find both with the Troy USA Sports Olympic Weight Set.
Weight Set FAQs
Q: What kind of lifting routines should I start with?
A: Understanding the mechanics of each lift is important when you start. You may need to break the exercises down into small parts as you build your lifting routine.
For example, start by practicing a clean from above the knee and hone your skill before you move to a clean below the knee.
Q: How do I protect my flooring?
These also protect your plates from damage that could lead to rust or erosion later.
Q: Bumper plates vs iron plates, which ones are best?
A: When it comes to weight – 1 lb is 1 lb. Bumper and iron plates both offer equal weight but there is a difference in cost.
Bumper plates cost a little more because they’re made with high-density rubber and can handle the impact of being dropped during Olympic lifts. They also help to buffer noise unlike iron plates.
But if you’re just working with standard exercises, cast iron plates work just as well and often cost much less.
Q: Why are bumper plates so expensive?
A: The external layer of rubber adds more cost to manufacturing bumper plates. The rubber has to be treated with sulfur at high heat temperature to vulcanize it.
This makes it more durable and less likely to crack or flake during use. But, the addition of vulcanized rubber increases the cost compared to a cast iron plate.
Olympic weight sets are a great way to take your strength and conditioning training beyond just basic muscle building.
Hopefully, this review has given you a better understanding of what to expect when browsing online or in-stores.
What’s your take on Olympic weight sets? Which ones are your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments below!