When we begin teaching the program to our student-athletes, the first thing we do is explain the equipment (racks, benches, etc.), their function, safety, how they are used and adjusted. An important part of this is a basic understanding of how to properly load the plates on the bar, and how to figure how much weight you need to add to on bar to get the total amount of weight you need for each set of their workout.
I always tell the student-athletes that you can walk into any 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym or YMCA and tell immediately who the rookies are, just by looking at how they load the plates on the bar. Here are the basics that we start with.
An Olympic bar weighs 45 lbs. This is an important fact to remember for a couple of reasons. First, I often hear students comment, “Oh, I can’t lift anything… I am only lifting the bar”. I remind them that, yes, they are lifting a significant amount… the same amount as a large 45 lb plate! Second, when calculating the total amount of weight they need to be lifting based on their workout card, they need to remember to add in the weight of the bar. The amount of weight printed on their workout card is the total, including the bar that they need to be lifting on that set. A simple starting point, from which they can work from and get to any weight needed:
- Bar only = 45 lbs
- Bar + 2.5’s = 50 lbs.
- Bar + 5’s = 55 lbs
- Bar + 10’s = 65 lbs
- Bar + 25’s = 95 lbs
- Bar + 35’s = 115 lbs
- Bar + 45’s = 135 lbs
- Bar + 2 45’s = 225
- Bar + 3 45’s = 315
We teach our athletes the following regarding loading plates on the bar. Every Olympic plate is made pretty much the same way. One side, which has the printing on it, is indented. The other side is flat. If you load the plates with the indented, writing side, facing inside, then the plates will lay flat against one another. If you do it the other way, with the printed, indented side out, then they will wobble when loaded.
We also teach them to load the biggest plates first, which keeps more weight toward the center of the bar, making it a little easier to balance. For example if they were putting 17.5 pounds on each end of the bar, they would put the 10 pound plate on first, followed by the 5, then finally the 2.5.
Another point is that we want our athletes to use as big as plate as possible. For example, if you need to put 25 lbs on each side of the bar, instead of using two 10 pound plates and one 5 pound, just use one 25 lb plate. This, too, will keep more weight toward the center of the bar. Finally, we always have our student-athletes clip the weights. We use lightweight spring type clips – Olympic collars could be used as well.
As always, if you have any questions just comment or email
Jeff Floyd- firstname.lastname@example.org