See the dumbbell microloading article also. I split this article off to focus on better solutions for barbell microloading with fractional plates and rewrote the dumbbell one while I was at it.
Table of Contents
Microloading is using small weights – usually 1lb or less – to load your barbell in small enough increments that you can keep progressing. It’s helpful anytime you’re doing an exercise with light weights where adding 5 lbs is simply too big a jump, or even when you have plateaued out at higher weights and can’t seem to get past that number.
Most weight lifting equipment manufacturers only go down as low as 2.5lb olympic plates and haven’t bothered with 1.25lb plates, but 1.25lb is common enough that it’s fairly easy to find if you search around.
With 1.25lb plates, with a pair you’re still increasing the weight by 2.5 lbs. You might want a smaller increment than that.
Micro Weights Comparison Chart
Scroll right to see all 5 if they aren’t visible.
|Bells of Steel||Micro Gainz||Iron Woody||Wright||Rogue|
|Plates||8 x 0.5 lb||0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1 lb||0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1 lb||0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1 lb||0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1 lb|
|Color Coded||No||Optional||Yes||Yes||Yes + White Lettering|
|Set Price||$30 & free shipping||$43 / $48||$50||$65|
(code TWOREP for 5% off)
Below is a more detailed look at each one.
DIY Chain Loops and Other Solutions
First, some DIY guidance.
You can get several lengths of chain and use carabiners to make some micro weight loops like the above. The weight all depends on the size of the chain you can get. Thin chain can easily be less than a pound per loop of the type shown above.
For that matter, you could use a thin rope to hang a bag filled with any loose heavy objects like spare change or a bunch of nuts and bolts. You probably want to duct tape it together enough so it won’t swing around, or that kind of wobbly weight is a different type of training.
Bells of Steel Fractional Iron Plates
Bells of Steel sells these iron 0.5lb plates in a set of 8 for $30, one of the best deals you’ll find for micro weights.
Although unlike others featured here, these are made of iron and not steel, they are machined down to be very accurate in weight, within 1% of the marked weight.
On the downside, they are not made in 0.25lb sizes. See below for more options.
Micro Gainz Fractional Steel Plates
Micro Gainz has these USA-made fractional plates in 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1lb. As of writing you can get a full set for $43. They sell pairs of single sizes too, but they price it such that a whole set is a much better deal.
They also offer an option on the product page for color-coded versions for just $5 more, a highly recommended upgrade to make your life easier should you go with these.
Iron Woody Fractional Color-Coded Steel Plates
For a color coded option, the Iron Woody steel plates come in 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1lb sizes for a little more than the black Bells of Steel plates, $50 per set.
They do not advertise a specific level of weight accuracy. Most likely they’re pretty close.
They are also available in kilogram sizes of 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1kg.
Wright Equipment Fractional Color-Coded Rubber Plates
Rubber coating reduces noise significantly. These also have an even tighter weight tolerance the others above, at +/- 0.5% of the marked weight!
Wright has these in the same sizes as the others, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1lb, for $65 a set. As always, use our code TWOREP on checkout for 5% off.
Rogue Fractional Color-Coded Rubber Plates
Now for the premium option! Rogue sells rubber coated fractional plates in 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1lb, or as a whole set for $76.
Unlike Wright, these have white lettering to help you confirm the weight, and they just look better.
Their weight variance is a little wider than others, guaranteed at only +/- 2% of the marked weight, or 10 grams. That doesn’t matter. It’s a marketing thing. 10 grams is an extremely low variance in absolute weight that has no bearing on your training.
On that note, if you’re doing microloading, you should be concerned about the accuracy of your larger plates. Consider using very accurate plates such as machined iron plates or bumper plates. Micro weights don’t do you much good if the variance of your larger plates eclipses it and you don’t know exactly what you’re lifting each time.
imo, if i can’t get by with 2.5 lb change plates on a particular exercise, i would switch up the exercise and/or routine to stimulate growth in a different way. or maybe resistance bands/chains to hit it different. then maybe come back to it after a few weeks. As an alternative, you can probably get 0.5 lb just by adding another bar collar on each side!
Yep, changing things up is probably what most people end up doing. If you don’t have extra collars lying around, maybe just duct tape a rock to it! Almost anything might work.
So it is 1.25lbs per 7ft? The nice little chain circles you have pictured aren’t going to be so nice then with 7ft of chain. That whole section with the chains is screwy man.
I have no idea anymore. It’s been a while since I wrote this. I will have to research it again to find out the weight of different sizes of chain.
Do you have a link to 1/8″ chain that weighs that 1.25lbs per 7 inches? That is really think and I can’t say I believe it.
Oops, that should be 1.25lb per 7ft. I will update the article shortly. Thanks for the note!
Iron Woody and Rogue sells Micro weights starting at 1/4 # up to 1# weight. Rogue also makes Olympic 1 1/4 Olympic Plates.
Thanks for the tip! I will check them out and update the article.