Weight-training is a case of diminishing returns in terms of increasing the weight you lift. You never again progress as quickly as you do during your first year. To start with, you can go up in 5 and 10kg increments on a lot of the exercises but, as you get better, you find that you may instead have to go up in 2.5 and 5kg increments. Eventually even these increments might prove tricky. It’s just the way it is.
At any point in your weight-training you can get stuck too. The smallest increment available to most sets of plates is 2.5kg (a 1.25kg plate on each side of a barbell or dumbbell) and sometimes it just seems unaccountably difficult to lift that extra 2.5kg.
This is where fractional or micro plates come in, by which, for the purposes of this review, I mean weight plates that are less than or equal to 1kg.
The benefits of such plates are that you can often maintain the ‘progressive’ bit of progressive weight training if you’re at a particularly stubborn sticking point. I’ve found it does help me bridge the gap sometimes. If a 2.5kg increment proves annoyingly difficult to breach, I can go 1kg then 1.5kg and eventually make the 2.5kg I’m after. It has helped me many times.
It’s by no means the only way to get around a sticking point — you could try working up to it through a higher or lower rep regime or by doing a different exercise for a while — but it’s useful to have the option of fractional weight plates if you need it.
My main set of weights are BodyPower Rubber-Encased Tri-Grip plates and the lowest weight plate I can get for them is 1.25kg, so I had to look elsewhere for fractional, micro plates.
I went for BodyRip Cast Iron Fractional Olympic plates and I bought 4 x 0.5kg and 4 x 0.25kg.
I weighed all these plates on my electric scales to test the accuracy and this is what I found:
- the 0.5kg plates came in at: 0.510, 0.529, 0.505 and 0.513kg,
- the 0.25kg plates came in at: 0.279, 0.273, 0.269 and 0.282kg.
So they’re all slightly overweight, which I prefer because cast iron plates can sometimes chip and may lose a gram or two here and there. No plate is ever going to gain weight.
The figures above show that for the 0.5kg plates the least accurate plate is 5.8% over and the most accurate plate is 1% over. And for the 0.25kg, the least accurate plate is 12.8% over and the most accurate plate is 7.6% over.
Personally, I think the 0.5kg plates come within an acceptable limit but the 0.25kg plates are a bit outside my acceptable limit, although not so much that I’d throw them away or send them back. If you have 30, 40, 50 or more kgs on the bar it’s going to be negligible. They are there to help you bring a gap, that’s all, and they’re fine for this purpose.
The quality of these plates isn’t brilliant. They came with bobbled bits of paint and the paint chips off then very easily, but they’re fairly inexpensive. They are of course not competition standard and you could certainly buy more accurate, better-quality fractional plates but they’d cost more and, I’d argue, they’d be unnecessary if your only aim is to occasionally help you past a sticking point.
I’ll give these four stars with the star being lost for the inaccuracy of the 0.25kg plates and the fact that the paint chips away quite easily. If I take into account the purpose of them (as I’ve mentioned here) and the relatively low price of them, I think they deserve four stars.