Weigh your Weights
by Thom Van Vleck
Have you ever weighed your weights? You might be surprised. Unless you are buying high end competition grade weights you need to understand that your weights could be off by not just ounces but several pounds!
Back in the day when you bought weights you had the choice of “Milled” and “Unmilled” weights. Unmilled weights were cast iron right from the mold. Milled weights had been milled, or had some metal removed, until the weight was exact. The Milled plates were generally much more expensive so for training the unmilled plates were often bought and used. It was common to check those plates as you knew they were off when you bought them.
The Jackson Weightlifting Club had both. York sets that were competition grade and a Jackson set as well. On each you can see the rings and swirls in the metal where the milling had taken place. We also had some old Iron Man weights that were listed at 50lbs but one set was 57.5lbs while another was 47.5lbs. Since they were the same style and all 4 plates looked the same we painted them different colors because if you loaded the lighter plates on one side of the bar you could find yourself 20lbs heavier on one end and 10lbs off overall.
So these days you don’t see “milled” and “unmilled” plates but don’t assume what you have is exact. I blame cheap overseas manufactures but many cheap barbell plates are off the mark. While they aren’t as bad as the Iron Man plates I mentioned above I have found 45lb plates off 3lbs in either direction. Smaller plates are off as well but not as much.
So you might want to take the time to check the weight of your weights. Who knows, maybe you have a new personal best and you didn’t even know it!