If Your Gym Doesn’t Have Small Weight Plates, Bring Your Own

If Your Gym Doesn’t Have Small Weight Plates, Bring Your Own

In theory, the gym is supposed to supply the weights for you to lift while you’re there. But sometimes their collection doesn’t have exactly what you want. If their smallest weight plates are 5kg or 10kg, be a rebel: bring smaller ones in your gym bag.

After all, if you only have 2kg plates, you have to adjust the total weight on the barbell by 5kg at a time. If you’re struggling with something like an overhead press, especially as a new lifter, 5kg is a huge jump.

My gym has 2.2kg plates, and for that I am grateful. But not all gyms do, and sometimes even when a gym has small plates there may only be a single pair up for grabs. Being small, they may also go missing, only to turn up weeks later underneath some larger piece of equipment.

So if you want to be sure you’ll have those 2.5 or even .5kg plates available when you need them, bring your own! If you’d like to buy a pair, search for “fractional” or “micro” plates.

There are also myriad DIY options, like repurposing giant washers from the hardware store, or weighing out a length of chain and clipping it into a circle.

Before you start looking for smaller and smaller plates, note that precision is elusive. Even the large plates at the gym are not always the exact weight marked, so this 20kg plate might already be a few ounces lighter or heavier than that 20kg plate. I wouldn’t bother with teeny tiny plates, even though you can buy them in increments as small as a quarter pound.


  • A dumb idea that sounds good on paper. Evidently, talking to a fitness professional would have taken too much time, so let’s just make up something.
    Lets look at some sensible alternatives instead:

    1) If your gym does not have those lower weights, it may be catering for a different clientele. Consider changing your gym, or
    2) Simply ask your gym to provide the weights in the first instance. They’ll recoup the expense in the first month or two
    3) If you must bring your own weights in, label them or photo yourself using them at home. That way, if someone spots you putting weights into your bag, you have some proof they are yours
    4) If people see you openly putting weights into your bag without knowing they are yours, they may think it’s OK to steal from the gym, based on the ‘broken windows’ theory.
    5) There are better ways to accommodate a weight gap – more reps with the weight you have, if you are aiming for strength. If you’re trying to go for muscle, and the 5kg step is too big, then stay on the weight you can lift – you would probably just have poor form and injure yourself anyway.
    6) Rather than bringing in micro weights, why not simply increase the TuT (Time under tension), by slowing down the eccentric part of the exercise. Lowering the weight on a three second count will do wonders for both your muscles and form
    7) Consider putting resistance bands on the weight instead of stacking more weight on.
    8) The chain is probably the only sensible suggestion here, but no need to coil it. Let it hang on the bar, and the weight will increase as you lift more chains off the ground. Great way to add increasing resistance, but if you’re unable to jump 5kg gaps, then this probably more advanced than you need and is going to look really stupid.

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