Why Are Weights So Expensive?

There are a few reasons for the current price of weights, but let’s cover the obvious first.

COVID-19 has forced many gyms to shut due to lockdowns and restrictions. This means that people have started working out from home. For a lot of weightlifters, bodybuilders, and powerlifters, this means that they’ve had to purchase their own weights to keep up with their routines.

Naturally, demand creates scarcity and scarcity drives up prices. Many companies and sellers are cashing in on the huge demand for home exercise equipment and raising their prices.

Unfortunately, while this price hiking might seem unethical, it is not illegal. Price gouging laws only apply to essentials like food, water, and health supplies.

While the pandemic has certainly had an impact on the price of fitness and exercise equipment, it’s not the only reason why buying weights can leave you out of pocket.

If you’re looking at online retailers, then you’ll notice that the cost of shipping can be astronomical. Often the shipping costs is what really puts weights out of many people’s price tag.

Shipping weights cost so much because shipping is usually worked out on the basis of the weight of the parcel. Naturally, heavy weights are going to massively increase the price of shipping.

The other thing to think about when buying weights is the material the weights are made out of.

Cast iron weight plates are usually cheaper than the rubber coated bumper weights. This is down to the fact that the manufacturing process is simpler. They just have to pour the iron and the job is done.

Polyurethane or rubber coatings require an extra step. The materials are also more expensive to get hold of.

As an average, you should expect to pay about $1 – $2 per pound for cast iron weights. Surprisingly, heavier weights tend to be cheaper per pound than smaller weights. This is because the smaller weights need to be marked up to meet the manufacturing cost.

So, your 45-pound plate should cost between $45 and $90. However, you’ll often notice that the 2.5-pound plates cost between $5 and $15. This means that sometimes they can cost as much as $3 a pound.

It's important to note that these prices are generally only given to gym owners or traders. If you are buying weights privately then the cost can be a lot higher because sellers want to make the most profit from you.

Gym owners tend to buy weights in bulk which is why they get better prices or discounts. When you buy for yourself for your home gym, you tend to only buy one set which means that manufacturers and sellers won't offer bulk discounts.

Buying weight second hand can be a good way to reduce the cost however some sellers mark their weights up astronomically high. They tend to do this because weights are difficult to get rid of thanks to their, well, weight. They also know that these items are in demand, so people are eager and willing to pay high prices.

Why Are Olympic Weights So Expensive?

Olympic weights are different from standard rates because the center hole is larger. The hole needs to be larger to match the larger diameter of Olympic barbells. Since the hole is larger, the plates themselves tend to be larger than standard weight plates. This is because the weight must move outwards to compensate for the larger middle hole.

Like standard weights, Olympic weights cost a lot to ship due to their weight. Olympic weights tend to be heavier because Olympic weightlifters or high-level weightlifters can lift more. This means that when you buy a set of Olympic weights, you typically end up with a package with more weight.

Naturally, heavier packages cost more to ship which is why you see ridiculously high shipping costs on Olympic weights.

The major issue with Olympic weights is the fact that they have to be incredibly precise. When you're competing at a high level every ounce counts.

In training, you need your weights to be precise so that you know exactly how much you lift in and how close you are to your goal. In competition the weights need to be precise so that every competitor has an equal chance to win the event.

The process of weighing the weights and making sure they equal is more involved than simply pouring cast iron into a mold. Manufacturers have to use balances and scales to check for consistency across all batches. They also need to make micro adjustments to the manufacturing equipment to ensure all weights are the same weight.

The other thing that raises the price of Olympic weight sets is the barbell. Olympic barbells have to be incredibly precise in terms of the weight and length, but also, they have expensive bearings on the sleeve sections.

The sleeve section is the part that you put weights onto, it’s the bit at the end of the bar. On Olympic barbells, the sleeves spin around the bar to cope with the centrifugal force of the weights.

Bearings are important for Olympic weightlifting because the moves and the lifts are more dynamic than in powerlifting. The dynamic movement often causes the weights to twist or spin. To compensate for this, the sleeves have bearings. This prevents the bar from turning or trying to turn in your hands.

 Olympic barbells also have to be stronger and made from more durable steel. This is to compensate with the increased weight that they lift. However, being strong isn't enough for Olympic barbells; they also have to be able to absorb shock.

In the gym you'll probably see people dropping weight from above their head these are Olympic weights on Olympic bars. The bars absorb the energy of being dropped because they have some give. This stops them from snapping.  

If you try dropping a standard bar or powerlifting bar from above your head put the bar at risk of breaking. This is because it does not have the ability to absorb shock in the same way that Olympic bars do.