A COACH IS WATCHING: PLATE ECONOMY
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I want to comment on a concept that I didn’t know how to explain until now. I recently finished the Poliquin International Certification Level 2 at the Poliquin Strength Institute in Rhode Island. During the first day, we touched on loading barbells. Specifically, we discussed plate economy.
What is plate economy? In barbell work, this breaks down to using as few plates as possible to reach the desired barbell weight.
This means using a 25# plate instead of a 10# and 15# plate. Or a 45# plate instead of a 25# and two 10# plates.
Basically, if you have a plate available that is the same weight of multiple plates on the bar you are using, then you should use it instead.
We’ve all seen and done the opposite, loading as many low weight plates onto the bar as we can. Not only do you make it easy on yourself by not loading and unloading plates, but at the end, you’ll have this enormous stack on each end of the barbell, and you’ll look like a monster pulling that deadlift.
Let’s do some math. Say I can pull a 300# deadlift as my 1RM. What is the absolute minimum number of plates that I can fit on the bar?
Given the plethora of plates available in the gym, we have everything from 1/4# to 55# plates. If we use a 45# barbell to build on, the minimum number of plates on the bar that we can use to get to 300# is going to be four per side.
For my 1rm pull at 300#, I’d use a 55#, a 45#, a 25#, and a 2.5# plate per side. This should get me to 300#. Someone should check my math, as I’m no mathlete.
What does plate economy do for me, other than showing that I’m good at math and am willing to share?
It improves my balance and control of the bar. The farther out the weight is on the ends of the barbell, the harder it is to control the barbell.
This may not be readily apparent when you’ve only got one or two plates on either end of the bar, but as your ability to lift heavier weights improves, plate economy becomes more and more important.
This concept of balance is really easy to understand if you have ever done both a kettlebell and a barbell Turkish Get Up, or farmer’s walks/suitcase carries with a barbell. The farther the weight is away from your hand, the harder it is to control.
So next time you’re loading up a barbell for that deadlift 1RM attempt, see how few plates you can get away with using.
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