Calculate the plates you need to load on your barbell
Olympic Weightlifting Training Programs
Weight Plate Barbell Racking Calculator
Tracking your strength training progress is vital to ensure you are progressing towards your goals. To do this, you need to know how much weight is on the bar.
Most gym equipment shows you the approximate weight you're lifting, but in the case of barbells, you need to do the math yourself.
Let's say you want to put 180 lbs on the bar. What plates do you put on each side of the bar? To save you from doing the maths, you can use a barbell weight calculator.
What is a Weight Plate Barbell Racking Calculator?
This is simply a handy bar weight calculator that shows you the type and amount of plates you should be putting on each side of the barbell to achieve the desired weight.
Rather than trying to manually calculate the weights in your head, a plate calculator does all the hard work for you using this formula:
Total Weight - Barbell Weight - Collar Weight / Plates Available = Barbell weight needed
This is simply the amount of weight you want to put on the barbell or the weight you need the weight plates + the barbell to add up to.
When putting the total weight in, some calculators let you put the % at which you want to lift which is handy if you're working with a periodised program using percentages to lift.
Most gyms in America use barbells that weigh 45 lbs (or 20 kg). If the gym you're using has multiple bar sizes, check the label at the end of the barbell.
Smaller training bars tend to weigh around from 5 to 15 kg and home lifting bars are usually much smaller and lighter compared to Olympic bars with wider sleeves.
Barbell collar weight
Barbell collars are what stop the plates from falling off either side of the barbell when you're moving the bar around. They are designed using different closure mechanisms and weigh different amounts.
Whilst the weight of most barbell collars is usually minimal, it's still good to include them if the bar weight calculator has that function included.
- None = 0 lbs
- Spring Collars = 2 @ 0.5 lbs
- Clamp Collars = 2 @ 1 lb
- Standard Collars = 2 @ 5 lbs
This refers to the number and weight of the different plates you have at your gym that can be added to the barbell.
Once you've inputted these numbers, the calculator will work out the most efficient way to load the bar using the plates you have.
What if You Can't Use a Bar Weight Calculator?
If you don't have a handy bar calculator app at the ready, here are some tips to make manual calculations easier:
Memorize common combinations
If you’re working with a 45 lb bar that’s standard in most gyms, practice remembering certain plate combinations
- 55 lbs = 2 x 5 lb plates
- 65 lbs = 2 x 10 lb plates
- 95 lbs = 2 x 25 lb plates
- 135 lbs = 2 x 45 lb plates
- 225 lbs = 4 x 45 lb plates
Some gyms use kg weights and some use both. Follow the same principle using a 20 kg bar:
- 40 kg = 2 x 10 kg plates
- 60 kg = 2 x 20 kg plates
- 100 kg = 4 x 20 kg plates
- 140 kg = 6 x 20 kg plates
These combinations are the total amount of plates needed for the desired weight. You can customize these depending on your lifting level.
Add up the plates on one end of the bar, double that number then add on the bar and collar weights.
Summary - Weight Plate Barbell Racking Calculators
Weight plate barbell racking calculator apps and sites provide convenient ways to calculate the amount of bar weight needed without wasting time trying to work out the maths.
If you need to do it manually, use the tips above to make your job easier.