Cheap Fractional Plates for Microloading

08 Oct

There will come a time when you start reaching a plateau and you need to be creative to get pass it. One of the ways to do this is microloading.

Sometimes progressing your weights by 5 lbs can be too much at certain times but most places only have 2.5 lbs as their smallest plates (2.5 x 2 = 5 lbs duh). So we do some microloading to surpass plateaus with even smaller weight progression than 5 lbs.

In order to do some microloading we need to get ourselves some Fractional Plates. There are many ways to get one. There are commercial versions and then the homemade versions.

Going to show below how to get a cheap version by using steel washers which is what I use.

Where to get them: McMaster-Carr (
Product #: 91081A046
Amount to buy: 6
Cost: $11.10 Total + Shipping ($1.85/ea)

That is a FRACTION (pun intended) of the price if you buy the commercial type of Fractional Plates! They also fit perfectly on 2″ Olympic Barbells!

Below is what the washers look like:

McMaster-Carr Washer Dimensions

My 6 washers + chain to carry them with.

Fact: McMaster-Carr Washers DO NOT come in uniform thickness (as shown above) so their weight can vary slightly.

The 6 washers I bought have the following weights:

    • 0.60 lbs
    • 0.616 lbs x 2
    • 0.622 lbs x 2
    • 0.642 lbs
I just consider them all as 0.625 lbs each either way. The weight not being EXACTLY 0.625 lbs each is not a HUGE problem. I don’t think your body will notice the +0.017/-0.025 lbs difference.


Here’s how the poundages work out:

1 washer PER SIDE= 1.25 total pounds
2 washers PER SIDE= 2.5 total pounds
3 washers PER SIDE= 3.75 total pounds
4 washers PER SIDE= 5 pounds

That is why you only need 6 washers total.

Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Gear


Tags: , , ,

19 responses to “Cheap Fractional Plates for Microloading

  1. Angela McCuiston

    October 10, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I LOVE fractional plates and don’t see why more gyms don’t have them! I actually have some Plate-Mates that I got from Perform Better the other day. They are magnetic and attach to your dumbbells in increments of 1 1/4 lbs. Love them!

    • Mannix Castro

      October 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Any of the commercially available Fractional Plates are just way too expensive 😦
      That is why I like the washer option that I found somewhere.

      Honestly do not know why most gyms do not have them.

      Currently I am doing Mad Cow 5×5 and having Fractional Plates for Microloading will help in not having too much of a leap in weight progression.

  2. Amy/5

    October 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I really should look into washers. Right now I’m using velcro-attach ankle weights that you can load with metal rods that weigh .25 lbs. each. Problem is, sometimes they fall off the bar.

  3. sweetopiagirl

    December 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Inspiredweightloss.

  4. Tim Ryan

    October 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you so much… when I saw the fractional plates and how much they were selling per pound I was just so pissed. You made my day.

    • Mannix Castro

      October 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Actually found out about this while trying to find a cheaper fractional plates.
      Actually going to dust it off and start using them again starting with my Cycle 9 of 5/3/1 for my presses.

  5. argil47

    June 25, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Great tip, thanks! Just ordered half a dozen

  6. cinderblock

    August 16, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Wow, what a deal. A pair of 1 pound weights go for $15 at the cheapest on Amazon. A set of four pairs (4 pounds total) averages 50 bucks… never seen it cheaper than maybe 47 bucks. Absolute BS. If Sports Chalet carried it, a set totaling 4 pounds would cost maybe $5. What the hell, seriously… anyway thanks for the headsup. Gonna order asap.

  7. Tom

    August 27, 2014 at 7:08 am

    It says they’re plain steel. What can you put on them to prevent rusting?

    • Mannix Castro

      August 27, 2014 at 10:55 am

      I guess you can paint it.
      There’s rust preventative paint and spray paint you can use.
      I spray painted the bunch of rusty old Olympic weight plates I restored for use on my sled.

  8. nor eply

    November 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Genius, been trying to find something cheaper than the ridiculous prices online. Thanks for the info!

  9. Zebra

    February 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you! This seems much more straightforward and cheaper than fussing around with magnets, chains, or bat weights. Thank you very much. Just ordered.

    For reference, they don’t tell you the shipping and handling online. You have to call them to find it. I ordered 8 of these to NY and it was only $7 S&H on top of the $15 for weights themselves.

  10. Mita

    April 2, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Just ordered two 20 oz bat weights from Sports Authority. $6.99 each, free shipping, 15% off one item current promo, total $12.93 shipped. No glue, no rust.

  11. Sven

    June 28, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Mannix, thank you! I just bought ten of them from the company you linked. Will use six for my Oly bar and add small magnets to four of them for use on my Dumbbells.

    Guess why gyms don’t have small fractional weights: they’d all be missing in a week. 😝

    Thanks again. MC, for being so specific in what to order. Sven.

  12. jpickett1968

    August 2, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Excellent suggestion. I had plate mates many years ago, but this is a great suggestion. Thanks for the tip.

  13. Quinton McMahan

    January 26, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Hello mannix castro. THANK YOU ever so much for this excellent information and link. I’d been looking for affordable fractional plates for quite some time, but failed to find anything much below $40. Until i came across this site just a few hours ago, as of: (1/26/2016). Once again, Thank you, I’m grateful. Now I can finally make some progress on my anti-gravity press!


    • Mannix Castro

      January 27, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      There’s also one I was given to review that I now use. It’s in my gear section of the blog and I like it.

  14. richardhowe.Net

    July 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    You made a number of nice points there. I did a search on the matter and found nearly
    all folks will go along with with your blog.

  15. Michael Price

    August 2, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Thank you! I had seen these washers on McMaster before coming across your site. It didn’t show the weight of the washers on McMaster. Finding it here was really a lot of help!


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