Strength Training: Wooden Weight Plates Make it Easier for Beginners

Strength Training: Wooden Weight Plates Make it Easier for Beginners

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Light weights should be used when teaching free-weight exercises to beginners. Students should not be allowed to increase the weight until they can employ correct technique.

However, there are two problems that occur when beginners use small weight plates or an empty bar.

Problems with Using Light Weights
The first problem is that small weights or an empty bar places the barbell extremely close to the floor. This makes it difficult to grip and lift without using an incorrect, hunched-over starting position.

The other problem is that some students will be embarrassed to lift small weights. As a result, introductory sessions can sour them on weight training.

A solution to these problems is to use a set of wooden weight plates when teaching beginners. Wooden plates are lightweight, but will place the bar at a more comfortable starting position. And they can be painted to look like your other weight plates which will make beginners feel less self-conscious. You can make these place yourself at home, or in your school shop.

How to Make Wooden Weight Plates
You can make wooden weight training plates out of scrap three-quarter inch plywood. Trace the outline of a 45-pound or 20 kg weight plate onto the wood. Or use a compass to draw an 18 1/2" circle with a 2" circle in the middle. Cut around the outline with a jigsaw. Drill a hole in the center of the plate and cut out the center hole.

Test the plates to see if they fit on a bar. If not, enlarge the center holes with a file or rasp. Finally, file and sand the edges of the plates and paint them the same color as your regular weight plates. Fasten them to a bar using barbell collars, and you're ready to go.

Reference: Andrew Fry (C.S.C.S.), "Wooden plates." National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal, October /November 1988.

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