Fractional Plates Vs. Change Plates – What's the Difference?

Fractional Plates Vs. Change Plates – What's the Difference?

Out of context, they almost look like drink coasters. And while you could put a drink on a Fractional Plate or Change Plate, they serve a much more noble purpose.  

Change Plates and Fractional Plates (also called micro plates) are lightweight plates to add to your barbell for tiny jumps. For bigger, compound lifts like deadlift, the smaller Fractional Plates may not always be useful, but the ability to make a wee jump on upper body lifts -- like bench press, barbell curls, power cleans, or overhead press -- can make a huge difference.  

Micro-loading can also keep you safe by making the load manageable (and preserving your form), even though the weight is progressively heavier. 

The ability to incrementally load a barbell with smaller jumps can make the difference between setting a new PR or not.  

If you are following a lifting program or working with a coach, it may call for micro-jumps – especially if you are a newer or lighter-weight lifter trying to progressively overload something like bench press when your max isn’t that huge to begin with. But small jumps can benefit competitive and experienced lifters, too.  

Small plates can also be used for rehab exercises that require light weight. And if you lift with your family, smaller plates and help your kiddos get comfortable in the gym with weights they can succeed with. 

What are the Different Kinds of Small Plates?  

While the purpose is the same and the terms are used interchangeably among many lifters, there are some differences between what REP calls Fractional Plates and Change Plates.  

Both change and fractional plates are measured in pounds or in kilos. Some lifters prefer to train in pounds and others prefer kilos. Competitive lifters may want to use the latter, because kilos are typically standard in sanctioned meets.  

Regardless, all REP’s small plates are all color coded to make them easy to identify. They all fit on a standard 2” barbell, right alongside regular weight plates.  

The smaller plates also come with different weight jumps, in different materials, and the option for different sized plates.  

Here are the main differences between Change Plates and Fractional Plates. 

Fractional Plates 

A row of fractional plates

Size: All the same size (4.25” diameter) 

Material: Steel with a powder coating 

Jumps: Fractional Plates are the lightest option. They range from 0.25lbs to 2.2lbs (1kg),depending on the set you choose.  

The pounds plates come in sets of 0.25lb (1/4lb), 0.5lb (1/2lb), 0.75lb (3/4lb), and 1lb.  

The kilo plates come in sets of 0.25kg, 0.5kg, 0.75kg, and 1kg increments. If you don’t know your pounds-to-kilos conversion off hand, the kilo change plates are a little heavier. They roughly equal 0.5lbs, 1lb, 1.7lbs, and 2.2lbs, respectively. So, depending on your needs and goals, you may even benefit from both sets (although there would be some weight overlap with the 1/2lbs).   

All Fractional Plates are only sold in sets and not individually. 

Change Plates 

A row of change plates

Size: All different sizes: 0.5kg is 5.2" in diameter; 1kg is 6.7"; 1.5kg is 7"; 2kg is 7.5"; 2.5kg is 8.2"; and 5kg is 9.1" 

Material: Rubber coated with a metal insert 

Jumps: Change Plates sort of pick up where Fractional Plates leave off and continue those small jumps upward. Change Plates range from 1.1lbs (0.5kg) to 11lbs (5kg).  

The pounds plates come in 1.25lbs, 2.5lbs, 5lbs, and 10lb increments. 

The kilo plates come in 0.5 kg, 1kg, 1.5kg, 2kg, 2.5kg, and 5kg increments. This converts to approximately 1.1lbs, 2.2lbs, 3.3lbs, 4.4lbs, 5.5lbs, and 11lbs, respectively. So, the kilo plates have more options and go up slightly heavier than the pounds Change Plates.  

These follow the standard increments for competitions (whereas Fractional Plates are unlikely to be used outside of training – i.e. not on the platform). As such, the kilo Change Plates are colored to match IWF competition standards.  

You can order Change Plates in a set or in pairs.  

Change plates stored on the wall

So, whether you want to try to bump your bench by just 0.5lbs (0.25lbs on each side of the barbell), or you want to test an extra 22lbs (5kg on each side) on your deady, these tiny plates can make a huge difference.