YELLOW weight plates: Don’t hate them… YET!

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Yellow plates quite rare in the wild as many people love to hate them.. But WHY?! And just what is the problem with them anyway? In truth they have done nothing wrong, BUT it’s still fun to paint yellow plates as the villain!

YELLOW weight plates: Don't hate them... YET!

At a glance…

  • Yellow plates should weigh 15kg or (35lbs) according to the official IWF and IPF guidelines
  • 1.5kg fraction plates are also mandated to be yellow – but in practice it is rarer to find coloured plates in lower denominations out with a competition setting
  • Some cheaper brands may deviate from the official colour scheme – so it’s always advisable to check the sidewall if you’re not sure
  • People love to hate 15kg / 35lb plates – so if you’re picking a set up prepare to lose internet points 😉

Yellow plates: How much do they weigh?

Plates are typically coloured in line with the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) standards which states that a yellow plate weight should be 15kg, or 35lbs. 

What about fraction plates?

Ah you have got me… Yellow is also used to designate a 1.5kg fractional plate, but it is far less common to find properly coloured fraction plates than it is full size disks – so let me off this time please 😉

Are yellow plates ALWAYS 15kg?

15kg is officially designated by yellow colouring in both IWF and IPF federations so in a competitive environment yellow should ALWAYS be 15kg (or 35lbs in lb equivalent.)

However if you are outwith a competition it is possible some manufacturers may colour their plates differently. This is unlikely with more mainstream manufacturers but can happen with cheaper plates.

An example of this is a set of weights I picked up second hand which had orange for the 10kg plates when the official colour is green, so yellow plates are NOT always 15kg!

Why does everyone hate on 15kg / 35lb plates?

Hating on 35lb plates has become a meme within the strength community. While it’s often overstated for comedic effect, the seed of this dislike for yellow plates is that they offer up almost NOTHING that can’t be achieved with a 10kg and 5kg plate – which you probably already have anyway!

So they are great as a nice to have, BUT in practice offer little that can’t be achieved with other standard weights instead.

The exception is moves performed with a single plate – so plate grips, weighted sit ups or similar. Even in these situations often a dumbbell can be used as a substitute.

Why are plates colour coded anyway?

Colour coding plates makes it easier to identify how much is loaded on a barbell at a glance. It is far easier to do quick maths when the colours are VERY obvious, rather than eyeballing the width of all-black bumpers.

While this is a slight convenience at home where we often use a limited number of plates, in a commercial environment it is a SIGNIFICANT advantage as the bar is being loaded and unloaded quickly for competitors and multiple athletes and numerous plates are available.


Yellow plates SHOULD be 15kg (or 35lbs) according to the official IWF guidelines. Some cheaper plate manufacturers may deviate from their colour scheme – but most reputable brands will stick to this religiously.

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