Microloading Fractional Plates – DIY – Homemade

A few years back I looked everywhere for fractional/microloading plates so I could be exact with the numbers in my spreadsheets. I used MadCow’s chain link idea for a long time and it worked well. (MadCow’s recipe is at the bottom of the page). However, I couldn’t find exactly what he recommended for chain size, etc. (But I’m lazy and I didn’t really look that hard). Plus, I wanted something a lil better and more precise and one day I discovered baseball bat weights.

ChainsI followed his recipe as close as possible and when I went to Home Depot, I just had them weigh one link for me and then did the math. Mine came out a lil off, but they worked fine. 1 pair = 1.31lbs; 2 pair = 2.63lbs; 3 pair = 3.94lbs FYI, the zip ties will get brittle and break over time.

The biggest problem with finding a microloading solutions was I couldn’t find any fractional/microloading plates that weren’t SUPER expensive! DAMMIT! So I just figured, whatever, screw it, I’ll just round all my weights.

ChainsThen one day in the gym locker room baseball was on the TV and I saw them warming up….. And what did I seeeee??? Bat weights, or donuts I think they call em. So I did a lil research and discovered they have about a 2″ inner diameter and you can get different weights!

Bat WeightsYears ago, after looking all over, the cheapest place I found was Epic Sports. I bought four 8oz and two 16oz bat weights so I could increase 1lb increments. I don’t remember how much I paid at the time, but it was dirt cheap compared to anything else!!!

Bat WeightsAt first, I wanted to just stick them to the plates like PlateMates, so I found a bunch of super strong magnets I saved after dismantling some old hard drives. I stuck the magnets on the bat weights and wrapped them in electrical tape. Worked great for a while, but the tape started wearing and eventually it was a pain to keep fixing the tape. (YEAH, I shoulda just gorilla glued them on or something but I didn’t).

Anyway, that’s when I realized… DUH!!… Just slide them over the bar dummy. haha. Since they have a rubber coating, they don’t slide off easily so you can put your plates on, put your collars on, and then just slide on your improvised fractional/microloading plates.

Recently I noticed that Iron Woody seems to have decent prices if you want to truly microload with fractional plates. (¼, ½, ¾, and 1 lb – Two of each). About $50 + s/h. (They also have metric but they are more expensive).

Madcow Recipe for Microloading Chains
(You can see his entire page on microloading here)

This idea came from Trance on Dave Draper’s Forum and is discussed with pictures there. Anyway, I’m going to clean it up a bit as I’ve learned a little more about it and some of the info is a bit off (part numbers, original quoted chain size, etc…).

Anyway, the idea here is to take chain links and make weights out of them that then slide onto the bar. This is a cheap and fairly neat idea that works perfectly into a standard weight set. There are two components:

  • 5/16″ Chain, Zinc Plated
  • Home Depot item #163630 (but for some reason this number isn’t on any of the displays – look at the picture though very easy to find)
  • Price is around $2.00 a foot but will obviously vary with the price of raw material
  • Each link weighs 1.5 ounces

Spring Link Clip Available in Assorted Colors

  • Home Depot item ##150178 (but for some reason this number isn’t on any of the displays) – look at the picture though very easy to find
  • Price is $0.97
  • A clip weighs 1 ounce

The minimum size to place over the bar is 6 links and 1 clip (which incidentally slides on an Olympic bar very nicely).

  • 6 links = 9 ounces
  • 1 clip = 1 ounce
  • 10 Total Ounces
  • 10 Ounces = 0.625 lbs

Here’s where it gets easy and very elegant:

  • 1 pair = 1.25 lbs
  • 2 pair = 2.5 lbs
  • 3 pair = 3.75 lbs
  • 4 pair = 5 lbs …. oh wait, that’s the same as a set of 2.5 lbs plates

In other words, get yourself 6 of these and you have 3 proportional increments to work with between 5lbs using your 2.5lbs plates.

Not bad and very cheap. That will probably do for most people but if you are there anyway and want some other weights to work with to really narrow in on specific numbers you can use these:

  • 10 links + 1 clip = 1 lbs each or 2 lbs per pair
  • 14 links + 3 clips = 1.5 lbs each or 3 lbs per pair

For more than 6-7 links just twist the chain until it’s the size of the bar and slide right on. For extra clips just space them evenly. You can even get a different color clip for each weight. You’ll figure it out.

Do you have any other ideas for homemade microloading or fractional plates?  Leave us a comment below…