Have you ever walked into a gym and asked yourself what the deal was with all the hex plates?
When it comes to lifting weights, most experienced gym-goers would agree that round plates are better than hex plates.
Plus, this is especially true when it comes to performing many of the big compound lifts.
So, if this is the case, why do gyms use hex plates?
Allow me to reveal all.
Why Do Gyms Use Hex Plates?
The main reason that gyms use hex plates is due to their handles. This makes it easier to pick up a hex plate and then load it onto a machine or barbell. This is especially true in commercial gyms, which are likely to have more machines available, so they can specifically cater to their client’s needs. There is also a conspiracy theory that many commercial gyms don’t want their members to perform certain lifts, e.g. hex plates make it harder to perform deadlifts.
1. Hex Plates Are Easier to Load
So, as I’ve mentioned, the most obvious reason that gyms have hex plates is that they’re easier to pick up.
Basically, hex plates generally have a handle, which means you can load them onto machines with the minimum of hassle.
Now, some round plates will also have handles, but in the main you have nothing more than solid and circular weight plates.
This in itself can cause difficulties in placing weight plates onto machines and even racked barbells.
Most gyms will have standard equipment such as leg press machines and smith machines.
And even though they are “machines” they will generally require you to load plates onto them.
In fact, depending on your gym, you may even have to load weight plates onto a hammer chest press machine, seated shoulder press machine, and perhaps even the seated row machine.
Not only are hex plates easier to load onto machines, but they’re also easier to carry.
In effect, it will be far easier to take two 45lbs plates from one end of the gym to the other if they have handles.
Unfortunately, to carry regular circular weight plates you’ll either have to stack them up or simply carry them one at a time.
This is obviously also a safety issue for the gym, which is why many commercial gyms will only ever stock hex plates.
2. Gyms Prioritize Equipment Based on Their Clientele
As I’ve mentioned, not all gyms use hex plates.
In fact, most gyms will actually prioritize their equipment based on the people who regularly visit the gym.
So, as an example, many commercial gyms will typically have members who are far more focused on performing cardio.
This is why whenever you walk into a well-known chain gym you’ll generally see lines of treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes.
Basically, the vast majority of members will come in, perform their cardio, and then leave.
Many of these chain gyms will also have more of a focus on resistance machines rather than free weights.
In fact, it’s not unheard-of for some gyms to have a wealth of cardio machines, a few resistance machines dotted around the place, and perhaps a single dumbbell rack with just a few weights.
So, in this type of gym most patrons are happy to direct their attention to what’s available.
In truth, you could almost say that any resistance training is more of an after-thought, as opposed to the main part of a workout.
And it is these types of gyms that will typically only have hex plates available.
With that being said, if your training is much more resistance-focused, then there are gyms that will specifically cater to you.
In fact, there are various powerlifting and bodybuilding-specific gyms that will hold a vast array of free weights.
It’s more than likely that you’ll be greeted with solid circular plates in these types of gyms.
So, as I say, most gyms will want to cater for what the majority of their members want.
3. The Gym Hex Plate Conspiracy Theory
Now, there also happens to be a conspiracy theory around why some gyms only use hex plates.
Basically, it’s much more difficult to perform certain compound movements with hex plates.
A prime example of this is the deadlift.
When deadlifting with hex plates it is much harder to maintain strict form throughout.
The main reason for this is that the barbell will generally roll around when you set in down in-between reps.
This means that you’ll usually have to reset the bar, or even your feet, between reps.
And unfortunately if you’re not doing this then it’s likely that your form will be slightly off during subsequent reps, which of course can lead to injury.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Why would a gym want to make an exercise more hazardous to perform?”
In truth, there are many commercial gyms that prefer their clients not to perform certain lifts
In fact, there are even certain gyms that have banned exercises like the deadlift.
The main reason for this is the noise that will potentially be made by someone who deadlifts.
You may even be aware that Planet Fitness has a lunk alarm.
This is an alarm that sounds if a patron shouts, grunts, screams, or slams their weights.
In essence, this may be seen as annoying or intimidating to other members.
And once more, a gym has to cater to the needs of the majority.
Unfortunately, if you prefer using free weights, but your gym only has hex plates you may need to rethink your workouts.
I’m not saying that you can’t perform an exercise such as deadlifts with hex plates, but you will need to be more wary.
So, you should prepare yourself for the barbell to roll when you place it on the floor.
Plus, you’ll need to reset yourself or the bar between each rep.
Then again, there is always the option of finding a gym that caters to your specific preferences.
Setting Off the Lunk Alarm at Planet Fitness
So, as you can see, there are a variety of reasons why gyms use hex plates.
In the main, this is simply because hex plates have handles, so it makes it easier to load them onto machines and carry them around.
Additionally, most gyms will prioritize their equipment based on their clientele.
So, although it isn’t always the case, many commercial and chain gyms generally stock hex plates for ease of use.
They know that most of their members come to the gym to use cardio machines, and occasionally the resistance machines.
In effect, there’s no reason for them to have a vast array of barbells and weight plates.
Finally, it has been said that various chain gyms prefer their members not to perform certain exercises.
As an example, people deadlifting can be prone to shouting or slamming weights.
However, hex plates make it far more difficult to deadlift, so this may actually put a patron off from performing the movement.
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Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.