Microloading Fractional Plate Homemade

by Travis Hlavka

Please leave me a comment below and let me know what ideas you’ve come up with for microloading / fractional plates or just leave me a quick note if you found this helpful.

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.

I 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. FYI, the zip ties will get brittle and break over time.

Fractional Microloading Chains

1 pair = 1.31lbs
2 pair = 2.63lbs
3 pair = 3.94lbs

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.

Then 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!

Fractional Plates - Microloading Plates

Fractional Plates - Microloading Plates

Baseball bat weights that allow me go up in 1lb increments and they fit almost perfect on a 2″ bar.

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!!! (I just checked recently and it would be about $35 + s/h for what I have)

Microloading Fractional Plates Homemade

Baseball bat weights that allow me go up in 1lb increments. Four 8oz, Two 16oz

At 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 Homebrew 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.


Please leave me a comment below and share this page with anyone who might benefit from homebrew microloading.  Also let me know what ideas you’ve come up with for microloading / fractional plates or just leave me a quick note if you found this helpful.

Travis Hlavka (9 Posts)

I may act like a 12yr old a lot of the time, but that's because I have a genetic defect that will not allow me grow up. HOWEVER, I do take strength training and fitness very seriously and I love using what I know to help others reach their fitness goals and avoid the bazillion mistakes I've made in my 25+ yrs of training. Since I don't know everything, I never stop learning. Note: I am no longer a "certified" trainer, but I truly understand more about fitness and health now than I ever did with that official piece of paper.

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