How Much Is 3 Plates On Each Side? Barbell Math Explained

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
October 23, 2022

It’s pretty common to see lifters bragging about how much they can lift, with the most common abbreviation of their maximum load being that of “plates” - a term usually preceded by a number, such as “2 plates” or “3 plates”.

The term “3 plates” means having up to 315 pounds or 143 kilograms on a standard olympic-size barbell, but what exactly are the specifics of this term?

In short, when an individual says that they can lift 3 plates, this automatically assumes that it is 3 pieces of 45 lb or 20 kilogram plates on both sides of the barbell (so a total of 6 plates), and that the barbell weighs a standardized 45 pounds or 20 kilograms.

What Does the Term “Plate” Mean?

The term plate refers to the standardized 45 pound or 20 kilogram weight plate, with the colloquial usage often referring to one pair of such plates loaded onto a barbell.

barbell plate

While quite a number of other weight increments are also standard for weight plates, it is the 45 pound weight plate that is considered the quintessential focus when the term plate is used.

Measuring the Barbell Properly

Many novice exercisers can experience confusion when asked how many plates they are lifting, with some counting each individual weight plate or using sub-standardized barbells that are not necessarily weighted at 45 pounds.

3 plate meaning
3 Plates on each side (45 Lbs * 6) + 1 Barbell (45 Lbs) = 315 Lbs

When measuring how many plates you are lifting, they should be counted in pairs, and tallied by the number of 45 pound increments loaded onto the barbell. If multiple smaller increment plates are used, they are added and measured by 45 pounds in totality.

Furthermore, this barbell should be the standardized straight olympic barbell weighted at 45 pounds or 20 kilograms, with any variation of said barbell such as being lighter or of a different shape resulting in an inaccurate measurement.

How to Measure Different Barbell Weights

Not all barbells weigh the same, and though the standardized olympic straight barbell is 45 pounds, there are quite a number of different brands and types of barbell that can weigh drastically different amounts. Some particularly heavy brands of hex barbell can even weigh up to 80 pounds, entirely on their own.

As such, when measuring how many plates you are lifting with these types of barbells, one should always count any additional barbell weight over 45 pounds into their total plate tally. 

This means that if a hypothetical barbell weighs as much as 135 pounds or approximately 61 kilograms, it is considered to be 1 plate, even if no plates are loaded on the barbell itself. One can calculate this by subtracting 45 pounds or 20 kilograms from the total weight of the barbell, then dividing the remaining weight by 45 pounds once more.

If unsure of how much your barbell weighs, simply placing it on a standard weighing scale should be sufficient.

Is 3 Plates on Each Side Good?

Being able to lift as much as 3 plates on each side is no small feat - and many lifters can strive to reach such a level of physical ability for months.

However, not all exercises are mechanically the same, and what may be considerably heavy for one lift may simply be an intermediate load for another.

Among the big three exercises, a bench press of 3 plates or 315 pounds is considered to be elite or beyond for most average-weight male lifters, while a deadlift or squat of 3 plates on each side is in the more advanced area - though not as impressive as a bench of the same amount.

Remember that quite a number of factors will dictate whether a particular lift performed is in the more advanced categories or not, and that what may be a light load for one lifter can be considered an elite lift for someone of lighter bodyweight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Long Does it Take to Get 3 Plate Bench?

How long it may take to reach the much-coveted 315 pound bench press will depend on quite a number of different factors. 

Relative training experience, lifting technique and bodyweight can all play a part in how long it will take for an individual to perform a 3 plate bench press, with heavier individuals and those that make use of certain advantageous exercise mechanics being able to lift more weight automatically.

A good frame of time for the average novice lifter is approximately 1 to 1 and a half years of consistent training, with the usage of linear progression and correct recovery methods needed to achieve such a feat in this relatively short length of time.

Can the Average Man Bench 135 Pounds or 1 Plate?

Yes - the average man is indeed capable of performing a 1 plate bench press, as this is well within national statistics. 

This is not to say that a 135 pound bench press is not impressive for individuals outside of the average, however, and it is absolutely an excellent bench press for the average woman lifter.

How to Get 3 Plates at the Gym?

Achieving a 3 plate lift will require some significant time spent in and out of the gym, with rest and proper protein intake being just as important as the structure of your training program. 

To put it in a nutshell, sleeping uninterrupted for 8 hours, intaking enough protein and calories to support your training and using a training model that includes a progression scheme are the three most important factors to achieving a 3 plate lift.

In Conclusion

And there you have it; how much 3 plates on each side weighs, the abbreviations involved, and how to go about measuring 3 plates out.

It’s important to remember that you should only be tracking your weight lifted as a method of optimizing your training, and not as a way to compare yourself to other lifters. 

All individuals develop at their own pace, and comparing your 3 plate deadlift to your friend’s 4 plate deadlift will only lead to unhappiness and frustration in the long run.

References

1. Bench press standards. (n.d.). exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/BenchStandards

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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