How to Recycle Bumper Plates – Add Ballast to Chalk Buckets

So many times I’ve seen somebody kick over a chalk bucket at the gym and spill the chalk all over the place. I’ve done it myself. It’s frustrating.

Here’s an idea that really helps prevent that from happening (shout out to CrossFit Flagstaff for thinking of this and implementing it). Add some ballast in the form of an old bumper plate to the bottom of the bucket to make it kick proof. This is a great way to re-purpose bumper plates that can’t be repaired. Of course, if the center bushing on your bumper plate is loose or missing, why not fix it with a repair kit and get it back into service?

Order bumper plate repair kits here:

The images and illustration below are pretty self explanatory. Drill some small holes (large enough to clear a screw) through the bottom of the bucket. Attach the bucket to the bumper plate with some short deck screws or drywall screws. The screws need to be short enough not to protrude. There’s no need to pre-drill the bumper plate, the screws will go right in to the rubber without a pilot hole. A fender washer will keep the screw from pulling through the bucket material.

Once you’ve devoted bumpers to the chalk buckets it’s time to replace them with some nice new ones. FringeSport has high quality bumper plates and you can get them in pairs or sets. WodHardware gets a small affiliate commission if you order via this link: OFW Black Bumpers (Pairs)

Order FringeSport bumper plates here.

Chalk Bucket with Bumper Ballast Chalk Bucket Ballast Exploded View

At Last, Bumper Plate Repair Kits are Available!

Bumper plate repair kits are now available here!

After many months of continuous use, the latest repair kit design is outperforming my expectations. The kit components are holding up well in the gym, in fact they are outliving the bumper plates on which they’ve been installed. Several of the prototypes have been reused a second time and are still doing their job. Will they continue to hold up indefinitely? Time will tell.

Repair Kit Installed

At this point, I’m confident that I have a good solution to bring broken bumper plates back to life, getting them back in service and keeping them out of the trash as long as possible. If you have a busy gym and regularly wear out the bushings on your bumper plates, this is the tool for you!

Here’s how you can get the repair kits.

Here is how to install them.

Install the Bumper Plate Repair Kit

Try them out, see if they work for you and let me know what you think.

Update – Making 100 Repair Kits

The Bumper Plate Repair Kit will soon be available!

Prepped Kit ComponentsMost of the components for a pilot run of 100 kits have arrived at my shop and are ready to pack and ship. I hired a machine shop to make the repair plates and as soon as I get them they will be available for purchase. I’ll let you know when it’s go time. Get notified here:

This is what it’s looking like in the shop to assemble the first batch.

Packing KitsKit Components Preview





Take a look at the installation instructions at this link:

Bumper Plate Repair Kit – A Little History

In March 2012 I noticed Lisa’s frustration with the damage done in workouts to the center bushings in the rubber bumper plates. I thought I could fix the problem so I made some aluminum plates to sandwich the bushing from each side, essentially becoming a new bushing to slide on the bar.

She posted pictures on the Crossfit Flagstaff website on March 17, 2012:*/

Screws Go Into the Rubber

These repairs were easy to install because the plate simply attached to the rubber with screws. The problem was that the screws would back themselves out due to impact in the workouts and the repairs would lose effectiveness. Even gluing the screws in place didn’t keep them from backing out. We struggled with having to frequently re-tighten screws for over a year.

I even sent out some prototype repair kits to other gyms. The kits failed miserably and I’m a little embarrassed about it.

Screws Loosening

I had to figure out a way for the repair plates to stay positioned permanently, so I tried gluing a plate to the rubber with 3M high bond adhesive. The adhesive method turned out to be inferior to the screw fastened method. The plates would migrate out of position rendering them useless.

Then in June of 2013 I had the idea to use T-nuts and machine screws to cinch in the repair plate. I drilled holes right through the rubber part of the bumper plate to accommodate the machine screws and the T-nuts held themselves in place grabbing on to the rubber on the other side. It worked well to hold one plate on but it would interfere with installation of the opposite plate. To solve this problem, I cut off three of the holes so that the repair plate was triangular instead of circular. This way I could install the first plate as before and then install the opposite plate turning the kit roughly 60 degrees to clear the hardware of the first plate. The screws still wanted to loosen due to impact but this turned out to be an easy problem to solve using LocTite on the threads of the T-nut.Bumper Plate Repair Kit

I documented installation instructions on on July 10, 2013. Check out the Wayback Machine and you can see the original site design. Kind of ugly but effective nonetheless. Now the domain points to*/*/

I installed a run of prototypes at CrossFit Flagstaff. The kits have been successfully in service ever since.

Repair Kit Installed

Thanks For Good Feedback

Joel Barnett, a trainer at CrossFit Flagstaff sent some positive feedback in the midst of working the bugs out of the bumper plate repair kit. Thanks for writing on my board, Joel!


I used one of the Bumper Plate Repair Kits yesterday to fix a plate at the gym. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I had the repair done in less than 15 minutes. That included set-up and clean-up! Thanks again for coming up with this product.

Joel Barnett
CrossFit Flagstaff


Bumper Plate Blowout

Bushing so loose, it comes outThe rubber bumper plates at CFF are starting to have some problems with the metal bushings that slide onto the barbell ends. High intensity and heavy use in the gym is taking its toll on them. The weights are frequently dropped from overhead, which in time, loosens up the center bushing on the plate and the bumpers are becoming floppy and frustrating to use.

Welds have broken on bushingWith all the heavy impacts from hitting the floor, the steel retainers that are welded onto the bushing and imbedded into the rubber are breaking off at the weld. Or, if the plate has a flanged bushing, the rubber is wearing next to the bushing and they are loosening up. Some of the bumper plates have bushings that have fallen out completely.

Bushing has become completely detachedA month or so ago, Lisa pulled a few of the bumpers from the stack to go into the trash, so I offered to come up with a repair to keep her from having to buy a bunch of new ones. The solution, which seems to be working well, is a metal plate screwed to both sides of the bumper to hold in the loose bushing. There is enough of a chance this could be useful in other gyms so I’ve decided to develop the idea into a commercial product. I’ll soon have some samples available if you want to test this idea in your gym. Stay tuned.

Here are some pictures of the repairs at CFF:

Testing new repair kit

A repair kit being tested in the gym

Damaged bumper back in use

Damaged bumper plate back in use with repair kit installed

CrossFit Flagstaff – My Stomping Grounds

I learned about high intensity workouts at CrossFit Flagstaff (CFF) in Flagstaff, AZ where I’ve been a member since 2010. The Gym is tucked away in a business park in the center of town. It was started in a garage by Mike and Lisa Ray and has grown over the years to a sizable membership. They offer a complete CrossFit experience with excellent trainers and top quality equipment.

Their website is and my idea for fixing bumper plate bushings can be seen their equipment page along with some other great suggestions for homemade garage gym gear.

The Rays have been very open to trying out new ideas in the gym. In fact, Lisa has traveled the world to gather good ideas to bring back to CFF. For instance, we recently went through a series of workouts adopted from a gym in Singapore involving a lot of intense prowler pushes, deadlifts and box squats (I attribute my 30lb increase in max deadlift to this training).

I’m fortunate to feel I have the freedom to experiment in their gym. It’s a perfect place for me to test out my ideas.

Welcome to

Welcome to, where I share ideas that I have at the gym about the gear and equipment that I use, the problems that I experience, and the solutions that I come up with.

Since I started doing the CrossFit workouts, I have been amazed by the minimal amount of gear required to get the results I get (sometimes none is needed at all for bodyweight workouts). All you need for a well-equipped gym is a set of Olympic weights with a rack and a bench, a box for jumping, a bar for pull-ups, a rope for climbing, a medicine ball, a few dumbbells and kettle-bells, a jump-rope, a GHD machine, and a Concept II rower. These items are well designed and will take a beating (which they should) because this stuff gets used hard. The weights are often dropped from overhead and the pull-up bars, ropes and rowers see huge duty cycles, especially in a commercial gym. CrossFit is not designed to be easy on equipment.

Despite good design, there will be breakdowns which can be hard on the budget as well as pose safety problems. And this is the main reason for this website: I want to explore how to get the most out of the gear we use, how to fix it when it breaks and invent upgrades that add variety and more enjoyment to the workouts.

The interface between human and equipment is another area of interest for me. The CrossFit workouts are specifically designed to add variety to fitness utilizing less equipment. Sometimes, though, the human and the equipment don’t fit together very well. For instance, I have struggled with wrist pain lifting heavy loads in the overhead position. I’ve also met athletes that have disabilities that get in the way. I want to explore ways through these roadblocks when I encounter them and offer solutions on this website.

There can be many creative solutions and alternatives to ubiquitous problems in the gym. I hope you enjoy what I post here and that my ideas help you get more out of your equipment and your workouts.

Steve Lauman