Adjustable dumbbells are a convenient way to strength train at home if you don’t have space for large pieces of equipment. They take up much less room than fixed dumbbell sets, and you can change weights quickly and perform workouts with different weights without having multiple pairs of dumbbells lying around. You can even pack them in your…
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Adjustable dumbbells are a convenient way to strength train at home if you don’t have space for large pieces of equipment. They take up much less room than fixed dumbbell sets, and you can change weights quickly and perform workouts with different weights without having multiple pairs of dumbbells lying around. You can even pack them in your car when you go on a road trip, so you always have multiple sets of weights for hotel-room workouts.
As is the case when buying any top-rated home gym equipment, shopping for the right adjustable dumbbells can feel daunting. They have different adjustment mechanisms, come in a wide range of weight settings, and are available at a variety of price points. To help make your shopping experience easier, I’ve created this adjustable dumbbell review so you can compare the top products and find the ones that best suit your needs.
Our Top Picks for the Best Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Adjustable Dumbbells Overall: Snode AD80 Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Powerlifters: Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best User-Friendly Adjustable Dumbbells: NÜOBELL 80lb Classic Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Budget Adjustable Dumbbells: NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells
- Best Adjustable Dumbbell Set: PowerBlock Elite USA
- Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Beginners: REP Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Loadable Dumbbells: Rogue Loadable Dumbbells
- Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Cardio: FLYBIRD Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Heavy Weight Adjustable Dumbbells: Bells of Steel Loadable Dumbbells
Best Adjustable Dumbbells Overall: Snode AD80 Adjustable Dumbbells
- Weight range: 10 to 80 pounds
- Weight increments: 10 pounds
- Adjustment type: Dial
- Dimensions: 19.29” L x 7.48” W x 7.87” H with base; 18.11” L x 6.68” W x 6.68” H without base
- Materials: Cast iron, plastic, aluminum
- Warranty: Two years
- Can be dropped from heights of up to 32 inches without breaking
- Knurled handles allow you to maintain a good grip
- Come with a two-year warranty
- Easy-to-read weight indicator
- Flat dumbbell heads don’t roll and are comfortable to rest on your thighs when setting up for bench press movements
- Can only be adjusted in 10-pound increments
- May rattle and make noise when dropped
The Snode AD80 Adjustable Dumbbells get my pick for the best adjustable dumbbells because they are durable, have a wide weight range, and look sleek and modern in any home gym environment.
The Snode adjustable dumbbells are the only adjustable dumbbells I’ve come across that can be dropped without breaking. They’re made almost entirely of cast iron, and while there are some plastic parts in the adjustment systems, they are pretty durable, and it takes a lot to crack them. The dumbbells can withstand drops from heights of up to 32 inches. To test this, our review team dropped one off a 30-inch plyo box, and the dumbbell remained fully intact afterward.
These high-quality dumbbells look and function similarly to round or pro-style dumbbells you’d see in a commercial gym, which is a nice feature if you want your home gym to have more of an upscale vibe. I also like that the dumbbell heads are flat and comfortable to rest on your thighs as you set up for seated dumbbell exercises.
The handle is 1.4 inches thick, which is slightly larger than the one to 1.25 inches you’ll find on most dumbbells. This may be an issue for lifters who struggle with grip, though the thicker handle can help you improve your grip strength. The knurling is slightly passive but still enables you to maintain a good grasp on the dumbbells.
One thing to note is that when you drop the Snode AD80 dumbbells, they will make noise—the handle and plates are metal, after all. If you live with other people and know you will be dropping them, you may want to buy silencer pads to help reduce the noise.
You can only adjust the dumbbells in 10-pound increments, so you may find it difficult to progress in weight if this is too much of a jump for you. However, you can purchase magnet weight plates from Snode separately for around $40. The magnet plates allow you to increase weights in 2.5 or five-pound increments. The smaller increases may be more manageable for upper body movements like lateral raises, where it may take you a while to be able to bump up the weight by 10 pounds.
You can easily adjust the weights by turning the dial, which adds or removes a plate, depending on which direction you twist it. The dial allows you to easily see which weight you select, and the weight indicators are encased with cast iron, so they’ll last longer than a sticker would.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Powerlifters: Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
- Weight range: Five to 75 pounds (can purchase add-on kits to go up to 165 pounds)
- Weight increments: 2.5 pounds
- Adjustment type: Spin-lock mechanism
- Dimensions: 14.5” L x 6.7” W x 6.7” H
- Materials: Chrome-plated steel, cast iron
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Plates are marked in both pounds and kilograms
- Each handle can hold 165 pounds worth of plates
- Flat edges enable them to stay in place on the floor and make them stable for movements like renegade rows
- Can’t change the weights as quickly as you can with other adjustable dumbbells
- No easy way to see the total amount of weight you’re lifting
- May feel unbalanced in your hands when loading weights in 2.5-pound increments
The base model of the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells goes up to 75 pounds, but you can purchase add-ons that enable them to go up to 165 pounds. The wide weight range makes them an excellent choice for powerlifters who need heavy dumbbells for accessory exercises, such as lunges or single-arm dumbbell rows.
The Ironmaster dumbbells go heavier than the Snode AD80s, but the only reason they weren’t my top pick is that making weight changes isn’t as quick. They come with two handles and four metal rods that screw into each end of the handles. To adjust the weights, you unscrew the rod, stack the plates, and screw the rods back into place. It’s not a difficult process, but it takes longer than it does to adjust the Snode dumbbells.
However, I love that the plates have flat edges, so you can rest them on the floor and not worry about them rolling around. The dumbbell heads are also comfortable to rest on your thighs before getting yourself into position for dumbbell bench press exercises.
The Ironmaster dumbbells replicate the aesthetic of pro-style dumbbells you’d find in a commercial gym. However, I wish they had an indicator that displays the total amount of weight you’re lifting. You have to do some mental math each time you load or unload the plates and always double-check to make sure you loaded the same weight on both dumbbells.
Being able to adjust the weights in 2.5-pound increments is a nice feature because you can make small jumps on certain lifts if needed. Because the plates aren’t available in 1.25-pound weights, though, one end of the dumbbell may be heavier than the other. This can make the dumbbells feel unbalanced in your hands, and you may spend more time thinking about that than completing your reps.
I recommend getting a stand for these dumbbells so that you don’t have to kneel or sit on the floor when you want to adjust the weights. A stand would also be helpful for keeping the weight plates organized and off the floor. Ironmaster dumbbell stands are sold separately for around $169 to $499, though, which is something to consider if you have a strict budget in mind.
Best User-Friendly Adjustable Dumbbells: NÜOBELL 80lb Classic Adjustable Dumbbells
- Weight range: Five to 80 pounds
- Weight increments: Five pounds
- Adjustment type: Dial/handle rotation
- Dimensions: 17” L x 7.5” W x 7.5” H
- Materials: Steel, plastic
- Warranty: Two years
- Cradles are included
- Replaces 16 pairs of dumbbells
- Sleek design
- Knurled handle allows you to get a good grip
- Can’t be dropped
- Can rattle when in use
NÜOBELLs have the fastest and easiest adjustment system I’ve seen on any adjustable dumbbell. All you need to do is hold onto the handle and flick your wrist until you reach your desired weight. The weight indicator has plus and minus signs so you can easily see which direction you need to rotate your wrist in, and the dial clearly displays the weights.
This review focuses on the 80-pound NÜOBELLs, but SMRTFT also sells a model that goes up to 50 pounds. Both sets go up or down in weight in five-pound increments and are made from the same steel and plastic materials. The 50-pound dumbbells are ideal for beginners or those looking to do some lightweight strength training, while the 80-pound dumbbells are better for those with more experience who need heavier weights to get a challenging enough training stimulus.
The knurling on the dumbbell handles is aggressive. This can be a great feature for experienced lifters who may need extra assistance to maintain their grip when lifting heavy weights. However, the knurling may be too rough for beginners who don’t yet have calluses built up on their hands.
My favorite feature of the NÜOBELLs is that the pancake-style dumbbell heads aren’t completely round. The bottoms have flat edges, which makes it easier to do floor exercises like renegade rows. You can also rest the dumbbells on the floor during your workout without worrying about them rolling away.
The NÜOBELLs can’t be dropped, so that’s something to keep in mind if you want dumbbells that can handle some abuse. You may also notice some rattling when you use them, which can make you think the weight plates aren’t secure, but they manage to stay in place well.
Your purchase includes a cradle for each dumbbell so you can keep them off the floor when you’re not using them. If you want to save your lower back and quads and not bend down every time you need to adjust the weights, you can purchase a stand separately. SMRTFT sells a couple of models on its website that start at around $185.
Best Budget Adjustable Dumbbells: NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells
NordicTrack 25 lb. Select-a-Weight Adjustable Dumbbell
The affordable yet high-quality NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells are an attractive option for those who want to get stronger at home but are limited on both space and budget.
- Weight range: 10 to 55 pounds
- Weight increments: 2.5 to five pounds
- Adjustment type: Sliding pins
- Dimensions: 19.4” L x 11.4” W x 8.5” H with storage tray
- Materials: Steel, plastic
- Warranty: 90 days
- Storage trays are included
- Includes a 30-day free trial to iFIT
- More affordable than other adjustable dumbbells
- Moderate knurling on the handles
- Adjustable in 2.5-pound increments
- Only go up to 55 pounds, which may not be heavy enough for advanced lifters
- Can’t be dropped
- Dumbbells may roll away from you when left on the floor due to the round heads
At right around $400, this is the best affordable set of adjustable dumbbells you can get without sacrificing quality. They have some plastic parts, particularly in the selector pins, but it’s less than the amount of plastic you’ll find on other adjustable dumbbells in this price range. However, because of the plastic, you can’t drop them, so you need to use care when lifting with them.
The knurling is a surprising but welcome feature, as I consider NordicTrack to be geared more toward casual fitness enthusiasts rather than hard-core lifters who love the feel of knurled cast iron in their hands. It’s neither too passive nor too aggressive, so it won’t tear up your hands if you’re a beginner but will help give you a secure grip if you’re a more advanced lifter.
There is no weight indicator on the dumbbells themselves, but the weights are listed on large stickers on the tray, so you can still easily see how much weight you’re using. Because the dumbbell heads are round, you’ll need to watch that they don’t roll away when you rest them on the floor. You’ll also need to be careful when doing floor exercises like dumbbell push-ups.
Included with your purchase is a free 30-day trial for iFIT. iFIT gives you access to hundreds of live and on-demand workout classes, which you can stream from any mobile device or smart TV. If you decide to keep the iFIT membership after the trial ends, it will cost you about $40 per month.
Best Adjustable Dumbbell Set: PowerBlock Elite USA
- Weight range: Five to 50 pounds (can purchase expansion kits to go up to 90 pounds)
- Weight increments: 2.5 to five pounds
- Adjustment type: Selector pins, removable adder weights
- Dimensions: 12” L x 6” W x 6” H
- Materials: Welded steel, plastic
- Warranty: Five-year limited
- Replaces up to 28 pairs of dumbbells (with the expansion kits)
- Can adjust the weights in 2.5-pound increments to allow for more progressive overload
- Flat weight stacks help prevent the dumbbells from rolling
- Rubber handle is comfortable to hold
- Can feel clunky at heavier weights
- Not ideal for workouts with dynamic movements like dumbbell cleans or snatches
I’ve had the PowerBlock Elite USA adjustable dumbbell set in my home gym for seven or eight years now, and I’ve been happy with them. They’re well-made and durable, and they’ve held up well despite being stored in my garage where the temperature and humidity levels can fluctuate frequently.
I use the Elite USA dumbbells for almost all of my strength training workouts. The pin selector on the weight stacks makes it easy to change the weights in just a few seconds, and each pair of dumbbells comes with four 2.5-pound adder weights you can insert into the handles for more customization. Each handle has a dial lock that keeps the adder weights in place.
Using the adder weights lengthens the amount of time it takes to adjust the weights, though, because you have to remove the dumbbell handle from the weight stacks and unlock the dial on it before adding or removing them. Still, the longest it’s taken me to add or remove the adder weights is less than 10 seconds per dumbbell, so I can still do supersets without wasting too much time.
While the Elite USA dumbbells are great for strength training, I don’t recommend them for CrossFit workouts with dynamic movements like dumbbell cleans or snatches. They rattle when I move them quickly, and even though I’ve never had a problem with the adder weights coming loose or the selector pins coming undone, the noise makes me wonder if something’s wrong with them and distracts me from my workout.
Additionally, the caged handle makes swapping hands during dumbbell snatches difficult. The Elie USA dumbbells also can’t be dropped because the handles and selector pins are made of plastic, and after a tough CrossFit workout, sometimes all I want to do is throw my weights on the ground and collapse on the floor.
Despite those drawbacks, the Elite USA dumbbells are a solid choice for lifters who want a pair of adjustable dumbbells they can continuously get stronger with. The base model goes up to 50 pounds, but you can buy expansion kits to bring the max weight up to 90 pounds. Plus, with 2.5-pound increments, you can still progress your lifts if you’re unable to make larger jumps in weight.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Beginners: REP Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
- Weight range: Four to 85 pounds, depending on which set you purchase and whether or not you buy the 40-pound upgrade
- Weight increments: 1.25 pounds for the 52.5-pound pair; 2.5 pounds for the 20-pound pair
- Adjustment type: Plate loadable with spin-lock star collars
- Dimensions: Total handle length of 17.5 inches; sleeve diameter of one inch
- Materials: Steel, cast iron
- Warranty: Lifetime for home use; one year for commercial use
- Reasonably priced
- Small weight increments make progressive overload easier
- High-quality materials
- Adjusting the weights takes longer than on other adjustable dumbbells
- Have to store several individual weight plates
The REP Fitness adjustable dumbbells are a type of adjustable dumbbell called loadable dumbbells that you load plates onto, similar to a barbell. For newbies who don’t utilize advanced training methods such as supersets, loadable dumbbells work well since they take longer to adjust. Instead of turning a dial, you have to remove the star collar and load and unload plates from each sleeve. You can’t immediately move from one exercise to the next if you have to change weights, but that’s not an issue when doing workouts with straight sets.
Another reason I recommend the REP Fitness adjustable dumbbells for beginners is that the 52.5-pound pair comes with 1.25-pound weight plates. Increasing weight in small increments like this can help new lifters adjust to the concept of progressive overload without pushing themselves to lift weights they can’t handle.
The REP Fitness adjustable dumbbells are also available in a 20-pound pair, and you can purchase a 40-pound add-on plate set. The 20-pound pair comes with two handles, four collars, four five-pound plates, and four 2.5-pound plates. The 52.5-pound pair comes with two handles, four collars, 16 five-pound plates, and four 1.25-pound plates.
I would have liked to see the 52.5-pound pair come with some 10-pound plates, as finding storage for 16 plates may be difficult. You can only get 10-pound plates if you purchase the additional 40-pound add-on, so if you want the 52.5-pound pair, you’ll need to be prepared to store 24 individual plates. A simple weight tree from Amazon is a good solution if you’re concerned about storage.
Another drawback is that the star collar can come loose as you’re lifting weights. I don’t have these exact adjustable dumbbells, but I have similar ones from another brand, and I often have the same issue with them. But here’s a pro tip that can help with this: right when you’re ready to tighten the star collar all the way, rotate the weight plate closest to it in the opposite direction. This helps prevent the collar from loosening as you lift the weight.
Best Loadable Dumbbells: Rogue Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
- Weight range: Varies depending on the plates you use with them
- Weight increments: Can be as little as 0.25 if you use fractional plates
- Adjustment type: Loadable
- Dimensions: 14.25 to 20-inch total handle length; 28.5-millimeter handle diameter
- Materials: Steel
- Warranty: Limited lifetime
- Manufactured in the US
- Moderately aggressive knurling enables you to get a good grip
- Can choose between 10-pound or 15-pound handles
- Plates may need to be purchased separately
- Each handle is sold individually
You don’t have to worry about quality with most Rogue Fitness equipment, and that includes the loadable dumbbells. They’re manufactured in the US and, depending on whether you buy the 10-pound or 15-pound handles, they have a 190,000 to 200,000 PSI tensile strength. This means they can handle hundreds of pounds before they break.
The knurling on the dumbbell handles is moderately aggressive, so you can get a good grip without ripping the skin on your hands too badly. The handles are available in stainless steel or black zinc. The black zinc offers some rust protection, so you may want to go with that option if your home gym is prone to moisture.
The Rogue Fitness loadable dumbbells are pricey—one handle costs around $135 and doesn’t come with plates. You can use any weight plates with two-inch inserts, but if you want to stick with the Rogue brand, you can buy its dumbbell bumpers. The lowest weight available in the dumbbell bumpers is 10 pounds, but Rogue also sells fractional and change plates that range from 0.25 to five pounds. These may be better if you’re a beginner or want the option to make smaller jumps when increasing weights on your lifts.
Just note that buying plates from Rogue will drive up the cost of the dumbbells even more, as the dumbbell bumpers start at around $63.83 per pair and the change plates start at around $31 per pair.
Another thing to consider is that you’ll need collars to keep the plates in place. Rogue recommends OSO collars, which you can add to your purchase for about $50. If that’s out of your budget, you can buy any spring or lockjaw collar from Amazon.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Cardio: FLYBIRD Adjustable Dumbbells
- Weight range: Five to 55 pounds
- Weight increments: Five to 11 pounds
- Adjustment type: Dial
- Dimensions: 14.6” L x 7.9” W x 6.7” H or 16.1” L x 7.9” W x 6.9” H, depending on which base model you buy
- Materials: Alloy steel
- Warranty: One year
- Reasonably priced
- Dial-adjustment mechanism is quick and easy
- Storage tray is included
- 55-pound dumbbells go up in 11-pound increments
- Not very durable
The FLYBIRD adjustable dumbbells are a great option for home gym users who want to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts with weights. You can purchase dumbbells that go up to 25 or 55 pounds, so they won’t offer enough of a challenge for experienced athletes who can lift heavy, but they are great for faster-paced workouts with light weights.
One important thing to note is that the 55-pound option goes up in weight in 11-pound increments, which may be too large of a jump for beginners. New lifters may want to stick with the 25-pound option, which goes up in five-pound increments, though you may have to replace them with heavier weights after a few months.
For the dumbbells that go up to 25 pounds, you can buy one or a pair. While there are certainly plenty of single-dumbbell workouts you can do, I’d suggest buying a pair. This way, you can use only one if you want, but you’ll always have the option to use two.
The dial mechanism is smooth and allows you to change weights quickly, and it displays a weight indicator so you can easily see the amount of weight you’re lifting. The dumbbells also come with a storage tray, though it feels flimsy. These aren’t the most durable adjustable dumbbells because they have a lot of plastic parts, but they’ll get the job done if you just want to do some light resistance training.
Best Heavy Adjustable Dumbbells: Bells of Steel Loadable Dumbbells
- Weight range: 13.2 pounds for the handles only; can load up to 200 pounds worth of plates
- Weight increments: Can be as little as 0.25 if you use fractional plates
- Adjustment type: Loadable
- Dimensions: Total handle length of 20.5 inches; sleeve diameter of 28 millimeters
- Materials: Steel, cast iron
- Warranty: None, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Black zinc coating on the handles helps prevent rust
- Compatible with plates with two-inch inserts you may already have at home
- Ridged sleeves help plates stay in place, even if you don’t use collars
- Handles weigh 13.2 pounds, which may be too heavy for some
- Black zinc coating can become dull over time
With the ability to hold up to 200 pounds, these are the heaviest adjustable dumbbells I’ve come across. They can be a great choice for experienced athletes who can move some serious weight.
They are compatible with any plates that have a two-inch insert, so if you already have a barbell and some plates at home, you may not have to invest in more plates because you can use the ones you already own.
They have a 28-millimeter diameter, which should feel familiar to those who are already used to lifting with a barbell. The sleeves on the dumbbells spin just like they would on a barbell, which can help reduce force from being placed onto your joints.
The knurling isn’t too aggressive because the black zinc coating softens it. The black zinc also offers rust protection, which is great if you keep your dumbbells in a humid garage. However, the black zinc can fade over time. I’ve had this happen with a barbell with a black zinc coating. It won’t affect the dumbbells’ performance, but it will make them look more dull.
While it’s recommended to use collars to secure the plates, the Bells of Steel loadable dumbbells have ridged sleeves, which make it harder for the plates to slip off. If you do want to use collars, Bells of Steel sells spring collars for about $18 and zip clips, which act like pressure cuffs to keep the plates in place, for about $30.
Because the handles weigh 13.2 pounds on their own, these may not be the best dumbbells for beginners or those coming back from an injury. They’re better suited for intermediate or advanced lifters.
How We Chose the Best Adjustable Dumbbells
Because we know that everyone has different needs, we chose adjustable dumbbells that come in various price points, offer large weight ranges, have different adjustment mechanisms, and have different space requirements.
On our list, we have options ranging from around $135 to around $800. The less expensive options contain more plastic parts, while the more expensive ones feature more cast iron or steel, which are more expensive materials. Adjustable dumbbells that go up to 80 or 90 pounds—or more—will also cost more because more materials are needed to make them. Furthermore, the total price of loadable dumbbells can be high or low, depending on how many weight plates you buy for them.
Additionally, adjustable dumbbells made in the US will cost more due to better manufacturing processes and working conditions, and those made overseas will be less expensive because labor costs are cheaper.
We included a large array of price points on our list because we know everyone has different budgets. But we didn’t just look at price—we also considered the value you get for the amount you have to pay and how durable each set of dumbbells is. Sometimes, paying more for quality is worth it because it’s an investment you only have to make once.
Variety of Weights
Whether you’re a beginner or have years of training experience, you should lift weights that feel challenging so you can get stronger and build muscle. Our list includes options that start anywhere from five to 15 pounds and go up to as much as 200 pounds. We also choose a few products that allow you to change the weights in increments as small as 0.25 pounds. This way, you can progressively overload your muscles without trying to make large jumps in weight.
We also picked adjustable dumbbells with vast weight ranges so that you have room to grow and don’t have to buy more equipment in the future that would take up precious floor space in your gym.
The adjustment mechanism is an important element of adjustable dumbbells, as you want to be able to adjust your weights quickly and seamlessly. We included several dumbbells that you can adjust with a simple dial or a flick of the wrist for those who don’t want to fuss with complicated adjustment systems.
We also included a few loadable dumbbells, which require you to load and unload weight plates, for those who may have more time—or patience—to change their weights during their workouts.
The main purpose of adjustable dumbbells is to save space in small gyms. A dumbbell storage rack for fixed dumbbells can be at least four feet long and almost two feet deep, but adjustable dumbbells may only have a footprint of about 12 inches by 12 inches.
That said, you may want to keep your adjustable dumbbells on trays or stands, which still take up space. Loadable dumbbells require small weight plates, which you also have to find a storage solution for. However, a compact stand for adjustable dumbbells or a small weight plate storage tree may only require two feet of space.
Still, to suit a variety of space requirements, we picked adjustable dumbbells of various sizes and included options that don’t have a lot of extra parts to store.
Types of Adjustable Dumbbells
There are several types of adjustable dumbbells available, with the three most common being pin lock, dial, and loadable. I’ll break down these three styles below to help you decide which one is best for your needs.
Pin-lock style adjustable dumbbells are those on which you use a pin to keep weight plates in place or secure weight stacks to a handle. It typically only takes a few seconds to adjust the weights.
The PowerBlock Elite USA dumbbells are an example of pin-lock adjustable dumbbells, as the weight selector pins help secure the dumbbell handle to the weight stacks.
As the name implies, dial-adjustable dumbbells feature a spinning dial that allows you to set your desired weight. Like pin-lock adjustable dumbbells, dial-adjustable dumbbells are quick to adjust because you don’t have to load and unload plates.
If you’re looking for dial-adjustable dumbbells, the Snode AD80s, NÜOBELLS, and FLYBIRD dumbbells from the list above are all excellent choices.
Loadable dumbbells, such as the REP Fitness, Rogue Fitness, and Bells of Steel dumbbells reviewed above, are like mini barbells. They feature a metal handle with sleeves on each end where you can load weight plates to get your desired weight. You can use spinning star collars or barbell collars to keep the plates from sliding off.
You can typically find loadable dumbbell handles with one-inch or two-inch sleeves. Loadable dumbbells with two-inch sleeves are great if you already have an Olympic-sized barbell and various change plates or fractional plates (plates in smaller weights of around 0.25 to five pounds) at home because you can use the same plates on both your barbell and the dumbbell handles. If you buy loadable dumbbells with one-inch handles, you need to invest in plates that fit that size.
Regardless of which size handle you buy, storage can be an issue, and you may have to buy a weight plate tree to keep the plates organized.
Benefits of Adjustable Dumbbells
There are numerous benefits of adjustable dumbbells. They don’t require a lot of space, and they can be more cost-effective than fixed dumbbells. You can swap out the weights quickly and use smaller weight increments, which isn’t always possible with fixed dumbbells. Most adjustable dumbbells are also easy to take on the go.
The biggest benefit of adjustable dumbbells is that they have compact designs and don’t take up as much room as multiple pairs of fixed dumbbells. With adjustable dumbbells, you can get more than 20 different weights in just one pair of dumbbells rather than having 20 pairs of dumbbells lying around.
Furthermore, when you buy fixed dumbbell sets, you usually also need a storage rack for them. Dumbbell storage racks can be several feet long and take up valuable floor space. Even though some adjustable dumbbells may require a tray to keep them on, that tray may only be about 1.5 or two feet long.
Trays and stands for adjustable dumbbells are also easier to move around if needed. I frequently move my PowerBlock stand around my garage gym when I need more space to do core work on the floor or perform movements like deadlifts. It would be much harder and more time-consuming for me to do that with a storage rack with several pairs of fixed dumbbells.
Small Weight Increments
Fixed dumbbells often only go up in weight in 2.5-pound increments until you get to about 25 or 30 pounds, then they increase by five pounds. Some adjustable dumbbells allow you to adjust the weights in increments as small as 1.25 pounds, offering you more versatility in your weight training journey. Smaller increments can make it easier to progressively overload your lifts, especially for movements like lateral raises, where a five-pound jump may be too much.
Adjustable dumbbells can cost anywhere from $135 to $800 or more. This may not seem cost-effective at first, but considering that sets of fixed dumbbells can cost close to $1,000, adjustable dumbbells can be a more attractive choice for those who want to save some money.
Can Easily Use Different Weights
Because you get multiple weights in just one pair of dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells make it easier for you to use different weights when working out. For example, if you’re doing a circuit-style workout, you don’t have to have one pair of dumbbells for upper body movements and another pair for lower body exercises. You can quickly change the weights of your adjustable dumbbells for different exercises without wasting too much time between transitions.
Adjustable dumbbells are also efficient when doing strength training workouts with supersets. If you need to use different weights for hammer curls and skull crushers, for example, you can quickly adjust the weights while keeping your rest times to a minimum.
Easy To Travel With
As is the case with regular dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells are easy to travel with. You can throw them in your trunk when going on a road trip and use them in your hotel room or rental home. You can even take them to a nearby park for an outdoor workout.
Having a variety of weight selections with a single pair of dumbbells makes it easier to do effective workouts when away from home. You can challenge all of your muscle groups equally instead of being stuck with dumbbells that are too light for leg exercises but too heavy for arm exercises, for example.
What to Look for When Buying Adjustable Dumbbells
While a pair of adjustable dumbbells may not be as huge of an investment as other fitness products like a squat rack or a treadmill, there are still several things to look for before making your purchase. The cost of the dumbbells, the workouts you plan to do with them, how easy it is to adjust the weights, and how comfortable they are to hold can all impact your decision. But that’s not all—below, I provide a full list of things to consider when shopping for adjustable dumbbells.
Adjustable dumbbells typically require an upfront investment of up to $800. The price depends on the materials used, how many weight options are available, and where the dumbbells are made. For someone who needs light weights for circuit-style workouts, cheaper adjustable dumbbells with a lower maximum weight of around 50 pounds will likely be sufficient. For advanced athletes or those who will put their dumbbells through more abuse, more expensive options with heavier max weights and better-quality materials may be needed.
Because adjustable dumbbells can be more cumbersome than traditional dumbbells, it’s important to consider what types of exercises you’ll do with them.
For example, I don’t like using my PowerBlock dumbbells for CrossFit workouts. It’s not easy to switch them from one hand to the other during dumbbell snatches because the handle is enclosed, and the hard metal is uncomfortable on my shoulders during dumbbell cleans. I also find it awkward to maintain my grip on them for dumbbell front squats because my hands have to maneuver around the frame of the dumbbells.
On the other hand, I’ve found loadable dumbbells like the REP Fitness ones easier to use for CrossFit. The handles are a similar length as those on traditional hex dumbbells and are more open than the handles on PowerBlock dumbbells, making it easier to swap hands quickly. It’s also easier for me to get them in a comfortable position for dumbbell squats because I can easily rest the handles on my shoulders.
That said, I much prefer my PowerBlock dumbbells for strength training, especially when I’m doing supersets. Changing the weights on them doesn’t take as long as it does to adjust the weights on loadable dumbbells, so I can keep the time between exercises short.
Considerations like these are all important to take into account when shopping for adjustable dumbbells. If the ones you buy make your workouts more frustrating, you may be less likely to use them, and you’ll have wasted a lot of money.
Ease of Use
Look for adjustable dumbbells that allow you to change weights quickly. You don’t want to waste time fumbling around with a complicated adjustment system in the middle of your workout, especially if you have limited time to train.
As mentioned earlier, adjustable dumbbells with a pin mechanism allow for quick and easy weight adjustments. So do adjustable dumbbells with dial mechanisms. Loadable dumbbells take more time to adjust the weights since you have to load and unload weight plates and secure them on the handles with collars.
Available Weights and Weight Increments
It’s good to look for adjustable dumbbells that fit your current strength levels, but you should also consider your future goals. Some adjustable dumbbells only go up to about 55 pounds. This should be sufficient if you’re a beginner, but you may outgrow those weights after a few months of training. Therefore, it’s also important to prepare for the possibility of needing heavier weights in the future. You may want to look for adjustable dumbbells that go up to at least 80 or 90 pounds so you can keep progressing over the long term.
Comfort and Gripability
As with traditional dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells should offer a good grip so that they don’t slip out of your hands while you work out. Look for handles with knurling or a rubber coating, which can make it easier to maintain your grip even as you sweat.
The dumbbells should also feel comfortable to hold at light or heavy weights. All dumbbells can be unwieldy once they get heavy enough, so when looking for adjustable dumbbells, try to find ones that are still maneuverable once you get to about 50 pounds.
Materials and Durability
Materials and durability go hand in hand. Cast iron and steel can withstand a lot of abuse, so look for adjustable dumbbells that are made mostly from these materials. A lot of adjustable dumbbells have some plastic parts, primarily the selector pins, but plastic shouldn’t make up the bulk of the construction. If it does, the dumbbells will be more prone to breaking, even with light use.
While adjustable dumbbells take up far less room than fixed dumbbell sets, they still take up some space, especially if you store them on a tray or stand. Before you make a purchase, measure the area where you plan on keeping the dumbbells to ensure you have enough room to store them and will still have enough space to do your workouts safely.
With items like adjustable dumbbells, which can be expensive and have multiple parts that hold them together, a lengthy warranty is beneficial. Most reputable fitness brands will offer warranties that cover issues arising from defective materials or poor construction. This way, you don’t have to shell out a ton of extra money if your dumbbells break through no fault of your own.
Adjustable dumbbells are an excellent space-saving solution for those who want to train with free weights but have limited space in their home gyms. You get multiple weights in one pair of dumbbells, so you don’t have to worry about large storage shelves or leaving several pairs of dumbbells on the floor. You can also save some money, as adjustable dumbbells can be a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than sets of fixed dumbbells.
If you put your workout equipment through a lot of abuse, look for a pair of dumbbells like the Snode AD80s that can be dropped from heights of up to 32 inches without breaking. If you just need some lightweight dumbbells for circuit training workouts, a set that goes up to 25 pounds, like the FLYBIRD adjustable dumbbells, are a good choice. Whichever option you choose, rest assured that you can keep up with your fitness routine and get stronger, even if you have limited space in which to train.
Adjustable dumbbells are worth it if you have a small gym and don’t have much storage space. One pair of adjustable dumbbells can replace up to 28 pairs of fixed dumbbells, so you don’t have to worry about storing multiple sets of dumbbells. A pair of adjustable dumbbells can also be more cost-effective than buying separate pairs of dumbbells.
Adjustable dumbbells can range in price from about $135 to $800 or more. The price depends on the brand, materials, and weight ranges available. The more expensive ones tend to be more durable and go up higher in weight, while the cheaper ones may contain flimsier materials and have lower max weights. Typically, a mid-tier option that costs between $300 to $500 will be durable enough for home gym use while providing a wide range of weights.
You can build muscle with adjustable dumbbells as long as the weights provide a challenging enough stimulus. The adjustable dumbbells should also allow you to gradually increase weights so you can progressively overload the muscles. Adjustable dumbbells that can go up in weight in 2.5 or five-pound increments are great for this, as you can continuously bump up the weight without risking an injury.