Everything you wanted to know about adjustable dumbbells (but were afraid to ask) is here in this article. Our own best adjustable dumbbells roundup, a buyer’s guide, and a lot of dumbbell tips are waiting for you below.
Technological progress is blooming in all modern day industries, and fitness industry is not an exception. Home gyms, smart benches, elliptical machines – the possibilities for an effective workout are amazing.
One of the latest innovations on this list is adjustable dumbbells. They are a logical development from the old school, non-adjustable ones – compact, multi-functional, and affordable. Adjustable dumbbells may be a great solution for your home gym and without breaking your bank.
To help you figure out what the adjustable dumbbells are and how to choose the rights ones for you, we bring you our own “Best adjustable dumbbells 2016” roundup. Enjoy!
Best Adjustable Dumbbells 2018
Let’s take a quick look at what we have in store for you today. Please note that dimensions and weight are given for a single dumbbell, not the whole pair.
|Image||Product name||Weight Settings lbs.(for each dumbbell)|
|Bowflex SelectTech 552||5 to 52.5 lbs|
|Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells||20 to 100 lbs|
|One Pair of Adjustable Dumbbells Cast Iron Total 105 Lbs||5 to 52.5 lbs|
|CAP Barbell 40-pound||2.5 to 40 lbs|
|Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell||10 to 50 lbs|
|Universal PowerPak Adjustable Dumbbells with Stand - 4-45 lbs.||4 to 45 lbs|
|Ironmaster 75 lb Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell System with Stand||5 to 75 lbs|
|Bowflex SelectTech 1090||10 to 90 lbs|
|PowerBlock Sport 24 Piece Dumbbell Set||3 to 24 lbs|
|PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells||5 to 50 lbs (expandable to 70, 90 and 130 lbs)|
Now that you have got the full picture, let’s pick the top 5 adjustable dumbbells from the list and take them for an in-depth review.
Bowflex are known for their rather innovative products and these adjustable dumbbells are no exception.
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells feature a sophisticated “dial” system, which means you do not have to screw/unscrew the additional weights. You just have to turn the knob while the dumbbell is in its place on the stand and select the required weight.
You can adjust weights in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds, after that it is 5-pound increments.
The dumbbells themselves are very well made and feel quite solid. We have read some complaints about the lack of sturdiness in these dumbbells – never got where that came from.
The grip is also great – it’s almost impossible to drop them.
However, these Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells were not made for much abuse. We wouldn’t recommend dropping them on the floor when you’re pushing to your limit and working to failure.
The weight switching system has been great for us – easier and quicker than the regular screwing/unscrewing the weights. The adjustment steps are just right, although some of us lifters would prefer more than 52.5 pounds of weight per hand but you get what you get.
Another minor flaw for our were the stand – the design of these adjustable dumbbells suggests that you put them back on their stand at a certain angle. Sometimes it’s not that easy to do so, especially after a dozen of reps when you simply want to throw them down.
The price is more of less average for this type of product – We would not call these Bowflex dumbbells cheap but they are not that expensive too. We’d say that’s a deal.
The manufacturer provides a two-year warranty on weight plates and parts.
- easily adjustable
- solid and safe
- firm grip
- cannot be thrown around
- not always easy to put back on the stand
- not option add more weight
A great product for a reasonable price – this is what Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are. If you want a modern pair of dumbbells in your home gym and not really limited on budget, look no further.
Now this is what we call heavy duty! Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells are a no-frills, bad-to-the-bone piece of home exercise equipment.
The product itself features two textured solid chrome handle bars made of cast iron, four collars (5 lbs), sixteen 10 pound plates, four 5 pound plates, and four 2.5 pound plates. More than enough to satisfy even tough weightlifters.
Of course, you can purchase a 105-pound version (52.5 lbs per hand) as well – that will cost you 3 times less than the same weight dumbbells from Bowflex. Think about it.
The dumbbells themselves feel very solid and massive – like a typical gym-class pair of dumbbells would. Throw them around, drop them on the floor – they can tolerate a great deal of abuse.
The downside is that we get a sense of some cheap product every time we hold these Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells in my hands. The smell of paint is irritating and so is the lack of any interesting design features. If you do not mind some generic pair of dumbbells sitting in your workout room, it should not be that of a big deal for you.
Our another complaint is that, due to the design of the dumbbells, it may take you quite a while to change the weights, especially from heavier to lighter. This is kind of disappointing if you’re doing supersets where time matters the most.
That said, We would still give special credit to these dumbbells for allowing us to exercise with that much weight – because, honestly, 52.5 lbs per dumbbell is not enough for me when we are doing chest press or shoulder press.
In addition to the five-year workmanship warranty, the manufacturer provides a 60-day satisfaction warranty, which is not really a feature but it is still a nice touch.
- basic, no-frills design
- allows up to 200 pounds of weight per hand
- great value
- takes up much time to change
- irritating paint smell
Overall, it is a bang for the buck. No other product can give that many options with decent quality and reliability. The only real downside is the cheap paint and materials. If you are into serious weightlifting and despise fancy gimmicks, this one is for you.
There is something not quite right with these dumbbells. First of all, they are too big. Not it’s a major complaint but you have to be mindful of their position in certain exercises.
Second, it is the plastic storage tray – looks cheap and feels cheap, although the price suggests it was made of titanium.
Finally, the weight limit. Wait, only 50 pounds of weight? Per hand? Come on, guys, keep it real – some people may want to lift a bit more than that (we am speaking for ourself, of course).
In a nutshell, Bayou Fitness Pair of Adjustable Dumbbells was probably created mainly for fitness purposes, not some heavy “tear-your-muscles-apart” kind of workout. And We get that – but still would prefer an upgrade option, like some other manufacturers do.
There is nothing bad to say about the quality, though. In fact, We would even go as far as saying that it is a well-built and solid product. No rattling during the workout, no signs of abuse after throwing them here and there around the place.
The grip could have been a little better as We feel that the dumbbell slips when our palms are sweaty by the middle of our workout. Definitely not a good sign.
The changing system is great – very easy to switch between all possible combinations of weights. We would really prefer to have this system on the Yes4All adjustable dumbbells but, hey, it is me just thinking out loud.
The price is a little bit south of proper for this limited number of features that you get. You can get 3 sets of dumbbells by some less fancy brand and still be pleased.
- very easy to switch between weights
- great build quality
- expensive for that amount of features
- not enough weight options
Overall, We would not recommend this as a first choice for a seasoned weight lifter. However, if your budget allows you some reckless money wasting and you are searching for a nice pair of cool-looking dumbbells, Bayou Fitness Pair of Adjustable Dumbbells may work for you just fine.
Hands down, these are one of the most well-designed dumbbells We have ever seen. And We are not talking about the looks – these Universal PowerPak Adjustable Dumbbells feel great when in hand too.
If they ever want to shoot a movie about the future with some dumbbells featured, these would be the best choice.
Props to the manufacturer for the nicely designed stand as well – it is a little bit higher above the ground than the most other dumbbell stands are, which makes it easier to grab the dumbbells from it and put them back on.
Each dumbbell can be adjusted from 4 to 45 pounds (in 5-pound increments), allowing you to rapidly switch from one exercise to another. That comes in really handy when you are doing supersets.
The thermoplastic rubber handles are just perfect – there is absolutely no way a dumbbell can slip from your hand. Seriously, We would love to meet the guy who was responsible for the ergonomics in this product – shaking his hand and thanking him personally would be my pleasure.
The manufacturer will throw in a free workout guide and a warranty if you buy a pair of these.
- best design and ergonomics in its class
- easy to change weights
- not suitable for advantage user need lot of weight
This is a classic example of an overpriced product. Great quality, great ergonomics, excellent workmanship and easy adjust weight.
Unusual. Weird. These are the initial things that come to mind when you first see the PowerBlock Sport 24 Piece Dumbbell Set. What is this supposed to do? How do I switch between weights?
However, after a few workouts, it starts to feel normal and even natural despite the initial “weirdness.” The selector pin allows you to change weights easily like you would normally do with a weight stack in the gym.
I am a little bit drawn back by the funny colors that are there to distinct between weights. Not a big deal, though, just me nitpicking.
Rubber handles are surprisingly comfortable and provide a really firm and secure grip. The overall dumbbell size is a bit menacing, though – you might want to exercise carefully without moving your hands around too much. Otherwise, you risk damaging some of your furniture.
The maximum weight of 24 pounds per hand is a joke, really. Women and kids may find this enough for their workouts but not seasoned lifters. Three-pound increments are alright, and the weight switching system is amazingly fine too.
The price is quite reasonable, We must say. If that is not a bargain, then We do not know what is.
- well-balanced, ergonomic design
- great price
- unusual construction requires some time to get used to it
- 24 pounds of maximum weight – that is way too low for seasoned athletes
PowerBlock Sport 24 Piece Dumbbell Set is a great attempt at creating an affordable piece of in-house gym equipment with original design. While not suitable for serious athletes due to the low maximum weight (only 24 pounds per hand), it is a great choice for beginners and female fitness athletes.
Adjustable Dumbbells VS Regular Dumbbells
Why do we call some dumbbells regular and some – adjustable? The difference is explained below.
Regular dumbbells are the type you are most likely to see in a typical gym or fitness center. They come in two different shapes – hex (the weight heads on dumbbells have six sides) and pro (circular). Regular dumbbell weight usually ranges from 1 pound to 150 pounds per dumbbell.
And the most important thing – the weight cannot be altered or changed. If you need a heavier/lighter dumbbell, you will have to pick one up from the stand.
Adjustable dumbbells feature the construction, which allows athletes to change weights on a single dumbbell without changing the dumbbell itself. This is usually achieved by having different weight plates in the set. You can either add/remove and secure them by using a collar, dial or pin the required weight when your dumbbell is resting on a stand.
Let’s take a look at some of the major differences between regular dumbbells and the adjustable ones, compiled in a single table for your convenience.
|Regular dumbbells||Adjustable dumbbells|
Why Buy Adjustable Dumbbells?
Why should you buy adjustable dumbbells? How do you know if they are right for you? This next piece is going to give you some ideas on how you can actually benefit from buying a set of adjustable dumbbells.
Reason 1. You want to work out at home
Going to the gym may take up a lot of time (driving there/back, changing clothes, waiting on an exercise machine) and money (membership prices have a nasty tendency of going up each year).
Reason 2. You want to save space at your place
Not everyone has as much space at their house as they wish they had.
If you cannot make a choice between the regular and adjustable dumbbells, think about how much space you will be able to save with just a single set of dumbbells instead of 8-10 sets, plus one or two stands to store them.
Looks like an obvious choice, does not it?
Reason 3. You want to save money
For many people, this is #1 reason of all. The math is pretty simple here – pay for one pair of dumbbells instead of paying for the equivalent of 3-4 pairs.
These are three main reasons why more and more people prefer to buy adjustable dumbbells for their in-house workouts.
Whatever your reason is (or a combination of the three mentioned ones), we suggest you read the Adjustable Dumbbell Buyer’s Guide just a few paragraphs below.
Different Weight Selection Types
There are three weight selection types found on adjustable dumbbells: a traditional (manual) one and two innovative ones (dial and pin selector). Let’s see how they are different from each other.
Traditional (manual) adjustable dumbbells
This type of adjustable dumbbells would typically include the following elements (per one dumbbell):
- a weight bar to hold the weight plates
- a set of weight plates ranging in size and weight (starting from 1 pound to 100 pounds)
- two collars to tighten the weight plates to the bar, thus securing them
In order to adjust the weight on the traditional adjustable dumbbells, you will need to go through three easy steps (for each dumbbell):
- Unscrew the collar
- Remove and/or add the required number of weight plates
- Screw the collar back on
Repeat the same steps for the other dumbbell. It often turns out that this procedure takes up quite some time and is particularly annoying during the supersets. These weight plates have to be stored somewhere too, so that might be a slight inconvenience.
The good thing is that you do not really need a stand for such dumbbells and can throw them around without any real damage.
Innovative adjustable dumbbells – dial system
With this type of adjustable dumbbells, you get a single-piece dumbbell that has a few weight plates attached to it.
Whenever you want to adjust the weight on a dumbbell, all you have to do is put it on the stand in the right position and dial the required weight (the number of weight plates).
This approach is favored by companies like Bowflex. To tell the truth, it does solve the problem of having to change the weight plates manually – to some extent. Some say that these innovative dumbbells are not as secure as the old-school ones. Some just dismiss them as fancy gimmicks.
But the reality is that innovative adjustable dumbbells actually solve the storage space problem, and that is an undeniable fact.
Innovative adjustable dumbbells –selector pin
This is the type of weight adjusting that you can find in many PowerBlock products.
It works pretty much in the same fashion as your everyday weight stack in a gym – you just move a pin in the right position to choose the required number of weight.
Similar to the dial system, pin selector dumbbells help you save space (no weight plates lying around) and time (when changing between the weights during a superset).
As you can see, all three types are good in their own way – there is no clear winner. Whatever you choice is, make sure you follow the safety precautions provided by the manufacturer.
Things to consider when buying Adjustable Dumbbells (Buyer’s Guide)
This Buyer’s Guide is for anyone who has already decided to buy a pair of shiny new adjustable dumbbells but has not made his or her mind yet.
One general rule – the more plastic, the worse. Plastic parts do not usually last long, and you do not want them to break while you are holding a 50-pound dumbbell over your head. So, it is more about safety than anything else.
Yes, plastic parts are cheap, and they are usually featured on the cheaper products but make no mistake – your safety is the top priority here. Do yourself a favor and spring for the all-metal (or at least, for the most part, metal) adjustable dumbbells.
Weight adjusting type
There are three major types of weight adjusting on the adjustable dumbbells:
- regular (manual adjustment via a collar clamp)
- dial (where you literally have to dial in the required number of weight plates)
- selector pin (similar to the system used in weight stacks, where you need to insert the pin in the right hole to select the desired weight)
There is no right or wrong here, really. It all depends on what is best for you in the particular case.
If you are OK with screwing/unscrewing the collar every time you need to change the weight on your dumbbell and that won’t compromise your training process, go with the regular adjustable dumbbells.
If you need to switch to different weight quickly, then you might want to choose the innovative types of weight adjusting, where you have to put the dumbbell in its stand and quickly dial in the required weight or pin.
How much do you usually lift and for what exercise? How well have you been progressing recently? What is your main purpose with these workouts – muscle building or toning?
Ask yourself these questions to figure out which set of weights would be appropriate for you.
If you are a beginner, then a 200-lbs set is, probably, not your thing (well, yet). Similarly, if you are a seasoned weight lifter, then 45-pound dumbbells are nothing but a joke to you.
And yes, make sure there is plenty of room for you to grow – as you progress, you will require heavier weights.
Grip and fit
This is very important – everyone’s hands are different and you want to make sure this exact set of adjustable dumbbells sits snugly in your hand, firm and secure. Again, it is more about safety than style, so do try a few options before finally settling on the one that feels best.
Of course, if you are ordering your adjustable dumbbells online, it is impossible to try them out but here is what you can do:
- remember the items you liked when browsing an online store
- go to your local sports equipment store and see if these items are available
- try them and see how well they feel in your hand
Most adjustable dumbbells would feature a stand for you to store them and/or adjust the weight, if it is a dial or pin selector system.
These stands come in all shapes and sizes but the general recommendation is to choose the ones that have less plastic in them, feel sturdy, and do not allow clanking, which is rather annoying.
Another consideration is the stand height – it is much easier to dial in weights on adjustable dumbbells that are not standing on the floor or close to it.
Chances are that you will grow so big that the current set you bought a year ago just simply is not enough for you anymore. Buying a new set of dumbbells can be a pain in the butt, especially after you have got used to the one you own.
To avoid this kind of problem, choose a brand, or model that is upgradable – this way you can have the same weight bar and just add a few weight plates to it.
Cost vs. Quality (Value)
Often we find ourselves choosing between a name-brand high-priced model with many features and a moderately priced lesser-known brand model. Is there a compromise between the two?
The competition is strong in this market segment, and you should definitely consider 3 to 5 options before settling on the final one.
Oh, and one more thing – make sure you compare the comparable. Many times the price difference comes from the bigger set of weight plates. It is quite pointless to compare a 50-lbs dumbbell set against a 200-lbs dumbbell set – they obviously fall into different price categories by default.
Dumbbells are not the kind of product to get broken easily – they are made of solid materials and usually have few moving parts. This is especially true for the dumbbells with the traditional (manual) weight adjusting system.
However, you would want to feel safe knowing that if there are any production faults in your product, you will be quickly treated with a replacement or another suitable solution.
Most adjustable dumbbells feature a 2-year warranty. However, some of the manufacturers go as far a 10-year (with limitations, of course).
Adjustable dumbbells are not a product where size matters.
There should be enough room for them in any room, really. We would say that it is mostly about how it feels when you are holding them in your hand rather than size.
If you have a chance to try the dumbbells you like before buying them (in your local sports equipment store, for example), We strongly recommend you to do it.
Pay attention to the reviews
Again, this is quite a general recommendation but still worth it – some people have already had their experience with the product you want to buy. Go ahead and read what they have to say about that product.
More so, ask them questions to get clarify the stuff you are still not sure about.
This article was dedicated to all things adjustable dumbbells. You have learned the difference between regular dumbbells and adjustable ones, what some of the best adjustable dumbbells are, and how to choose the ones that are right for you.
In a nutshell, adjustable dumbbells are a great way to train your body at home without taking up too much space and definitely without breaking the bank.
Whatever weight adjusting style you prefer (manual, innovative dial or pin), make sure you follow the safety precautions provided by the manufacturer of your dumbbells. Stay strong and become stronger!