So you’ve decided that you want to get some adjustable dumbbells? Only a few months ago I was also in the same position where I’d had enough of the dumbbells I was using as they weren’t challenging enough. I mainly workout at home and need a range of weights so I can do some of the P90x3 workouts but my dumbbells at the time only went up to 10kg on each hand. I had limited space but never considered buying a good quality set because I thought I had seen more or less what adjustable dumbbells were on the market. To me an adjustable dumbbell only came in one mode and that was the cast iron ones with the iron discs that are locked in place by the spin lock.
It was only until I read what other adjustable dumbbells people used that I realised that there are so may different types available on the market that solve a lot of the problems that my cast iron dumbbell set had, such as speed of change and max weight. So if you are also looking for some dumbbells this guide is for you and I’ll take you through all the things to consider including letting you know which model I finally chose.
Features to Consider
If you are in the middle of setting up your own home gym, you need to make sure you are doing your research, and find quality equipment that will provide the type of training you are looking for. Before buying a lot of expensive equipment that may not give you the workout want, it’s important to consider the features of the equipment you are buying, and read their reviews to make sure it’s what you want in exercise equipment.
One of the first things to think about when buying adjustable dumbbells is the size that you want and how much room you have to store them. There are a wide range of plate and handlebars when you look at professional lifting sets that will increase your choices when you work out. Even though it is an attractive option, you also need to decide if you have enough room to store a big set. If you don’t you may want to just focus on the size weights that you need at the moment, and then add to the set later.
Styles and Types
This is where I was naive. I always assumed there were only the old fashioned cast iron dumbbells with the spin lock that hold the discs in place. Little did I know there were other dumbbells which offered quicker ways to change the weights around.
With this type, you are literally able to dial the amount of weight that you want to work out with. Once you dial the preferred weight, you can life up the barbells, and the chosen weight is just attached to the ends. Any extra plates will be left on the holder making this a convenient type of adjustable dumbbell, but very expensive.
A spinning lock holds together multiple weight plates, and this is the most common type of adjustable dumbbell. This traditional set allows you to manually place your desired weight onto each end of the pole, and then you twist the metal lock until it is tight to keep the plates on without shifting. It is a more ungainly system than the dial-a-weight style, but it is a lot less expensive.
Selector Pin Dumbbells
Similar to the dial-a-weight as there isn’t any manual placement of the weights on the bar, but you do have to move a pin to choose the preferred weight that you wish to work with. After you choose your desired weight, the rest of the plates will remain on the holder. This is a great middle area of cost and convenience. The Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells are known for using this method.
Depending on your preferences, you can purchase either lighter or heavier sets. Most adjustable dumbbells have a fifty pound per weight maximum, and a total weight maximum of one hundred pounds. It is important to purchase a set that can grow with you as you get stronger, instead of being stuck with a set that you have outgrown (i.e. what happened with me!)
When considering a dumbbell set, make sure it is capable for making small and large weight adjustments. If you are looking at a set that makes adjustment in larger amount like twenty pounds, it will not help you when you are not lifting enough weight, but you can’t manage the additional twenty pounds yet. Look for a set that has increments in 5, 2.5, or 1.5-pounds, so that you can adjust your weight according to your fitness needs.
The good thing about the spin lock dumbbells is that you can usually buy small increments in whatever size you wish, however for the branded specialised adjustable dumbbells, you will have to move up or down in their predetermined weight increments. This is important because if you’re pushing close to your max at one weight and you only need an increase of 1.5 pounds the next time you lift but the dumbbells next increment is 10 pounds, you’re going struggle to get up to this weight.
When considering quality in an adjustable dumbbell set, you want to pick a high quality brand so that you know your training will be safe and reliable when you use them. If you find two sets that you are torn between and the brands and quality are similar, it is understandable to want to save some money and buy the cheaper set.
Do you want your dumbbells to be always out and on show and in a position to pick them up with ease or are you fine with storing them in your wardrobe?
Stands make it very easy and convenient to store your adjustable dumbbells, and this features can be a real bonus if you can afford it. They tend to be more expensive, but the convenience is great, Especially if you are using an area that is not set up as a home gym, but using is a small space of a room designated for another purpose.
This less expensive option can also be an unwieldy problem when you are not using the dumbbells. If you have a basement or home gym, they won’t be in the way on the floor, so the lack of stand won’t be an issue.
The Top 5 Adjustable Dumbbells
As I was doing my research the same names kept coming up as recommended dumbbells. Not surprisingly these were the sets I researched.
What I had decided when I was looking for a set myself was that I didn’t mind spending a significant amount of money on these weights. I figured that a good quality pair would last me a life time and therefore any high prices wouldn’t scare me as they would become a valuable investment. Spending around a few hundred dollars on a set of good dumbbells that last a lifetime is a good deal.
Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
The Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells offer durable construction with weights that range from 5 to 75 pounds in increments of 2.5-pounds, and they do come with a stand.
This set has the quick lock adjustment system, and unlike other dumbbells that take several minutes for weight adjustments, the Ironmaster can be adjusted in under 15 seconds.
They are also very flexible with the amount of weight that you can use during your training, and you can purchase either the 45 or 75 pound set. Plus, there is an add-on kit that can be purchased that will increase your weight options to 120 pounds.
This set is a good investment for a home gym that will help you maintain your fitness routine in your own home. Changing plates is easy and fast with the quick lock technology, and the ability to purchase additional weights allows the set to grow with you as you train.
- Comes with a Quick-Lock design that adjusts from 5-75 lbs in increments of 2 1/2 lb increments
- Made of a super heavy duty construction with welded steel, chrome plated handles
- This system includes two dumbbells at 75 lbs each
- Comes with free stand and exercise poster
- Have a super space efficient design that takes up less than 2 square feet
- Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
- The stand is compact, and it is not too tall
- Having these dumbbells is as good as having a complete rack of dumbbells
- Moving the set is very easy and efficient since the plates stack together well
- If you are not careful to tighten the pins, the plates can become loose
- Does not work well with quick change exercises such as super sets or drop set.
- Paint chips off with the lightest use
PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells
Buying the PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells is like getting sixteen different sets of dumbbells instead of one for your training. It has a 50-130 maximum weight range so that you have everything you need to hit your training goals. This set has the selector pin system to adjust the weight, which is similar to the weight machines in the gym, and just as easy to use.
The PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells are made of a strong material that is very durable, which is great if you are using them several times a week. These dumbbells will definitely stand up to whatever type of training you have planned, since the PowerBlock brand is known for its toughness, and holding up to challenging circumstances.
After the first five pounds, the weight goes up in 5 pound increments. These are a very versatile set of weight, and can be adapted to suit your needs. The pin system is simple and easy to use, so that you can change out the weight to increase your training when you wish. They also come with a 10 year warranty if you use these dumbbells in your home.
- Has a weight range of 5-50 lbs per hand (depending on model)
- Can expand to 70 90 or 130 lbs per hand (depending on model)
- Comes with a 10 year home use warranty (Lifetime for the U series)
- Will replace 16 pairs of dumbbells in the space of 1
- Well-made, comfortable grip, worth the price
- Very east to adjust the weight, very stable
- If you do a chest press with more weight, it gets challenging since the set gets wider
- Go up in 5 pound (2.5 kg) increments which is too much for some people
- Hard to send back to the manufacturer if there is a problem
- Not resistant to damage when dropped
Universal PowerPak Adjustable Dumbbells
The Universal PowerPak Adjustable Dumbbells with Stand is a dial-a-weight system that can adjust from 4 to 45 pounds in increments of five pounds with just the touch of a dial. They feature handles with no-slip grips for additional safety, and a comprehensive workout guide to help you maximize your workout, plus a space-saving storage shelf.
The maximum weight of the Universal PowerPak is 45 pounds, and it comes with nine weight settings. They have an easy twist and go adjustment, and it is one of the more affordable set of dumbbells on the market. They also come with a one year warranty.
- Each of the dumbbells adjusts from 4 to 45 pounds in increments of 5 pound increments.
- Allows you to quickly switch from one exercise to the next
- Are a great space and money saver as they replace 9 sets or 18 individual dumbbells
- Includes an ergonomically designed dumbbell stand that will neatly store your dumbbells
- Has a durable thermoplastic rubber handle for a comfortable non-slip grip
- Comes with a workout guide
- Great for low to moderate weight lifting
- Great price, and quick weight adjustment
- You can change the weight on either side of the dumbbell
- Maximum weight is only 45 pounds
- Limited lifting options with only nine settings
- Weights shift back and forth as you use them
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are one of the best-selling sets of dumbbells on the market. The have adjustable weight from 5 to 5.25 pounds in increments of 2.5 pounds, or 10 to 90 pounds in increments of 5 pounds. They have the dial-a-weight system, so you can conveniently adjust the weight you are working with a quick twist of a dial.
The BowFlex SelectTech are very versatile with a great price tag. They come with fifteen different settings for each of the dumbbells, and they give you a wide range of weight options to choose from. You also don’t have to purchase the set as BowFlex will give you the option of just buying a single dumbbell.
The comprehensive DVD will help you make sure you are lifting in a safe manner. These are high-quality dumbbells that you can adapt in a lot of different ways depending on your training routine. They are ideal for beginners as well as the advanced athlete.
- Each of the dumbbells can adjust from 5 to 52.5 pounds in increments of 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds
- Allows you to quickly move from one exercise to the next
- Allows you to combine 15 sets of weights into one, using a unique dial system
- Gets rid of the need for multiple dumbbells cluttering your workout space
- Comes with a two year warranty on weight plates and parts
- High quality product that is adaptable for different training programs
- Weight variety makes it easy to adjust
- Great for beginners
- Weight plates don’t feel completely secure when lifting
- Less durable than traditional dumbbells
- Dumbbells are too long
XMark Adjustable Dumbbells
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbells are a great option, if you are looking to buy a single 50 pound weight dumbbell, a pair of 25-pound maximum weight dumbbells, or a pair of 50-pound dumbbells. The versatility of the product allows each of the options to adjust their weight with just a simple twist of a knob. They are made of heavy-duty chrome plated steel construction, and they will not get damaged when they are dropped.
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbells have a minimum weight of 5 pounds on the 25-pound max weight dumbbell, and a 10 pound minimum weight on the 50-pound max weight dumbbells. The ability to purchase just a single dumbbell is a great money saver while still maintaining a high-quality training program.
- Comes with two 25 lb. adjustable dumbbells with storage trays
- Made of heavy-duty chrome plated steel construction
- Will get rid of the need for multiple dumbbells
- Has a compact and easy to use design that saves space and time
- Great price, very durable
- Can buy a single dumbbell if you prefer
- Do not get damaged when dropped
- Weight increments are too large
- Only good for lifting 50 pounds or less
- Hard to secure plates before you workout
In the end I went with the Powerblock Adjustable dumbbells. In particular I went with the Powerblock U90’s.
As I was doing my research the same two names kept being recommended over and over again and these were the Bowflex Selectech and the Powerblocks, so for me it was going to be one of these two that I would choose.
At first when I saw images of the two dumbbells I immediately looked at the bowflex selecttech and said, ‘They are the ones!’ Not because I can tell quality but because I couldn’t work out what the Powerblocks were. To me they looked a cross between a color printer and some sort of cooker, so naturally I leaned toward the Bowflex.
The other thing about the Bowflex was that they have a dial to choose what weight you want whilst the Powerblocks had some fiddly piece of plastic that you have to slot in carefully to get the right weight you want.
But what turned me back to the Powerblocks is that I read some people had experienced the plates becoming lose and putting themselves in danger. To be honest I have no idea how legitimate these claims are but a couple of them have surfaced. This was a major turn off.
The other major factor for me for not choosing the Bowflex was just how long the Bowflex Selectechs are. Even at low weights they are always the same length which to me look so long they resemble mini barbells. Even with my existing dumbbells (which weren’t that long in comparison) they had a metal rod that would catch on my clothes and when I would do fly’s they would smash together, i’d imagine it would be much worse with the Selectechs.
However with the Powerblocks they are incredible compact. If I want to do a dumbbell curl I can keep the dumbbell close to my body rather than having to spread my arms further out to accommodate the length. They are as long as how much weight is stacked on.
I do favor the dial a weight and the smaller increment jumps on the Bowflexs but not enough to turn me back to them.
Powerblock dumbbells have different ranges and I went for the U90’s which are the most expensive in the range. The reason I went with this particular Powerblock is that the u90s (as opposed to the u50’s) don’t really have a maximum weight as you can add another kit to it if you want to go over 90lbs whilst 50lbs is the max for the other version.
The other different is that you can get standard powerblocks without the ‘U’. The U stands for Urethane and provide a softer quieter experience rather than having the clanging plates of the standard models. I figured since I was spending so much I may as well get the ones I really want. Someone may choose this option if they work out early in the morning and don’t wish to wake anyone else in the house.
I hope that this guide has been useful and will help you choose the right dumbbell for you!