Dumbbells are popular for their versatility, ease of use, and portability. In addition, they are pieces gym equipment that know no age or gender. Anybody can get a dumbbell workout regardless of strength or skill level.
Over the years, dumbbell design and features have changed very little. But the industrious athletes still figure out novel ways to use them. There’s always the question of what kind of dumbbells to get. Before, let’s take a closer look at this ubiquitous exercise gear.
Quicklook: Best Dumbbells
- Bowflex SelectTech 552
- Bowflex SelectTech 560
- Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
- Yes4All Deluxe Neoprene Dumbbells
- SPRI Deluxe Dumbbells
- Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
What are Dumbbells?
Take a short bar and put some kind of weight on both ends and there’s your dumbbell. These guerilla-style dumbbells are a common sight in some neighborhoods. It shouldn’t come as a surprise since a certain type of dumbbells dates back to Ancient Greece.
To be more precise, athletes of the time used halteres – a basic form of dumbbells. Consisting of stone and metal and weighing up to 20 pounds, they were surprisingly similar to contemporary dumbbells.
The dumbbell as we know it today got its shape in the 17th century – two equal weight and a handle in the middle. Can it get any simpler than that? But that’s precisely what makes dumbbells so appealing.
Anyway, the early models were made of iron and known to weigh well over 100 pounds. These old dumbbells were mostly fixed weight.
Today, you have a choice of materials, fixed or adjustable, and even colors.
What to Look for in Dumbbells?
There are a few key features to consider. The material and type are usually at the top of the list and the price is not far behind. Also consider why you are getting a set of dumbbells.
This is probably the most common type. As its name suggests, each dumbbell has a fixed weight. They are usually the least expensive option and you might even find a set of multiple pairs and weights at a bargain. The materials vary but most people go something rubber-coated for some extra padding and protection.
Adjustable dumbbells have some kind of mechanism that allows you to increase or decrease the weight to your preference. They tend to be more expensive than fixed dumbbells if you’re looking at the number of dumbbells, but this is not necessarily the case if you compare them by sets.
The pumping iron expression is there for a reason. For the longest time, iron and its various alloys have been the materials of choice for dumbbells. Higher-end contemporary models are often made from steel, which is of course an alloy of iron and carbon with other metals thrown in to modify its property. Some of them may be further chrome-plated for better resistance against corrosion.
The budget options often feature a plastic outer shell with cement filling. There are also some that are made of vinyl. The proper material would depend on your needs. For example, plastic shell dumbbells are often used for aerobic and steel models are for heavy lifting.
A quality set of dumbbells can set you back a few hundred dollars. It pays to shop around and see what’s available and prioritize the features that you think you need. The ones recommended in this guide should give you a good start.
The primary focus is to show you a variety of dumbbell models that can be suitable for different budgets, skill levels, and requirements. The build quality is also at the top of the list of priority and it is reflected in the choice of materials.
You’ll find that most of the dumbbells on the list are made of high-quality metals. Some feature a combination of metal and plastic but that doesn’t make them less desirable. Ease of use and compactness might seem less important but we’ve factored them in as well. There is no need for the dumbbells to take up extra space in your home and your muscles shouldn’t cool down too much while changing the weight.
You might not know it, but there are some dumbbells that work with a smartphone app to enhance your exercise routine. We haven’t overlooked these smart dumbbells which represent the next step in the evolution of gym equipment.
Finally, we’ve balanced price, quality, and intended use to offer models that give the best bang for the buck. There’s enough variety to keep both beginners and avid gym goers happy.
Bowflex SelectTech 552
- Adjustable dumbbells with an easy-to-use mechanism
- Excellent weight range of 5 to 52.5 pounds
- Compact space savers
- Come with plastic molding for each dumbbell
- It’s like having a full set of fixed dumbbells
- Easy to adjust the weight
- Quiet workout
- There is an app to go with the dumbbells
- The plastic holders could have been of better quality
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is truly a set of dumbbells for the 21st century. The futuristic design stands out and the ease of use is hard to match. They even come with molded plastic holders.
The weight range makes these Bowflex dumbbells suitable for most. Staring at just 5 pounds, beginners and girls would have no problem using them and there’s room to grow. All the way up to a maximum of 52.5 pounds (in uneven increments), which should be enough for most heavy lifters.
On top of that, there is the Bowflex SelectTech App which allows you to follow your workouts and keep tabs on your progress. And the app also gives you the option to create your own custom dumbbell routine.
Bowflex SelectTech 560
- 10 to 60-pound weight range
- Special locking mechanism
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Compact square plate design
- Record training sessions
- Smart integration with the Bowflex SelectTech app
- Adjustable weights
- Suitable for a variety of users
- All the above comes at a price
With the SelectTech 560, Bowflex has taken dumbbell workouts to another level. These adjustable dumbbells feature great build quality, ample weight span, and a few high-tech bells and whistles that are hard to match.
The weight starts at 10 pounds and goes all the way up to 60 pounds. In essence, it’s like having an entire dumbbell rack in two dumbbells. Admittedly, other Bowflex models offer similar specs, so it’s worth taking a closer look at the features that make this set special.
First of all is the locking mechanism. It works like a safe tumbler that allows you to quickly change weights between exercise. But there’s more. According to the manufacturer, the SelectTech 560 models are the world’s smartest dumbbells, and in many respects, they truly are.
Namely, you would be hard-pressed to find another set of dumbbells that has Bluetooth connectivity and can record your routine via a smartphone app. Furthermore, the Bowflex SelectTech app is surprisingly easy to use with nary a learning curve.
Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
- Up to 200 pounds of weight
- Knurled handle
- Cast iron weights
- Star-lock collars
- Suitable for professionals
- Anti-loosening rubber trims
- Adjustable dumbbells
- Chrome-plated handle
- Come with a 5-year warranty
- Some users had problems with the star-lock collar
These dumbbells have quite a few characteristics that can help one to get a great workout in. Let’s start with the handles. They measure 14 x 1 inches and feature easy-grip knurling. The handles and the star lock collars are chrome-plated for extra durability and attractiveness.
As hinted in the pros section, these dumbbells are suitable for professionals but this doesn’t mean that beginners should shy away from them. That’s because you can get this model with four different sets of weights. At the top end, you get 200 pounds total of adjustable weights, which would be suitable for most athletes. At the other end of the spectrum is the 40-pound option for more moderate exercises.
On the other hand, some users might find the star collar poorly threaded or too small, but your mileage may vary. The manufacturer does stand behind its product with a 5-year warranty, and you can always try them out first at the store or buy them from an online store that has a liberal return policy.
Yes4All Deluxe Neoprene Dumbbells
- Fixed-weight dumbbells
- Neoprene coating
- Cast iron core
- Color-coded by weight
- 16 different weights
- Comfortable neoprene grip
- Great for aerobic and cardio exercises
- Non-rolling shape if dropped
- 1-year warranty
- The handle might be too thick for some users
Check out the Yes4All Deluxe dumbbells if you are looking for a set of fixed dumbbells that have a nice build quality and protective coating. These dumbbells are also affordable and durable, and there are sixteen available weights.
As you might imagine, as the weight increases from 2 to 20 pounds, so does the size of the dumbbells. However, the handle retains pretty much the same thickness regardless of the weight. Some users might find this a major downside, but it really depends on the individual hand size.
In the end, the highlights of these dumbbells are the price and warranty. You’ll find them to offer great quality and usability for the money, and don’t forget the 1-year warranty and the very generous 60-day return policy.
SPRI Deluxe Dumbbells
- Fixed-weight dumbbells
- Color-coded weight identification
- Vinyl coating
- Designed for professional use
- Versatile enough for a variety of workouts
- Starts at 1 pound
- 14 different weights to choose from
- Some users found the dumbbells to be breakable
The versatility of the SPRI Deluxe dumbbells is combined with a price that’s affordable to most. In fact, this model is designed to fit different types of exercise, group or individual. You can easily hold a pair of these in your hands and go jogging, do yoga, or take power walks. In addition, they are quite suitable for physical therapy to get your muscle tone back in order.
Another upside of the SPRI dumbbells is the comfort. The vinyl handle is easy to grip and says firmly in your hand without slipping. Like all fixed-weight dumbbells, the size goes up with the weight. But this shouldn’t affect the grip regardless of your hand size.
Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
- 5 to 50-pound weight adjustment
- TwistLock technology (just twist the handle to get the desired weight)
- Easy-grip handle
- Come with aluminum cradles
- Easy weight adjustment
- Compact and space-saving
- 5lb weight increments
- Soft and textured grip for extra comfort
- Might not take well to rough handling
- Price is a bit steep
These Core Fitness adjustable dumbbells are a very good option for well-rounded workout routines at home. You can select up to 50 pounds of weight in 5-pound increments for each dumbbell, which makes them suitable for most users and a variety of workouts.
To adjust the weight, you don’t even need to lift your hand from the grip. All you have to do is twist the handle. This feature is perfect for CrossFit and other fast-paced workouts.
We’ve hinted that the set might require gentler handling, which may be a bit counter-intuitive for dumbbells. But it’s been reported that the dumbbell can break if dropped. Luckily, there is a 2-year warranty in case this wasn’t a limited incidence of defects.
Pump the Iron
A set of quality dumbbells is a great addition to your home gym. And we hope the above selection helped you find just the right model for your exercise routine.
Bear in mind that dumbbells come in different sizes. Most of the models recommended here are compact enough for easy storage. If space is a concern, an adjustable set should take care of that and might even be more affordable in the grand scheme of things. On the flipside, they may not be as durable or look as impressive as a full rack of fixed dumbbells.