Adjustable Dumbbell Reviews

What dumbbells do you suggest for a home gym?

AdjustableDumbbells.jpgAdjustable dumbbells take up less space than fixed dumbbells and can be adjusted much more quickly than standard spin lock or Olympic-sized dumbbells. Only if your budget is very limited, consider a standard size spin lock or Olympic-sized dumbbell set, which (1) takes considerably more time to adjust, and (2) may be harder to handle on certain exercises (eg: dumbbell bench press) compared to one of the adjustable dumbbell sets listed below. Here are the most popular adjustable dumbbells along with each brand's pros and cons:

Adjustable Dumbbells

IronMasters Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Pros:
    • 5-45lb set can be expanded to 120lb or 165lb set
    • 2.5lb weight adjustments
    • Flat ends and compact form allow easier handling
    • Very durable
    • Weights can be used on standard spinlock barbell
    • Limited lifetime warranty
    • ExRx.net 'top pick'
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Takes a bit more effort to make certain notches and screws are align with handles during adjustments, and notches are no longer aligned when ends are tightened by hand.
    • Can take 15 to 30 seconds to make weight adjustments, even longer for 135lb and greater since longest screws are threaded around the full circumference unlike the shorter Quick-Lock screws.

Powerblocks

  • Pros:
    • Quick weight adjustments (3-5 seconds)
    • 50lb set can be expanded to 70lb, 90lb, or 125lbs set
    • Pro Series 125lb set can expandable to 175lbs
  • Cons:
    • Enclosed grip can limit range of motion for some exercises
    • 2.5lb and 5lbs incremental weight may feel unbalanced on some exercises (eg: arm curls)
    • Feels bulky with lighter weights

Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Other brands with same design
    • Stairmaster, Twistlok (Dick's), Nuo Flexbell
  • Pros:
    • Very quick and easy weight adjustments
    • Flat ends and compact form allow easier handling
  • Cons:
    • 50lb and 32kg sets not expandable
    • Dropping can damage dumbbells

BowFlex SelectTech Dumbbells

  • Pros:
    • Very quick and easy weight adjustments
    • Choose between 5lb to 52.5lb or 10lb to 90lbs sets
  • Cons:
    • Feels bulky particularly with lighter weights
    • Dropping can damage adjustment mechanism

Dumbbell Stand

A dumbbell stand is strongly recommended. Most models offer a stand at an additional cost.

Fixed Dumbbells

If you get fixed dumbbells instead of adjustable dumbbells, purchase a set of 2.5 to 30lbs in 2.5lb increments so you can make more incremental resistance increases. Beyond 30lbs you can purchase larger 5lb increments until you have enough weight to perform beyond your currently heaviest exercise since you'll anticipate getting stronger over time.

Microweights

Uncoated, metal dumbbells (hex or plate) can accommodate magnetic microweights in 1.25 lb (0.5) kg which can be placed at the ends of these bare metal dumbbells. These smaller increases can make it much easier to graduate to the next weight after you have performed your upper rep range.

If you opt for the less expensive standard size spin lock or Olympic-sized dumbbell set, microplates (aka: fractional weight plates) can also be obtained in a variety of small increments from 0.25 to 1.25lbs, to accommodate either standard (1") or Olympic (2") bar sleeves. And of course, they can also be used on barbells.

Pictured: IronMasters Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells. Image used with permission by IronMasters.

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