Not everyone has the time to make it to the gym for a workout. Achieving a work-life balance is challenging enough and for most people, the last thing they want to do after a hard day’s work (or before), is to pack their gear bag and travel to their local fitness center. Fortunately, adjustable dumbbells are readily available; they enable you to exercise at home which makes them a convenient time-saver.
Comparison: Best Adjustable Dumbbell Sets
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What is an Adjustable Dumbbell?
It is a versatile piece of fitness and strength training equipment that allows you to customize each workout. You can attach or remove weights from the dumbbell depending on whether you wish to go heavy or light. Changing weights is a rapid process so you can switch from one exercise to the next in the blink of an eye.
Before the arrival of adjustable dumbbells, home fitness equipment was cumbersome and took up a lot of space. You needed to purchase multiple weight plates and putting on and taking off the weights was a chore. With this innovative piece of gear, it is possible to alter the resistance in seconds. Best of all, it is easy to store because two dumbbells take up very little space.
Why Do You Need An Adjustable Dumbbell?
Although cardio is important, it is a mistake to neglect strength training as part of your fitness regime. As well as adding muscle mass and giving your body a more aesthetically pleasing look, using adjustable dumbbells has the following benefits:
- Assists with your fat loss efforts and helps keep the excess weight off permanently. A variety of studies shows that training with weights three times a week increases the number of calories burned in everyday activity and helps maintain your current weight.
- Whether you are male or female, you’ll lose approximately 1% of your muscle and bone mass a year after puberty. Strength training halts and even reverses this process.
- Your balance and posture will improve as well your flexibility and coordination. Resistance training also reduces your risk of falling by 40%.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, weight training should be part of a healthy diet as it can improve glucose control.
- Training with weights boosts your level of endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormone); it is a good antidepressant and even improves your quality of sleep.
Top 3 Adjustable Dumbbells
1 – Bowflex Select Tech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
These adjustable dumbbells were released in 2013 and remain one of Amazon’s biggest sellers. They are among the most attractive dumbbells we’ve reviewed with a minimum weight of 5 pounds and a maximum of 52.5 lbs. For $239.99, you receive two dumbbells with 15 sets of weights in one and a convenient dial system. As a result, it is possible to quickly and easily change weights which take the hassle out of changing exercises.
The 5-pound minimum weight is ideal for beginners, and you can adjust in increments of 2.5 pounds all the way up to 25 pounds; then you increase by 5 lbs. The Bowflex Select Tech 552 is a bit longer than other adjustable dumbbells, but you would expect this since it holds 15 plates! We like the rubber grip which spares your hands from calluses, and the handy storage tray is a bonus. The handles are made from durable steel designed to last decades, and the product comes with a two-year warranty.
The 2.5-pound increments, to begin with, might be too large for some so look for dumbbells with 1.25-pound increases if precision important to you. While beginners and intermediates will find 52.5-pound dumbbells a challenge, advanced lifters will need something more.
Overall, Bowflex has produced yet another high-quality product. $240 for a pair of adjustable dumbbells is more than reasonable, and unless you’re serious about lifting heavy weights, this item should last several years.
2 – PowerBlock Elite Adjustable Dumbbells
These adjustable dumbbells have an almost retro design with a decidedly square shape and multiple colors; it is very much a ‘love it or hate it’ look. PowerBlock offers several different weight ranges with 50, 70 and 90-pound maximums along with ‘extension’ kits capable of increasing the max capacity. The 50-pound version costs $299, 70 pounds costs $428 while the 90-pound product sets you back $575.
The design seems awkward at first, but in reality, the square shape makes it easier to grab hold of the dumbbells, so the chances of dropping them are slight. The 90-pound version replaces 28 dumbbells and contains the equivalent of 2565 pounds of free weight! The color coded dumbbells make it easy to switch loads, and the product is the perfect size overall. It is easy to store, and we have to say, looks are deceiving. At first glance, you might think the PowerBlock Elite is cheap and easy to break. In reality, it is extremely robust and comes with a ten year home use warranty.
If you are a beginner, the 50-pound set is more than enough while stronger users should find 90 pounds a challenge. We are a little confused by the increments, however. From 10 pounds on, increments go up by 2.5 lbs for two increases and then 5 lbs. It follows this pattern up to the 90-pound max. We feel a 5-pound increase is too much when going from 20 to 25 pounds and this could hinder a user’s progress.
Overall, the PowerBlock Elite is worth considering as it is durable, easy to use, has a cool design with funky colors and provides enough weight for all but a small percentage of trainees.
3 – Ironmaster QuickLock Adjustable Dumbbells
This adjustable dumbbell set is intended for serious trainees as it offers a maximum weight of 75 pounds and a minimum of 5 lbs. It is the most expensive set we’ve reviewed at $599, but it does come with a high-quality storage stand. This product should last for years because it features heavy duty construction with chrome plated handles and welded steel. The super efficient design only takes up two square feet when stored, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
You can increase the weights in 2.5-pound increments, and there are add-ons available to boost the max capacity to 120 pounds. This is enough to last forever unless you plan on entering a strongman competition! There is no chance of the plates falling off, and the locking screws are easy to use as well as being durable.
Although the storage unit is a great addition, a safety mat would be even better. The steel construction means you must be careful when setting the dumbbells down or else you’ll damage the floor. As the weights increase, you’ll run out of 2.5-pound plates and will need to use 5-pound increments.
Overall, the Ironmaster QuickLock is one of the most expensive products on the market, but it is also one of the most complete adjustable dumbbell packages available. With excellent construction and an exceedingly large maximum capacity, it is capable of acting as your main piece of fitness equipment for years to come.
How To Choose An Adjustable Dumbbell
The market for this product has exploded in recent years so while there are plenty of high-quality products to choose from, there is also low-grade rubbish. To ensure you spend your money wisely, here are a few things to consider when purchasing adjustable dumbbells.
Size & Weight
First and foremost, take storage into consideration. While most adjustable dumbbells are easily stored, there are larger products on the market that could prove difficult to store. Your existing level of strength and goals should dictate the weight of the equipment. Starter dumbbells typically have a minimum of 2.5 pounds and a maximum of 50 lbs. Advanced trainees have the option of larger dumbbells with a max of up to 200 pounds!
This relates to the weight adjustment of the dumbbells. Again, beginners should choose a product with 1.25-2.5 pound increments. Seasoned trainees can aim higher with 5-pound increments. Regardless of your strength level, avoid dumbbells that only offer larger increases as this will negatively impact training.
There are three types of adjustable dumbbell; each has its advantages and disadvantages regarding cost and ease of use:
- Spin Lock: This is the most affordable option and includes several weight plates kept in place by a spinning lock. Put the weight you want on the end and tighten the clamp to hold the plates together. They are probably the most complicated model to use but still beat traditional dumbbells.
- Dial-a-Weight: This option offers unbeatable convenience. All you need to do is use a dial to select the weight and start lifting! The correct amount of weight is attached to both ends with the other plates left in the holder. The dial-a-weight dumbbells are the most expensive.
- Selector Pin: Use a pin to choose the weight, and the rest of the plates are left in the holder. It is mid-table in terms of cost and convenience although plates occasionally come loose during exercise.
While there are adjustable dumbbells for under $100, the most expensive versions cost over $800! As well as considering your budget, think about what you’re using the equipment for. Don’t pay extra for a fancy gadget with features you’ll never use. Likewise, don’t settle for a low-quality item to save a few dollars. Think about how important convenience is and analyze the cost; is it worth an extra $200 for a dial-a-weight dumbbell when a spin lock version does everything you need?
The most expensive product isn’t always the best one! There are adjustable dumbbells that cost $500+ but fail to provide users with a great workout. Not only will bad equipment ruin your workout, but it could also injure you if plates fall off during your training session! Check out customer ratings on Amazon.com before making your final decision.
Some adjustable dumbbells include a handy storage stand but is it worth paying extra? If you train in an enclosed space, purchasing an additional stand is probably money well spent as it prevents you from tripping over the dumbbells!
- Affordability: This is entirely relative of course. The most expensive adjustable dumbbells can cost over $800 for a pair, so you need to determine if it is a price worth paying. On the other hand, there are dumbbells available for under $100 a pair which equates to the cost of a few months of gym membership.
- Convenience: No longer do you have to travel to a fitness center and wait for equipment to become available. You can schedule training sessions around your free time. As long as you are motivated, you’re likely to see significant results in a few months. Storage is a major obstacle to anyone’s home fitness goals. With adjustable dumbbells, you have two pieces of equipment (and possibly a storage stand), and that’s it! Rather than having to change plates every exercise, you can click a dial or twist a lock to change the weights.
- Versatility: You have the option to go heavy with an advanced set or focus on fitness and circuit training with a lighter set. If you plan your workout in advance, you can speed through it and save even more time!
- Limited Exercise Selection: This is a minor point because you can perform dozens of exercises with a pair of dumbbells. If you’re interested in powerlifting or Olympic lifting, then you will need additional equipment such as a barbell and a squat rack.
- Increments: Most adjustable dumbbells allow for 1.25 and 2.5-pound increases. This should be small enough for most people although even a 2.5-pound rise for exercises such as the shoulder press could be too much.
Adjustable dumbbells are vastly superior to their traditional counterpart in every conceivable metric barring price. However, there are more affordable versions on offer that will save you money on an annual basis compared to the cost of a gym membership. Whether you’re serious about fitness or just want to get into reasonable shape, adjustable dumbbells are a great purchase.