As of St. Patrick’s Day, we have officially been working from home for one year. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many avid weightlifters have had to find creative ways to stay in shape outside of the gym, often by investing in fitness gear for their own homes. Some athletes, like Spy’s e-Commerce Editor Taylor Galla, even went so far as to create an entire home power rack and weightlifting gym.
However, there’s an easier (and cheaper) way to match the dynamic offerings of a professional gym. The best adjustable dumbbells are a versatile piece of home exercise equipment that can accommodate many different strength training exercises. Some sets can replace up to 15 separate pairs of dumbbells, making them a spatially efficient choice for working out at home.
Adjustable dumbbells are great for building muscle and burning calories, and dumbbells are a staple of many weightlifting routines for a reason. And if you’re conjuring images of bodybuilders doing bicep curls, note that you can actually get a great full-body workout with just a set of dumbbells.
What To Look for in the Best Adjustable Dumbbells
There are two types of adjustable dumbbell systems to consider:
- Automatic dumbbells: These sophisticated weight systems let you change the weight via a rotating dial or a similar mechanism. These systems include Bowflex’s popular SelectTech line of products, which offers a space-saving and cost-effective home weightlifting solution. Automatic dumbbell systems usually cost about $350, with heavier and more sophisticated options costing $500 or more.
- Manual barbells: The type of adjustable dumbbells most common in gyms, manual barbells require the user to add or remove weights by hand. The weights, usually cast-iron or steel, are kept in place by a barbell collar. These systems tend to take up more space, but they’re usually cheaper, with prices starting at $90.
When shopping for dumbbells, you’ll almost certainly need a pair to get a proper workout. Many retailers will sell dumbbells individually, so it’s best to double-check each product description to see if they’re sold as a set or not. You may have to purchase two.
The best adjustable dumbbells for your home gym will depend on your preferences. Are you a heavy lifter? Do you want something aesthetically pleasing? Are you looking for value? In general, the differences between products are subtle, but the main thing to look for is how you want to adjust the weights — automatic or manual — and, if automatic, what type of adjustment mechanism is most appealing — a simple dial, rotating handle or electronic button.
Lastly, most adjustable dumbbells max out around 50 pounds, so we’ve sourced products in that range. Some brands offer lighter or heavier options, so check their other products if you need a different weight.
1. Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
Home fitness juggernaut Bowflex leads the pack with the SelectTech 552 dumbbell set. The weights adjust from five to 52.5 pounds, with 2.5-pound increments for the first 25 pounds, then five-pound increments the rest of the way. With a simple selection dial for adjusting weights, the SelectTech 552 dumbbell is a quality product you’d expect from a brand often synonymous with the phrase “home gym.”
2. NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Set
BEST APP INTEGRATION
Need a little extra motivation? This NordicTrack dumbbell set has all the standard adjustable dumbbell features you’d expect — 10-55-pound weight range, 5- and 2.5-pound adjustment increments, included storage trays — but right now comes with a one-year subscription to NordicTrack’s interactive training platform, iFit. Accessible on Android and iOS tablets, iFit features a wide variety of workouts to match your fitness goals, whether you’re a runner, cyclist, strength-trainer or hiker. And if your home gym setup is starting to feel a bit stuffy, iFit’s personal trainers lead workouts from fitness studios and various destinations around the world.
3. PowerBlock USA Elite Series Adjustable Dumbbell
BEST FOR PROGRESSION
PowerBlock’s dumbbells feature powder-coated steel weights with a range of five to 50 pounds and a color-coded chart, making it easy to adjust the weight setting with the magnetic selector pin, similar to the mechanism you’ll find in most gym weight machines. The real advantage here is Powerblock’s Expansion kits, which offer additional plates for added weight. Its Stage 2 Kit allows lifters to haul between 50-70 pounds, while the Stage 3 Kit expands up to 90 pounds. If you plan to make some serious gains during your home gym journey, the PowerBlock dumbbells are a great choice.
4. Nice C 2-in-1 Adjustable Free Weights
If dumbbells alone won’t get the job done, we suggest this weight set from Nice C. The connector bar lets you transform your pair of dumbbells into a barbell, providing a versatility that’s unmatched on this list. With 12 weight plates, you can lift between 0.6 pounds (the weight of the dumbbell handle) and 33 pounds on the dumbbells, and up to 66 pounds using the barbell function. The Neoprene casing prevents the weights from rolling around and helps you avoid accidents or floor damage where steel plates might not be so forgiving. Instead of sticking to basic curls and flys, the barbell configuration opens up tons of exercises for a dynamic full-body workout.
5. CAP Barbell Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Set
Sometimes the fitness journey is even more rewarding when you can slide each plate on yourself. For those who prefer a more primal weightlifting experience, you can’t go wrong with CAP’s manually adjustable dumbbell set. The cast-iron plates are covered with black epoxy to prevent rust, while the diamond knurled chrome handle offers a sturdy grip. A major perk of the plate-based dumbbells — you can deconstruct and store them neatly when you finish working out.
6. Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
The price tag for weights can add up. If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, consider these dumbbells from Yes4All — a single 52.5-pound dumbbell costs just under $80. Manually adjustable, the dumbbell comes with eight 5-pound plates, two 2.5-pound plates, two 1.25-pound plates and two collars to keep the weights intact. Yes4All also offers plenty of expansion options like barbells, additional plates and kettlebell handles, making it easy to grow your home gym collection in no time.
7. Bowflex SelectTech 990 Dumbbells
BEST FOR HEAVY LIFTERS
Maybe you’ve already been hitting the gym, and you need a pair of dumbbells that can keep up with even the most intense workouts. With a weight range up to 90 pounds, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090s adjust in 5-pound increments, essentially replacing up to 17 pairs of dumbbells. If you need heavy dumbbells and don’t want to buy additional expansion packs, this is the set for you.
8. FLYBIRD Adjustable Dumbbell
BEST FOR LIGHT LIFTERS
If you don’t plan on lifting more than 25 pounds, Flybird’s adjustable dumbbells are a great choice. The big advantage here is Flybird’s one-handed weight adjustment design, which allows lifters to easily toggle weight by turning the dumbbell’s handle. With 4.7 stars and more than 1,200 reviews on Amazon, users clearly love these dumbbells.
9. JaxJox DumbellConnect
Touted as the “first-ever digital dumbbell set,” the JAXJOX DumbbellConnect lets users select weight — from 8 to 60 pounds — with the touch of a button. You can also sync these dumbbells with the JAXJOX app to track metrics like number of reps, sets and workout duration. With an LCD display and USB C charging capabilities, this is surely the most high-tech pair of weights you’ve seen.
10. SMRTFT Nüobell 50lb
If aesthetics are a priority, check out the Swedish-designed Nüobell dumbbell from Smrtft. Go from five to 50 pounds in seconds with an easy-to-use dial mechanism on the dumbbell handle. The Nüobell boasts a spatially-efficient and aesthetically-pleasing design, both of which should come in handy if you plan to store these dumbbells somewhere at home that gets a lot of foot traffic.