It seems like the fitness world is always being upended by hot new gear. Whether it’s tech to help monitor your heart rate or shoes that make you run faster, there’s always something to be excited about. But at the end of the day, every fitness enthusiast knows that the basics come first. An essential piece of fitness gear that remains as great as it ever was is the dumbbell.
Just because dumbbells have antecedents in Ancient Greece, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been improvements in the last thousand or so years. One major innovation is the adjustable dumbbell. These allow you to use the same bar while swapping out the weights. The major appeal is that these types of dumbbells are space-saving, making them perfect for people whose bedroom is also their home gym. Some adjustable dumbbells have nuts that have to be unscrewed and retightened, but many of our favorites take only seconds to swap out. The ever-popular Bowflex SelectTech is a great example.
If you work out at home, look for dumbbells that are coated with a protective material like rubber. These are less likely to damage the floor if accidentally dropped or rolled. Plus, many dumbbells have hexagonal heads that prevent them from rolling when set down.
The usefulness of dumbbells is not just owed to their compact space-saving design, although that’s a big benefit, too. While many people associate dumbbells with bicep curls, there are are a ton of different exercises that you can do with a dumbbell. You can do bench presses, rows, lunges, deadlifts, and a whole host of other exercises. With dumbbells alone, you can workout almost your entire body. But the only way to do that is with the right dumbbells. We’ve done the heavy lifting and found the best options on Amazon.
1. Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Weights
The Bowflex SelectTech adjustable weights have a lot of hype behind them — and cost quite a bit — but it’s hard to overstate their convenience. Whereas traditional adjustable dumbbells require that you turn a collar, remove the weight, put a new weight, and twist the collar back into place, the Bowflex weights easily click in and out of the holder using a rotating dial. You can set each dumbbell anywhere between 5 and 52.5 pounds, effectively replacing an entire rack of weights.
Pros: Adjusts in seconds, so you can choose anywhere between 5 and 52.5 pounds of weight to work out with. Adjusts in smaller increments for a more customized workout. Space-saving design eliminates the need for multiple dumbbells.
Cons: Contains plastic components, which can potentially break over time.
2. Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
If you’re looking for traditional adjustable dumbbells, this reasonably priced set from Yes4All is a great pick. The Amazon listing makes it easy to choose how much weight you want, and this particular option consists of two 30-pound dumbbells. You can add or remove eight and four-pound plates for a customized workout.
Pros: Reasonably priced, available in many different weights. Made from durable cast iron.
Cons: Coating can flake off. Round weights make them more likely to roll around unexpectedly.
3. CAP Barbell Coated Hex Dumbbell Weights
CAP Barbell is one of the top brands for dumbbells, and this listing lets you choose from many different weights within a 5-50 pound range. The weights have a hexagonal shape, which prevents them from rolling away when set down. Plus, the handles have knurled grips for a more secure hold. The price shown below is for the pair of 12-pound weights.
Pros: Hexagonal head shape prevents rolling. Ergonomic handle shape with knurled grips for a more secure hold. Reasonable price.
Cons: The handles have a thicker middle, designed to make them more ergonomic, but that may be uncomfortable for those with smaller hands.
4. BalanceFrom GoFit All-Purpose Dumbbells in Pair
If you’re looking for something lighter for you (and your checkbook) consider this set of affordable fixed dumbbells. There are six weights total or three pairs. The heaviest set features eight-pound weights, while the lightest features three-pound weights, so these weights are best suited as walking weights or for lighter use. The weights come with a convenient storage rack, and they’re made from a soft material to prevent scratches to surfaces.
Pros: Affordable set of six weights (three pairs). Includes a storage rack. Colorful design.
Cons: Lighter weight, which may not suit everyone’s needs. The plastic stand is somewhat flimsy.
5. PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells
These dumbbells look more like a piece of equipment you might find in an old sci-fi movie than traditional weights, but that adds to their uniqueness. These are widely adjustable, and utilize a simple pin system to swap out the weights. You can lift as little as 2.5 pounds and as much as 50 on each hand. They’re made in the US and backed by a 10-year warranty.
Pros: Unique square-shaped design prevents rolling. Widely adjustable, you can easily toggle between 2.5 and 50 pounds, and the settings are spaced 2.5 or 5 pounds apart. Made in the US.
Cons: Expensive. Square shape may be awkward for some.