Staying in shape is very important to me, but I have a hard time making time to go down to the gym on a regular basis; my life and busy schedule don’t always work out that way. That’s why I’ve gotten heavily into working out from home.
For the last five years, I’ve been gradually building up my home gym, picking up and adding pieces of equipment, and I think I’ve got a pretty nice setup. It’s great to come home from work and have a place where I can go through all my exercises without having to make a stopover at the gym. Hence, I consider myself pretty knowledgable on dumbbells.
I have created a massive article giving you the best adjustable dumbbell reviews, their pros and cons . However if you happen to be in a hurry, just check this table below.
To see the full table scroll to the right or left!
|DUMBBELL|| MAX WEIGHT Per Dumbbell
(lbs / kg)
|52.5 / 23.8||$$$$||8.9/10|
| Yes4all adjustable Dumbbells
||200 / 90.7
| Powerblock Elite Dumbbells
||70 / 31.7||$$$$||9.1/10|
| Bowflex SelectTech 1090
||90 / 40.8||$$$||8.6/10|
| Universal PowerPak Dumbbells
||45 / 20.4||$$$$||7.3/10|
| Bayou Fitness Dumbbells
||50 / 22.6||$$$$||7.1/10|
| Omnie Adjustable Dumbbells
||22.5 / 10.2||$$||7.0/10|
| Ironmaster 75lb Quick-Lock Dumbbells
||75 / 34||$$$$$||7.4/10|
| Xmark Adjustable Dumbbells
||25 / 11.3||$$$||9/10|
| StairMaster Twistlock Dumbbells
||50 / 22.6||$$$$$||7.7/10|
A list of things I will discuss:
You see, I have limited floor space, so perhaps the most important pieces in my home gym are my adjustable dumbbells. A full set of hex weights is often cheaper, but they take up far too much space.
An adjustable dumbbell allows me to quickly switch between weights for different exercises with only one piece of equipment, and I really think that’s crucial—getting the most out of each piece of equipment you own.
As I mentioned, I’ve been working on my home gym for the past five years, and I’m really very proud of it. I’ve never been in better shape, I’m feeling healthier and I’m looking fantastic (at least I think so).
I’ve managed to do all of this without having to sacrifice an entire spare room for my workout routine, either; I can do my entire routine in my living room. That’s what I want to help others to do—I’ve managed to make this great change in my body and health without breaking the bank or trapping myself in a corner of my apartment.
I want to help you do the same thing; I hope you can learn from my experience, and that I can help you pick the absolute best equipment for your gym and workout routine.
I use my adjustable dumbbells for so many things; they’re probably used more than any other piece of equipment I have. You’re going to want a good, solid, reliable pair because they can help you with every aspect of your workout routine.
When you’re looking for best adjustable dumbbells, it’s important to keep in mind both how easy they are to adjust and how finely you can adjust them—whether they’re set in 2.5-pound increments or five-pound increments or whatnot. You’re going to be adjusting them quite frequently, because different exercises require different weights.
You’re also going to want to be able to have a high-level of control over the weight you’re using; there’s a big difference between, say, 15 and 20 pounds, and you want to be specific when you’re setting them.
When I’m working on strength training, or muscle mass building, I use the heavier ends of the weights—I tend to try to find a weight where I can do six to ten reps before resting between multiple high-intensity sets.
When I’m working on endurance, or a more fast-paced conditioning workout, I adjust the weights down so I can do 15 or 20 repetitions before my muscles start fatiguing. It’s not so much the type of exercises that change, but the weight, reps and number of sets you perform that changes if you’re going for strength or endurance.
Either way, because different muscle groups tolerate different amounts of weight, I find myself adjusting my dumbbells three or four times every workout session, just to make sure I’m lifting enough weight to achieve what I’m going for, but not so much that I risk injury.
They may say “no pain, no gain”, but there’s a difference between feeling a good burn after a workout(hypertrophy) and over-taxing your muscles.(overtraining) An adjustable dumbbell lets you hit the sweet spot so that you get the maximum amount of gains.
Over the past five years, I’ve experimented with ten separate makes of adjustable dumbbell. Some I’ve bought for myself, and others I’ve borrowed from friends to check them out. I thought it might be helpful for some people if I compared them, listed their pros and cons, and then told you which one I finally decided to go with.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is a very fine dumbbell indeed. Bowflex uses a dial to adjust the weight; it’s very easy to use, and much faster to operate than some of the more complicated pin systems some of these other models have. I also like that it goes up in 2.5-pound increments for the first nine settings, from five to 25 pounds.
No other dumbbell out there gives you a finer level of control over your weight setting, so the SelectTech really stands out there. You can even unbalance the weights—say, putting five pounds on one end and 15 pounds on another. I don’t personally do that very often, but some people swear that it can help improve your results, and having the option is always nice.
I think this video review is really helpful, check it out:
The Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells are one of the better cheap options when it comes to adjustable dumbbells; if you’re on a tight budget, these might end up being the best for you. For being so cheap, they’re actually fairly solid at what they do. The grip is firm and comfortable, without being so large they’re difficult to hold or so small that they press deep into your hand.
There are plenty of weight options—each one of my dumbbells comes with eight five-pound plates, two 2.5-pound plates and two 1.25-pound plates so I can actually get more weight options than I can with some of the fancier dumbbells. The locking mechanism also works very well; I was worried the cheaper construction would be an issue, but these are very solid.
The PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells are ones I borrowed from a friend, and they made me jealous at first. If I think about it, it really seems odd that I hadn’t heard about these dumbbells before, since I knew that Powerblock brand makes some of the best weight benches out there, They’re well made, with a comfortable grip.
The square design seems odd at first, but it actually is a pro—it makes it more comfortable to rest on your thigh between sets. It’s very easy to change weights, too, at least in ten-pound increments; you simply slide the selector pin to the right location.
With everything combined, you can get 16 different weight settings per hands, which is pretty close to everything you’d ever want. They’re expandable, as well; the ones I used went up to 50 pounds per hand, but the expansion kit knocked it up to 125. These are probably the best dumbbells out there if you’re planning on going from a small weight all the way up to the top.
This is kind of old video review, but it’s still on point:
The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 is the 552’s bigger, older brother. The 552 goes up to 52.5 pounds, while the 1090 gets you all the way up to 90, so it’s better for experienced weightlifters who just don’t find 50 pounds to be enough. Other than that, it has much the same positives as the 552; it’s got the same Bowflex dial system which is, in my opinion, the easiest way to adjust weights.
The ones I used also have the metal construction, rather than the 552’s plastic connectors, so they’re more durable. You shouldn’t be throwing them around or anything, but this feels like a much more solid piece of equipment. If you find yourself regularly going over 50 pounds, this is a much better investment than the 552s.
This video might help you if you want more in-depth information:
The Universal PowerPak Adjustable Dumbbells concerned me at first; the weights are an unusual shape, rather than basically round like standard weights or a square like the PowerBlock. That wasn’t an issue, however; they rattled a bit more than some of the other dumbbells I’ve used, but not enough to really be a drawback.
The model I got also came with a stand, which is very important—adjustable dumbbells need to be lined up properly when putting them back, and having a stand designed for them makes it a lot simpler. There’s a stand for some of these other models, too, but it’s usually sold separately, making these a much better value, in terms of bang for your buck. The weight is very easy to adjust; it’s another dial-based system, which I really think is the best for this sort of thing.
Again – pretty good video on the point:
The Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbell was the first model I purchased, and it’s squarely in the middle of the pack. It has plenty of pros, mind you—its grip is very comfortable, switching weights takes only seconds and it’s a very sturdy piece of equipment.
Unlike some of the others, I never feel like these ones are going to chip or break. They don’t make too many rattling noises when you’re working out with them; some of these other models sound like you’re in the middle of a steel factory with their clanging and banging.
They’re easy to adjust as well; they use a convenient sliding mechanism to change weight. It required a little elbow grease—and some WD40—to get it to work, but since then, I’ve had no problems.
This, manufacturer’s video is technically not a review, but it still might help someone to better visualize how it would be to work out with these:
The Omnie Adjustable Dumbbells are very simple models compared to some of the higher-priced and more technologically sophisticated dumbbells on this list. It doesn’t use a fancy adjustable dial or pin system to adjust the weights; it’s a simple bar system with standard, cast-iron plates.
Everything is pretty standard—these only go up to 22.5 pounds each, but you can just go out and buy more weights from any store, and they should fit right on; nothing is proprietary. If the handle wears out, you can buy a new handle and stick these weights on it—it’s all switchable at will. Add in the cheap price—these were the least expensive of any of the dumbbells I’m looking at here—and you have a really good budget set.
We come now the Ironmaster 75 lb Quick-Lock, which has a feature most of these others don’t really bring to the table. Most adjustable dumbbells have a fixed length, no matter how much weight is on the bar. That means they can be pretty unwieldy if you’re just using them as a light cardio dumbbell.
The Ironmaster, however, has the bar only as wide as the weights you’re using; the entire end piece comes off, which allows for less awkward shapes and a more solid frame. They also don’t rattle at all; most of these dumbbells have a rattling noise that can get aggravating. These feel and sound much tighter.
A little old review, but then again, these dumbbells hasn’t changed so if you want more in depth info, go ahead and watch this:
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbell is a solid budget option—less expensive than some of the upper-tier dumbbells like the Bowflex or PowerBlock, but a little more advanced than something like the Omnie. That’s really their primary benefit; something a bit more advanced than just screwing on extra weights, but not quite as polished or as a more expensive set.
They use a simple slide for weight selection; the one I used would stick occasionally, which is frustrating when you want to move to a new weight, but they’ve never broken or otherwise failed. It’s a good value for the price; the handles feel solid and ergonomic, and while they’re a bit bulky, they’re not at all unwieldy.
Finally, we have the StairMaster Pair of TwistLock Adjustable Dumbbells. They have a very simple system for adjusting the weight, which is nice—a simple twisting mechanism in the handle allows you to adjust the weight. They also scale up and down with the weight you actually have on the dumbbell, rather than staying at a standard length the entire time.
That’s better ergonomically and makes for a more comfortable dumbbell in the hand. It’s more like using an actual dumbbell from a standard rack of weights—your five-pound dumbbell shouldn’t be as long as your 50-pound dumbbell! They have a good number of settings, as well, going up in five-pound increments. That’s the sort of adjustability I’m really looking for in a dumbbell.
Really short video, that shows the versatility of these dumbbells:
So, at the end of all things, which dumbbell would I recommend? There are three that stand out to me.
If you’re absolutely on a shoestring budget, the Omnie Adjustable Dumbbells are the best out there, at only about $1 a pound. They’re solid enough for what they are, but are outclassed by the fancier sets.
If you’re primary goal is for endurance or cardio workouts, than I would pick the Bowflex SelectTech 552. If you’re mostly concerned with increase your cardio, you’re likely not going to need more than its 52.5 pounds, so that’s not a major issue.
Its ease of switching weights, with the dial-based mechanism, makes it very easy to adjust the weight properly and get right back to your workout. They’re sturdier than some of the other fragile models out there, so long as you ensure you get a more recently made model with metal connectors rather than plastic ones.
They’re the ones I’m likely to bring with me when I travel and I’m just trying to get a bit of a workout in on the road; they really hit the sweet spot between weight, adjustability and comfort for me.
If, however, your primary focus is for building strength and muscle mass, and you’re planning on really bulking up with these dumbbells, I’d go with the PowerBlock Elite over the bigger Bowflex.
The fact that they’re expandable is a major plus; as you build up strength, you’ll want to eventually surpass what the PowerBlock gives you naturally. It’s durable, easily adjustable at the 10-pound level, and versatile. They’re more comfortable to rest on your thigh between sets—and since you’re doing less reps with each weight when you’re bulking up, that’s important.
Those are the two best models out there that I’ve used, and I would stick with one of those two if I was purchasing them today. If you have the chance to try them out before you buy them, so much the better—but if you don’t, stick with one of those big two, and you’ll be satisfied.
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!