Dumbbells are a piece of versatile equipment for improving one’s strength. Many exercises take advantage of it and can produce good results if done with the proper form. If you have garnered enough strength and fitness, doing bodyweight workouts might not be enough for you.
To help you choose the right dumbbells for you, we will go over what you need to consider when making a purchase in our buying guide fact-checked by fitness coach Michelle Estuar. We will also share a list of our top picks to help you make the best possible choice for you.
Michelle Estuar is the Head Coach of one of the indoor cycling studios in Metro Manila. She trains individuals interested in becoming cycling coaches. She also designs and develops programs to meet fitness goals. To add to that, she is a former triathlete, running coach, and ultra-marathoner, and has completed long-distance events such as a 102km run and a 10km open water swim. Michelle is addicted to anything related to sports and fitness as well as diet and nutrition. She has tried (and will keep on trying) the latest trends in diets, apps, equipment, gears, and accessories—she will do anything to stay fit and healthy.
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Here are some key points to consider:
Dumbbells are perfect for intensifying your training to become stronger. But you must know what weights you can manage. If you buy dumbbells that are well above your current capabilities, you will find it extremely hard to execute the proper form in your exercises. This may lead to frustration and disappointment. But more often than not, this can result in injuries and accidents.
Having a clear goal is important in choosing dumbbells. It is a big investment, and if you do not have a clear plan for what you want to accomplish, all of it will go to waste. You also need to evaluate your training plan or workout schedule. This will assess whether there's a need to buy dumbbells or just go to a gym.
Some exercises benefit from the use of dumbbells. Once you have a workout plan, determine the exercises that will need equipment. If there are alternative exercises that can progress a muscle group in the absence of a dumbbell, it will save you money in the long run.
A good way to determine your capabilities is to check which dumbbell weights you use in the gym for your exercises. Once you have that, include that in your to-buy list and add 2 to 3 sets that are heavier than what you are using. This covers your current strength and future progression once you get stronger.
If you have no access to a gym and just starting out, it might be better to get the lightest set. Then you can get the next 2 to 3 heavier sets if you want to challenge yourself or want variations in your workouts.
There are three types of dumbbells: fixed, adjustable dumbbells, and dumbbell plate sets. All have their advantages and disadvantages. Before adding one to your cart, you need to determine which one will work best for you. Let’s go over each one to help you make a decision.
If you’ve been to your local gym, there is a good chance that you have seen a fixed dumbbell. It is the most common type of weight found in gyms and is found sitting on a rack with weight labels on them. They are sold in pairs and range from 1 to 100 kilograms in weight.
Fixed dumbbells are easy to use; you just pick them up and do your workouts with no setups needed. The downside is, you may need different sets of weights depending on your strength, the exercise, and the workout or program for the day. If you have enough space for your workout and equipment, then you can get fixed dumbbells, preferably with different sets of weights.
It is also advisable for those who are starting with weightlifting or strength training to use fixed dumbbells at the start of their fitness journey. This is to prevent accidents and injuries (adjustable ones can be complicated, and knobs may not be placed correctly).
Adjustable dumbbells are perfect for athletes who want a variety of weights while using a smaller space. It also costs cheaper than buying a set of weights, making it attractive for people who are on a budget. If you are a newbie, adjustable weights work wonders, but if you're experienced, you might opt for fixed or dumbbell plate sets.
As they are a combination of different weights, getting an adjustable dumbbell is pretty bulky. If you plan on doing multiple exercises that need different weights, you will need to spend some time adjusting them, unlike fixed dumbbells where you can line up different weights and just use them immediately.
Another limitation is the number of weight adjustments available. If you have built some strength, adjustable dumbbells are capped to a certain weight, which might be too light for some.
Fixed dumbbells are suitable for performing basic exercises where you can focus on form and toning. However, adjustable dumbbells are also good for newbies once they know the proper form and the correct weight to use for each exercise.
A dumbbell plate set is a barbell but smaller. It consists of a short bar that has extended slots where you can insert plates of varying weights. It saves space as you can stack the plates when not in use while offering a range of weights that you can fine-tune yourself.
The plates are held fast by a spinlock collar. These take longer to adjust than the adjustable dumbbells due to the locking mechanism, but its advantage is they can take more weight while giving you the option to adjust in smaller weight increments. The plates available come in 0.5 kg to 2.5 kg increments, making it easier to progress your strength.
Materials play a part in the longevity and durability of your dumbbells. It also dictates how much you are going to spend on a pair. Below are the different materials and shapes used in the construction of dumbbells.
Polyurethane (PU) dumbbells might look like rubber dumbbells, but that’s where the similarities end. They are considered premium as they are much more resistant to damage. As dumbbells are commonly dropped and dragged, those that are made from polyurethane are much more durable. They maintain their aesthetics and weight almost consistently after some time.
PU weights are non-marking as well - they leave no residue when they hit another material. This means that it won’t cause any damage to your floor or furniture. It is also odorless, which is a better choice for those who dislike the smell of rubber.
Rubber is the next choice when it comes to dumbbell material. It is not as durable as PU but is still robust enough to be used in commercial gyms. The rubber used is made from dense and durable materials that can withstand any abuse it experiences from day-to-day workouts.
These dumbbells are a better option than metal ones as they don’t chip any material when they hit them. The rubber provides a softer cushion to the dumbbells. This makes it less prone to damaging floors and furniture and helps reduce the noise created when dumbbells are dropped.
Rubber can also be formulated to have different colors and designs, unlike polyurethane. It is also much easier to form and mold, making for more readable weight labels and denominations. Local gyms go for a rubber if they want their logos emblazoned on each dumbbell.
The weights are not only readable but are also identifiable just through the color of the dumbbells. Dumbbells available in the gyms here in the Philippines usually follow a color coding system, where a certain color corresponds to a specific weight (usually in terms of lbs). This makes it easier to pick up the right dumbbell without having to check the weight or the label
The use of a metal dumbbell brings about memories of old, run-down community gyms that value results instead of looks. They have been popular in the past as they are relatively inexpensive to make. They last long with proper care and usage.
Small gyms still use chrome-plated steel, which is more resistant to rusting. These are chip-resistant. However, it can lose its robustness over time due to the rust produced from all the sweat.
There are workouts or fitness classes such as spinning, yoga, and pilates that sometimes involve the use of light dumbbells. For the resistance, it is applied with the use of rubber or neoprene-plated dumbbells. They often come in sets and with smaller weight denominations.
Due to their lighter weight, they are usually more affordable. They also come in different colors, indicative of the weight for easier recognition. The plating provides better handling for the user. It protects the inner metal from rust and scratches while protecting your flooring and furniture also.
There are 2 types of dumbbell shapes—hex and round. Hex dumbbells owe their name to their unique shape. The multifaceted design helps with keeping it from rolling around once it is placed on the floor. If you plan on doing drop sets or having weights near you as you work out, hex dumbbells lessen the chance of it rolling around.
Round dumbbells, on the other hand, are made of round rubber or bolted-on plates on a handle. They have more handle options than hex dumbbells. However, they roll easily, which can cause a hazard when you are working out.
Hex dumbbells are also ideal for floor exercises where there is a need to hold dumbbells while making contact on the floor (such as during push-ups and planks). Meanwhile, round dumbbells have a softer grip. In terms of storage, there's not much difference in the space they occupy. Both may or may not need racks. It depends on the number of dumbbells you have.
Working out constitutes a lot of sweat. At lighter weights, a person may be able to get away with no grip on dumbbells. As you increase in strength, it becomes harder to stabilize heavier dumbbells; thus, the grip becomes very important.
The grip of dumbbells sometimes comes with knurling, which is the crosshatch pattern that is machined on the handles. It provides grooves where the skin on your palm can latch onto. This is helpful when you are lifting heavy loads or have sweaty hands.
Knurling helps with optimizing your workout. There are times when you fail an exercise not due to muscle fatigue but to losing grip. With the grooves, you can grip on it firmly, ensuring that your muscle will fail first before your grip does.
Click to purchase
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Full Rubber Coated Hex Dumbbells
All-Black Hex Dumbbell With Deep Knurling
20KG Dumbbell and Barbell Set
An Equipment That Transforms Based on Your Needs
Rubber Hex Dumbbell
Keep Your Dumbbells From Rolling
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Change Weights Conveniently to Spur Growth
Vinyl Rubber Dumbbells
Protects Your Muscle Growth and Your Flooring
It comes with a dumbbell tray as well, giving it a perfect platform for you to store it. The handle is powder-coated also while using alloy material, making it durable and grippy with its minimal knurling. It's a pair of dumbbells that will fit any workout you'll need.
This dumbbell feels premium with its polyurethane weights. The material is able to last a long while without damaging the surfaces it hits. It is also longer-wearing with proper care and storage.
The handle features slightly deep knurling. This helps with the grip, making it easier for you to be confident with each and every rep that you perform in an exercise. It is also of high-quality metal, coated with chrome to avoid any rust building up on the surface.
The sides feature well-executed labeling. It is clear and easily readable, a blessing if you want to work out efficiently. The label is emblazoned with a teal color that accentuates the kilogram weight for each dumbbell. This is available in a variety of weights- from 2 to 18 kg.
The body is an ever-increasing system of muscles that need progressive yet varied stimulations in order for it to grow. Your workouts need to be constantly evolving in order to stimulate growth and become stronger. This adjustable dumbbell is fit for that job.
It is constructed in a block-type format. It doesn't look like a regular dumbbell, but the wealth of possible exercise that you can do is staggering due to the design. There are 3 handles present in this equipment, all powder coated for better grip and corrosion resistance.
The three handles give you different ways of holding it, like a normal dumbbell or a kettlebell for more explosive workouts. Not only do you build strength but also fast-reacting muscles that are functional as well.
The York Fitness Chrome Dumbbell consists of metal plates amounting to 20 kg or 44 lbs. The iron is coated in chrome that makes the metal last longer, even with the presence of sweat. The interchangeable weights give the athlete multiple weight workout options.
You can use the different weights to target different muscle groups that require different weight requirements - a holistic approach in working out. The handle is kitted out with a plastic handle with a rubber coating and slight knurling for maximum grip during workouts.
It features a locking mechanism, holding your plates securely in place. It is also easy to turn due to the presence of handles at the nut, providing leverage when changing plates in between workouts.
There is something mysterious and alluring about the color black. It exudes power and quiet confidence that is befitting of someone who lets his actions do the talking. PlayHard brings you this all-black hex dumbbell for people who want to keep it stealthy.
The handle features a metal material with deep knurling that is sure to stick to your hands during workouts. It also coated in black rubber, providing additional resistance to your hands. The hex shape makes it stable while laid out on the floor. It also gives you a variety of workouts that need stability while on the floor.
The weight options here are plenty, ranging from 5lbs all the way to 100lbs. Beginners to veteran weight lifters are sure to get find a weight that fits their capability. This is what you want from a dumbbell - an aesthetic that also provides equity in training.
Dumbbells can only do so much. There are times where you'll need the benefits of a barbell to maximize your workout regimen fully. Why not get both? This equipment by Socoo uses interlocking metal bars that you can use to transform your dumbbell into a full-fledged barbell for your needs.
The plate set is powder-coated to provide a soft feel to the touch. It consists of weights amounting to 20 kg, more than enough to squeeze out some sweat in you. It also features a handle lined with foam, providing grip and comfort as you perform your sets.
The nut is secure and holds the plates sturdily. The interlocking mechanism screws on together seamlessly, making it a robust barbell that can provide you a challenge to help your muscles grow. This is the home gym equipment must-have if you value versatility.
The hex shape is good for keeping your dumbbells near you as you work out. It keeps them close, ready to take on another set with heavier weights to keep your muscles in constant tension for longer. The handle in this one is of lighter knurling but is enough to give you assurance in your grip.
It is made from rubber, no worries about dropping this on the floor if the going gets tough. The material also lessens the sound it makes, a critical consideration if you workout at home with people around. It only caters to 15-35 lbs of weight, perfect for people looking to go into weight training.
Plated studio dumbbells offer a challenge to those who are up to the task. In order to build functional strength, they are used to provide resistance to make your already mastered movements much harder. At 4 lbs, this dumbbell is just the perfect weight to give you resistance while making it enjoyable at the same time.
The plating consists of a vinyl material that is soft to the touch and won't do damage to any surface if dropped. It is also colored brightly, a good mood booster when you are struggling through your workout class. The coating makes it grippy - a confident feel that can help you improve your physical and mental acuity.
One of the most iconic dumbbells available in local gyms, this dumbbell plate set offers versatility while being hardy and reliable. The handle is made of metal with deep knurlings that will stick to your hand like glue. The grip gives you confidence as this can take up to 70 lbs of weight.
The locking mechanism is made of metal and has hinges that you can use to turn it. It is secure, all the more when weight is pushing against the nut. The plates are cast iron, hard and heavy but prone to breakage and rust. Just remember not to drop this after doing a heavy set of workouts.
If you plan on adding this to your home gym collection, vinyl coatings make this dumbbell floor and furniture-friendly. Not only that, it is of 10 kg weight, which is more than most studio plated dumbbells that are available.
The star-hex pattern gives it a stable base to rest on. No worries here on seeing dumbbells rolling around your floor. The only downside with this is the weight, which may be a bit too light for some looking for a bit more challenge. Other than that, this dumbbell will be rust-free while keeping your workout area scuff-free.
Working out at home offers solitude and peace that is not achievable at community gyms. To be able to progress, you need the right workouts and equipment to push your body to the limit. Below are some Youtube channels and home equipment that can jumpstart your path to a body you've always been dreaming of.
Author: Richard Martin
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors, in collaboration with the expert featured in this article. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
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