Adjustable dumbbells are a great option for anyone seeking an all-in-one type of weight training equipment.
Not only are they space savers, but they also offer a cheaper, more convenient way to get fit than traditional dumbbell sets.
In this article, I take a look at the best adjustable dumbbells on the market as I seek to find myself a pair for my own personal use.
After that I’ll reveal the pair of dumbbells that I finally decided to go with.
But first, let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits of adjustable dumbbells and which features you should be looking for when choosing your own set of weights for your home gym.
Why Buy a Set of Adjustable Dumbbells?
Adjustable dumbbells have many benefits over using a traditional set of fixed-weight dumbbells or weight machines.
Research shows that 67 per cent of individuals who have a gym membership never step foot in a gym.
Given that the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58, that’s a lot of money thrown down the drain each year.
The most obvious benefit of adjustable dumbbells is they are low cost compared to gym memberships that most people don’t use anyway.
Not only does an adjustable dumbbell set save you money on a gym membership, but it also is much more cost-efficient than buying each dumbbell separately.
A quality pair of fixed weight dumbbells can cost as much as $50.
Another benefit of adjustable dumbbells is their convenience; they can be used in your living room, at the office, on your patio or anywhere else you want to get a quick set in.
Compare this to a rack of fixed weight dumbbells which offer very little portability.
Anyone serious about lifting knows they’ll need to invest in a full dumbbell set at some point, but finding the room for all those dumbbells isn’t always easy – especially if you live in an apartment.
Adjustable dumbbells, on the other hand, can be easily stored in a corner of your house or apartment when not in use.
The Different Types of Adjustable Dumbbells to Look Out For
The mechanisms on adjustable dumbbell sets usually fall into three main categories.
Traditional adjustable dumbbells
These dumbbells consist of handles with threaded ends and standard weight plates that are secured to each end of the handles with weight fasteners.
A spinning lock holds together multiple weight plates, and this is the most common type of adjustable dumbbell.
This traditional set allows you to manually place your desired weight onto each end of the pole and hold them in place by twisting a metal lock until it is tight.
It is a more ungainly system than the dial-a-weight/selectorised style, but it is a lot less expensive.
Selectorized adjustable dumbbells
Selectorized dumbbells, or dial-a-weight, come as one piece and feature selector pins or dials that allow you to easily and quickly choose your desired weight.
With this type, you are literally able to dial the amount of weight that you want to work out with.
Once you dial the preferred weight, you can lift up the dumbbells, and the chosen weight attaches to the ends.
Any extra plates will be left on the holder making this a convenient type of adjustable dumbbell.
One of the most popular dial-a-weight dumbbells is the Bowflex SelectTech 552.
Similar to the dial-a-weight as there isn’t any manual placement of the weights on the bar, but you do have to move a pin to choose the preferred weight that you wish to work with.
After you choose your desired weight, the rest of the plates will remain on the holder.
This method of weight selection is unique to The PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbells.
Features to Consider When Buying An Adjustable Dumbbell Set
Before jumping in headfirst and buying any old set of weights, you will need to think and plan ahead.
For example what kind of workouts are the weights for?
Are you looking to build some serious muscles or are they for rehabilitation exercises?
Adjustable dumbbells also vary widely in price and quality.
In this section, you’ll see some of the factors you may want to consider before making your final choice of adjustable dumbbells.
Adjustable dumbbells are made from a variety of materials, including cast iron, chrome-plated steel, plastic, and rubber.
Cast iron is generally the most durable material, but it is prone to corrosion, which can make weight plates difficult to switch out over time.
Another consideration is noise; weight plates that are coated with rubber or plastic are generally quieter than metal dumbbells.
Regardless of the type of adjustable dumbbell you choose, it’s important to ensure that you can perform exercises safely with it and avoid injury.
Look for dumbbells with safety features like lockable dials and secure-lock collars.
Traditional adjustable dumbbells feature straight grips, but there are other grip types available – such as ergonomic grips, contoured grips, coated grips, and textured grips.
These special types of grips are designed to prevent hand fatigue and help you hold the dumbbells more securely.
As with most other types of workout equipment, the more expensive the dumbbells, the more durable they are likely to be.
While you don’t need to start out with the most expensive set, you’ll want to ensure the dumbbells you choose are made from high-quality materials.
When considering quality in an adjustable dumbbell set, you want to pick a high-quality brand so that you know your training will be safe and reliable when you use them.
Not only that, but the top brands will usually offer some kind of satisfaction guarantee or warranty in case they fail.
This is important to have especially if you are spending upwards of a few hundred dollars on your dumbbells.
Spending a bit more on a good quality set rather than a cheap set is advisable when it comes to adjustable dumbbells.
Maximum Weight You Want To Lift
Depending on your preferences, you can purchase either lighter or heavier sets.
Most adjustable dumbbells have a fifty pound per weight maximum, and a total weight maximum of one hundred pounds.
It is important to purchase a set that can grow with you as you get stronger.
The worse thing would be to put down your hard-earned cash on a set only to find that you’ve outgrown them in a few months.
When considering a dumbbell set, make sure it is capable of making small and large weight adjustments.
You want the adjustable dumbbells to be able to handle large increments when you need to switch from a light weight to a heavy weight, for instance, if you are moving from a tricep exercise to a squat.
However, it is also important for your adjustable dumbbell set to be able to handle small changes so that you can slowly progress through the weights as you get stronger in a particular exercise.
Look for a set that has increments in 5, 2.5, or 1.5-pounds, so that you can adjust your weight according to your fitness needs.
The good thing about the spinlock dumbbells is that you can usually buy small increments in whatever size you wish, however for the branded specialised adjustable dumbbells (dial-a-weight), you will have to move up or down in their predetermined weight increments.
This is important because if you’re pushing close to your max at a particular weight, and you only need an increase of 1.5 pounds for your next session, it’s not going to be helpful if the next weight increment is 10 pounds or larger.
Reviewing the weight increments is an important factor you do not want to forget to take into consideration.
Stand or No Stand?
Do you want your dumbbells to be always out and in a position to pick them up with ease or are you fine with storing them in your wardrobe?
Some adjustable dumbbells will have a stand that you can buy with the dumbbells as a bundle, or buy separately.
Stands make it very easy and convenient to store your adjustable dumbbells, and this feature can be a real bonus if you can afford it.
They tend to be more expensive, but the convenience is great especially if you are using an area that is not set up as a home gym.
Speed of Weight Change
This is a factor that should not be overlooked.
How quickly do you need to change your weights during your workouts?
If you are working out to your own routine then you may be fine with slowly changing the weight increments on your adjustable dumbbells.
However, if you are following a workout program like P90X, you don’t want to be fiddling with the mechanism trying to change the weights while the trainer has already moved onto the next exercise.
The Best Adjustable Dumbbells Worth Trying
Now that we’ve covered the basics about adjustable dumbbell sets, we’ll now go through and take a look at the best adjustable dumbbells currently available on the market.
1. Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
The Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells offer durable construction with weights that range from 5 to 75 pounds in increments of 2.5-pounds, and they do come with a stand.
This set has the quick-lock adjustment system, and unlike other dumbbells that take several minutes for weight adjustments, the Ironmaster can be adjusted in under 15 seconds.
They are also very flexible with the amount of weight that you can use during your training, and you can purchase either the 45 or 75-pound set.
Plus, there is an add-on kit that can be purchased that will increase your weight options to 120 pounds.
Changing plates is easy and fast with the quick lock technology, and the ability to purchase additional weights allows the set to grow with you as you train.
This set is a good investment for a home gym that will help you maintain your fitness routine in your own home.
Pros: Comes with free stand, moving the set is very easy and efficient since the plates stack together well, comes with a limited lifetime warranty
Cons: If you are not careful to tighten the pins the plates can become loose, paint chips off with the lightest use
2. PowerBlock Dumbbells
Buying the PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells is like getting sixteen different sets of dumbbells instead of one for your training.
It has a 50-130 maximum weight range so that you have everything you need to hit your training goals.
What makes PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells different from other adjustable dumbbell sets is their unique four-bar design, which provides a more balanced weight distribution than traditional dumbbells.
This innovative design helps prevent the wrists from bending unnaturally while you use the weights.
The PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells are available in three weight ranges: 5 to 50 pounds (Elite 50), 5 to 70 pounds (Elite 70), and 5 to 90 pounds (Elite 90).
Adjusting the weight settings on the PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells is a cinch – simply use the magnetic selector pin to your desired weight and start lifting.
What’s great about the PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells is their versatility; the weights can be increased by increments as low as 2.5 pounds, and expansion kits are available that can turn an Elite 50 set into an Elite 70 or Elite 90 set.
One minor complaint is that the selector pin can only be used to increase weight by 10-pound increments.
To increase the weight by lower increments, such as 2.5 or 5 pounds, you need to take the main unit out and remove the weights that sit inside the unit.
While this is not a problem for those taking breaks between sets, it can be a bit of a hassle for those performing super-set type workouts.
Another minor niggle is that the PowerBlock Dumbbells can seem a bit too bulky, which could be problematic for exercises such as squats and dumbbell rows.
Pros: Unique four-bar design, available in three weight ranges, expansion kits available, easy to assemble, padded grips and wrist guards, decent warranties
Cons: Typically goes up in 5 pound (2.5 kg) increments which is too much for some people, adjusting weights by 2.5-pound or 5-pound increments takes extra time, selector mechanism can be fiddly and cumbersome if not placed on a flat surface
3. Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are one of the best-selling sets of dumbbells on the market.
The SelectTech 552 Dumbbells feature dials that allow you to adjust the weight of the dumbbells from 5 to 52 pounds.
Adjusting the weight takes just a few seconds and easy to use – simply turn the dials to choose your desired weight setting and start lifting.
The weight plates are coated with a durable moulding, which prevents the dumbbells from scuffing floors and make the dumbbells quieter (although, slightly less durable) than metal models.
The BowFlex SelectTech are very versatile with a great price tag.
They come with fifteen different settings for each of the dumbbells, and they give you a wide range of weight options to choose from.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells are an ideal choice for apartment dwellers, as they replace 30 different dumbbell weights with two space-saving pieces that can be easily stowed in a corner when not in use.
Some users have complained that the dials need to be replaced after 1 or 2 years of regular use, but this minor defect is covered by a generous 2-year warranty.
Pros: Durable moulding around plates for quieter operation, space-saving design, ideal for fast-paced workouts, comes with workout DVD
Cons: Adjustment dials may need replacing due to wear and tear, less durable than metal dumbbells, dumbbells are unusually long compared to traditional dumbbells
4. XMark Adjustable Dumbbells
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbells are a great option if you are looking to buy a single 50-pound weight dumbbell, a pair of 25-pound maximum weight dumbbells, or a pair of 50-pound dumbbells.
The versatility of the product allows each of the options to adjust their weight with just a simple twist of a knob.
They are made of heavy-duty chrome-plated steel construction, and they will not get damaged when they are dropped.
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbells have a minimum weight of 5 pounds on the 25-pound max weight dumbbell, and a 10-pound minimum weight on the 50-pound max weight dumbbells.
Pros: Great price, very durable, do not get damaged when dropped
Cons: Weight increments are too large, only good for lifting 50 pounds or less, hard to secure plates before you workout
5. Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells are an excellent choice for anyone seeking an inexpensive adjustable dumbbell set that doesn’t skimp on essential features.
They are sold in six different sets, ranging from 8 to 105 pounds.
All sets feature heavy-duty cast iron weight plates that are coated with a rust- and corrosion-resistant black paint.
Star-lock collars ensure safe weight plate changes, while 16-inch etched handles that provide a secure grip and help prevent hand fatigue.
What’s great about these dumbbells is their ease of assembly and use.
All you need to do is unpack the dumbbells, place your desired weight plates on the handles, and secure the plates using the included star-lock collars.
Some customers have complained that the black coating tends to chip easily, although this minor default is covered by a generous five-year labour warranty.
Another drawback is that the plates take some time to switch, making this dumbbell set less ideal for those performing super-set type workouts.
Overall, though, this is a great budget-friendly set for users of all fitness levels.
Pros: Inexpensive, available in various sizes and weights, etched handles for a more secure grip, easy to use, five-year labour warranty
Cons: Coating chips easily, slow to change to different weights – not ideal for supersets
6. Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell
Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are available in two sets: one with a maximum weight of 25 pounds, and one with a maximum weight of 50 pounds.
Both sets come with handy storage cradles that make it easy to store the weights in a corner of your home or apartment when not in use.
The Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells have a minimum weight of 10 pounds, making this set ideal for those who are just beginning to lift and aren’t yet ready to invest in a heavy set of dumbbells.
These dumbbells are constructed from high-quality chrome-plated steel, which gives the set a sleek, elegant look.
Another nice touch is the dual-sided locking mechanisms, which keep the weight plates securely in place.
Some customers have reported that the chrome-plated steel tends to rust, which can make adding and removing plates to the dumbbell handles difficult.
Another minor complaint from some customers is that the weight plates take too long to switch, making this set less useful for fast-paced workouts.
Aside from these minor drawbacks, most customers find that the Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells offer incredible durability and value for their price.
Pros: Affordable, constructed from heavy-duty chrome-plated steel, includes storage cradles, two different sets available, dual-sided locking mechanisms
Cons: Some may find adjusting weights time-consuming, prone to rust
7. Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbells
The Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells feature weight plates made from durable metal and coated with a semi-gloss finish for preventing rust.
Like the Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells, the Amazon Basics Dumbbells use a traditional adjustment system consisting of bars, with threaded ends and spin-lock collars that keep the weight plates securely in place.
The Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells make up a total weight of 38-pounds including four 2.5 pounds and four 5 pounds plates (for a total of 30 pounds).
The weight of the bars and the collars make up the remaining 8lbs.
The weight of each dumbbell can be adjusted by increments of 2.5 pounds or 5 pounds.
The wide weight range and ability to increase resistance by small increments make the Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells ideal for users of all fitness levels.
These dumbbells are also a great choice because they are low-priced and come with a case for easy storage.
That said, these may not be the best adjustable dumbbells for performing super-set type workouts, as adjusting the weights takes too long compared to other adjustable dumbbell sets that use a selector pin or dial.
Pros: Great for people on a lower budget, easy to use, comes with a storage case
Cons: Switching out weight plates takes too long, the case works fine but it is cheaply made
8. Merax Deluxe Adjustable Dial Dumbbell
With a maximum weight of 71.5 pounds per dumbbell, a locking dial system for added security, and lightning-fast weight adjustment, it’s easy to see why the Merax Deluxe Adjustable Dial Dumbbells are among the most popular adjustable dumbbells on the market today.
Each dumbbell has a minimum weight of 11 pounds, making this set an excellent choice for those who are just starting to lift.
One of the most convenient features of the Merax Deluxe Adjustable Dial Dumbbells is the ability to adjust the weight of both dumbbells simultaneously.
Increasing or decreasing the weight takes less than five seconds, making this set ideal for fast-paced workouts.
One thing to keep in mind when purchasing the Merax Deluxe Adjustable Dial Dumbbells is that the weights are measured in kilograms.
While this generally isn’t a problem for most people, it can make workouts frustrating if you’re working with other weights that are measured in pounds.
Overall, though, these dumbbells deliver excellent value and performance for their price.
Pros: Locking dial for added security, includes dumbbell cradles for convenient storage, both dumbbells can be adjusted at the same time, rubber-coated handles for a more secure grip, fast weight adjustment
Cons: Weight can only be adjusted by 5.5-pound increments, weights are measured in kilograms
9. Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Set
With a weight adjustment range of 5 to 50 pounds, the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are perfect for beginner to intermediate lifters.
Like the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells, the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells feature a dial adjustment setting that allows you to quickly select your desired weight before lifting the dumbbells out of the included storage cradles.
The weight plates are covered with a plastic shielding that helps reduce noise while the dumbbells are in use.
The Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells have smooth, ergonomic grips that feel great in the hand and prevent hand fatigue.
Some customers have said that the grips tend to become slippery from perspiration, but this issue can be easily fixed by wearing weight lifting gloves.
Another minor complaint is the lack of bells and whistles.
If, however, you’re looking for a safe and straightforward pair of adjustable dumbbells that you can start using without much fuss, the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells may be the right choice for you.
Pros: Inexpensive compared to other models, coated with plastic shielding for quieter operation, includes storage cradle
Cons: Maximum weight not heavy enough for advanced lifters, grips are too slippery
The Best Adjustable Dumbbells: Recommendations
In terms of overall value for money and quality, the PowerBlock series are the best set of dumbbells overall.
They may seem expensive but if you consider that the PowerBlocks are likely to last you a lifetime, it’s hard to argue with that.
They are sturdy, easy to use and lack any complicated mechanisms that are likely to fail or wear away over time.
Factor in their generous warranties you should be able to purchase them with confidence.
They are suitable for all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced and very easy to get the hang of, however learning to change the weights at speed may take some getting used to.
Related: PowerBlock Dumbbell review
Another worthy choice is the Bowflex SelectTechs dumbbells.
One of the disadvantages of the PowerBlock Dumbbells is that they can be quite bulky to use.
The ‘blocky’ nature of them may seem unappealing to those who prefer something that resembles more of the ‘thinner’ traditional dumbbell shape.
In addition, if changing the increments of weights quickly is important to you, then the SelectTechs may be a better fit.
However, one of the main differences between the PowerBlocks and the Selecttechs is its longevity.
While both are good quality, the PowerBlock Dumbbells seem the more durable and long-lasting choice.
For those on a tight budget, the Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells are a good option.
Not only are they value for money, but they are also easy to use and durable.
Choose Your Dumbbells Wisely!
Investing in a good set of adjustable dumbbells is a smart way to save time, money, and space while ensuring an effective weight lifting workout.
Whether you’re a beginning or advanced lifter, you’re sure to find a set of adjustable dumbbells to suit your budget and needs among the models reviewed in this buyer’s guide.