10 Best Adjustable Dumbbells Reviewed and Compared

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Weightlifting is a sport with historical significance, having been practiced since the dawn of Western Civilization. The art of targeting individual muscles with weighted movement has a timeless appeal, and nothing is more effective for performing this than the modern dumbbell. As opposed to the larger barbell, dumbbells can be used with one hand, making them the perfect tool for strengthening muscles in the arms, shoulders, and chest. In an effort to reduce space for home lifters, adjustable dumbbells have been designed that offer the versatility of an entire rack of weights while taking up only a fraction of space. Running is an exercise that predominately uses the lower body, but a strong upper body can improve an individual’s running ability. In addition, regularly lifting weights in conjunction with running can help an individual develop an appealing physique while losing weight. Adjustable dumbbells are perfect for runners who want to dip their toes in the world of weightlifting but don’t want to sacrifice the time and money required for a gym membership. For the benefit of these runners, take a look at some of the best adjustable dumbbells money can buy below.

Ironmaster Quick-Lock
  • Ironmaster Quick-Lock
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Small weight increments
  • Price: See Here
Bowflex SelectTech 552
  • Bowflex SelectTech 552
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Versatile functionality
  • Price: See Here
PowerBlock Sport
  • PowerBlock Sport
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Intuitive weight adjustment
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Adjustable Dumbbells

Ironmaster Quick-Lock

These adjustable dumbbells have a strong and sturdy construction and make adjusting weight easy. The lack of some additional features allows them to be more portable at the expense of functionality.
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Construction
Ironmaster products are built to last, as the name suggests. Not a single part of these adjustable dumbbells is made of plastic or rubber: it’s all metal. Weight can be increased in 2 ½ pound increments up to 45 pounds. Overall, the combination of welded steel and chrome makes this a hefty and reliable set of dumbbells.

Cushion
The chrome-plated handles may be uncomfortable for some lifters when switching to the heavier weights, but this can be mitigated with the use of some grip tape. There is no protective cover on the weights themselves so lifters with hardwood floors will want to invest in some foam padding to avoid potential scuffs.

Portability
With no extra stand and a low-profile design, the Ironmaster Quick Lock dumbbell set is very portable. It’s very easy to store this set when it’s not being used and aside from the weight, they can be easily transported.

Affordability
While these dumbbells are not the most expensive set on the market, the higher than average price point makes these a best pick for more experienced lifters. These weights are well worth their price, but more affordable options are available to those on a budget.

Popularity
The general consensus among those who have used the Ironmaster Quick Lock dumbbells is that they are exceptionally well made and worth every penny. Customer reviews can be found on multiple online retail sites singing the praises of these weights.
Pros
  • Solid construction
  • Small weight increments
  • Easily stored
Cons
  • No protective padding
  • Higher price point

Bowflex SelectTech 552

Bar none the most popular set of adjustable weights on the market, Bowflex offers an impressive package of features and benefits.
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Construction
Fifteen separate weight settings are placed in one set of these dumbbells, with adjustable 2 ½ pound increments up to 25 pounds. The added base makes switching between weight settings simple, but losing this base can cause issues further down the line. The final word on the Bowflex SelectTech’s construction is that it is a marriage of superior design and raw functionality.

Cushion
Small rubber grips are placed in the middle of each dumbbell handle. These provide some comfort when lifting, but customers with larger hands may still experience some discomfort.

Portability
The addition of a base for switching weights makes this set of dumbbells more difficult to transport. This base is also necessary for the adjustable dumbbells to function properly so it’s very important to avoid losing it in transit.

Affordability
The trade off to the superior construction, functionality, and design of the Bowflex SelectTech 552 is a large price tag. At the same time, these dumbbells aren’t the most expensive set on the market: many other sets go for higher prices with fewer features to offer.

Popularity
The Bowflex SelectTech 552’s are the most popular set of adjustable dumbbells on the market. Among those who own a pair, the general consensus is overwhelmingly positive with near-perfect scores.
Pros
  • Superior design
  • Versatile functionality
  • Excellent value
Cons
  • Superfluous base
  • Inadequate grips

PowerBlock Sport

Despite its unappealing design and simplistic construction, these are excellent adjustable dumbbells for weightlifting beginners.
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Construction

The PowerBlock Sport set of adjustable dumbbells are ugly looking, to put it frankly. However, the function of these weights is much better, functioning almost identically to the removable pins found on weight machines in a gym. Its construction is expertly balanced as well, making these some of the best entry-level weights for beginning lifters.

Cushion

The handles of these weights are rubberized which make them easier on the hands. This is a great feature for anyone looking to start lifting weights but doesn’t want to develop callouses.

Portability

Without any additional stands or bases, the PowerBlock Sport can be stored in a compact space without any issues. Due to its lower maximum weight, transportation is even easier.

Affordability

Some beginner sets of dumbbells may cost less than these, but these are well worth the price for individuals who are serious about getting into weightlifting. Additionally, expansion sets can be obtained for a fraction of the cost allowing for extra progression with the same base set.

Popularity

Satisfied owners of the PowerBlock sport are numerous and can be found offering additional info on multiple online retailers. Some features of these weights that set it apart from others on the market include a smaller form and softer handles.
Pros
  • Intuitive weight adjustment
  • Terrific balance
  • Soft grips
Cons
  • Ugly design
  • Low maximum weight

Ironmaster 75 lb Quick-Lock with Stand

These solid metal adjustable dumbbells are perfect for seasoned bodybuilders and weightlifters with a higher weight limit and a bonus stand.
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Construction
All of the benefits from the 45 pound version of the Ironmaster QuickLock are present in the design of the 75 pound version, with some key differences. This package contains an additional stand that is very helpful for storing these weights when not in use. Additionally, the higher maximum weight means that much more lifting progress can be made with one set, giving these dumbbells extra mileage for the customer.

Cushion
Much like the lighter version of these weights, the plated chrome handles have no additional cushioning and can be uncomfortable to use, especially at the higher weights. Customers will want to anticipate callouses on their hands and dents in their walls unless they take proper precaution.

Portability
Due to the higher weight limit and included stand, the 75 lb Ironmaster QuickLock adjustable dumbbells are much less portable than their lighter counterpart. They can still be stored in a small section of a room but transportation is much more difficult.

Affordability
These are very high-end dumbbells, meant for weightlifting veterans. The stand and high maximum weight are well worth the hefty pricetag, but some customers may find it well out of their price range.

Popularity
Due mostly to its higher price tag, these dumbbells don’t have as many customers as other adjustable weights. Because of this, customer reviews aren’t as plentiful as with similar products. However, the reviews that can be found for the Ironmaster 75 lb Quick-Locks have positive things to say about their durability and compact construction.
Pros
  • High weight limit
  • Low-profile construction
  • Additional stand
Cons
  • No cushioning
  • Not easily transported

Universal Power-Pak 445

A plethora of additional features makes these adjustable weights appealing to newcomers, but the construction and design of these dumbbells can attract more experienced lifters as well.
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Construction
The design of these dumbbells give off a retro sci-fi feel with its space-metal grey color scheme and pincer-like weights. When set up on its included ergonomic stand, observers may think these adjustable weights are some sort of replica model spaceship from Star Wars. In actuality, the Universal Power-Pak 445s are solidly made lifting accessories with a combination of metal and rubber cushioning.

Cushion
Thermoplastic rubber coats each handle for these weights, providing excellent cushioning when performing exercises. However, there is no cushioning around the weight plates for these dumbbells, so customers will want to be careful in order to avoid scraping or banging their walls or floors while using them.

Portability
There are more portable sets of adjustable weights available to purchase. However, the tradeoff with these sets is that they don’t come with additional features like a stand or workout guide. As far as stands go, however, the Universal Power-Pak 445s have one of the most compact designs.

Affordability
The staggeringly high price tag for these adjustable dumbbells may require some customers to take out a loan. It’s true that these weights are expertly made and have some appealing bonus features, but the initial investment is astronomical. Customers on a tight budget will want to buy these secondhand.

Popularity
These weights are almost universally loved and are very appealing when compared to other popular models of adjustable dumbbells. Customers have written reviews on several sites mentioning the superior durability, construction, and ergonomics of the Universal Power-Pak 445s.
Pros
  • Unique design
  • Ergonomic stand
  • Appealing bonus features
Cons
  • High price
  • Lack of cushioning

Yes4All

With its back-to-basics design and construction, these adjustable dumbbells have a Spartan efficiency and utility. One set of these can last a customer for the rest of their lives.
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Construction
Simplicity is the word that best describes how these dumbbells are constructed. Two collars, two sets of weighted plates, and one handle form the entirety of each weight. The nice thing about this design is that parts can be easily replaced and additional parts can be added. At its most basic level you can add up to 20 pounds, but the Yes4All adjustable weights can support up to 100 pounds.

Cushion
No effort whatsoever has been made into providing comfort with these weights. The handles, while easier to hold on to than other parts of the dumbbell, are meant for function and will most likely cause callouses when lifting heavier weight.

Portability
These are some of the most portable adjustable dumbbells on the market. The Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells come with only a handful of parts that can be disassembled quickly, making it extremely compact and easily transported or placed in storage.

Affordability
It’s going to be difficult to find a pair of dumbbells less expensive than these. Even models of the Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells with a higher maximum weight cost significantly less than other competing brands. These weights are ideal for customers on a budget who aren’t concerned with fancy designs or gimmicks.

Popularity
There are many satisfied customers of these adjustable dumbbells who have posted glowing recommendations on numerous online retailers. Although they appreciate the sturdiness and affordability, some have raised complaints about shipping issues and damaged parts.
Pros
  • Cost-effective
  • Easily modified
  • Extremely portable
Cons
  • Simple design
  • Potential shipping issues

CAP Barbell RSWB-40TP

These simplistic dumbbells are a marriage of durability and comfort, perfect for amateur weightlifters looking to hit the big time.
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Construction
The CAP Barbell RSWB-40TP has a time-tested build, updated with modern amenities. The cast-iron plates are a throwback, but the rubber trim collars provide a new twist on an old design. While customers shouldn’t have any problems with damaging walls or floors during regular use, it may still be a good idea to invest in some padding to prevent accidental damage. Some may be turned off by this set’s antiquated design, but others will appreciate how simple and intuitive these weights are.

Cushion
As far as plated chrome handles go, these are on the softer side. Unlike most handles for these kinds of dumbbells, comfort is a priority. However, it still isn’t as comfy as a padded rubber handle, so lifters with more sensitive hands should consider investing in grip tape.

Portability
It doesn’t get more portable than these. Every piece of the CAP Barbell RSWB-40TP can be disassembled which allows customers to store it or transport it in very small compartments. This will become more difficult if extra weight plates are purchased, but the base model is very portable.

Affordability
Part of what makes these weights ideal for a beginner is their competitively low price point. There may be other weights with better features that cost more, but these are perfectly adequate for individuals looking for low-intensity weightlifting.

Popularity
Many customers have purchased these weights and left reviews of their experiences online. The common consensus is that these adjustable dumbbells are ideal for beginners, but some concerns have been raised. Customers have noted that individual sets may be a few pounds off from their advertised weight, and the collars aren’t always secure.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Cushioned ends
  • Easily stored
Cons
  • Simplistic
  • Questionable weight

Gold’s Gym

From bodybuilding’s Mount Olympus comes a set of rock-solid dumbbells perfect for beginners looking to enhance their aesthetics. Style, comfort, and utility are all on display with these weights.
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Construction
An all-black color scheme makes these otherwise simple looking dumbbells appear sleek and impressive. Cast-iron plates with an enamel finish provide a sturdiness and weather-protection that will ensure they last for years to come. No maintenance is required for these weights: just lift and then forget about them until the next session. With the glowing endorsement of Gold’s Gym attached to these adjustable dumbbells, they are sure to deliver a level of quality that is incomparable to the competition.

Cushion
Unlike most basic adjustable dumbbells, the Gold’s Gym Adjustable Cast Dumbbell Set includes rubber grips for extra comfort. The outsides of these weights aren’t protected in this way, but the hand cushioning makes these weights easily used for a variety of upper body exercises.

Portability
Much like the dumbbells with a similar design philosophy, the Gold’s Gym brand weights can be quickly and easily disassembled and compartmentalized. Transportation and storage is easy and painless.

Affordability
Despite having some extra features that differentiate them from similar products, the Gold’s Gym Adjustable Cast Dumbbell Set costs less on average. This is a terrific deal for such a terrific product from a reputable brand.

Popularity
It will take some hunting to find customer reviews of these particular dumbbells, as it doesn’t have much of an online presence. However, it isn’t difficult to find praise for its manufacturers, Gold’s Gym. This gym franchise is legendary among bodybuilders and was the preferred training spot of legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.
Pros
  • Reputable brand
  • Cushioned grips
  • Easily stored
Cons
  • Simple design
  • Not very popular

XMark

An interesting take on the adjustable dumbbell, these weights have the build quality of an old-school set and the design of a modern offering.
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Construction
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbells are the perfect blend of two fundamentally different designs of adjustable dumbbell. The materials used to build these are identical to the classic form of adjustable weights, but the design and function is similar to modern forms such as the kinds produced by companies like Bowflex. The benefit of this design philosophy is an excellent build quality without sacrificing any features commonplace to high-end models.

Cushion
No additional rubber is added to the handles or ends of this set, true to the form of most vintage adjustable weights. Attempts to increase the cushioning of these will require the use of foam or grip tape.

Portability
Despite the addition of a base to adjust the weight of these dumbbells, these weights are surprisingly small. Transportation may still be an issue, but storing the XMark Adjustable Dumbbells in a closet or storage unit shouldn’t be a hassle at all.

Affordability
The best way to describe the price point of these dumbbells is fair. There are certainly more cost-effective models available to purchase but the tradeoffs regarding weight limit and design make them less appealing. For what it offers, the price of the XMark Adjustable Dumbbells is very reasonable. In addition, they can be purchased as a single or a pair and in 25 pound or 50 pound models, offering flexible pricing.

Popularity
While there is an online presence with customers offering reviews, these weights aren’t as popular as other adjustable dumbbells with similar features. Customers have said that they appreciate the portability this dumbbells offer but that they sometimes have issues switching between weight levels.
Pros
  • Excellent construction
  • Modern design
  • Portable base
Cons
  • No cushion
  • Problematic weight switching

ProForm

Despite having a lower maximum weight for its price, the features and functionality of these dumbbells make them attractive for beginner weightlifters looking for something impressive.
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Construction
Metal, plastic, and rubber are the materials used to construct these weights. The metal on the weighted plates are useful for preventing any damage and the rubber grips can offer some comfort, but the plastic used on the ends and for the base can be susceptible to wear and tear over years of use. Despite these minor shortcomings, there is certainly solid construction and design behind the ProForm model of adjustable dumbbells.

Cushion
Rubber grips are added to the handles in order to provide some callous protection when lifting. However, the lower weight limit of this set doesn’t normally cause callouses so this can be considered a superfluous feature. It should be noted that some retailers don’t carry the version with a rubber grip.

Portability
Similar to the Xmark brand of adjustable dumbbells, these weights have a base used to switch out weighted plates that still manage to take up a very small amount of space. This carries the benefit of simple storage but also has the drawback of additional difficulty when transporting.

Affordability
The price for these weights is decent as far as all available adjustable dumbbell sets go, but it’s still a bit high for what can be done with them. Customers looking for more mileage can find something better for a similar or lower price, but the tradeoff would be some of the appealing features the ProForm model includes.

Popularity
Comparatively fewer individuals have purchased and reviewed these weights, but the few who have enjoy them quite a bit. Some common compliments regarding these adjustable dumbbells is that they are durable and comfortable.
Pros
  • Excellent design
  • Affordable cost
  • Durable build
Cons
  • Low weight limit
  • Inferior construction materials

 

The Criteria We Used For Evaluating the Best Adjustable Dumbbells

In order to determine that these are the best products on the market, several factors were considered. These factors are important both for adjustable dumbbells and for weightlifting equipment in general. These metrics are based on personal experience, input from the community, and advice from experts in the field. Here are some of the features used to determine the quality of each item on this list:

Construction

There’s no point in owning a piece of lifting equipment that can’t handle some stress. Weightlifting is a sport focused primarily on building strength and it requires strong materials. This section covers the materials used to build the adjustable dumbbells. Chrome, steel, and cast iron are good, while rubber, silicone, and plastic are bad. Rubber can be helpful in some cases, like providing cushioning around the weighted portions that can prevent damage if the dumbbells are dropped. However, if the majority of the dumbbell’s construction isn’t solid metal, there’s no guarantee that it will be able to handle years of weathering.

This section also covers how these weights are designed. Some of the dumbbells listed have a classic design with a handle, removable plates of varying weight, and a locking screw. This is an excellent design philosophy and has been the standard for decades, but modern design sensibilities can be just as good. Too sophisticated of a design can cause issues if they have too many small parts that will render the entire product useless if misplaced or damaged. Additionally, excessive add-ons like a large stand or plastic base will take up extra space and may be built from inferior materials.

Cushion

This is mostly subjective and is used to help potential customers determine what set of weights is best suited for their particular goals. Bodybuilders and powerlifters generally won’t care about cushioning around a dumbbell’s handles or plates since they will have presumably taken steps to protect their surroundings from damage and may see calloused hands as a badge of honor. However, amateur weightlifters only looking for a comfortable set of weights to use in their free time may appreciate some extra cushioning. Based on the descriptions in this section, prospective buyers should have an understanding as to whether or not each particular product is right for them.

Portability

The main draw for a customer to desire adjustable dumbbells is saving space. A set of dumbbells that can be set from 5 pounds to 50 pounds can accomplish the same amount of work that an entire rack of dumbbells in a gym can, while taking up a fraction of the space. The factors considered when evaluating this metric is how small the product is and how easily it can be stored and transported. In the event that a customer needs to make more space in their home for other things, or if they have to move to another living space, how portable their dumbbells are can be very important.

Affordability

The other main draw for adjustable dumbbells is how cost-effective they are. In addition to taking up less space than an entire weight rack, adjustable weights can cost significantly less as well. This is another subjective measurement used to determine which dumbbell is best for which customer. More expensive weight sets can be worth the extra cost due to better construction, a higher maximum weight, or more enticing features. At the same time, some weight sets are expensive for the sake of being expensive in an attempt to trick the uninformed buyer into thinking they are investing in something valuable. This section evaluates the cost of each weight set, determining if they are worth their price and what kind of lifter would be justified in paying the full cost.

Popularity

Weightlifting tools are often popular for a reason. No one is trying to make a fashion statement with their dumbbells like they would with headphones, clothes, or shoes. If a set of weights is good for its intended purpose, people will use it and rate it favorably, no matter how ugly it is. This section is meant to inform customers as to how many people have purchased these adjustable dumbbells, whether or not they liked them, and what specific features people liked or disliked. It’s possible that an unpopular product can still be useful, but this is still a valuable factor to consider when choosing a purchase.

Other Important Factors to Consider

These specific metrics weren’t used to determine how high to rate these products, but they are still worth considering. Taking note of these factors will help customers to ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck, and that they are buying the product that is right for them:

Maximum Weight

When it comes to weightlifting, progression is key to results. A lifter isn’t going to see strength gains or develop an impressive physique if they perform the same exercises with the same amount of weight every session. For this reason, adjustable dumbbells are designed to offer an easy progression from beginner lifts to more difficult exercises. Having a high maximum weight means more progression is possible when using these adjustable dumbbells. 25 pounds is mediocre, 40 pounds is better, and 100 pounds is nice but also out of reach for the vast majority of individuals. The ideal maximum weight is around 40-50 pounds, but individuals who are less serious about building mass and just want something to accentuate their normal exercise routine can still benefit from a product with less maximum weight.

Complexity

It’s nice to get a product with a lot of extra features and fancy gimmicks. A set of dumbbells that can be adjusted with the turn of a knob is convenient and reduces the amount of time to adjust the weight when switching between exercises. These kinds of weights are terrific for circuit training, i.e. alternating between bicep curls, tricep extensions, and lateral raises. However, in some situations, the simplest tools are the best. A customer paying money for a set of weights that they plan on only using for basic curls simply doesn’t need a lot of extra features and would just be wasting their money on something sophisticated. Something else to keep in mind is that legendary bodybuilders and athletes have worked with the most basic of equipment, meaning an absurdly complex tool isn’t required to achieve great results.

Stands

Some of the adjustable dumbbells on this list come with a special stand for the weights. These are sometimes necessary for more complex units that require a base in order to switch out weights but for the most part, these are simply a place to rest them when they aren’t being used. An ergonomic stand can be nice as it allows the dumbbells to be reached conveniently and will prevent them from getting dirty on the floor, but they can also take up extra space in a home gym. It is advised that customers determine whether or not they really need that extra stand and if it justifies paying extra money for the product.

FAQ

Q: Will using dumbbells reduce fat?

A: No. Lifting weights doesn’t burn fat, it only builds muscle. It is impossible to reduce fat on one area of the body by exercising it repeatedly. The only way to lose arm fat is to lose fat in the entire body. This can be done by performing cardiovascular exercise such as running and by eating a reduced calorie diet.

Q: Will using dumbbells make a woman look buff?

A: No. It is much harder for women to gain muscle mass than men due to hormones in the body. Because of this, weightlifting will have a diminished effect on a woman’s body. However, performing regular arm exercises can still be beneficial to a woman by helping tone their arms.

Q: Which is better, dumbbells or barbells?

A: Both dumbbells and barbells have their benefits. Dumbbells are ideal for performing exercises that are specific to one part of the body, and can offer a greater range of movement that allows lifters to perform more complex exercises. Barbells are good for building strength, as they are sturdy enough to support much more weight than dumbbells and can be used to perform heavier compound lifts such as bench press. An effective bodybuilding routine will usually incorporate a combination of barbell and dumbbell lifts.

Q: How do I keep my dumbbells clean?

A: There are different ways to clean your dumbbells depending on the type of material they are made of. For cast iron parts, wipe them regularly with a damp cloth soaked in a mixture of water and small amounts of dish soap. This can also be used to clean rubber parts. For chrome, spray it down with WD-40 and then wipe it away with a soft, dry cloth. Some general tips for keeping your weights clean are to store them off the ground when they aren’t being used and to keep any rubber weights away from direct sunlight.

Q: Why do my weights smell?

A: Sometimes rubber weights will emit a foul odor when they are purchased brand new. This is normal and will fade with time. If the smell is unbearable and you wish to make it go away sooner, wash it a few times with a damp cloth soaked in water and dish soap.

Q: How often should I use my dumbbells?

A: Depending on your goals, there are different routines that are recommended for building mass, increasing strength, or improving endurance. However, a good general rule is to perform three sets of 8-12 reps a day. You may also want to refrain from lifting for a day or two and allow your body to rest if you feel sore.

Q: What weight should I start with?

A: The amount of weight you should start performing exercises with will vary from person to person. A good way to determine what weight is best for you is to find a setting where you feel strong resistance from the movement but are still able to perform 5-8 repetitions. Once this becomes easier, you can progress into heavier weight settings.

Sources

  1. Nader Qudimat, Top 10 Adjustable Dumbbells 2017, Blog post, Apr 27, 2017
  2. Mike Behnken, Why You Need an Adjustable Dumbbells Set for Your Home Gym, Blog post, Jun 01, 2017
  3. Rich Barlow, Women and Weightlifting: It's Good For You, Article, Mar 06, 2013
  4. Conor Heffernan, The History of Gold's Gym, Blog post, Apr 30, 2015
  5. Abby Campbell, How to Maintain and Care for Weights or a Dumbbell Set, Article, Jul 21, 2017
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