10 Best Adjustable Dumbbells Reviewed and Compared

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Weightlifting is an art that is practiced all over the world by professional bodybuilders, casual exercise enthusiasts, and even runners looking to improve their sport. 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.

If you’re considering adding lifting to your own routine there’s plenty of methods and equipment available no matter what your needs are, but one of the most popular choices for beginners and experienced lifters alike are adjustable dumbbells. The best adjustable dumbbells are designed with convenience in mind, offering the versatility of an entire rack of weights while taking up only a fraction of the space. Below we’ve compiled a list of the best adjustable dumbbell sets perfect for runners who want all the benefits of weightlifting without sacrificing the time and money needed for a gym membership.

Last Updated: August 15, 2018
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By Madison Ambrose:

This update adds the Core Fitness Adjustable dumbbells to the list. We chose this as our number one pick, because they are built in a shape that tends to be very comfortable with most users.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
  • Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Change weight with one hand
  • 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

 

 

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells

The shape of these dumbbells provides the user with a more natural feeling experience. While some dumbbells tend to be very boxy, these are more circular and can be adjusted with one hand.
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Construction
These dumbbells are built to last. They are also contoured to feel at ease in your hands. The handles are soft grip to allow you the best experience.

Cushion
While some handles are uncomfortable and offer you very little ease of use when it comes to comfort, as stated above, the handles have a soft grip element to them.

Portability
These dumbbells are built to be compact so that they can be easily transported if need be.

Affordability
These Core Fitness range in price depending on the vendor. However, it is worth noting that they are not exactly the least expensive on the market. But they are worth the extra cost if you want something compact with comfort.

Popularity

These Core Fitness adjustable weights have been doing very well among many users and testers.

Bowflex SelectTech 552

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 offers an impressive package of features and benefits making it the the most popular and, by our standards, best set of adjustable weights on the market.
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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

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

PowerBlock Elite

PowerBlock Elite
As of January 2018, the PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbells are one of the highest rated and most popular options available. After the Bowflex SelectTech 552, these are the most highly recommended adjustable dumbbells currently available.
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Construction
The square design of these compact and space saving adjustable weights is perfect for any home or apartment. Beyond that, they are also durable and easy to use. They are black and come equipped with a color coding system for the different weights--so you never have to worry about getting anything out of order or question the weight you are working with. The PowerPack Elite has a range of 50-90 pounds per dumbbell--with a weight progression system of 3-24 pounds--depending on which pack you decide to purchase.

Cushion
These weights provide you with a comfortable rubber grip that are made to ergonomically match the user's hands.

Portability
The compact design of these weights makes them extremely portable. Their convenient design will fit just about anywhere, meaning you can take them anywhere you go!

Affordability
With a wide range of weight expansions available and a lot of convenience in the complexity of the adjustment system, these weights are well worth their price. More affordable options are available to those on a budget, however.

Popularity
The general consensus on these weights is overwhelmingly popular. They are well received by a wide range of lifters and continue to climb the selling list when it comes to top-notch adjustable weights.
Pros
  • 10 year home use guarantee 
  • Compact and sleek design 
  • Variety of weight option packs, with expansion packs available 
  • Ergonomic handle design
  • 3 pound increments
Cons
  • High price
  • Some users report it takes time to get used to the weight adjustment system

Yes4All

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

Unipack

Unipack
The Unipack adjustable dumbbells are another pair of weights that bring us back to the fundamentals of lifting. With a basic design and a high weight limit, these are a set that will appeal to long-time heavy lifters or those new to weightlifting.
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Construction
Made with high quality cast-iron weights and solid chrome handles, these are durable weights that you can count on. Both weights come up to a whopping 105 pounds, so the threaded collars and handles are a great addition to ensure a more secure fit. There’s not a lot of complexity to this set which may be a bonus for some lifters who don’t want to worry about too many moving parts or loose bits.

Cushion
There’s no cushion to the handles of the Unipack weights, so some may find investing in rubber grips or tape will help improve their hold and comfort.

Portability
This adjustable set comes with 12 total plates which leaves it hefty enough to give you the build you need and compact enough to transport easily. There’s no tools or gadgets needed to put them together and the versatility of the weight increments means you’re free to take with you only what you need. Paired with decent durability, this makes storage a snap.

Affordability
These are a great set of weights with plenty of value, sitting at the lower end of the price spectrum for this list. With a higher weight limit, a decent increment build, and durable materials you’ll be sure to get more than your money’s worth out of them.

Popularity
The Unipack adjustable weights are well received, with plenty of reviewers saying they enjoy the use they get out of the set for the price. They are a popular purchase with a positive review base of both beginner and more experienced lifters.
Pros
  • Simplistic
  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Higher weight limit
Cons
  • Takes more time to adjust weight
  • No cushioning or protective storage

Bayou Fitness

Bayou Fitness
The Bayou Fitness adjustable dumbbells are a perfect set for beginners looking for effective and spaces-saving dumbbells to use at home. They are aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, and slip proof.
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Construction
These compact adjustable dumbbells are chrome plated and made of steel. The chrome finish improves their durability and allows them to be rust resistant. They are available in 25 pounds or 50 pounds, and use 5 pound plates for weight increase.

Cushion
The hand grips on these dumbbells are meant to provide a comfortable, slip proof, and anatomical fit for every user. These feature facilitate their use for a variety of exercises.

Portability
The sleek and space saving design of these adjustable dumbbells make them easy to transport and take with you wherever you go. Furthermore, their 25-50 pound weight capacity makes it even easier for you to transport yourself--without the need to ask for assistance.

Affordability
While these are a bit on the higher end of the spectrum, they provide you with a sleek and space saving design that is well worth the price.

Popularity
These adjustable dumbbells are featured in several top lists, come highly recommended, and have an excellent track record m

XMark

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

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, we’ve taken several important factors into consideration. These are both important for adjustable dumbbells and 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 the stress of use. Weightlifting is a sport focused primarily on building strength and it requires strong materials. There are plenty of sets that may look fashionable or reliable, but it’s important to know exactly what they’re made of. When it comes to the construction of 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.

Construction also includes the design of the weights themselves. 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.

Comfort

This feature is mostly subjective and is specific the particular goals of the individual who will be lifting. Bodybuilders and powerlifters generally won’t care about cushioning around the handles or plates of the dumbbells 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

One of the great advantages to adjustable dumbbells is the versatility of an entire weight set without having to store an entire weight set. Adjustable 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

Another advantage of 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. This can make a huge difference to people who are budgeting for the many other costs that can come with the running lifestyle. 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 the cost alone makes them the best adjustable dumbbells. That’s why we consider 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

Even though each weightlifter is unique and individual, sometimes it’s important to go with the flow. Trending products may be a sign of widespread appeal, something that has a little something for everyone. If a set of weights is good for its intended purpose, people will use it and rate it favorably, so it’s important to pay attention to ratings and reviews. We use this standard to inform customers how many people have purchased the 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, but it’s not always the stand that makes them the best adjustable dumbbells. 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 or scuffing 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. Adapting your routine to include cardiovascular exercise such as running and eating a reduced calorie diet can help you achieve this.

Q: Will using dumbbells make me look too buff if I just want to exercise or slim down?

A: No. Your routine is completely up to you and your needs. Weightlifting is a great addition to your regular exercises if you want to tone your body or improve your running, but it takes time, effort, and a specific regimen to achieve a “buff” look. Don’t be afraid to give dumbbells a try if you’re only worried about looking too toned.

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 dumbells 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. Storing your weights off the ground when they aren’t being used will help them stay clean and it’s important to keep any rubber weights away from direct sunlight.

Q: Why do my weights smell?

A: Even the best adjustable dumbbells that money can buy can come home with factory smells or material odors. Sometimes rubber weights will emit a foul odor when they are brand new. Some metals can retain oily residues and smells right off the production line. 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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