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A quality set of dumbbells is a fundamental part of every decent home gym. Decking out our garage gym with a full complement of dumbbells, however, is out of reach for mot of us. As a result, we need to invest in adjustable dumbbells that allow us to quickly and safely switch out the poundage.
In this article, we identify the six best adjustable dumbbells to provide you with a cost effective, convenient and safe way to get in your dumbbell workout at home.
We’ll also discuss the benefits of training with dumbbells over barbells and provide you with an awesome dumbbell only full body workout routine.
We love these adjustable dumbbells by Athlyt!
Adjustable Dumbbell Buyers Guide
When you buy dumbbells, you expect them to last. You also expect them to be functional and not to come apart when they are hovering above your head. That’s why you need to take the time to consider the following nine factors before you rush out and buy adjustable dumbbells:
- Construction material – Avoid plastic as much as possible. Plastic componentry on an adjustable dumbbell set will be the most vulnerable. The more plastic that the set contains, the more likely it is that something will break. Many newer versions of adjustable systems feature a lot of plastic.
- Adjustment system – You can go with the old school type of collar plate dumbbell or spend a bit more money for a selector pin or dial system. If you are focused on progressive resistance and constantly striving to increase the weight that you lift, the new selectorised or pin type of adjustable dumbbell will probably be more cost-effective in the long run. It will save you having to buy extra weights as you get stronger.
- Grip – The grip should be comfortable, spacious and sweat resistant. Also check the handle sleeve provides some protection at the point where it connects with the first plate. If it doesn’t, you will find that the skin at the base of your thumb will likely pinch between the sleeve and the plate.
- Collars – There are a number of collars that fit on the end of traditional dumbbell sets. The best are the EZ spinlock variety. These feature special bevelling on the ends of the bar that allow you to spin the collars up to the face of the last weight plate. Not only is this the fastest method, it is also the most secure.
- Bar length – For a dial or a selectorised adjustable weight set, be sure to check the length of the bar. On these the bar length is the same whether you are using only one plate or five plates. That can mean that for some exercises, the excess bar length may interfere with your natural range of motion. This is especially the case when you are doing exercises like alternative dumbbell curls, where the bar length may prevent you from having the weights close enough to your body.
- Warranty – When buying a selectorised adjustable dumbbell set, you need to check the warranty conditions. Unlike a simple bar, collar and plate set up, there are a number of things that can malfunction with these more advanced sets. Of particular concern is that the selectorised mechanism may fail after some time. If this happens, your investment is useless. Ideally, you want to deal with a manufacturer who offers a 10 year warranty on these types of products.
- Check online reviews – Many problems with adjustable dumbbell weight sets do not occur until at least six months of use. So you should check reviews from long-term users to see that everything is still working as it should.
- Upgradability – When you buy an adjustable weight set, you will eventually outgrow it. If your set allows you to buy extension plates, this can be very useful at that time. Otherwise your expensive dumbbells will sit in the corner and collect dust while you go out and buy a more expensive one!
- Weight plate size – You need to check the weight plate size is not too large. If it is, you will not be able to get a sufficient amount of plates on the end of the dumbbell bar. When using one of the modern sets, plates that are too big will get in the way of your full range of motion and make the exercise less effective than it should be.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells Reviews
CCLIFE 2 in 1 Dumbbell & Barbell Set
The CCLIFE 2 in 1 Dumbbell & Barbell Set is a beginner weight set that combines the following:
- Weight plates – 4x 1kg, 4x 1.25kg and 4x 2.5kg Weight Plates
- 2x Plastic coated hollow Dumbbell Bars
- 1 x connecting bar
- 4 x Spinlock collars
The spinlock collars are very secure and they are quick to get on and off, reducing the downtime between sets. This set provides you with a total weight of 40 kg, including the weight of the dumbbell bars. The handles provide you with a comfortable, ergonomically designed grip shape to provide you with a secure hold.
The set provides you with a unique connecting bar which allows you to convert the two dumbbells into one barbell. This connector is generously padded to provide plenty of grip protection. The weight plates are coated in plastic and have been rigorously tested to be floor safe. The weights are also very quiet when dropped to the floor.
We’re not the biggest fan of plastic coated dumbbell sets, but these have proved to be very popular and reasonably sturdy. We still prefer cast iron any day, but these are still a good (and safe) option for beginners.
- Barbell conversion system
- EZ spin collars
- Ergonomically designed grips
- Up to 40 kg of weight
- Floor friendly
Power Block Sport 24 Adjustable Dumbbell
The PowerBlock Sport 24 Pound Dumbbell Set is a selector pin adjustable dumbbell set that provides you with a weight range of between three and 24 pounds for each dumbbell. The weight increments go out in lots of 3 pounds. This gives you the equivalent of eight separate pairs of dumbbells at a total poundage of 216. This set is more compact than many you will find on the market. This allows you to complete exercises through a full range of motion that you may not be able to do with some competing models.
The PowerBlock Sport 24 Pound Dumbbell Set comes with rubberised handles to provide a secure, sweat slip resistant grip. This set makes use of a selector pin weight adjustment which works just like the pin selection on machines down at your local gym. The Sport 24 is the lightest in the power block range. They also provides sets that go up to 33 and 50 pounds respectively.
This adjustable dumbbell set is very functional. The selected weights come out easily and hold securely and there is very little rattling while you are performing your set. The bar is not overly long so there is no impeding of your exercise movement. Overall, the PowerBlock Sport 24 is a smart choice for any serious home gym trainer, allowing them to get 8 dumbbell pairs in one handy easy to adjust package.
- Easy selector pin adjustment
- 8 dumbbell sets in one
- 3-24 pounds per dumbbell
- Rubberised handles
- Rattle free
Athlyt Unisex’s 32.5KG ADJ Adjustable Dumbell
The Athlyt Unisex 32.5 KG Pound Dumbbell Set provides you with between 2.5 KG and 32.5 KG of weight, going up in increments of 2.5 KG. This provides you with a total of 13 different dumbbell configurations. The adjustment is by way of a simple twist and turn the knob system. This is reliable and secure. The overall design of the dumbbell is quite compact. However, when using a lighter weight, the extendable buyer may interfere with your range of motion on such exercises as alternative dumbbell curls.
The Athlyt Unisex 32.5 KG Pound Dumbbell Set is an attractively designed dumbbell set that provides you with a chrome plated knurled handle. The actual weight plates are compact, rustproof and durable. General rubber handgrips allow for a secure hold. The overall performance of this dumbbell is very high, with no reports of the selector system failure or the plates rattling when in use. User reviews also rate customer service very highly.
You should be aware that these dumbbells are sold singularly rather than as a pair, so so you will need to buy two of them to have a complete set.
- 2.5-32.5 kg weight range
- 13 Dumbbells in one set
- Chrome plated knurled handle
- Rubber handgrips
- Sold singly
Yaheetech 30KG Adjustable Dumbbell Set
The Yaheetech 30KG Adjustable Dumbbell Set is a conventional dumbbell set that provides you with 16 weight plates in the following increments:
· 2.5kg/5.5lbs x 4
· 2kg/4.4lbs x 4
· 1.5kg/3.3lbs x 4
· 1.25kg/2.8lbs x 4
In addition, you get two iron dumbbell bars that are 13.6 cm long each, a plastic sleeve for each handle and two EZ spin collars . The non-slip knurled handles ensure a secure hold on the weights while you are working out. The spin lock collars are extremely reliable and secure, while allowing for quick weight plate changes
The plastic coated weights are filled with concrete. These are quite bulky so you will not be able to load the entire 30 KG onto a single dumbbell. The max you can load on each dumbbell is 15 KG. Your purchase comes with a handy user manual.
Again, we don’t love plastic coated dumbbells, but if this is your first dumbbell set this is one of the better quality sets and will get the job done.
- 30 kg total weight
- 16 different weight plates
- Spin lock collars
- Non-slip knurled handles
- Secure lock
PROIRON 20kg Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell
The PROIRON 20kg Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell set provides you with a pair of handles and four of each of the following weight plates:
· 0.5 kg
· 1.25 kg
· 2.5 kg
You also get an extendable bar to convert the dumbbells into a barbell. These weight plates are iron as opposed to cement that is covered in plastic. This makes them much more durable and thinner. In addition, the spinlock collars are made of metal as opposed to plastic. This provides a lot more rigidity and security in terms of keeping the weights in place. The chrome steel connector bar very quickly and securely converts two dumbbells into a single barbell. When connected, the total length of the barbell is 81 cm. The dumbbell bars also feature anti-loose 0-rings to keep the weights more secure.
The PROIRON 20kg Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell set is easily the most rugged and durable of the weight sets that we have reviewed on this page. It will provide you with a secure, easily adjustable and versatile weight set that you can use for many years to come. Again user reviews reflect excellent customer service with this product. There’s a reason cast iron dumbbells have been the go-to for decades. If you’re serious about dumbbell work, we’re sure you’ll love these as much as we do!
- Cast iron weights
- 16 separate plates
- extender bar
- metal spin lock collars
- Total extended bar length of 81 cm
Adjustable Dumbbell FAQ
What are adjustable dumbbells?
Adjustable dumbbells are dumbbells that allow you to change the amount of plate resistance that they contain. These are in contrast to fixed weight dumbbells that you will find on the dumbbell rack at your local gym. For many years, adjustable dumbbells consisted of a short handle, plastic sleeve and a pair of collars. You would then be able to slip weigh plates on either end of the bar separated by the sleeve which acts as your handle. You then use the collars to secure the plates.
In the late 1990s, the adjustable dumbbell underwent a revolutionary step forward. Companies like Bowflex and Powertech introduced to the market an adjustable dumbbell system which allowed you to create dumbbells in a wide range of weights from a single handle – base – weight configuration. With this system, you get a block which houses pairs of, usually rectangular, weight plates. A handle slides into the block and you are able to use either a selective pin or a dial system to select the amount of weight that you want. You then simply lift up the handle and you have a dumbbell which is at the desired weight. This new system means that with one purchase you could get the equivalent of between 10 and 15 dumbbells.
When we refer to adjustable dumbbells, we may be talking about the traditional type or the new weight version. In the reviews on this page, we have included both types.
Can you get in a good workout with just dumbbells?
Yes, you most definitely can get a good workout with just dumbbells. In fact, in many ways a dumbbell workout is superior to one that utilizes barbells. For one thing, dumbbells allow you to train unilaterally. That means that you can work each side of the body independently, providing greater focus and intensity.
There are also a number of exercises where the barbell becomes the limiting factor in range of motion. The classic example is the bench press. When you perform this exercise with a barbell, you are only able to go down until the bar connects with your chest. However, when you use dumbbells, you can achieve at least 2 to 3 inches of greater depth. This makes the dumbbell bench press far more effective. Dumbbells also allow you to bring your hands together at the top of the movement, which you cannot do with a bar. There are a number of other examples where the barbell is a limiting factor in your ROM.
Another advantage that dumbbells have over barbells is that your body needs to recruit stabiliser muscles in order to balance the dumbbells. This makes the exercise more functional and effective. Finally, dumbbells allow you to perform some exercises more safely than barbells. The classic example of this is the squat. The barbell places a large amount of stress on your spine. However, when you perform squats with dumbbells in your hands, you relieve all of that spinal pressure.
Are adjustable dumbbells safe?
The safety of an adjustable dumbbell depends on the reliability of the collars. Many people have had the unfortunate experience of a collar failing during the middle of a set of dumbbell presses. This is not only frustrating but also potentially hazardous. For that reason you need to check the reliability of the collars on the end of the bar before using them. Generally speaking, adjustable dumbbell bars that have the bevelling to accommodate EZ-spin collars are the most reliable forms of traditional adjustable dumbbells. The new version of selector pin or dial selected adjustable dumbbells are generally speaking a lot safer than the traditional variety.
Are 10kg dumbbells enough to build muscle?
For most people, 10 kg dumbbells are not enough to progressively build muscle in the long term. They will be good for beginners starting their weight training, so if you’re new to weights, 10kg dumbbells will serve you well for a time. But to build muscle you will need to be progressively adding resistance. If you don’t, your muscles will soon stagnate. For this reason we recommend buying adjustable dumbbells that allow you to start below 10kg and then progressively add more weight above 10kg and beyond as you get stronger.
Total Body Dumbbell Workout
You can get a very effective workout in your own garage with just a single pair of dumbbells. Here is a full body routine that you can follow that makes use of a single pair of dumbbells along with some body weight moves . Give yourself 30 seconds rest between sets and the same amount between exercises. Perform this routine every third day for maximum results.
- Dumbbell squats (arms at sides) – 20 / 20 /20
- Wall sit – 2 minutes
- Reverse lunges – 2 x 12 (each leg)
- Dumbbell bench press – 20 /20/20
- Plyo push-up – 2 x failure
- Pull Ups – 3 x 10
- Dumbbell bent over rowing – 15 / 15 / 15
- Seated shoulder press – 12 / 12 / 12
- Hand standard push-up – 1 x failure
- Alternative dumbbell cool – 12 / 12 / 12
- Overhead triceps extension (one dumbbell only) – 12 / 12 / 12
It’s also okay to start with only some of the routine or even just one or two exercises if you’re just starting out! Building strength is all about keeping it slow, steady and consistent. Stick to it and you’ll have those bulging biceps in no time.
Our Top Picks!
The best adjustable dumbells on the UK market right now are the Athlyt Unisex’s 32.5KG ADJ Adjustable Dumbbell, with its 32.5 max weight capacity and 13 different dumbbell configurations.
Our silver medal goes to the Powertech Select 24, which provides up to 24 pounds per dumbbell per and uses a simple selector pin system.
Rounding out our top 3 adjustable dumbbells for home use is the PROIRON 20kg Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell set. This one is the classic cast iron metal plates, metal spin lock collars and 16 separate weight plates. We love them, we’re sure you will too.
Last update on 2021-01-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API