Dumbbell weights are one of the most widely used strength-training fitness equipment pieces for home and are effective in developing and toning muscle groups throughout the body. This guide to the best dumbbell sets for home includes reviews of our top picks for fixed and adjustable weights. Our top picks first…
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Best Adjustable Dumbbells – Our Top 3
Best Fixed Dumbbells – Our Top 3
Reasons and motivations for training with dumbbells
- Finding everyday “stuff” around the house less easy?
- Are you at that stage of life where it’s a matter of use it or lose it?
- Would you fancy a bit more of a toned body – more sculptured & toned
- Just starting out on your strength training journey?
- Or maybe you’re recovering from some trauma and want to build up your strength?
- Do you want to be in control of your muscle-building program?
- Avoid the pageant & cost of a gym?
If any of these criteria fit then a set of dumbbells for use at home would be a great asset.
In this review, we will discuss the different types of dumbbells sets, currently on the market.
We will look at the top benefits of using them and explore the different types available (fixed weight versus adjustable). In addition, we will give you some information about what to look for before purchasing a set of dumbbell suitable for the home. Especially if you’re just starting out with a weights program.
A word of caution… if you are in any way unsure about whether strength training is suitable for you then please check with your medical practitioner first.
We’ve picked nine of our top choices and although they are a mixture of styles and suitability. By the end of this review, you’ll know which dumbbell set is right for you and will have all the information you need to make an informed choice.
Dumbbell weights exercises
Common dumbbell exercises include decline seated bicep curls, hammer curls, preacher curls, French presses, overhead triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, flat and incline chest presses, flat and incline chest flies, lateral raises, seated shoulder presses, front raise, reverse flies, upright rows, shrugs, lunges, half squats, seated calf raises, single-leg calf presses and, as they say the list goes on.
We will be putting together a guide to a ton of dumbbell related exercises soon but in the meantime here’s one from our friends at Fitness Blender showing that weights and dumbbells are not all about muscle building.
Benefits From Using Dumbbells at Home
- Tone muscles & lose fat – with a pair of dumbbells you can work on any part of your body from arms to legs to back – resistance sessions will tone your muscles and help you to lose fat. All from the comfort of your home.
- Convenience – no gym membership required – easy to train at home. For busy people, when time needs to be managed.
- Body strengthening – Dumbbells strengthen your body and build muscle mass at the same time. Having a strong body is important for all aspects of your health and reducing illness. This is particularly meaningful at midlife.
- Privacy – being able to train in the privacy of your own home is a great incentive for a novice who might feel self-conscious lifting weights in front of others. For those, especially of a certain age, the gym environment can be intimidating.
- Cost – not having to pay monthly or annual gym fees to train. Fixed dumbbells can be purchased set by set.
- Time – with a set of dumbbells at home you can train any time of the day (or night!) and utilize your time more efficiently without the worry of gym opening times.
- Versatility – As you can see dumbbells weights are incredibly versatile; you can use them for a wide range of exercises and, unlike weight machines, they are a fit for any body size and force your stabilizing muscles to work as you exercise.
Whether you set yourself a specific time of day to train or do it when you can, try and maintain your motivation and don’t lose focus by other household distractions! This is well deserved time for you; away from work, away from family commitments, and a great way to de-stress and unwind.
What to Look for in the Best Dumbbell Sets
There are a number of features to keep an eye on when you’re shopping for dumbbells for home use:
- Weight – what is the weight of the dumbbells you’re looking at? If you’re a beginner, are these dumbbells going to be too heavy for you starting off? If you’re looking to increase your weight training as you get more proficient are these going to be sufficient for long-term weight increase?
- Dumbbell type – when making your purchase take into consideration whether you want fixed weight dumbbells or adjustable ones. Fixed weight dumbbells might be cheaper to begin but adjustable dumbbells allow you to increase the weight as you get more proficient. Refer to the section below on the benefits of each type.
- Scalability – can the dumbbells be scaled according to weight ie; can you increase/decrease the weight as desired? You want dumbbells you can use straight away but also consider your long-term goals and whether these will give you the flexibility to increase as you progress.
- Ease of use – if you’re going for adjustable dumbbells, how easy is it to adjust the weight increments? Is there a clip or a collar? Will you be able to change your dumbbells within the time frame necessary? For fixed weight dumbbells would a ready-made storage rack be a good option.
- Comfort – how comfortable are the dumbbells to grip? Are the bars smooth or do they have a pattern to improve the grip? Will you need to wear weight-lifting gloves? How comfortable will they be after repetitions? All things to consider.
- Durability – how long-lasting are the dumbbells? Will they stand up to frequent use and wear and tear? Are they likely to need replacing in a few years? Cast-iron dumbbells should last a lifetime, but factor in the material and the type of dumbbell when assessing their durability.
- Safety – does the bar have a crosshatch pattern to improve the grip? Improved grip means you’re less likely to drop the dumbbell. If you’re choosing adjustable dumbbells, how do they lock into place? Do the clips or collars look sturdy? Notice whether there is a danger of pinching the skin when replacing the weights – I’ve done it on a number of occasions. Understand the mechanisms to ensure you’re satisfied with their safety.
- Material – what material are the dumbbells and is this the best choice for you? Whether it’s rubber, neoprene, plastic or cast-iron (iron is cold!). Also, consider the maintenance of the material – will the dumbbells need any maintaining?
- Aesthetics – how a product looks is key to our motivation for using it. The more aesthetically appealing the dumbbells are the more we will want to use them, so make sure you choose a set that appeals to you. Otherwise, they might just gather dust at the bottom of a wardrobe!
Different types of dumbbells
There are two main sorts of dumbbells; adjustable ones and fixed-weight ones. To determine which type is right for you let’s take a look at both.
Adjustable weight dumbbells
Fixed weight dumbbells
The differences between adjustable and fixed-weight dumbbells:
Adjustable weights consist of a metal bar whose center portion is often engraved or patterned to improve your grip. You slide ‘weight plates’ onto the ends of the dumbbells and secure them with ‘clips’ or ‘collars’.
As you can imagine it can take quite a while to change the plates (weights) so it is cumbersome if you’re doing a series of compound exercises. These are the old-style design of weights, spinlock, although still preferred by many.
Today, many dumbbells are available with sophisticated, easy-to-use methods for weight increments adjustments.
These adjustable dumbbells combine all the weight elements into a single unit using a selection device to change the weight.
You might find that you don’t have room at home for multiple sets of fixed-weight dumbbells, in which case adjustable dumbbells are the smart purchase choice. While they might cost you more initially, it’s a great long-term investment both financially and in your own personal fitness.
You may feel that the spread of weights that you’ll ever use may well be narrow enough that the extra depth of weights that adjustable dumbbells offer won’t be worth the extra expense.
These are weights created in a dumbbell shape. They are generally less expensive and come in several material types including cast-iron, rubber and neoprene for comfort.
Even cheaper versions are available in a rigid plastic shell filled with concrete. The biggest advantage to fixed-weight dumbbells is they are ready to use without any preparation, you can pick them up and start following your training routine.
The disadvantage to fixed-weight dumbbells is that you can’t add anything to them so you can only lift the weights you have. This might suit you when starting out, or if you only want to do light lifting, but if you aim to increase your weights the more proficient you get then these aren’t the best option for you unless you buy multiple sets.
If space is an issue in your house then you might find you don’t have enough room for multiple sets of fixed weights, in which case adjustable dumbbells are great space-savers.
To overcome the storage problem some sets of dumbbells come with there own storage rack which adds a little style and organization – see below for some examples
3 Reviews of the Best Weight Set for the Home – Adjustable Dumbbells
Here we check out the best models individually – both fixed and adjustable and some which come with their own storage racks.
The PowerBlock EXP Dumbbells adjusts in 2.5lb increments up to the first 25 lbs, and 5lb increments from 25-50lbs making them very scalable replacing 16 weight sets. The weight and the unit can be scaled to 70 then 90lbs with add-ons (paid).
Although they may feel awkward putting your hands into the cage for the first time they are surprisingly stable.
The easy to adjust weights take seconds to select the desired weight once you get the hang of it. They are perfect for sessions where you change weight frequently.
Changing weights on the PowerBlock EXP however, is easier if the units are closer to your eye-line to line up the lever and where to put it so there is a compatible rack or make a simple one yourself.
The selectable weight device is via an adjustable lever so care needs to be taken – no good slamming them down and hoping they’ll last. Strong welded metal build.
In terms of comfort and safety, the PowerBlock EXP has a comfortable grip and the unique square shape of these dumbbells means they don’t roll.
These dumbbells are unquestionably unusual in terms of their square design; they more resemble a toolbox than a dumbbell.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells come with adjustable weight options from 5 pounds to 52.5 pounds combining 15 sets of weights into one. The large weight range is an attractive feature of this product. Also, the two ends of the dumbbell don’t have to be identical in terms of weight which can give you more variation in exercises.
You can automatically change the resistance on each dumbbell from 5 pounds all the way up to 52.5 pounds of weight with the turn of a dial, enabling you to gradually increase your strength without bulking up. What could be simpler!
Compared to other dumbbells which require you to readjust or pull pins out, these couldn’t be easier to use or more time efficient.
These dumbbells are a great space-saving alternative to buying a full free-weight rack. One set of two dumbbells is equivalent to 30 fixed ones. At 17” x 8” it’s size efficient and small enough to put anywhere in the house which is a big advantage when using dumbbells at home.
The Bowflex has a rubberized grip for maximum comfort and the ergonomic handle fits nicely into your hand making for good and natural gripping during lifting. When lifting, the weights feel very sturdy and will stand up to years of daily use.
These dumbbells consist of steel weight plates, coated with plastic composite which prevents them from clinking and going rusty. In terms of safety, these dumbbells are well made.
The only safety concern is that, unlike traditional dumbbells, you can’t drop these after a set (due to so many moving parts) and if your arms are tired after your workout this could be an issue. But this could be said of many adjustable dumbbells.
The sleek design could well be a motivating factor. These are neat, compact-looking weights that you wouldn’t mind having lying around the house in between training sessions.
The 65 lb unit has a range from 5 lbs to 32.5 lbs each in 2.5-lbs increments. Includes 2 16”x1.1” handles, 8 5-lb plates, 4 2.5-lb plates, 4 1.25-lbs Plates, 4 collars, and 1 10” chrome-finished section of barbell rod (37″).
The corrosion-proof finish to the iron plates has a lifetime warranty – solid stuff – and they are an enamel baked finish which means no paint chipping.
Rubber O rings in each of the collars make the plate locking even more secure (extras provided).
Extra center bar to facilitate other strength exercises like curls, bench press etc.
We liked these a lot – straight forward, traditional spinlock design but with quality.
The downside to these weights can be applied to most if not all spinlock designs and that is the speed of changing weights. It’s always going to be slower than fixed sets or even the weight selector designs.
Oh, good value too.
3 Reviews of the Best Weight Sets for the Home – Fixed Dumbbells
In terms of scalability, they are available in several different weight increments starting at 5lbs all the way up to 120 lbs. Each increment has to be bought separately. Due to their ‘Hex’ shape and material they are quite versatile, they don’t roll away which means you can use them as a push-up stand too.
For us, the chrome handles are well knurled and taper slightly making for good grip and comfort but everybody is different and the medium knurling might affect sensitive hands but suitable tape would solve that.
Otherwise, it makes exercises that require you to hold them together easier to do as they don’t slip.
The weight ends are iron with rolled steel chromed handle making them very durable and no odor.
As fixed dumbbells go this is a well made, sturdy, durable example and at a good price.
I just had to include these fun neoprene coated dumbbells by Fitness Republic. They look and feel great but the muted colors also make it handy for easy weight selection when doing circuit or HIIT exercises.
My brain definitely needs all the help it can get after 30 mins of workout.
There are 16 different sizes with incremental weights between 2lb and 20lb, allowing you to vary your workout intensity.
Each weight size has to be bought separately, potentially making them quite expensive and only going up to 20lb indicates the market is less for the bodybuilder and more ideal for power walks, cardio workouts, physical therapy etc.
Alright what I’m saying is that their appeal is more for women – there I’ve said it and now I feel bad – however it wasn’t an issue for me (Penny) but for some ladies, the progressive thickness of the handle as the weight increased meant the bigger weights’ handle was too thick.
3 3/4 inches around on the smallest (2 lb.) progressing up to around 5.5 inches on the largest (20 lb.).
They take up very little space and can be stacked rather attractively in a pyramid anywhere due to their hexagonal shape.
The Fitness Republic dumbbells have a cast-iron interior with a strong neoprene coat giving a soft non-slip texture. This makes these dumbbells very comfortable to use without gloves, and their neoprene coating means a less traumatic noise and damage when they’re dropped.
They are very solid and you would expect them to last for years although the neoprene finish would be the first part to deteriorate.
These dumbbells are great for novice trainers looking to begin weight training, or for advanced lifters looking to use them for body sculpting or muscle toning.
Dumbbells with rubber finish have many detractors because of varying degrees of bad odor but these are marketed as low odor rubber. Not sure what that is. In all fairness, we weren’t able to try a new set but with what we used there wasn’t virtually no smell.
The handle is fully knurled and straight which is unusual but I think good especially for overhead triceps etc. Some may prefer the ergonomic handle grips.
Overall very good quality for a simple pair of rubber hex fixed dumbbells. Not the cheapest but you can pay a lot more.
Dumbbell Weights Rack – Bonus Reviews
These stackable fixed-weight dumbbells come in pairs of 2lbs, 4lbs, 6lbs, 8lbs and 10lbs meaning you can scale up to suit your needs.
The easy storage rack means it’s simple and efficient to transition between weight pairs. The movable stackable rack makes this product ideal for home use where space might be minimal and you can move it between rooms should you need to. The stacking weights means you simply choose your weight pair and start lifting.
The soft, smooth neoprene coating provides a nice cushion for your hands and a comfortable grip workout. The neoprene material means they’re easy to clean and durable. The brightly colored neoprene makes them very attractive and should motivate you to want to use them regularly!
These Cap Barbell fixed weight rubber coated dumbbells come in 5 different weight pairs including 5lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs, 20lbs and 25lbs. They are perfect for someone just starting out or a seasoned weight trainer. While these dumbbells are fixed weights, the 5 weight pairs allow you to manually scale up from 5lbs to 25lbs.
This can be done quickly and easily thanks to the easy storage rack which allows you to transition swiftly between weight increments. The knurled chrome handles create an easy-grip handle and the rubber ends means they are safe to drop and won’t damage your floors – an important consideration when training at home!
The easy storage rack means it’s simple and efficient to transition between weight pairs. The design of the rack and how the weights slot on make it very difficult to catch your fingers between the dumbbell and the rack shelving – a problem we’ve had on some weight/rack combination.
The movable stackable rack makes this product ideal for home use where space might be minimal and you can move it between rooms should you need to. The stacking weights means you simply choose your weight pair and start training. The weather resistant finish makes these dumbbells very long lasting and great for outdoor use.
Before you start lifting your dumbbells
Make sure you learn how to lift weights properly before you embark on your strength training journey. There are a number of exercise rules you can follow that minimize the risk of injuries and gain better results.
Here are a few safety tips:
- Make sure you warm up and prepare your muscles for a workout before you begin your training
- Make sure that you choose the right dumbbells so that you don’t over-strain your muscles if the weights are too heavy
- If you feel any pain when doing an exercise, reduce the weights or repetitions.
- If the pain continues, stop and take a rest
- When you start a new exercise, try the lighter weights first, you can always progress onto the heavier weights later
Best Dumbbell Sets – Final Choice
Thanks for visiting our reviews page featuring the best dumbbell sets. We hope you have found all the information you’re looking for and now feel more comfortable with your choice.
To recap: for the adjustable dumbbells we love the PowerBlock EXP 1 for innovative and practical design.
And for the fixed weight dumbbells, we’ve gone for a well-made, no-nonsense choice of the CAP PVC Coated Hex dumbbell at a keen price too.