If you're a serious lifter…
You'd agree dumbbells are the most basic piece of exercise equipment.
For over 300 years, their form has remained essentially the same – a short bar with plates either permanently fixed on either end or able to be adjusted so you can change the resistance.
The humble dumbbell has had a technological make-over.
This has allowed a single weight ‘block’ to take the place of dozens of individual bells, saving you both space and money.
In this article, we go deep into adjustable dumbbells.
We’ll consider the options that are out there, take a look at what you need to be looking for when purchasing these types of dumbbells dumbbells for your home gym.
We'll review and rank the 10 top performing adjustable dumbbells made for serious lifters.
Working out at home is a great option if you’re self motivated, have the space for a decent set up and can afford it.
No longer do you have to contend with a long commute to the gym, waiting around for equipment and putting up with the sweat and smells of fellow gym patrons.
One of the biggest hurdles that the home gym trainer faces, however, is the problem of progressive resistance.
The principle of progressive resistance is the foundation of weight training.
It states that in order to make progress in terms of building muscle and getting stronger, you need to be adding more resistance.
That either means putting extra plates on the barbell, investing in heavier dumbbells or adding plates to adjustable dumbbells.
In the gym, that’s not a problem.
Just grab some more plates off the rack or pick up a heavier pair of dumbbells.
At home, though, it’s a different story.
Most of us can’t afford to be going out every month and buying extra dumbbells or weight plates.
So, what’s the solution?
Up until a couple of decades ago, adjustable dumbbells were simply bells that had removable collars that allowed you to take off or add plates to either end of a short bar.
Now, though, you are able to buy adjustable dumbbells that come in the form of a weight block that allows you to select the poundage that you want.
This new take on the traditional dumbbell are a great solution for home trainers.
Now, you are able to afford the equivalent of the complete rack of weights that are lining the wall of the gym downtown.
For somewhere in the neighborhood of $175 – $300 you can get a full complement of dumbbells.
You don’t need to purchase an additional dumbbell rack and the whole deal takes up only about a square foot of space.
The Adjustable Dumbbell Market
A dumbbell is a short handled barbell that is designed to be used mainly with one hand.
Dumbbells are generally 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30cm) in length.
They feature a knurled part, which is 6 inches (15cm) long.
Fixed dumbbells are solid steel and have either round or hexagonal ends.
If buying fixed dumbbells, the rubber encased hexagonal bells are a great option.
They have a very comfortable grip, won’t smash into your forearms and won’t roll around.
The adjustable dumbbell market is now clearly divided into the traditional single adjustable design and the new selectorized adjustment system.
Traditional Adjustable Dumbbells
Traditional adjustable dumbbells come in the form of a pair of 8 to 12 inch handles, with 6-inch knurling handle grips.
Some models feature plastic rubberized handle grips.
At the extremes of the knurling there is a raised stopper to prevent the weight plates from sliding toward your hands.
On the outside of this is a 2-3- inch length to load weight plates onto.
Some bars will have spinlock ends that feature grooves that allow you to spin provided spinlock collars onto the bar to quickly lock the plates in place.
Others will come with plastic or metal screw up collars.
The major problem with these types of dumbbells is that they don’t provide you with much space to load extra weight onto the bar.
If you are using plastic coated weights, this issue is heightened.
You may also find that placing large plates that were made for a barbell onto the ends of a dumbbell will makes it difficult to perform such exercises as dumbbell curls and presses as the weights will bash into your body as you go through the range of motion.
A second issue with traditional adjustable dumbbells is that the collars are liable to come loose, with the result that the plates become loose and move around.
In a worse case scenario, the collars can fail completely, with the weights slipping off one end.
Selectorized Adjustable Dumbbells
Selectorized adjustable dumbbells were pioneered by Bowflex some 20 years ago.
Now there are a large number of competitors in a whole new market sector.
Selectorized adjustable dumbbells feature a platform or bed which each dumbbell sits in.
The dumbbell itself consists of handles with selector dials on their ends.
The handles sit on the platforms which also house weight plates.
When the dial is turned to a certain resistance, the handles lock in that level of resistance from either end.
The weight increase usually go up in 5 pound increments.
The majority of selectorized adjustable dumbbells on the market provide resistance levels between 5 and 50 pounds.
Some suppliers, however, provide heavy duty sets that go up as high as 100 pounds.
Adjustable Dumbbell Buyer’s Guide
It is vital that the adjustable dumbbells that you equip your home gym with provide you with the quality and performance that you need.
When you’re talking about hoisting a sizeable amount of weight over your body, you don’t want to take any chances with loose collars or slipping plates.
Here are the essential things to look for, starting with traditional adjustable dumbbells:
Handles – the handles need to provide you with a good level of both comfort and grip.
You don’t want the skin on your palm pinching into the point where the handle meets the plates.
Nor do you want the ends of the plates smashing into your forearms when doing pressing movements.
Collars – the integrity of the collars is crucial.
The most reliable, and the quickest to apply, are the spin lock collars that features groves on the ends of the bar for them to fit into.
The least reliable are the screw up type collars.
Bar length – you need a decent length at each end of the bar to allow for plates to be loaded.
Bar strength – you should only buy solid steel bars; you don’t want some cheap aluminum product breaking apart when you load up your max lift.
Progressive resistance increments – the majority of the models will increase in 5lb increments.
If women will be using the set, this may be too large a jump, so you’ll want a set that goes up in 2.5lb increments.
However, this will mean that you’ll get a lower total weight.
Max weight – for serious weight trainers, a 55lb max will be a must.
This narrows your options considerably.
After 6 months, you’ll be wanting to advance to a heavy duty set.
Minimal moving parts – the more moving parts, the greater the opportunity for things to go wrong or parts to get lost.
Easy interchange – check online reviews for the ease if changing the resistance.
Some sets can be hugely frustrating when things don’t click into place – especially when you’re in the middle of a workout.
Stand – some sets come with a free standing weight stand to keep everything looking smart.
Plate sizing – you don’t want a set with bulky plates that will bang into your forearms, so look out for compact plates.
Guarantee – you will want a product that carries at least a 12- month guarantee.
The 10 Best Adjustable Dumbbells
The Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbells have been the best pair for quite a long time now.
They not only look modern and sleek but they are very easy to use.
They can adjust by 2.5 pound increments until you reach 25 pounds, then you can increase by 5 pounds, going right up to 52.5 pounds.
The two dumbbells replaces what 15 dumbbells can offer, allowing you to save much more space.
What The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Offers
Bowflex 552 has an easy dial that makes switching weight as easy as it sounds.
The ease of use is what makes it appealing as well as the great looks that it has.
It’s also reliable, allowing you to make your change in just a few seconds.
Users can easily switch weights and progressively train without the mess of having multiple dumbbells everywhere.
The dumbbells are made with high quality metal that is made to be durable for years of use.
The Good and Bad
Since these are selectorized dumbbells, all you need to do is turn the dial to the weight you want to use.
The Bowflex dumbbells don’t require collars to secure the weights in place.
But the downside is that these need to be placed in the stand in order to change the weight.
What Do You Get?
There's a handy tray to house the set and keep everything neat and tidy together.
The handle grips feature tapered sides to enhance the feel along with a non-slip palm grip to prevent your hand from sliding around.
As the original brand name and innovator of the selectorized adjustable dumbbell system, Bowflex are the most trusted and reliable supplier on the market.
You can install the Bowflex SelectTech app on Android and iOS for workout routines but there's usually no need for that with all the online content for workout programs and videos.
In terms of price, the Bowflex 552 sit at about the mid range of the market, it is well worth it.
The upside is that these dumbbells are covered by a full 2-year warranty on parts and plates which is great especially if you're as aggressive as we are in the gym.
Get the Bowflex SelectTech 552 if you want to effectively perform your workout without needing 15 dumbbells.
Looking for luxurious adjustable dumbbells?
Look no further than the Core Home dumbbells.
These don’t only look modern but they function quite well at a great price.
What the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set Offers:
Designed for home lifters with an eye for aesthetics and a want for power.
The Core Home Fitness Dumbbells are made from a combination of metal and plastic materials to provide a sturdy set which will last a long time.
The dumbbells have a base weight of 5lbs which can be hiked up to 50lbs.
With its TwistLock technology, users can select their desired weight using the clearly displayed interface and through a quick twist of the bar.
The plates are securely locked in place and do not rattle due to their plastic coating.
The Good and Bad
With an affordable price tag compared to other adjustable dumbbells, Core Fitness provides a high-quality set that delivers luxury at an economical price point.
The set has a capacity of 50lbs and increments of 5lbs which are great for beginners and intermediate lifters.
It offers adjustments through its unique bar twist lock mechanism which allows the dumbbells to be smaller compared to other products.
It also comes with a storage tray which is made from aluminum, making it as durable as the dumbbell itself.
That said, advanced lifters may find the set limiting given its maximum capacity which cannot be added on.
Some users do find their grip to get slippery from perspiration, but you can simply use gloves to avoid any issues.
The Bottom Line on Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set
Overall the Core Home Fitness Dumbbells are a great set with a great price.
It brings the advanced luxury mechanics and is designed to be less noisy while providing a traditional dumbbell feel.
Its unique lock mechanics help reduce the bulk and allows you to quickly change your desired weight.
The storage rack is also built to last, and a separate rack can also be purchased for the unit.
With a larger weight capacity, the Merax caters to lifters of all levels and provides decent flexibility within your workouts.
This adjustable set replaces the needs of up to 12 dumbbells; thereby saving you space and time while providing the gains you want.
Merax is a well-known name within the weight lifting community and they really deliver with their adjustable dumbbell set whose power and features are matched by few.
What the Merax Deluxe 71.5 Offers:
One of the common things lacking in most adjustable dumbbells is aesthetics and the Merax Deluxe 71.5 sets itself apart with it’s unique and eye catchy design.
It doesn’t just look pretty.
It has innovative function by using a rotating dial selection method to rapidly adjust your weights through its clearly labeled increments.
The dial function allows for faster weight change than the Bowflexes dumbbells.
The dumbbell bar has a weight of 11lbs which can be hiked up to its 71.5lbs capacity in 5.5lbs increments.
The bar is also fitted with an anti-skid handle with a rubberized grip to allow for a stable grip.
As for storage, a standard set will come with a rack which can be easily stored away.
However, for users in need of a stand for an ever-ready set-up, you can purchase a specialized rack which your set can easily rest on.
The Good and Bad
The Merax Deluxe gives a luxury feel to their dumbbells while providing enough capacity to focus on their gains without worrying about buying new gear with each increment.
Along-with its power, the dumbbells also take comfort into account through its rubber grips which make the handle easy to grasp and handle.
The dial-lock mechanism allows you to accurately grab onto your required weight and holds the plates securely in place; thereby, reducing the typical adjustable dumbbell rattling issue.
The Bottom Line on Xmark Adjustable Dumbbells
Unlike most other adjustable dumbbells, you’re receiving a far larger range with the Merax Deluxe.
That said, its increment range might be large for beginners, especially with a starting weight of 11lbs.
Also, it is worthwhile to note that the dumbbell itself is measured by kgs.
On the other hand, it delivers its features well through the use of high-quality material with intermediate lifters in mind.
The storage rack is also well-constructed reducing any snags during pick-up or change.
Although it has a hefty price tag, it replaces the need of up to 12 dumbbells and allows you to quickly transition between weights.
The Merax Deluxe 71.5 is a great option for serious lifters who need dumbbells for the long run.
https://amzn.to/2oYml4FIf there’s one design that stands out among the massive selection of adjustable dumbbell, it’s the PowerBlock Elite.
The name fits as it has a square design and over the years, they’ve earned the spot of many top lists because of their exceptional performance.
The Squared Design PowerBlock Elite
The PowerBlock Elite is an extremely compact, stylish and streamlined adjustable dumbbell set.
With a unique quiet design and easy to use system, it features a user friendly ergonomically designed handle which conforms to your hand and provides a soft rubber grip.
The Good and Bad
The weight increments go up in 2.5lb increments to a total weight of 70 pounds with possible expansions to increase the total weight of one dumbbell to 90 pounds.
PowerBlock Elite comes in an attractive black color scheme with color coding to differentiate the increments.
It is not as bulky as many other adjustable systems, coming in a square block design.
The pin adjustment method used here seems to be less problematic than the dial up method used by some other models.
Adjustments are effortless and it’s built to last with users praise it for its durability.
And the 10 year warranty is extraordinary to see among exercise equipment.
But there’s a catch with the PowerBlocks, if it’s dropped then it voids the warranty so you can’t drop it.
The Bottom Line on PowerBlock Elite
Both easy to use and hold, the PowerBlock Elite is made for the serious home lifter.
With a simple expansion kit, it lets you increase its maximum weight from 70lb to 90lb, which makes it a great long term purchase for those who look to take their lifting to the next level.
Overall, the PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbell is a great choice for people who are looking to upgrade and increase weight as they move up in strength.
It’s a cool looking dumbbell that replaces 16 dumbbells and it’s user-friendly for all levels.
What the Unipack Adjustable Dumbbells Offers:
The Unipack dumbbells are a simple, yet flexible set which comes with two bars of 5lbs.
Additional weights of upto 47.5lbs can be adding on each to give a total capacity of 52.5lbs.
Instead of the fancy, and often flimsy mechanics, Unipack comes with a simple threaded bar which screws your desired weights in place.
Given the plates within the pack, you can make small adjustments according to your current level.
The Good and Bad
With its affordable price, simple structure and variation in weighted plates, the Unipack is a great starter pack for beginners who need to gradually increase their weights.
It allows users to build up from smaller increments of their desired choosing.
The no-frills set does have a few drawbacks—namely the bar does not have the most comfortable grip and it is more open to wear-and-tear due to its quality.
The Bottom Line on Unipack Adjustable Dumbbells
Overall, the Unipack Adjustable Dumbbells is a solid option for those entering into the strength training world with little to no background.
You can start from the using the bar itself and slowly add in more weights once you’ve gotten stronger.
Although, not as long-lasting as others on the market, it does provide you the ability to reach up to the industry standard 50lbs at nearly half the price.
Therefore, if you’re just starting out, the Unipack dumbbells are definitely worth considering, especially if you’re on a budget.
If there’s one big issue that adjustable dumbbells commonly have is that they are slow to change.
The Ironmaster 75lb Quick-Lock adjustable dumbbell system is the fastest and reliable systems we’ve seen.
The price is a bit higher than average here but you’re getting what you pay for with it’s speedy changing process.
And these can go up to 165lbs with add on kits.
We've seen only one that goes more than 165lbs but those are for commercial use and this is the only one we've seen available for consumers.
What The Ironmaster Quick-Lock Offers:
The Ironmaster Quick-Lock adjustable dumbbells has a weight capacity of 75lb, exceeding almost all the competing units out there.
The increments are broken into 2.5 pounds, giving you a wide range of selection options and allowing all kinds of users with different fitness levels to use this.
It comes with a full cabinet to allow you to securely and smartly store the weights.
The Good and Bad
A heavy duty construction makes the Ironmaster Quick-Lock a ultra-durable, hard wearing set that will handle whatever punishment you throw at it.
It features a welded steel core, along with chrome plated handles that are extremely comfortable and highly grippable and it doesn’t have any weak points like plastic parts.
The lifetime warranty makes it even a better choice than most units, but the downside is that the stand is a bit on the lower quality stand as it can be flimsy.
It’s upgradable, making a great investment for any home gym.
The Bottom Line on Ironmaster Quick-Lock
While it’s expensive, the Ironmaster Quick-Lock dumbbell offers much more than the average adjustable dumbbell.
It has a high weight capacity of 75lb and it can be expanded with expansion sets, making it a great choice for those who look to move up in weight as they build strength.
It’s friendly for beginners as the weight increments are small at 2.5lb.
And add-on kits are available, making it easy to go up to 120lbs and even further to 165lbs, making it one of the only ones offering heavy weight capacities.
All in all, this is a great choice for the dedicated lifter and a luxurious choice as it comes as a complete package with a storage stand.
The Yes4All Dumbbell Set offers one of the largest variety of weights with an old-school design.
It delivers to various fitness levels with its total capacity for a pair to go up to 200lbs.
The heavy-duty chrome plated is knurled for a better grip while features a threaded handle for its twist on lock.
You receive up to 24 weighted plates within its 200lbs model; however, you can buy a 40lbs version (2 x 20lbs) to start off.
These dumbbells are one of the heaviest we've seen in the adjustable market.
The Good and Bad
The Yes4All set features a diverse increments and capacity.
The knurled grip helps you hold onto the handle with ease while the star lock will need the plates in their position.
Although not the best quality, the cast iron weights should last a while.
You may experience chipping off the rod over time; however, it can be avoided through the use of gloves.
Given its mechanics, twisting the screw to adjust weights will naturally take time.
Lastly, storage may be an issue if you do not have a rack to store your dumbbells.
The Bottom Line on Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
The Yes4all are an excellent one-time investment for beginners who want an old-school feel to their adjustable set.
The dumbbells will experience overtime wear, but are strong enough to last you a while.
Its heavy-duty construction and locks mechanics make it easy to safely and securely grip in plates of your choosing.
Given its size, platform and construction, it’s an apartment friendly investment with an economical price tag.
What the Bayou Fitness Adjustable Offers:
The Bayou fitness adjustable dumbbells save on space while providing you with options according to your current fitness level.
You can either opt for their 25lbs variety which comes with 2.5lbs increments or go for the heavier 50lbs option with 5lbs increments.
The dumbbell plates are fitted onto a compact storage platform which allows you to securely change your increments mid-workout.
The Good and Bad
If you’re new to strength training and have limited space, the Bayou dumbbells are great and won’t the bank.
The chrome plated steel protects the dumbbell from rust and tarnish.
The bar itself weighs around 5lbs and comes with weighted increments rested on a compact and portable storage tray.
This allows you to adjust up or down the weights without much effort.
That said, the grip to latch on to different increments is a little shaky, so the plates may clank against each other.
While not being upgradable aside from the two varieties you find, its capacity should suffice for a considerable amount of time.
The Bottom Line on Bayou Fitness Adjustable
Overall, the dumbbells are a good starter pack for fitness enthusiasts on a budget or with limited spacing.
Its platform allows for easy storage while also enabling you to perform quick transitions between increments.
You can choose the lowest capacity you want and increase as you increase strength.
With its secure and safe grip structure, you’ll be able to use this dumbbell regardless of your current fitness level.
Bowflex Selectech 1090 adjustable dumbbells are the heavy hitters of the adjustable dumbbell market.
This set provides you with all of the benefits of the market leader and originator, the Bowflex 552, but adds extra weight allowance.
In fact, with the 1090 you get an adjustability range of between 10 and 90 pounds.
The weights are adjustable in 5 pound increments, providing you with a huge range of options.
You get 17 different weight settings.
That means that this set replaces 34 individual dumbbells, saving you thousands of dollars.
The dial a weight system is very fast and reliable.
The Bowflex 1090 comes with an impressive 3-year warranty.
You also get a very unique 6-week Fitness Results Guarantee.
Included is a comprehensive bonus workout DVD.
The Bowflex 1090 is the Big Mack of the adjustable dumbbell market.
This is the one to get if you can afford it.
The XMark Adjustable dumbbells offer an impressive set of features at an affordable price.
Its design focuses on combining strength, versatility and compactness to help you attain impactful at-home workouts.
What the XMark Adjustable Dumbbell Offers:
With a maximum capacity of 50lbs, the dumbbells come with a unique adjustable sliding plastic lock mechanism.
The dumbbell unit weighs 10lbs itself and can be set with increments of 5 on each side.
The dumbbell is made from heavy-duty chrome plated steel for durability.
Furthermore, it has an ergonomic handle and knurled band surface for ease of use and steady grip.
Adding to its functionality, the dumbbells also come with a storage unit which holds its weighted plates up-right and allows the user to quickly switch up plates using its sliding lock mechanism.
The unit itself is compact and can be easily stored.
The Good and Bad
For new or experienced lifters, the XMark offers variety.
You can choose between owning a single or pair of dumbbells.
And there are 2 options with maximum weight capacity, 25lb and 50lbs.
With its sleek design and sliding lock mechanism, the typical noise associated with adjustable dumbbells is reduced.
It provides a solid grip to back up its hefty weight allowing the user to use the band with ease.
The sliding lock can be a little finicky at times when trying to switch between weights; but with a little practice, it should only be a minor concern.
The Bottom Line on XMark Adjustable Dumbbells
For those with limited space but want to lift up to 50lbs with increments of 10lbs, the Xmark is a solid choice.
Its sliding lock mechanism allows for easy adjustment of weights and securely tightens them in place.
It comes with its own storage tray to hold plates and the unit itself in a stable position for you to readily use when needed.
While there are better quality options than the XMark Dumbbells, these are are decent dumbbells but suffers from generally poor customer service and mixed reviews.
What Titan Fitness Offers:
With a classic look and a unique feel, the Titan Fitness dumbbells are a great option for all levels of fitness.
They come with a maximum capacity of 52.5lbs each with 24 cast-iron plates.
The set is similar to other traditional adjustable dumbbells with its knurled handle and screw-like ends.
The rod is sturdy and provides a firm grip with a star lock to secure its weighted plates.
The plates are made from cast-iron and come in variations of: Eight plates of 5lbs, Two plates of 2.5lbs and Two plates of 1.25lbs.
The Good and Bad
Titan Fitness are a pretty decent personal training set for those getting into strength training.
Due to their flexibility and function, they are an economical option to the more modern kind of adjustable dumbbells and are fairly straight-forward to use.
That said, users are found that the star lock may loosen up during workouts and will need to be tightened again to avoid any imbalance.
And as expected, its paint may chip off.
The Bottom Line on Titan Fitness
Home exercises are made easy by the Titan Fitness adjustable dumbbells and its ability to screw on a diverse set of weights.
It gives you the flexibility to choose your desired weight depending on your level.
Due to its inexpensive nature, there is a compromise on quality; but with careful usage, it can still be a welcome addition to your home gym.
The ProForm 25-lb single adjustable dumbbell set is a very functional set for beginners.
It has a maximum weight allowance of 25 pounds per dumbbell.
It comes with an easy storage rack that can be easily slid out of the way when you’re workout is done.
This set is adjustable in 5 pound increments.
The Pin Drop select a weight system is functional and fast.
The compact, round weights are very easy to work with.
This product is manufactured by ICON Heath and Fitness, and comes with a manufacturer’s warranty.