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Jul 28, 2023
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Best Dumbbell Sets for Strength Training, HIIT, and More

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If you’re thinking about buying home gym equipment, dumbbells are likely high on your list. However, with so many options out there, how can you go about finding the best dumbbell set on the market for you?  To help you with your search, we’ve come up with a list that considers all the factors you need to make…
The post Best Dumbbell Sets for Strength Training, HIIT, and More appeared first on Breaking Muscle.

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If you’re thinking about buying home gym equipment, dumbbells are likely high on your list. However, with so many options out there, how can you go about finding the best dumbbell set on the market for you

To help you with your search, we’ve come up with a list that considers all the factors you need to make an informed purchase. Whether you’re looking for luxe or budget-friendly dumbbells or trying to decide between fixed or adjustable ones, we’ve got you covered.

Our Top Picks for the Best Dumbbell Sets

Best Dumbbell Set Overall: Living.Fit Dumbbell Set


Living.Fit Dumbbell Set

  • Available in multiple sets with weights ranging from five to 100 pounds
  • Ergonomic handle for a more comfortable grip
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty for home gym use


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Pros

  • Lifetime warranty 
  • Available as individual pairs and full-sets
  • Several weight options 
  • Good price 
  • Ergonomic design 

Cons

  • Dumbbells may separate during transport 
  • Only goes up to 100 pounds

If you’re in the market for traditional dumbbells that are inexpensive and easy to use, consider the Living.Fit dumbbell set. You can build muscle and reach your fitness goals with a set designed with comfort and quality in mind. Plus, you have a ton of versatility, as they are purchasable as individual pairs or full sets with weights ranging between five and 100 pounds. They come in 5-pound increments and have a three percent weight tolerance. The weight tolerance means the dumbbell could be three percent heavier or lighter than its labeled weight. 

The Living.Fit dumbbells are well-designed. The knurled steel handles are slightly wider in the middle to better fit the shape of your hands. This feature might seem easy to overlook, but I can assure you that this matters. As someone with arthritis, it’s important for me to have dumbbells that sit effortlessly in my hands and don’t put unnecessary pressure on my joints, as many cast iron dumbbells do. 

You know you’re at the gym when you hear the clinking sound of dumbbells and barbells. But you probably don’t want to hear that in your home gym. More importantly, you don’t want to deal with a scratched-up floor from iron hitting the ground. Fortunately, Living.Fit’s hexagonal-shape rubber-coated caps help cut the noise and the likelihood of damage. 

One five- to 100-pound set will cost about $3,400. If you don’t need all that, look at the individual pairs of dumbbells. A pair will cost between $30 and $420. You could certainly find dumbbells on Amazon for cheaper, but they won’t be as high-quality. Plus, Living.Fit offers a lifetime warranty, and that’s hard to pass up. 

Best Rubber Hex Dumbbell: REP Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells


REP Fitness Hex Dumbbells

  • Weight range: 2.5 to 125 pounds
  • Weight increments: 2.5 to five pounds
  • Materials: Chrome-plated handles; rubber ends
  • Warranty: Lifetime for home use; One year for commercial use


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Pros

  • 30-day moneyback guarantee 
  • Low rubber odor 
  • Hexagon head to prevent rolling
  • Good value for the price 

Cons

  • Straight handle 
  • Take up space 

Whether you want a full weight set or an individual pair of rubber hex dumbbells, REP Fitness has you covered. These free weights have range, with weight choices between 2.5 and 125 pounds. With so many different weights, there are options that’ll work for new trainees and advanced ones alike. 

These come in 2.5 to 5-pound increments, making it easy to progress gradually on exercises that can be challenging to improve, like bicep curls. The fully knurled 5.2-inch chrome handles are grippy, so you can confidently do lunges and shoulder presses.

In terms of handle thickness, the 2.5- to 15-pound weights are 28 millimeters, and the 17.5 to 125-pound dumbbells are 34 millimeters. These measurements are common on fixed dumbbells. However, some people might not like the straight handles. They don’t evenly distribute the weight of the dumbbell in your hand, making it less comfortable. 

The rubber hexagon heads are convenient and prevent them from rolling around when you put them down. They also don’t have that strong rubber smell often associated with products with a great deal of rubber, like resistance bands

Although these are nice dumbbells, they’re surprisingly cost-effective. One reason these might come at a more affordable price is their rubber heads. I’ve found that those are often cheaper for manufacturers to make than dumbbells with round, urethane ones. For instance, a five- to 50-pound set of these will cost around $1,099.99, which isn’t bad, especially given their quality. However, REP Fitness has a five- to 50-pound set of urethane dumbbells with round weight heads, and those are $1,599.99. See the cost difference? 

If you decide to get these dumbbells, keep in mind that they might be slippery at first. REP Fitness adds a protective oil coating to its brand new weights, but it wears off with time. If you don’t want to risk the dumbbells slipping out of your hands during a total body workout, use a dry rag to wipe the oil off. 

Overall, these are some solid dumbbells. More than 600 positive reviews and a lifetime warranty speak to their value. 

Best Adjustable Dumbbell: Snode AD80 Adjustable Dumbbells


Snode AD80 Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Weight range: 10 to 80 pounds
  • Weight increments: 10 pounds
  • Adjustment type: Dial
  • Dimensions: 19.29” L x 7.48” W x 7.87” H with base; 18.11” L x 6.68” W x 6.68” H without base
  • Materials: Cast iron, plastic, aluminum
  • Warranty: Two years


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Pros

  • Quickly adjustable 
  • Very durable 
  • Fully knurled handles 
  • 30-day return policy 

Cons

  • Very pricey 
  • Lengthy shipping process 
  • Only available in ten-pound increments 

Envision this: you’re on a weight bench finishing up a seated overhead press variation with heavier weights and trying to push through. Once you complete your last maxed-out rep, you drop your dumbbells on the ground in relief. While most brands recommend that you don’t do this (it’s not good for the floor or your equipment), some dumbbells can handle it. In fact, the Snode AD80 Adjustable Dumbbells can be dropped from 32 inches high. 

Adjustable dumbbells can be hit or miss. There are great high-end ones and many cheap, mediocre ones. Some are fragile, with plastic weight plates, stickers that come off, and breakable cradles. However, Snode designed the AD80s with quality in mind. They have cast iron plates and fully-knurled chrome handles. The handles are thick, too, touting a 1.4-inch diameter so that most people can grip it with no issues. This is important, as some dumbbell handles are less than an inch thick and don’t fit well in the hand. 

Making adjustments is easy, too, thanks to the twist dial on one side of the handle. Rotating the dial will adjust the weight on both sides, and the knob will reflect the number of pounds it is. 

One negative is that the dumbbell gets long when you add more weight plates. For instance, the 80-pound dumbbell is 18.11 inches, much longer than the 14 to 16 inches usually expected of dumbbells. The 10-pound increments may also bother some people. That’s a significant leap for most trainees, but you can purchase 2.5- and five-pound magnetic plate adders to increase the weight more gradually. 

Overall, these are well-made adjustable weights that feel like a fixed dumbbell. Unlike the loadable options, they have a flat head so that they can sit comfortably on your lap. However, given this set’s value, expecting a low price is unrealistic. These will cost you about $800. 

RELATED: Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Home Gyms

Best Loadable Dumbbells: PRx Loadable Dumbbell Handle


PRx Loadable Dumbbell Handle

  • Weight range: Varies depending on the weight plates you have available
  • Weight increments: N/A
  • Materials: Chrome 
  • Warranty: One-year warranty on handle and structure 


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Pros

  • Available as individuals or pairs 
  • Cost-effective if you already have weight plates
  • Easy to progress as you get stronger

Cons

  • Very few reviews 
  • Doesn’t come with collars or weight plates 
  • Sleeves may be too short for heavy lifts

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could add weights to a dumbbell just like you do for barbells? Something like that would save an incredible amount of space because you wouldn’t have to buy a rack or a bunch of differently-sized dumbbells. This is precisely why products like the PRx Loadable Dumbbell Handle exist. 

The chrome PRx loadable dumbbell is an excellent option for someone with weight plates in their home gym. Maybe you’re tired of using a barbell for your bodybuilding and strength training exercises and are ready to switch it up. Instead of barbell deadlifts and squats, you could load up your dumbbells, giving you even more of a challenge. 

The handle alone weighs 10 pounds, so you’ll like this if you’re able to lift heavy weights. It’s 14.5 inches long with a 28.5-millimeter diameter (1.1 inches), making it easily storable. The sleeves are 3.75 inches long, which should be enough space for most people to add their weight of choice. However, if you’re an advanced lifter, you might need longer sleeves to get your desired weight. You can add any Olympic plate with 2-inch holes onto the handle, so you’ve got options.

The medium-knurled handles should give you good-enough resistance so that these don’t slip in your hands once they get sweaty.

All that said, these dumbbells aren’t for everybody. Choosing a regular dumbbell set might make more sense if you don’t already have weight plates. One PRx loadable dumbbell handle will cost around $74.99, and a pair is $139.99. If you then have to go out and buy plates that are priced at almost $2 per pound, it could get really expensive, really quickly. It’s also unclear how much weight this dumbbell can handle, and with very few reviews, it’s difficult to say if they’re worth it

Best Budget Dumbbells: Amazon Basics Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbell


Amazon Basics Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbell

  • Weight range: 10 to 50 pounds 
  • Weight increments: Five pounds 
  • Materials: Cast iron handle; rubber-encased heads 
  • Warranty: One year


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Pros

  • Purchasable as individuals
  • Free returns and deliveries 
  • Affordable 

Cons

  • Some weights are often sold out
  • The lowest weight is 10 pounds

If you want to add an economical dumbbell to your home fitness equipment stash, consider the Amazon Basics Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbells. They are a flexible choice for those who aren’t yet interested or ready to buy dumbbells in sets and pairs. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you may already have one dumbbell that you inherited from a past roommate and need a matching weight. If that’s the case, individual dumbbells are a good option. 

The Amazon Basics weights range from 10 to 50 pounds, which is great for a beginner but may not be heavy enough for advanced lifters. But the light weights could also come in handy if you need a lighter weight to complete a single dumbbell high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. I’ve also found that focused, one-sided exercises help me get more reps in, and you might experience the same. These individual dumbbells are perfect for mastering various upper and lower body exercises. 

The contoured cast iron handles fit nicely in your hands, and their grooves should help you maintain a solid grip. However, you might notice some stinging until you develop callouses, but that’s not surprising if you’re new to using weights with knurling.

The rubber hexagon heads are ideal for rolling prevention and floor protection. No one wants to chase after a rolling dumbbell following an intense set. You’ll find that these stay in place. 

Cost-wise, you can expect to pay between $10 and $112 per dumbbell, which isn’t bad. They’d likely be a steal if you catch them on Prime Day or around other holidays. The problem you might run into, though, is them being unavailable, as some weights sell out quickly.

Overall, are they worth it? If you don’t want to buy a pair or a set of dumbbells upfront, yes. They’re affordable, well-made, and a top seller among Amazon exercise and fitness equipment. In addition, you get a one-year warranty, and Prime members can enjoy free shipping and returns.  

Best Iron Dumbbells: Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells


Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Weight range: Five to 75 pounds (can purchase add-on kits to go up to 165 pounds)
  • Weight increments: 2.5 pounds
  • Adjustment type: Spin-lock mechanism
  • Dimensions: 14.5” L x 6.7” W x 6.7” H 
  • Materials: Chrome-plated steel, cast iron
  • Warranty: Lifetime


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Pros

  • Space-saving (only up to 14.5-inches long)
  • Labeled in pounds and kilograms 
  • No plastic parts 
  • Flat-ends 

Cons

  • Expensive 
  • Cast iron plates may crack

A lot of people don’t want adjustable dumbbells because they can feel loose and flimsy. It’s easy to overlook something like this while doing bicep curls, but this is much more evident when you want to swap kettlebell swings for dumbbell swings, for example. Thankfully, adjustable dumbbells that feel like traditional ones exist, like the 75-pound Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells. 

You won’t find any other dumbbells like these on the market due to their patented design. In less than 15 seconds, you can switch one dumbbell from 5 to 75 pounds. When doing supersets during weight training routines or during circuit-style workouts, you’d want dumbbells you can adjust easily so you can quickly start on your next movement.

The ergonomic knurled handles allow you to maintain a comfortable grip, but they aren’t cushy. They’re made of high-quality steel and aren’t rubber-coated. In addition, they have a 1.25-inch diameter, which is less than Snode’s 1.4-inch thick handles, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some people don’t want a super thick handle, so this is a good alternative. 

This set of adjustable dumbbells has cast-iron weight plates, whereas others often use plastic parts. While these are durable, they may crack if dropped repeatedly. The pin that secures the plates could also come loose, making the dumbbells virtually useless. Besides those caveats, the plates have an unexpected feature: the weights are labeled in pounds and kilograms. You won’t have to do math if you prefer to track your weights in one unit of measurement over the other.

These are some of the best adjustable dumbbells you’ll find on the market, but don’t expect a discounted price. They start at around $700, and if you want more weight, you’ll pay another several hundred dollars for the 120-pound or 165-pound extensions. 

Best Value Dumbbells: PowerBlock Elite USA Adjustable Dumbbells


PowerBlock Eilte USA

  • Weight range: Five to 50 pounds (can purchase expansion kits to go up to 90 pounds)
  • Weight increments: 2.5 to five pounds
  • Adjustment type: Selector pins, removable adder weights
  • Dimensions: 12” L x 6” W x 6” H 
  • Materials: Welded steel, plastic
  • Warranty: Five-year limited


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Pros

  • Compact
  • Made in the US 
  • Premium quality materials 
  • Can get expansion packs if you want to add more weight 

Cons

  • Bulky shape 
  • Rubber handle 

When you live in a small space, like a condo or apartment, you need a solution that lets you do a variety of weightlifting exercises without sacrificing a bunch of space. The PowerBlock Elite USA Adjustable Dumbbells are an optimal choice for those who want something compact while offering plenty of room to get stronger.

The PowerBlock brand has been making adjustable dumbbells for more than 30 years. Because the company is a veteran in this space, it’s learned how to refine its product to meet most people’s needs. If you want dumbbells with 2.5- and five-pound increments that allow you to go up to 50 pounds, these have those capabilities. Plus, you can purchase add-on kits to rev up the weight to 70 to 90 pounds per hand. 

The PowerBlock Elite USA Dumbbells have a patented design, but they aren’t your typical adjustable dumbbells. They’ve got a bulky, square shape, which will limit some of the exercises you can do (e.g., power cleans). Someone that prefers knurling will see the cushioned handles as a dealbreaker. In addition, the rails along the outside of the handles are something to get used to, as they give the dumbbells a cage-like structure. However, the rails are color-coded for easy weight identification.

The PowerBlock Elite USA set is sold in pairs. They’re $419 for the 5-50 pound set, which is a fair price. You also have the choice to pay $189 for a 70-pound expansion kit and another $189 for a 90-pound expansion kit. 

Ultimately, beginners and established trainees can count on these to get the job done. They’re an expandable set that grows with you as you improve. 

Best Urethane Dumbbells: Rogue Urethane Dumbbells


Rogue Urethane Dumbbells

  • Weight range: Five to 150 pounds
  • Weight increments: Five pounds
  • Materials: Chrome handle and solid steel heads with urethane plating
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty on structural welds


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Pros

  • Weights are clearly marked 
  • Long-lasting 
  • Attractive 
  • Shock absorbent heads 

Cons

  • Inconsistent knurling 
  • Some rusting may occur
  • Pricey 

There’s nothing like having a set of aesthetically appealing dumbbells in your home gym. Yes, the point of having dumbbells is to help you pump up your muscles, but they can still look good when you do it. The Rogue Urethane Dumbbells might be just the thing that gives you the best of both worlds, as they’re attractive and functional. 

With a weight range between five and 150 pounds that are available in five-pound increments, Rogue gives you plenty to work with. You can buy them in pairs or as a set, but purchasing individual dumbbells is not an option. 

This design is a practical alternative if you’re not a fan of rubberized bells. The plates are urethane, a man-made material that’s harder and smoother than traditional rubber. It may be better at withstanding drops, cuts, and even the sun. If you want to take your workout outside, these dumbbells should be able to handle it. 

The weight markings are gray and easy to read, so you don’t have to guess what weight you’re grabbing. The heads are aesthetically pleasing, but some users have stated that some are matte and others are shiny. 

The six-inch chrome handle is welded to the urethane heads so that it’s a single unit. This subtle feature might seem like no biggie. But if you pay attention to some dumbbells, it looks like the heads were awkwardly stuck on them. It’s nice to see that the Rogue urethane dumbbells are sleekly made. However, many purchasers have complained of rust developing at the weld, which you should not expect at their price point. It appears that Rogue expects this, as it advised one consumer to use a nylon bristle brush and some 3-in-1 oil on those concerning spots. 

The handles are 31 to 34 millimeters in diameter, depending on your chosen weight. They also have medium-grade knurling, so you can have a good grip without wrecking your palms. However, many have stated that the knurling is inconsistent. Some of the knurling is just right, whereas others are slippery or strong enough to tear skin off. This hints at quality control issues occurring somewhere along the building process. 

Despite the hiccups, the majority of people love these dumbbells. But they’re expensive, with a five-pound pair costing $45 and a 150-pound weight costing around $1,000. The limited lifetime warranty may protect the structural weld, though, so you can get a replacement if the dumbbells break.

Best Luxury Dumbbells: Eleiko Evo Rotating Dumbbells


Eleiko Evo Dumbbells

  • Weight range: 12.5 to 150 pounds
  • Weight increments: 2.5 to Five pounds
  • Materials: Stainless steel handle; polyurethane head 
  • Warranty: Five years


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Pros

  • Rotating handles help with injuries 
  • Multi-sided head design
  • Top of line 
  • Aesthetically-pleasing 
  • Clear, marked weight increments 

Cons

  • Expensive and have high shipping costs
  • Small handle diameter for heavy weights
  • Lowest weight is 12.5 pounds

If you’ve ever wondered which dumbbells are the creme de la creme, the Eleiko Evo Rotating Dumbbells are the ones. They are made with first-class materials like a proprietary Swedish steel handle and polyurethane head surface. Together, these materials make for a durable product that can endure five drops from five meters (about 16 feet) with no functional damage. Eleiko proudly states that the Evo Rotating Dumbbells have undergone significant testing to prove they’re the world’s best dumbbells.  

The rotating handle is a feature you won’t see on many dumbbells. It’s meant to make explosive exercises like snatches easier to do and places less stress on the joints, making it a good choice for someone with a shoulder injury. Eleiko also offers a fixed version if you don’t think you’d like how the handle rotates. 

The medium-knurled handles are only 5.12 inches long with a 1.5-inch diameter, so they’re on the smaller side. However, this patented design may still work for all trainees. Eleiko acknowledges that larger handles are sometimes problematic for athletes, so it wanted to create an accessible and easy-to-use product. 

Unlike other dumbbell sets that start at five pounds, the lowest weight offered here is 12.5 pounds. However, they reach 150 pounds, so that’s still a reasonable range. 

These can be purchased either individually or as a set, but whatever you choose, don’t expect a low price. Buying one 12.5-pound dumbbell will cost almost $200, and a 150-pound one is $859. Most people could buy a whole dumbbell set for the price of one of these heavy dumbbells, so many will seek other options. They’re typically used in commercial settings, though, and their price tag reflects that. But for those who prefer the best of the best, these are it. 

How We Chose the Best Dumbbell Sets

If there’s one piece of fitness equipment almost everyone uses, it’s dumbbells. In many ways, coming up with this best dumbbell sets list was easy. Given our environment, we often hear what people love about a particular dumbbell. We hear even more about what they hate. In these conversations, we become aware of which dumbbells are best based on one’s budget, fitness goals, and where they are in their journey. 

We took it a step further by heading to the web and seeing what others had to say. After adding and removing a few dumbbells, we had a best-of list that included an option for everyone.  

Why You Should Get Dumbbells for Your Home Gym

Dumbbells are a home gym staple for hundreds of reasons. For one, they’re easy to use. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever received an instruction manual on how to use dumbbells. They’re also super versatile. You can do bilateral exercises like bench presses (which train both sides of the body at the same time) and unilateral exercises like single-arm tricep extensions (which train one side of the body at a time). 

In addition, unlike other free weights, dumbbells are much more portable. Like, imagine trying to lug a barbell to the park with you. In such a situation, it would be much easier to toss some lighter-weight dumbbells in your bag and bring them along. 

Some even feel that using dumbbells is safer, especially when starting your fitness journey. The weights tend to be easier to maneuver, so the risk of injury is low if you use them correctly. 

A few studies suggest that using free weights, like dumbbells, is a more effective form of strength training. A 2022 study revealed that the participants training with free weights gained more strength than those training with machines. (1)

What To Consider When Buying Dumbbell Sets

I can remember the first time I purchased dumbbells. I walked into this large retailer intending to find the most affordable item the store had to offer. I hadn’t thought about what exercises I wanted to do with the dumbbells, the materials they were made of, or their handle diameter. To be honest, I didn’t even know what in the world knurling was! So I walked out of the store that day with a pair of dumbbells that, even as a newbie, didn’t meet my needs. 

I want you to do much better than me, so here are the factors you must consider when shopping for dumbbells. 

Fixed vs. Adjustable Dumbbells

Fixed dumbbells like the Living.Fit and REP Fitness are great if you’ve got a higher budget and a spacious home gym space. These are often more durable and available in higher weights. And even though it’s technically not recommended, you can drop them if you need to. With fixed dumbbells, you don’t have to waste time with adjustment mechanisms to get to your preferred weight, which matters when you’re doing supersets. Plus, If you live with others and have a full dumbbell set, each party can grab what they need instead of sharing one pair of dumbbells. 

If you don’t have a lot of space or simply don’t want a bunch of dumbbells lying around, adjustable ones, like the Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells, are the way to go. They’re compact, cost-effective, and convenient. However, you have to be okay with sacrificing some durability with these, even if you purchase good ones. They occasionally rattle, often don’t have the same feel as fixed dumbbells, and have more components that can break.

Weight Range and Increments

Weight range and increments both matter, but they’re often overlooked factors. I know this because I once overlooked those things. Regarding the range of weights, you have to be honest with yourself about where you are on your fitness journey right now, what goals you’re trying to reach, and what exercises you want to do. Depending on those factors, you can determine if you need a full five- to 50-pound set (or greater) or if you should buy pairs of 10, 12.5, or 15-pound weights. 

Increasing weight should be done gradually, but what’s considered gradual is subjective. Some people are okay with dumbbells with five-pound increments, whereas others prefer 2.5- or 10-pound increments. The increments you choose may also depend on whether you’re exercising your upper or lower body or doing a bilateral (working both sides at the same time) or one-sided workout. 

Overall, if you move up too fast and/or haven’t mastered your form, you risk injury. Therefore, be intentional when selecting your dumbbell weight increments. 

Materials

The materials used to construct the dumbbell are very important. Do you want cast iron handles like the Snode dumbbells or rubber-covered handles like those offered by PowerBlock? Sometimes the latter is more comfortable to use and less slippery. 

Then you have to think about the heads and/or plates on your dumbbells. Are they rubber, urethane, cast iron, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)? Rubber and urethane heads are softer and bouncier, making them ideal for dropping and avoiding scratched-up floors. However, you may prefer urethane over rubber if you want something that lasts longer. 

Cast iron heads are also durable, but they might crack if dropped too frequently. Dumbbells with PVC heads are the cheapest. They’re a budget-friendly choice, but they get damaged faster. You might also notice that they become very slippery when you’re sweaty, which could be dangerous. We didn’t include PVC dumbbells on the list above for these reasons.

Durability

If you want dumbbells that will last for years, durable selections must be at the top of your list. And naturally, what comes along with high quality and longevity is an increased price. The materials used and the length of the warranty can tell you if something is heavy-duty enough. 

Ease of Use

Without a doubt, fixed dumbbells are the easiest to use, so go for these if you want a straightforward option. This isn’t to say that adjustable and loadable dumbbells are complicated, but they do take some getting used to. For example, some adjustable dumbbells have a twist dial you may have to figure out how to use. On top of that, some have add-ons you can purchase if you want to increase their weight. With fixed dumbbells, you just buy a heavier weight if you need to and get to work. 

Knurling

The tiny crisscrossed patterns on your dumbbells’ handles might seem like minor features, but they have a significant impact. Depending on the type of pattern on your handles, you’ll get something soft and less grippy or something that digs into your hands for a firmer grip. Many are right in the middle, like the PRx Loadable Dumbbells. 

Consider a handle with more aggressive knurling if you plan on using heavier weights while doing fewer reps. Contemplate medium knurling if you’ll be doing high-rep workouts since the aggressive kind may cause blisters. 

Handle Diameter

Should you go with a larger or smaller handle diameter? It depends on the size of your hands and how heavy the weight is. For instance, if you have small hands, a 1.4-inch-diameter handle like the one offered by Snode might be more challenging to hold. You want something you can wrap your fingers around, especially if you’re new to using dumbbells. They’ll be more comfortable to use if you can fully grasp them. 

Also, consider that dumbbells with higher weights tend to have larger diameters. These require you to use more muscle fibers in your hands, biceps, and forearms. Activating more muscle fibers should stimulate muscle growth and your ability to progress to even heavier weight in the future. 

Training Goals

If you’re getting dumbbells to maintain functional independence, you could get away with a few pairs of lighter weights (e.g., 2.5 to 15 pounds). However, if you know your goal is to progressively get stronger, you’ll need a set with heavier weight options. Those who want to lose weight could purchase light to moderate weights and do more reps to achieve their goals. 

Also, keep in mind that the weights you use for your lower body will likely be heavier than those you use for your upper body. It helps to have a variety of weights in this situation, so you’re not getting dumbbells that are too heavy for your arms but perfect for your legs.  

Budget

Before you start shopping for dumbbells, set a budget, then consider your options. Understand that having a smaller budget doesn’t automatically mean you can’t have quality dumbbells. However, it might mean starting with pairs and not a whole set, which is okay. 

If having a greater range of weights up front is important to you, go with adjustable dumbbells. The difference between a five- to 50-pound set of fixed dumbbells and adjustable ones with the same weight range is hundreds of dollars.     

Warranties

Whether or not a dumbbell set comes with a warranty tells you a lot. Brands that don’t offer warranties on their dumbbells probably recognize that their products weren’t built with the best materials. In addition, how long the warranty coverage lasts hints at the quality. REP Fitness and Living.Fit both offer a lifetime warranty for home use on their fixed dumbbells because they intend for the dumbbells to last. 

Now, compare that to the Amazon Basics dumbbells that only provide a one-year warranty. They come at a reasonable price and will get the job done, but don’t expect them to hold up in the same way, especially with heavy use. 

I’ve noticed that adjustable dumbbells are less likely to offer a lifetime warranty. This is probably because some of the components are more likely to fail after a while. However, the Ironmaster brand does, which speaks to its dumbbells’ quality. In fact, on its website, Ironmaster urges people to drop the dumbbells. 

Additional Features

In addition to the abovementioned factors, determine if you’ll need a storage rack. Adjustable and loadable dumbbells are space-savers, so you can set them in a closet when you’re done. However, fixed dumbbells, which often come in pairs, can take up a lot of room. If your space allows, factor in the price of a storage rack, as not all dumbbell sets come with a rack. You could probably find a storage rack on Amazon for $100, but well-known fitness equipment brands like Rogue and REP Fitness will likely charge $200 or more. 

The other thing to pay close attention to is if the dumbbell you’re looking at has premium features, like the Eleiko Evo Rotating Dumbbells that have rotating handles. While they may be more practical for high-intensity, dynamic exercises, like dumbbell snatches, most people don’t find them a must-have. So if you don’t need them, avoid paying the extra price. 

What Exercises Are Dumbbells Good For?

One reason people love having dumbbells in their home gyms is because there are so many exercises you can do with them. Consider the following: 

Final Thoughts

At this point, you not only know about some of the best dumbbell sets on the market, but you also know how to pick the right one for you. There are hundreds of options out there. However, you can now intentionally select those that’ll help you reach your goals. Whether that be adjustable dumbbells, fixed dumbbells, loadable dumbbells, or those with rotating handles — you’re equipped with the knowledge you need to succeed. 

So, which ones are you going to go with? 

FAQs

Which brand of dumbbells is best?

It’s difficult to say which brand of dumbbells is the best because “the best” differs for everyone. Sure, brands like REP Fitness and Rogue are pretty well-known in the fitness space. But it’s important not to rely on the brand alone when deciding which dumbbell is best for you. For instance, Amazon Basics offers a pretty good dumbbell set for those on a budget. 

What are the benefits of getting a set of dumbbells?

Some of the benefits of getting a set of dumbbells for home gyms include versatility, portability, and ease of use. Some research even suggests that using dumbbells is more effective at improving one’s strength than machines. (1)

What is the best dumbbell set for beginners?

The best dumbbell set for beginners is one that’s cost-effective yet durable and progressive. You don’t want to grab the most expensive set in the store because you may realize later that you don’t like it. For instance, imagine buying a complete set of rubber-handled dumbbells but then learning that they’re uncomfortable for you. It also helps to get something with a good weight range, like 2.5 to 50 pounds, so you have room to increase your weights over time.   

What is the best dumbbell weight for home workouts?

The best dumbbell weight for home workouts depends on your own individual strength and the types of exercises you plan on doing. For upper body movements, starting with five to 10-pound dumbbells should be enough for beginners, while more advanced athletes may need to use 20- to 30 pound-weights to feel challenged. For lower body exercises, 20 to 25 pounds may be heavy enough for beginners. Advanced exercisers may need 30- to 40-pound dumbbells.

Research

  1. Heidel, K. A., Novak, Z. J., & Dankel, S. J. (2022). Machines and free weight exercises: a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing changes in muscle size, strength, and power. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 62(8), 1061–1070. https://doi.org/10.23736/S0022-4707.21.12929-9

The post Best Dumbbell Sets for Strength Training, HIIT, and More appeared first on Breaking Muscle.

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