Best Adjustable Dumbbells in 2019 – The Most Comprehensive Guide!
Staying in shape is very important to me, but I have a hard time making time to go down to the gym on a regular basis; my life and busy schedule don’t always work out that way. That’s why I’ve gotten heavily into working out from home.
Our TOP Pick
If you’re low on time or just want to skip the whole guide – Powerblock Elite is our top pick. You can find it on Amazon.com here.
For the last five years, I’ve been gradually building up my home gym, picking up and adding pieces of equipment, and I think I’ve got a pretty nice setup. It’s great to come home from work and have a place where I can go through all my exercises without having to make a stopover at the gym. Hence, I consider myself pretty knowledgable on dumbbells.
I have created a massive article giving you the best adjustable dumbbell reviews, their pros and cons . However if you happen to be in a hurry, just check this table below.
PICTUREDUMBBELLMAX WEIGHTOUR RATINGAVAILABLE
Yes4all adjustable Dumbbells200 / 90.7
Bowflex SelectTech 109090 / 40.8
Universal PowerPak Dumbbells45 / 20.4
Bayou Fitness Dumbbells50 / 22.6
Ironmaster 75lb Quick-Lock Dumbbells75 / 34
Xmark Adjustable Dumbbells25 / 11.3
StairMaster Twistlock Dumbbells50 / 22.6
About Me – My workout
You see, I have limited floor space, so perhaps the most important pieces in my home gym are my adjustable dumbbells. A full set of hex weights is often cheaper, but they take up far too much space.
An adjustable dumbbell allows me to quickly switch between weights for different exercises with only one piece of equipment, and I really think that’s crucial—getting the most out of each piece of equipment you own.
As I mentioned, I’ve been working on my home gym for the past five years, and I’m really very proud of it. I’ve never been in better shape, I’m feeling healthier and I’m looking fantastic (at least I think so).
I’ve managed to do all of this without having to sacrifice an entire spare room for my workout routine, either; I can do my entire routine in my living room. That’s what I want to help others to do—I’ve managed to make this great change in my body and health without breaking the bank or trapping myself in a corner of my apartment.
I want to help you do the same thing; I hope you can learn from my experience, and that I can help you pick the absolute best equipment for your gym and workout routine.
What to keep in mind when searching for best dumbbell set?
I use my adjustable dumbbells for so many things; they’re probably used more than any other piece of equipment I have. You’re going to want a good, solid, reliable pair because they can help you with every aspect of your workout routine.
When you’re looking for best adjustable dumbbells, it’s important to keep in mind both how easy they are to adjust and how finely you can adjust them—whether they’re set in 2.5-pound increments or five-pound increments or whatnot. You’re going to be adjusting them quite frequently because different exercises require different weights.
You’re also going to want to be able to have a high-level of control over the weight you’re using; there’s a big difference between, say, 15 and 20 pounds, and you want to be specific when you’re setting them.
When I’m working on strength training, or muscle mass building, I use the heavier ends of the weights—I tend to try to find a weight where I can do six to ten reps before resting between multiple high-intensity sets.
When I’m working on endurance, or a more fast-paced conditioning workout, I adjust the weights down so I can do 15 or 20 repetitions before my muscles start fatiguing. It’s not so much the type of exercises that change, but the weight, reps and number of sets you perform that changes if you’re going for strength or endurance.
Either way, because different muscle groups tolerate different amounts of weight, I find myself adjusting my dumbbells three or four times every workout session, just to make sure I’m lifting enough weight to achieve what I’m going for, but not so much that I risk injury.
They may say “no pain, no gain”, but there’s a difference between feeling a good burn after a workout(hypertrophy) and over-taxing your muscles (overtraining). An adjustable dumbbell lets you hit the sweet spot so that you get the maximum amount of gains.
Over the past five years, I’ve experimented with ten separate makes of an adjustable dumbbell. Some I’ve bought for myself, and others I’ve borrowed from friends to check them out. I thought it might be helpful for some people if I compared them, listed their pros and cons, and then told you which one I finally decided to go with.
Adjustable Dumbbell Reviews – Our Top 10 Picks
1. Bowflex SelectTech 552 – Great Dumbbells for The Money
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is a very fine dumbbell indeed. Bowflex uses a dial to adjust the weight; it’s very easy to use and much faster to operate than some of the more complicated pin systems some of these other models have. I also like that it goes up in 2.5-pound increments for the first nine settings, from five to 25 pounds.
No other dumbbell out there gives you a finer level of control over your weight setting, so the SelectTech really stands out there. You can even unbalance the weights—say, putting five pounds on one end and 15 pounds on another. I don’t personally do that very often, but some people swear that it can help improve your results, and having the option is always nice.
The major issue I have with them is their construction; I have a slightly older model which uses plastic connectors to hold the weights to the dumbbell, and those have cracked. On occasion, a weight has fallen off—not something you want to see when doing a bench press!
I’ve heard reports that later versions have switched to metal, and are thus sturdier—if you’re looking at the SelectTech, try to make sure you’re getting one with the metal connectors for safety’s sake. 52 pounds is a lot to ask from these plastic connectors, and I’m fairly sure I cracked mine when I dropped them.
Sturdier is better, especially if you’re planning on using them for a long time. They’re also a little bulky, especially on the lower weights, though that’s a relatively minor issue.
I think this video review is really helpful, check it out:
2. Yes4ALL – Cheap Adjustable Dumbbells
The Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells are one of the best cheap options when it comes to adjustable dumbbells; if you’re on a tight budget, these might end up being the best for you. For being so cheap, they’re actually fairly solid at what they do. The grip is firm and comfortable, without being so large they’re difficult to hold or so small that they press deep into your hand.
There are plenty of weight options—each one of my dumbbells comes with eight five-pound plates, two 2.5-pound plates and two 1.25-pound plates so I can actually get more weight options than I can with some of the fancier dumbbells. The locking mechanism also works very well; I was worried the cheaper construction would be an issue, but these are very solid.
The major issue I have with them is the sheer amount of time it takes to adjust the weight; rather than just turning a dial or moving a pin, you have to rack and re-rack the weights between every set. That can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially if you’re trying to do a fast-paced stamina workout—adjusting the weights isn’t a part of any workout routine I’ve ever tried!
In addition, don’t be fooled—it looks like these accept standard cast iron plates, but the diameter of the handles means it won’t accept most standard weights you’ll find in a store; you’ll have to get extras from the manufacturer. That’s aggravating, especially because there’s nothing that tells you this on the weight itself. The paint also flaked off of mine, which is an issue if you want to use it indoors and not make a huge mess.
3. PowerBlock Elite – Best Adjustable Dumbbells for P90x
The PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells are ones I borrowed from a friend, and they made me jealous at first. If I think about it, it really seems odd that I hadn’t heard about these dumbbells before, since I knew that Powerblock brand makes some of the best weight benches out there, They’re well made, with a comfortable grip.
The square design seems odd at first, but it actually is a pro—it makes it more comfortable to rest on your thigh between sets. It’s very easy to change weights, too, at least in ten-pound increments; you simply slide the selector pin to the right location.
With everything combined, you can get 16 different weight settings per hands, which is pretty close to everything you’d ever want. They’re expandable, as well; the ones I used went up to 50 pounds per hand, but the expansion kit knocked it up to 125. These are probably the best dumbbells out there if you’re planning on going from a small weight all the way up to the top.
They do have some drawbacks, though. Adjusting the weights for anything less than ten-pound increments is a real hassle; the 2.5-pound weight slots fit into the handle itself, so you have to take out the pin, take out the handle, open it, slide in the weight, put the handle back together, and then replace the original weights. You can probably do it in 15-30 seconds once you get the hang of it, but it’s a little awkward, and slower compared to some other ones I’ve used.
Also, the shape is unusual—unlike a regular dumbbell, your hand fits into a sort of a cage made from the four pillars. I have smaller hands, and I’m still worried I’ll drop them and catch my hand in them; if you have larger, meatier hands, it might outright be uncomfortable to use.
This is kind of old video review, but it’s still on point:
4. Bowflex SelectTech 1090
The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 is the 552’s bigger, older brother. The 552 goes up to 52.5 pounds, while the 1090 gets you all the way up to 90, so it’s better for experienced weightlifters who just don’t find 50 pounds to be enough. Other than that, it has much the same positives as the 552; it’s got the same Bowflex dial system which is, in my opinion, the easiest way to adjust weights.
The ones I used also have the metal construction, rather than the 552’s plastic connectors, so they’re more durable. You shouldn’t be throwing them around or anything, but this feels like a much more solid piece of equipment. If you find yourself regularly going over 50 pounds, this is a much better investment than the 552s.
On the other hand, you can adjust the 552s a little more finely—the 1090 goes up in five-pound increments, while the 552s go up in 2.5-pound blocks. While the 1090 goes larger, the 552 is more customizable for your exact exercise.I also find the handle more uncomfortable on this model than on the 552’s; it’s more like a square, which means it digs into your hands a bit more, which can be uncomfortable. It’s also metal, as opposed to the rubberized 552 grip—that’s a matter of personal preference, but I find these more uncomfortable. It’s also a very long dumbbell, as it retains its full length even at the lightest setting. Unless you really need the extra weight, I think the 552s are strictly superior.It’s also a very long dumbbell, as it retains its full length even at the lightest setting. Unless you really need the extra weight, I think the 552s are strictly superior.
This video might help you if you want more in-depth information:
5. Universal PowerPak Dumbbells
The Universal PowerPak Adjustable Dumbbells concerned me at first; the weights are an unusual shape, rather than basically round like standard weights or a square like the PowerBlock. That wasn’t an issue, however; they rattled a bit more than some of the other dumbbells I’ve used, but not enough to really be a drawback.
The model I got also came with a stand, which is very important—adjustable dumbbells need to be lined up properly when putting them back, and having a stand designed for them makes it a lot simpler. There’s a stand for some of these other models, too, but it’s usually sold separately, making these a much better value, in terms of bang for your buck. The weight is very easy to adjust; it’s another dial-based system, which I really think is the best for this sort of thing.
They only go up in five-pound increments, though, and you have to go up even amounts on both sides. Like I said earlier, I don’t use unbalanced dumbbells for anything, but I know people who swear by it, and the Universal PowerPak doesn’t give you the option.You also somewhat get what you pay for; the weights on the PowerPak are plastic, and are prone to developing cracks. The handles are plastic, as well, and can chip. I prefer my dumbbells to be a bit more substantial, all in all, but these aren’t a bad budget alternative.They’re also a bit bulky; they’re fine for me, but my wife is smaller than I am and find that anything apart from curls are awkward to perform with the PowerPak.
Again – pretty good video on the point:
6. Bayou Fitness Dumbbells – Great Dumbbells for Toning
The Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbell was the first model I purchased, and it’s squarely in the middle of the pack. It has plenty of pros, mind you—its grip is very comfortable, switching weights takes only seconds and it’s a very sturdy piece of equipment.
Unlike some of the others, I never feel like these ones are going to chip or break. They don’t make too many rattling noises when you’re working out with them; some of these other models sound like you’re in the middle of a steel factory with their clanging and banging.
They’re easy to adjust as well; they use a convenient sliding mechanism to change weight. It required a little elbow grease—and some WD40—to get it to work, but since then, I’ve had no problems.
It can only switch in ten pound increments, so these only have five weight settings, a far cry from some of the others on this list. You can go up in five-pound increments, but only if you’re comfortable using a lopsided, unbalanced dumbbell—not at all my preference. They also do tend to stick some; unlike the Bowflex’s dial or the PowerBlock’s pin, the Bayou Fitness’ slide can occasionally get caught up, and requires a little bit of maintenance to maintain.
They’re also a bit expensive for what they offer; both the Bowflex and PowerBlock were cheaper as a set, and generally offer more functionality. If you can get these on sale, they’re a good deal, but I think you can find better value for your money, in general.
This, manufacturer’s video is technically not a review, but it still might help someone to better visualize how it would be to work out with these:
7. Omnie Adjustable Dumbbells
The Omnie Adjustable Dumbbells are very simple models compared to some of the higher-priced and more technologically sophisticated dumbbells on this list. It doesn’t use a fancy adjustable dial or pin system to adjust the weights; it’s a simple bar system with standard, cast-iron plates.
Everything is pretty standard—these only go up to 22.5 pounds each, but you can just go out and buy more weights from any store, and they should fit right on; nothing is proprietary. If the handle wears out, you can buy a new handle and stick these weights on it—it’s all switchable at will. Add in the cheaper price—these were one of the least expensive of any of the dumbbells I’m looking at here—and you have a really good budget set.
With that cheapness comes a lack of any special features, bells or whistles. They have cheap rubber washers and screw caps to keep the weight on the bar; the caps have rubber seals inside that tend to fall out when changing the weight on the dumbbell. You get some replacements with your dumbbell, but it’s just a pain to switch them in and out.
They say these have “secure fit collars”, but the manufacturers and I apparently have very different definitions of what a “secure fit” entails. None of this is a huge problem; this is all easily swappable and replaceable as need be, and you can’t argue with the price. It’s just a very bare-bones option.
8. Ironmaster 75lb Quick-Lock Dumbbells
We come now the Ironmaster 75 lb Quick-Lock, which has a feature most of these others don’t really bring to the table. Most adjustable dumbbells have a fixed length, no matter how much weight is on the bar. That means they can be pretty unwieldy if you’re just using them as a light cardio dumbbell.
The Ironmaster, however, has the bar only as wide as the weights you’re using; the entire end piece comes off, which allows for less awkward shapes and a more solid frame. They also don’t rattle at all; most of these dumbbells have a rattling noise that can get aggravating. These feel and sound much tighter.
If you’re looking to change weight quickly, however, the Ironmaster isn’t for you. You have to rotate all the weights and the pins until they’re perfectly aligned; if you don’t, you risk having them fall off when they shift positions as you work out. All the weights have to interlock just right, or the entire thing won’t work.
If you’re doing massive weight shifts, that’s not a huge issue, but if you’re fiddling around with very similar weights, you’ll find yourself having to figure out how everything goes multiple times, and that’s at least a minute or longer of trying to figure out how to get the darn things to work properly, and not exercising.
If you’re doing a workout that requires quick shifts in weight, the Ironmaster will hurt you more than help.
A little old review, but then again, these dumbbells haven’t changed so if you want more in depth info, go ahead and watch this:
9. Xmark Adjustable – Great Dumbbells for Beginners
The XMark Adjustable Dumbbell is a solid budget option—less expensive than some of the upper-tier dumbbells, but a little more advanced than something like the Omnie.
That’s really their primary benefit; something a bit more advanced than just screwing on extra weights, but not quite as polished or as a more expensive set.
They use a simple slide for weight selection; the one I used would stick occasionally, which is frustrating when you want to move to a new weight, but they’ve never broken or otherwise failed. It’s a good value for the price; the handles feel solid and ergonomic, and while they’re a bit bulky, they’re not at all unwieldy.
The set I’ve used only go up to 25 pounds, which is annoying if you want to do any more serious lifting—you’ll likely want to go with at least the 50 pound version, but then you have another problem. They only have five weight settings, going up 10 pounds at a time. The jump from 10 to 20 or 20 to 30 is pretty severe; a five-pound increment in between is really necessary for most people.
The weight selector, as previously mentioned, occasionally sticks, and I sometimes had difficulties pulling the weights out of the base—they seem to “stick”, for lack of a better word. The best thing I can really say about them is that they do the job adequately, and if I wanted only that, I’d go with a cheaper pair.
10. StairMaster Twistlock Dumbbells – Top Dumbbells for Ladies
Finally, we have the StairMaster Pair of TwistLock Adjustable Dumbbells. They have a very simple system for adjusting the weight, which is nice—a simple twisting mechanism in the handle allows you to adjust the weight.
They also scale up and down with the weight you actually have on the dumbbell, rather than staying at a standard length the entire time.
That’s better ergonomically and makes for a more comfortable dumbbell in the hand. It’s more like using an actual dumbbell from a standard rack of weights—your five-pound dumbbell shouldn’t be as long as your 50-pound dumbbell!
They have a good number of settings, as well, going up in five-pound increments. That’s the sort of adjustability I’m really looking for in a dumbbell.
I’m not really sure they justify being that much more expensive than some of the others. They’re not expandable in any way, which means you may outgrow these if you’re looking into any serious work.
The actual weights themselves also seem surprisingly low-quality for the price; several of the disks developed cracks, and I’ve heard reports from other people who have had their dumbbells break on them (though I suspect they dropped them, which you really shouldn’t do with adjustable).
A really short video, that shows the versatility of these dumbbells:
So, at the end of all things, which dumbbell would I recommend? There are three that stand out to me.
For Someone on a low budget
If you’re absolutely on a shoestring budget, the Omnie Adjustable Dumbbells are a great choice. They’re solid enough for what they are but are outclassed by the fancier sets.
For Cardio Workouts
If your primary goal is for endurance or cardio workouts, then I would pick the Bowflex SelectTech 552.
If you’re mostly concerned with increase your cardio, you’re likely not going to need more than its 52.5 pounds, so that’s not a major issue.
Its ease of switching weights, with the dial-based mechanism, makes it very easy to adjust the weight properly and get right back to your workout. They’re sturdier than some of the other fragile models out there, so long as you ensure you get a more recently made model with metal connectors rather than plastic ones.
They’re the ones I’m likely to bring with me when I travel and I’m just trying to get a bit of a workout in on the road; they really hit the sweet spot between weight, adjustability, and comfort for me.
For Building strength/muscle mass
If, however, your primary focus is for building strength and muscle mass, and you’re planning on really bulking up with these dumbbells, I’d go with the PowerBlock Elite over the bigger Bowflex.
The fact that they’re expandable is a major plus; as you build up strength, you’ll want to eventually surpass what the PowerBlock gives you naturally. It’s durable, easily adjustable at the 10-pound level, and versatile.
They’re more comfortable to rest on your thigh between sets—and since you’re doing less reps with each weight when you’re bulking up, that’s important.
Those are the two best models out there that I’ve used, and I would stick with one of those two if I was purchasing them today. If you have the chance to try them out before you buy them, so much the better—but if you don’t, stick with one of those big two, and you’ll be satisfied.
About the Author Dumbbellsgeek
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!