You are in luck; we have compiled this guide which lays out what to look for before choosing a set, some simple yet effective adjustable dumbbell workouts to get you started, and a list of the 15 best adjustable dumbbells we could find, reviewed.
If you’re interested in adjustable dumbbells, you may have some questions about which dumbbells will work the best for you.
Here are a Few Things You Want to Consider before Deciding what Set is Right for You
Speed or time it takes to adjust
One reason fixed dumbbells are so well loved is they are easy. To change the weight, just pick up a different dumbbell.
Adjustable dumbbells have this one minor flaw. They take some time to adjust. For some, it is a few seconds, for others a bit longer.
You are a busy person. You value your time, right?
So look for a set of adjustable dumbbells that has a reputation for being easy peasy to adjust.
Weight – How much can you lift?
This seems like a no brainer, but I will mention it anyways. Adjustable dumbbell sets come in a pretty wide range of Min and Max weights.
Some sets max out at 25 lbs on each dumbbell and some max out at around 100 lbs.
If you need a dumbbell that weights more than 100 lbs, it is time to start looking at Olympic weights. They make Olympic dumbbell bars that can be loaded pretty heavy.
Shape. Hint: You want a Flat side
Picture this. You are lying on your bench, with the dumbbells still on the floor. You are really looking to challenge yourself, so you have 35 lbs (or whatever weight challenges you) stacked on each dumbbell.
Now you grab each dumbbell and place it on your thigh so you can maneuver them into position.
Now ask yourself, what do you want right now, around dumbbell or a dumbbell with a flat side?
Fixed hex dumbbells are so popular because they do not roll around and sit comfortably on your thigh as you get into position.
Now, you want those same benefits for adjustable dumbbells, especially if you lift heavy weights. Adjustable dumbbells with a flat edge are best, especially for heavy lifters.
The Dark side of Adjustable Dumbbells
Just like people, adjustable dumbbells are not perfect. They do have pitfalls you should be aware of.
You can’t, or more accurately, should not, drop adjustable dumbbells. They are not designed to hit the floor fully loaded. They can be damaged making them harder to adjust. Fixed dumbbells can be dropped, if you don’t mind damaging the floor.
Who drops dumbbells anyways?
People who lift to failure, that’s who. Challenging yourself and lifting a weight that is heavier than you normally lift could potentially lead to dropping the weight.
Olympic lifters routinely drop weighs.
Public Service Announcement: Video below shows Jeff from Athlean-X demonstrating the safe way to get into a bench press position when using heavy weights and he shows the proper way to drop dumbbells, if you should need to.
Adjustable weights have a “high” upfront cost, relative to fixed weights, which you can theoretically buy piece by piece.
But when you compare a nice set of fixed weight hex dumbbells with a set of high quality adjustable dumbbells, the cost difference is actually pretty small, or at least the sets prices all land in the same ballpark, more or less.
What’s to Love about Adjustable Dumbbell Sets?
The best thing about adjustable dumbbells.
Location, Location, location!
If the real estate you have to dedicate to your home gym is minuscule you may be interested in how little room adjustable dumbbells occupy.
Space savings are the biggest benefit to adjustable dumbbells, and it is a pretty compelling benefit to boot.
Live in a tiny apartment
Have Roommates that do not want the place decorated in early 80’s “Gold’s Gym” couture
Only have one corner of the garage to use as a gym
Lift in your office (or home office)
Live and lift in a College Dorm
Then adjustable dumbbells are the right choice for you!
Different Styles of Adjustable Dumbbells
Adjustable dumbbells can be adjusted using one of three adjustment styles.
Caps or collars
How does it work: With a cap or collar, you screw the collar off, add the weight plates to the bar, and screw the collar back on.
Least expensive adjustment style.
This style leaves the bar sticking out past the weight, so you can not rest the weight on your leg if you need to get into position.
Cap or collar adjustments take the longest to change or adjust. You have to take the time to unscrew the collar, load each plate, and screw the collar back on. Some may find this tedious.
How does it work: With Selector pin dumbbells you place the pin in place at your desired amount of weight. When you lift the weight out of the holder, the plates you don’t want to use will stay behind.
Powerblocks use a pin style selector.
Fast weight adjustment.
Pin selector style dumbbells tend to be more compact than dial styles which are longer.
More organized than collar style, unused weights stay in the holder.
More expensive than collar style adjustment.
How does it work: Dial style adjustment dumbbells are the easiest to use.
You select the weight by dialing in your desired amount on the dumbbell, and the dial leaves the other weights behind. Bowflex and Stairmaster adjustable dumbbells use a dial style.
Easy to adjust.
Can be the fastest to adjust, especially on models that adjust both sides at the same time.
More organized than collar style, unused weights stay in the holder.
Dial styles such as those found on Bowflex, can be fine tuned to place a different weight on each side of the dumbbell.
More expensive than collar style.
15 Best Adjustable Dumbbells Reviewed 2019
This list includes adjustable dumbbells of all varieties in a wide range of prices. You’ll be able to find something within your budget and weight range to fit your needs.
Since all of these come highly rated and recommended by real lifters, you know you’re getting your money’s worth with any of the picks on the list.
Review: These Unipack Dumbbells have plates are made of cast iron, that are sturdy, reliable, and they won’t rust if your workout room is in an area that gets damp.
The total weight of this set is 105 pounds, but it’s distributed as two bars and 12 plates, so you can construct two dumbbells that weigh as much as 52.5 pounds each. Perfect for a large array of exercises.
Great price for a total weight of 105 lbs.
Chrome bars resist corrosion and rust, and have textured center for strong grip.
16” long to accommodate a lot of weight, longer than most sets.
Best adjustable dumbbells for home gym on a budget.
Review: Powerblocks are selector pin dumbbells and one of the most popular adjustable weight dumbbells available today.
They have a minimum weight of 3 pounds and a maximum weight of 24 pounds, these weights are perfect for exercises that involve a full range of motion because of their modest limit and the way they’re balanced and the padded handle means they are comfortable.
These are compact, and have the smallest footprint of all our adjustable weight dumbbells reviews.
Selector pin allows rapid weight adjustment.
Balanced weight and more compact than most other sets.
Secure weights do not move while exercising.
Powerblocks are self contained and require no base, they are easy to move around without needing to take the base too.
The narrowest of all our adjustable dumbbell reviews.
Can not adjust on carpet, pins may bend. Adjust only on a hard flat surface.
The most compact, quick adjusting dumbbells available. Period.
Review: This Weider dumbbell has a 25 lb max and adjusts to 10,15 and 25 lbs. The dumbbell includes a base. The locking mechanism is what makes this adjustable dumbbell so unique. The cast iron plates are set inside of the locking cams.
By rotating the center handle, the cams will slide left and right, which shifts the bar in and out of the center of the plates.
25 lb max dumbbell.
Storage and adjustment stand included.
More secure than selector tabs, because they use heavy duty lock grip.
Not a set, only one dumbbell and base included.
Some of the safest adjustable dumbbells that money can buy.
Merax Deluxe Adjustable Dial Dumbbell
Review: This impressive Merax set of dumbbells features a noteworthy max weight of 71.5 lbs per weight.
They have a know adjuster and adjust in increments of 5.5 lbs. The set includes the base and rubber coated handles.
These are comparable in weight and design to the much more expensive Bowflex dumbbells.
71.5 max weight for each dumbbell.
Easy to adjust know style adjustment, similar to Bowflex.
Held in place by metal on metal. No plastic holding the plates on.
The weight inscribed on the dumbbells is in KG, not lbs.
A high quality, heavy weight set at a reasonable price.