Setting up a home gym has never been easier thanks to a wide selection of adjustable dumbbells available on the market. A single set of adjustable dumbbells can replace several pieces of gym equipment, thus helping you save a lot of space and money.
Due to its weight options, versatility, and build quality, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 is one of the best adjustable dumbbells you can get for your money. But if you’re looking for something different, there are several other strong contenders for the title.
To help you make a smart choice, we have reviewed the five best and most popular models of adjustable dumbbells. We have included models in different price ranges so that you can find something for yourself even if you’re on a limited budget.
With these sleek dial-a-weight adjustable dumbbells, you can switch between 15 different weight settings in a matter of seconds. The option to increase the weight in small increments allows you to track your fitness progress. Made from high-quality materials, they can be very durable if you handle them with care.
Top 5 Adjustable Dumbbells
|Name||Type||Weight per Dumbbell|
|Bowflex SelectTech 552||Dial-a-weight||5-52.5 pounds||Check Price|
|PowerBlock Elite||Selector pin||5-50 pounds||Check Price|
|Ringstar Starring||Spin-lock||5-52.5 pounds||Check Price|
|Merax Deluxe||Dial-a-weight||11-71.5||Check Price|
|Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells||Spin-lock||5-52.5 pounds||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Adjustable Dumbbells
Bowflex SelectTech 552
The SelectTech 552 from Bowflex is one of the most popular models of adjustable dumbbells on the market and it’s very easy to see why. As soon as you take your set out of the box, you will notice the sleek black-and-red design and the sturdy construction.
This dial-a-weight model comes with a five-pound bar, eight 2.5-pound plates (four on either side of the base), as well as two 13.75-pound plates closer to the center of the bar.
What this means is that you can start at five pounds and gradually increase the load in 2.5-pound increments until you reach 25 pounds. From there, you can increase the weight to 38.75 or 52.5 pounds, which is also the maximum weight a single dumbbell can offer.
There are 15 different settings in all, which means that you can adjust the dumbbells for as many different exercises. With easy-to-use dials on both sides of the bar, switching between these settings is very simple and takes no longer than 5-10 seconds.
Some users have complained that the SelectTech 552 dumbbells aren’t sturdy enough, but like most pieces of inexpensive home gym equipment, they’re just not built to take a lot of beating. To ensure maximum durability, you mustn’t drop your dumbbells to the floor.
In addition to the dumbbells, the packaging also contains an instructional DVD with recommended exercises for each muscle group. You will also get a two-year warranty on the weight plates and individual parts of the set.
Pros and Cons
- Maximum weight of 52.5 pounds
- Has 10 weight plates and 15 different settings
- Allows you to adjust the weight in small increments
- Switching between the settings only takes a few seconds
- Not designed to take a lot of beating
- The metal plates might clang together while you’re working out
2. Best Selector Pin Adjustable Dumbbells
PowerBlock is one of the first US-based manufacturers of adjustable dumbbells, having released their first set back in 1991. Their Elite model has been one of the most popular selector pin adjustable dumbbells for several years now.
In addition to its compact size and durability, this model is best known for its color-coded weight plates.
At the top of each dumbbell, you will find a printed scheme that explains how much each color combination weighs. This way, a simple glimpse at the scheme is enough to know exactly where to insert the selector pin to achieve your preferred weight.
Like our top pick, the PowerBlock Elite also has a minimum weight of five pounds. The maximum weight is 50 pounds and you can get there in 2.5-pound and 5-pound increments, making for a total of 16 different settings.
Another great thing about these adjustable dumbbells is that you can expand their weight even beyond the maximum 50 pounds. To do that, you will need to purchase a 70-pound expansion kit. If necessary, you can then further expand the weight of each dumbbell to 90 pounds apiece.
Manufactured in the USA using high-quality non-slip materials, the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells are surprisingly tough and can withstand intensive use. The set ships in two boxes and comes with a ten-year warranty on all parts.
Pros and Cons
- The dumbbells are just 12 inches long
- Has 16 weight settings with color-coded plates
- You can adjust the weight in 2.5- and 5-pound increments
- Maximum weight expandable to 70 and 90 pounds
- Comes with a ten-year warranty
- The weight plates may sometimes stick together
- Might be too small for users with large hands
3. Best Spin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
The Starring adjustable dumbbells from Ringstar come with a whopping 24 weight plates. You get four 1.25-pound plates, four 2.5-pound plates, and sixteen 5-pound plates.
With all of them in place, the two dumbbells have a combined weight of 105 pounds or 52.5 pounds apiece. This allows you to perform dozens of exercises of varying intensity, as well as strength training – all with one set of adjustable dumbbells.
Made of cast iron and painted in black to prevent rust, these dumbbells are as sturdy and durable as any piece of professional gym equipment.
Because this is a spin-lock model with manual plate adjustment, switching between different weight settings can take some time. This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, especially considering the fact that they are much cheaper than the equivalent dial-a-weight and selector pin models.
The Ringstar Starring comes with two plastic trays, one for each dumbbell. This allows you to store them safely when you’re not using them and thus prevent them from rolling on the floor.
Sure, the interior of the weights is a bit sharp and the bars might be slightly rough on the hands at heavier loads. Luckily, both these problems are easily solvable with some sandpapering and grip tape.
Pros and Cons
- Includes a total of 24 weight plates
- Has a maximum combined weight of 105 pounds
- Made of painted cast iron for maximum durability
- Comes with plastic trays for safe storage
- The interior of the weights might be a bit sharp for some
- You may need to wrap the bars with grip tape to make them smoother
4. Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Strength Training
Due to their impressive weight, the Merax Deluxe dumbbells are a strong contender for the best adjustable dumbbells title.
The packaging includes a total of 20 weight plates – four 1.25kg plates, eight 2.5kg plates, and eight 3.75kg plates. Converted from kilos, this amounts to a maximum weight of 71.5 pounds per dumbbell.
Each dumbbell starts at 11 pounds and adjusts up in 5.5-pound increments using the dials on the sides of the bar. This means that there are a total of 12 different settings, which makes the Merax Deluxe a good choice for all types of exercise, including strength training.
The dial system has a red safety lock to prevent the plates from falling out. Switching between weights takes no more than five seconds. What’s more, you only have to turn the dial on one side of the dumbbell to adjust the weights on both sides.
In addition to the bars and weight plates, the packaging also comes with two weight trays for easy storage. The trays also have latches for each plate to prevent them from rolling over. Furthermore, the rubber coating on the handles allows for a firmer grip and prevents slipping.
These adjustable dumbbells come with a two-year warranty.
Pros and Cons
- An impressive maximum weight of 71.5 pounds each
- The dial has a lock for added safety
- Turning the dial on one side adjusts the weight on both sides
- Takes about five seconds to switch between the weight settings
- Includes weight trays with latches for safer storage
- You can only adjust the weight in 5.5-pound increments
- The weights on the dumbbells are only given in kilograms
5. Top Budget Pick
Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
If you’re looking for an inexpensive entry-level set of adjustable dumbbells, this model from Yes4All might be a good choice. The combined maximum weight of the two dumbbells is 105 pounds, which makes it great for a wide variety of exercises.
There are 24 weight plates in total – 16 five-pound plates, four 2.5-pound plates, and another four weighing 1.25 pounds. Because this is a spin-lock model, you have to manually choose the weight you want to use for your workout.
Both dumbbells have a textured chrome handle that provides a firm, non-slip grip. The safety collars on either side of the dumbbell have rubber trims that prevent them from becoming loose while you’re training.
Unlike the other models reviewed in this article, these Yes4All adjustable dumbbells don’t come with trays or bases. As such, you will only be able to store them safely after you have disassembled them, but the use of star-lock safety collars makes the process much quicker.
Quite surprisingly for a set of spin-lock adjustable dumbbells, you get a five-year warranty on the weight plates and all other parts. There’s also a 60-day money-back guarantee, which means that you can try out these dumbbells completely risk-free.
Pros and Cons
- Includes 24 weight plates for a maximum combined weight of 105 pounds
- The textured chrome handle provides a firm grip
- Rubber trims on safety collars ensure stability
- Comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee and a five-year warranty
- Doesn’t come with trays for safer storage
- The paint on the plates might chip over time
What Are Adjustable Dumbbells?
As their name suggests, adjustable dumbbells allow you to adjust their weight to your preferences. This means that you can remove the stoppers that hold the weight plates in place and swap the plates to achieve a lighter or heavier load.
Adjustable dumbbells had been around for decades before they finally became an essential part of many workout routines.
Their rise in popularity coincided with the release of the P90X workout program in 2003. Exercise enthusiasts preferred them for convenience, but swapping out the weight plates used to take a while, which would sometimes disrupt the flow of the routine.
As the demand for adjustable dumbbells grew, so did the market.
Their designers have since developed new mechanisms to swap out the weight plates in only seconds, thus allowing for uninterrupted workout routines. The current models are much easier to use than the ones from just five or ten years ago.
What Types of Adjustable Dumbbells Are There?
Based on their weight adjustment mechanism, there are three main types of adjustable dumbbells:
Spin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells (also known as Miniature Barbells)
Miniature barbells are the most basic type of adjustable dumbbells.
They usually have bars that weigh about five pounds and come with small weight plates you can add to each end to increase the load. There is also a collar on either end of the bar to secure the weight plates.
Although they are not as convenient as the other two types, they tend to be more durable, which is why you’ll find spin-lock adjustable dumbbells in most gyms. And because they use a very simple mechanism, spin-lock dumbbells also tend to be more affordable.
Dial-a-Weight Adjustable Dumbbells (also known as Round Adjustable Dumbbells)
With round adjustable dumbbells, you don’t have to swap the plates manually to get your preferred weight.
All you have to do to set the weight is to turn the dial on each end of the bar. The weight of a single round adjustable dumbbell can range from only a few pounds all the way up to 100 pounds.
Keep in mind that some cheap dial-a-weight models have plastic security mechanisms. Not only are these models not very durable, but the plastic parts can also break easily and the weight plates can fall out as a result.
To avoid this, always opt for a high-quality model from a reputable manufacturer.
Selector Pin Adjustable Dumbbells (also known as Block-Shaped Adjustable Dumbbells)
Block-shaped adjustable dumbbells utilize a similar mechanism to dial-a-weight models.
Instead of turning the dial, you select your preferred weight by inserting a U-shaped pin into clearly marked blocks of weight plates. Block-shaped adjustable dumbbells are thus much like strength-training weight stacks you can find in gyms, only much smaller in size.
Speaking of their size, selector pin adjustable dumbbells tend to have significantly shorter bars than the dial-a-weight ones. The bar length is usually proportional to the maximum weight of the dumbbell.
Due to their sturdy construction, selector pin models also tend to be very durable.
How Do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?
If you’ve never used adjustable dumbbells before, you’re probably wondering how they work.
With spin-lock models, the whole mechanism is very simple. There’s a bar that holds everything together, as well as an assortment of weight plates that usually weigh the same, though they can also have different weights.
To change the weight of the dumbbell, you first have to loosen the safety collars on both sides of the bar and slowly spin them off. Then you have to take the plates you want to use and spin them onto the bar until they are flush with the plates that are already there.
Finally, you have to secure the weight plates by spinning the safety collars back on and tightening them as much as possible.
Dial-a-weight adjustable dumbbells utilize a simplified version of the exact same process.
They also have an assortment of weight plates laid out on the base of the dumbbell. But instead of having to swap out the plates by hand, there’s a simple lock mechanism that does it for you.
The dials on both sides of the bar attach to a bracket extending across the top of the plates. This bracket grabs a combination of plates that equal your selected weight, while the remaining plates stay on the base when you lift the bar.
Selector pin adjustable dumbbells also have a base (often referred to as the “block”) and a five-pound padded bar (known as “the core”) that holds everything together. The base also houses about a dozen plates of equal weight stacked on top of each other.
There’s a small space below each row of plates where you need to insert the selector pin to choose your preferred weight.
For example, if your dumbbell has five-pound plates on either side and you want to train with 25 pounds, you’ll insert the selector pin below the second row of plates. That’s two rows weighing 10 pounds each (two five-pound plates per row) plus the five pounds in the padded bar.
All this adding up might seem complicated, which is why some manufacturers have decided to make things simpler by color-coding their weight plates. In addition to this, most selector pin dumbbells come with printed charts that show you exactly where you need to place the pin to set your desired weight.
Why Do I Need Adjustable Dumbbells?
There are several great reasons why you might choose to invest in a set of adjustable dumbbells.
Wide Range of Workouts
Because they have a fixed weight, the number of exercises you can do with regular dumbbells is very limited. To work out different parts of your body, you will need a different set of dumbbells for each group of exercises.
Things are even more complicated with weight machines at the gym because you have to keep changing machines throughout your workout.
A good set of adjustable dumbbells could help you solve all these problems.
You can use just the bar for some light toning or add a couple of heavy weight plates to start building muscle mass.
The variety of weight options also allows for a variety of workouts that you can perform with them. Curls, rows, deadlifts, and overhead presses – anything you can do with gym machines, you can also do at home with a set of adjustable dumbbells.
Versatility and Progression
A major downside to owning fixed-weight dumbbells is that most people tend to train using the same load for longer than they need to. They can’t increase the load without buying a heavier set of dumbbells, so it remains the same until they’re ready to make an investment.
This, in turn, stalls their progress. But they could easily avoid this pitfall with adjustable dumbbells.
Simply put, adjustable dumbbells follow you as you make progress in your fitness routine.
You can start working out with one weight and then increase it as soon as you think you’re ready for it. And if it turns out you’re not ready, you can easily go back to the previous weight.
What’s more, you can do all this without buying a new set of dumbbells or incurring any extra cost.
One of the top benefits of owning adjustable dumbbells is that they can replace the role of gym machines in your workout routine.
That way, you won’t have to travel to the gym every day and spend your time waiting in line to use the machines. Not only will you have a fully equipped gym in your home, but you will also be able to use it whenever you feel like it.
The convenience of adjustable dumbbells also extends to their functionality. Because of their versatility, you practically have several pieces of gym equipment all rolled into one.
So rather than having to switch between half a dozen weights and dumbbells during your workout, you only have to turn the dial or move the selector pin a few times to change the load on-the-go.
Efficient Use of Space
Due to their compact size and versatility, adjustable dumbbells are also a space-saving home gym solution. After all, a single set of adjustable dumbbells takes up much less space than a dozen or more regular dumbbells of different weights organized on a multilevel rack.
Safety is also a major concern with regular dumbbells, as you can only store them in one piece.
If you leave them on the floor instead of on a rack, others may trip over them. What’s more, if they have round plates, they could start rolling around the room, which is especially dangerous if you have small children.
There’s no such risk with adjustable dumbbells.
If you decide to buy a spin-lock model, you will receive two bars and two or more sets of four weight plates. Because they all come separately, you can disassemble them after use and store them safely in a closet or a drawer.
Dial-a-weight and selector pin models come with their dedicated stands that hold the pole as well as all the weight plates. When you’re done using your dumbbells, just return them to the stand and tuck it away someplace safe.
Equipping your home gym is a big investment that can set you back at least a few thousand dollars.
With adjustable dumbbells, you will have everything you could possibly need for a wholesome workout routine at a mere fraction of the cost. This alone makes them a smart choice for any exercise enthusiast.
But as we’ve already explained above, a good set of adjustable dumbbells can also replace going to the gym. Seeing as gym memberships can be quite expensive, buying a set of adjustable dumbbells could thus help you save hundreds of dollars per year.
Although all five of our picks would make a good choice, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 is the clear winner of this roundup.
The SelectTech 552 offers 15 different weight settings, thus allowing you to do many different exercises. You can reach the maximum weight of 52.5 pounds per dumbbell by adding 2.5 pounds at a time, which also helps you track your progress more accurately.
Using the built-in dial, you can switch between the weight settings in a matter of seconds. And although it’s not the most affordable model we’ve reviewed, the build quality and the two-year warranty make it a very good investment.
If you’re planning to set up your own home gym, take a look at our reviews and the instructions we have provided to find the best adjustable dumbbells for your needs.