The best adjustable dumbbells

Weighlifting

People have been using some form of dumbbells for strength training and conditioning for thousands of years.

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Which adjustable dumbbell is best?

If you like to work out at home, you need dumbbells — and not just one or two of them, either. You need anywhere from 12-30 dumbbells if you want to work on every part of your body with the right amount of weight. Of course, most people simply don’t have room in their home to store this number of dumbbells. Instead, they try to make do with just a couple of pairs, which isn’t an ideal solution. That’s when adjustable dumbbells can help.

Models such as the Bowflex SelectTech ST552 come as a set of two but take the place of 30 traditional dumbbells. These particular dumbbells have a weight range of 5-52.5 pounds and adjust in 2.5-pound increments, making them ideal for casual and serious lifters alike.

What to know before you buy an adjustable dumbbell

Benefits of an adjustable dumbbell

The largest benefit of adjustable dumbbells is their space-saving design. If you’ve stepped foot in a gym before, you’ve probably noticed a row of dumbbells running the entire length of a wall. While that may be fine for a commercial gym, most people don’t have this kind of space in their home. Instead, you can opt for an adjustable dumbbell to take the place of anywhere from 4-15 traditional dumbbells.

Another benefit of adjustable dumbbells is their portability. If you like to work out at the park or another outdoor location, you only have to toss two dumbbells in your trunk and you’ll have a full set of weights to use.

Although adjustable dumbbells may seem expensive, they usually are more affordable than buying a full set of traditional dumbbells. 

Size

Adjustable dumbbells may feel a bit awkward at first because of their unusual size and shape. You may not notice this when using the dumbbell at its maximum weight, but it becomes more apparent when using it at the lower weight settings. This is because the overall length of the dumbbell isn’t reduced as you drop the weight. The dumbbell will feel nearly as large when you use it at 10 pounds as it does when you use it at 50 pounds.

Durability

Adjustable dumbbells are great for traditional workout routines but aren’t ideal for any kind of activity where you are tossing around the weight. Due to the integrated weight adjustment mechanism, they are less durable than traditional dumbbells, which don’t have any moving parts.

What to look for in a quality adjustable dumbbell

Weight range

Every adjustable dumbbell has a minimum and maximum weight. The greater the weight range, the more exercises you can do, and the more users for which a particular pair will be suitable. Beginners need lower weights and serious lifters need heavier dumbbells. If you have several people with varying fitness levels at home, an adjustable dumbbell with a wide weight range will be equally suitable for all of them.

Increments

Along with the weight range, the increments a dumbbell adjusts are important. The most common increments are 2.5 and 5 pounds, but there are options that adjust in as little as 1-pound increments. The smaller the increments, the better. This allows you to only slightly increase the weight rather than making a big jump that may make an exercise too difficult.

Grip

An adjustable dumbbell’s grip determines how secure a hold you have on it as well as how comfortable it is for your hand. Any dumbbell you choose should have some kind of traction-increasing texture that reduces the chances of it slipping out of your hand. If you wear gloves when working out, dumbbells with a knurled metal grip are fine. However, if you normally work out without gloves, opt for a dumbbell with a soft grip.

Storage tray

Most adjustable dumbbells come with a storage tray where the unused weight plates sit while you work out. Put the dumbbells back into these trays when you want to adjust to higher or lower weights.

How much you can expect to spend on an adjustable dumbbell

Adjustable dumbbells can cost from $25-$250 for a single dumbbell. The weight range and ease and reliability of the adjustment mechanism are the two biggest determining factors in the price.

Adjustable dumbbell FAQ

Do you need two dumbbells?

A. While you could certainly put together a workout routine that only requires a single dumbbell, most people will be best served by buying a pair. Having just one dumbbell can make it more difficult to keep your body correctly balanced when performing certain exercises.

Do adjustable dumbbells require any maintenance?

A. As with traditional dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells require essentially no maintenance other than periodically cleaning them off with a damp cloth or sanitizing them with a disinfectant.

What is the best adjustable dumbbell to buy?

Top adjustable dumbbell

Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell ST552

Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell ST552

What you need to know: From one of the most reputable brands in home fitness equipment, the SelectTech ST552 can see you through years of constant workouts without you having to worry about their mechanism failing.

What you’ll love: They transition between plates smoothly, adjust in low 2.5-pound increments and have a dial system that is easy to use with gloves on.

What you should consider: Their high price tag can put them out of reach for many consumers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Top adjustable dumbbell for the money

Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell

Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell

What you need to know: This reasonably-priced option is available as a single dumbbell and has a low weight range, which makes it a good choice for beginners.

What you’ll love: A simple push-pull design allows you to quickly switch between weights, and it features a comfortable, soft and textured grip you won’t mind holding onto without gloves.

What you should consider: It only replaces four standard dumbbells.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Worth checking out

Merax Deluxe 71.5 Pounds Adjustable Dial Dumbbells

Merax Deluxe 71.5 Pounds Adjustable Dial Dumbbells

What you need to know: This pair is best for serious lifters looking for high-weight adjustable dumbbells.

What you’ll love: Despite having a maximum weight of 71.5 pounds per dumbbell, you can adjust the weight to just 11 pounds.

What you should consider: The measurements are denoted in kilograms.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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