You’ve made the bold decision to construct the perfect home gym. You’ve decided to invest in yourself and in a set of premium dumbbells.
However, there is just one issue. You don’t really know anything about dumbbells yet.
Hey, don’t stress over it. We got your back.
This guide was built to give you an A-to-Z guide on dumbbells, covering everything from what dumbbells are to what specifically to pay attention to when purchasing them.
Are you ready? Let’s get going.
So… What’s A Dumbbell?
Dumbbells are a weightlifting product with a small handle (or a bar) with weights on each side of that handle. They’re considered one of the most fundamental pieces of weightlifting gear because of their versatility and ease of use.
They’re designed so you can grasp them with one hand. No matter your hand size (unless you’re Andre The Giant), dumbbells are made to provide a little extra wiggle room on either side.
Now, the size of those weights on each side are going to match to the weight indicated on the dumbbell. The larger the size, the greater the weight.
Additionally, the weight of your dumbbells will either be adjustable or fixed depending on their type.
A fixed dumbbell has its weight fixed to the handles and cannot be adjusted. These are the ones you probably imagine when you think of a dumbbell.
Adjustable dumbbells, on the other hand, allow you to modify how much weight is placed externally on each side of the grip. The weight plates are typically secured in place by screwing an end piece to fasten the weight in place, or by clamps and dialers (more on this later).
There are many advantages to using dumbbells, but the points listed below are what we believe need the most discussion:
Every Person Benefits From Dumbbells
It’s not often you’re going to come across a product that will benefit everyone. However, dumbbells fall into this category.
Because regardless of your level of experience, they are made to be simple to use and can be tailored or used in the largest variety of exercises.
Simply adjust the weights you lift to your degree of experience. If you’re a beginner, you’re going to use lighter dumbbell weights, and the reverse for more experienced lifters.
Lower Chance of Injury
Look, no exercise equipment is without risk of injury. Anytime you’re exerting your body, you’re going to run that risk.
However, dumbbells get quite close to being risk-free while using them for physical training (obviously you need to use them with caution and care).
Depending on your level of experience, dumbbells are simpler to scale as you improve your strength. Additionally, they are gentler on connective tissue (your ligaments), which relieves pressure on the joints because of the more range of motion you can perform.
Plus, if you’re required to bail out on a lift, you can simply toss the dumbbells; which you often can’t do with other lifting equipment.
Dumbbells Reduce Overcompensation
Many weightlifters struggle with overcompensation. Those who are committed to using the barbell might not be aware of this, but occasionally certain muscle groups will get strong and will overwork other weaker muscle groups.
Additionally, this additional work over time may raise the chance of injury or strain. Because dumbbells need unilateral training, each independent group of muscles must lift their own weight, eliminating overcompensation problems.
Your Muscles Get Active… Really Active
Dumbbells can enhance muscular activation during some exercises more often than other training equipment, like barbells and kettlebells, according to research. This isn’t true for all activities.
Dumbbells Are Practical & Convenient
There is no questioning the convenience of a set of dumbbells. They can be stored basically anywhere. In your closet, the garage, a workout room, heck even in your backyard patio.
Just think about it. A barbell requires 8 plus feet of room to do the lifting. Dumbbells on the other hand don’t require more than 3-4ft of space max (and I’m thinking of a rack of dumbbells at that).
Additionally, you can bring them along when you go outside to exercise. You’ve seen those pictures of
They’re a perfect addition to your home gym because of their ease of storage.
Dumbbells Keep Money In Your Pocket
Consider a set of dumbbells as an investment in yourself. Yes, you’ll need to pay a bit upfront now, but over a long time-series you’ll see that dumbbell set paying for itself many times over, despite the fact that the initial cost may seem expensive.
The typical cost of a gym membership is $50. If you run the numbers, you’ll find that you’re spending $600/year on a gym membership that you probably won’t use all that often because of the drive time and other factors.
A set of dumbbells will pay itself off in just one year!
What About Kettlebells?
Ah the kettlebell. A major staple in most functional gyms where your workouts require a lot of movement.
Kettlebells are weights with a handle on top built to be held by one or two hands. It’s formed like a ball attached to a loop, and usually consists of a flat(tish) bottom for storage.
Directly below the handle, there is a substantial piece of steel or iron that serves as the weight.
Kettlebells are great for individuals looking to perform speed or power exercises. Their design is built for a lot of movement.
As we explained earlier, dumbbells are best for isolation exercises without a lot of swinging or movement.
Dumbbells are perfect for powerlifting routines, classic weight loss regimens, and the development of muscle.
If you want to concentrate on more functional training, speed training, or athletic agility, then kettlebells may be what you’re searching for.
Dumbbells Compared To Barbells
Ah, the barbell.
The classic tool of weight lifting or powerlifting.
In case you’re unaware, the barbell is a straight bar of metal (steel, iron, etc) with rugged marks to help you hold it in place with your hands. It allows you to add large amounts of weight (usually 25+ pounds on each side) without breaking the bar.
Normally barbells are used for compound exercises like bench press, squatting, and the deadlift.
Like we mentioned earlier, it’s usually very difficult to chuck your barbell aside when lifting. Almost always you’ll need a spotter who can assist the weight off you.
Compared to the dumbbell, the barbell provides more risk in performing the exercise.
Ultimately, your goals and level of experience will determine if you should choose a set of dumbbells or a barbell set.
Dumbbells are the way to go if you’re new to exercise and want an easy technique to develop your lifting foundations without a high risk of injury or damage.
A barbell might be more your style if you’re experienced and want to concentrate on particular training objectives that significantly rely on compound lifts (the ones mentioned earlier).
However, if you really want the best home gym, it’s recommended that you have both a barbell and a set of dumbbells.
Because you’ll have nearly every major exercise available to you for the best opportunity to build muscle and lose fat.
Adjustable Dumbbells Or Fixed Dumbbells?
For the most part, dumbbells consist of two categories: adjustable and fixed.
Fixed dumbbells are those in which the weight is fixed to the handle, and cannot be adjusted. For instance, if you purchase a 15 pound dumbbell, well, the weight of the dumbbell will be 15 pounds.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, adjustable dumbbells allow you to modify how much weight is placed on the side of the grip or bar. The weights are typically secured in place with a clip or screw.
Adjustable dumbbells can be broken down into two basic types, both of which are popular.
The first type is the screw type. These dumbbells are just the handles (the pieces of iron or steel that you grip) and you have to add the weights (almost always in plate form) to the ends of the handle. Doing this will give you different weights. Then you just screw on a collar and you’re set.
The dial dumbbell set (or crank set) is the alternative.
These dumbbells have a single handle that sits inside a group of weight plates. To get the weight you desire, you just crank the handle to your set weight, and then a hook will attach to the weights and you’re good to go.
Adjustables may first seem convenient and affordable, but if you use them every day consistently, they will often break down on you.
Fixed dumbbells are made of durable cast iron or solid steel and are meant to be used relentlessly.
Adjustable dumbbells feature an excessive number of moving parts, which will ultimately break down and require maintenance. The majority of the time, the cost of new parts and repairs exceeds the original cost of the dumbbells.
You owe it to yourself to purchase fixed dumbbells.
Plated-Steel Or Steel Dumbbells?
Want your dumbbell set to last? Go with steel.
Steel dumbbells are made to withstand years of abuse, even exposure to the elements. Cast iron on the other hand can get corrosion and often breaks down fairly quickly.
With steel though, you never have to be concerned about rust or corrosion because of how they are treated or coated.
Plated-steel dumbbells add a strong protective layer to all the steel and greatly increases the toughness of steel dumbbells. Just remember to pay attention to the coatings because not every coating is equal.
Let’s clarify what you should be looking for because there are many companies out there that advertise that their coating is awesome and amazing for dumbbells. Cerakote and black oxide are the two protective coatings you should use on your dumbbells.
The coating’s brand name is Cerakote, and it was just introduced to the market sometime in 2017. Cerakote is a great coating despite its recent arrival in the market. After being used successfully by a few well-known powerlifting manufacturers on barbells, this material saw a sharp increase in popularity.
Even if you drop your dumbbells, the other covering, black oxide, keeps them from corroding and keeps them looking brand new.
In keeping with the previous point, you should ideally choose a set of steel dumbbells with a protective coating as our number 1 option for a dumbbell set.
Stainless Steel Or Steel Dumbbells?
Keeping with the earlier point, stainless steel dumbbells are another variety with an incredibly resistant coating.
Traditionally, stainless steel can be helpful in safeguarding your dumbbells, which is the reason why they’re still in use today because it has been shown to stop corrosion, guard against everyday wear and strain, and preserve an attractive appearance for years to come.
It should be clear why it’s still a top choice for a large number of fitness organizations when you consider that it’s also easily recyclable and environmentally friendly.
No clear winner here. Both are great options.
What To Check When Purchasing Dumbbells?
When buying dumbbells, whether online or in a physical store, you should think through a checklist of items to consider.
We’ve compiled the main features you should pay close attention to when you’re going to purchase your next set of dumbbells.
What kind of material is utilized to make dumbbells? Do they have steel? Cast iron? Plastic? Our opinion is that steel will be the best overall choice.
Is there a protective covering or coating on the dumbbells? Your dumbbells should have this otherwise, you’ll be hunting for a new set very soon. We advise buying dumbbells that are coated with stainless steel or black oxide.
Adjustable Or Fixed
Look, if you’re on a very tight budget, getting an adjustable set of dumbbells can be a good decision. But we strongly advise you to consider fixed dumbbells.
In the short term, adjustable dumbbells could be more practical, but sooner (rather than later) you’ll need to replace or fix them. Consider using fixed dumbbells.
Range of Weight
Dumbbell sets come in a variety of weights, and what you need to buy will depend on your level of experience, your goals, and your financial situation.
Choose a set of dumbbells with weights ranging from 5 to 20lbs if you’re just getting started.
Then work your way up to heavier dumbbell sets (usually from 25 to 65lb) as your workout exercise begins to call for more weight.
Can you identify the brand? Did they just appear out of the blue on Amazon with suspicious reviews? How long have they been around?
Although brands aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker, you should be aware of consumer confidence in the brand.
Typical Dumbbell Prices
Dumbbell prices are often determined by the kilogram (or the pound). Usually, a set of dumbbells will run you between $1.50 to $3/lb depending on a couple items:
Although you might think you’re getting a deal on a pair of used or cheap dumbbells, you’re usually not. Dumbbells of poor quality material corrode, rust, and break easily, so you’ll need to buy another set far sooner than expected. In this particular case, it’s worth the extra cost to upgrade your quality.
Like we mentioned earlier, try to get a steel set of dumbbells with a quality coating on them.
Many fitness businesses outsource the manufacture of iron or steel dumbbells, which lowers production costs but increases shipping costs.
As you can imagine, dumbbells can be heavy, which means it will cost a good deal to ship.
Don’t worry though, your new body will thank you!
If COVID taught us anything, it’s that popular brands have price control on their products. When people started constructing home gyms (because the world went remote) almost overnight all home gym equipment got more expensive.
Personally, as long as the brand has a decent track record of reviews then you should be good to go.
But as always, brand names give you a sense of safety if they make outstanding quality exercise equipment and have a spotless record.
Accessories To Consider With Your New Dumbbells
Can a pair of dumbbells be used to build an incredible body? No doubt. However, adding more equipment to your fitness equipment collection allows you to perform a greater variety of workouts.
Additionally, it gives your workouts additional flavor and diversity.
Consider these dumbbell accessories as you begin your journey:
Using a bench enables you to combine the traditional bench press workout with some excellent leg-building exercises too.
According to studies, adding resistance bands to a weight lifting workout can significantly improve your lifting goals.
This is due to the fact that the exercises’ raising, isometric holding, and lowering phases all involve continual strain.
You could, for instance, place the band’s other end beneath your foot and tie one end to the dumbbell. Your bicep curls will improve as a result.
Do you have knee problems?
Consider getting knee sleeves then. They can provide excellent support to help you exercise without pain or strain.
Weight Lifting Belts
Considering squatting or deadlifting?
If so, then you’ll want to add a weightlifting belt to your arsenal.
They’re designed to help keep your abdominals tight and prevent hernias.
Dumbbells Guide: Conclusion
There you have it.
Everything you need to know when it comes to purchasing your next dumbbell set.
We advise selecting steel dumbbells with a Cerakote, black oxide, or stainless-steel finish if you’re shopping for a dumbbell weight set.
Ask any questions below!