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The Best Adjustable Dumbbells of 2021


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Traditional dumbbells come in an extensive collection of all-in-one dumbbell sets. These are multiple dumbbells with a fixed weight – either as a chrome or other metal design or as a durable molded colored plastic – that are lined up in the gym or workout area. For garage workouts, these dumbbells are often just lined up against the wall ready for use. Alternatively, a dumbbell rack is purchased to stack the dumbbells up in a vertical arrangement to save floor space.

The alternative to having standard dumbbells is a set of adjustable dumbbells. These are a far more modern version that saved more room and is more portable when going away on a trip, for the room in a hotel that lacks a gym, or other travel situation.

To change the lifting weight on the dumbbell, the exerciser would just unscrew the lock at either end of the bar, add a circular weight or remove one, to adjust the total weight for each dumbbell, and then re-screw the lock back on.

The adjustable weight is functional but is a pain to use because the exerciser has to keep stopping after a few reps. They then switch to a lighter (or heavier) weight, to change out the weights manually or put the dumbbell down and walk over to lighter (or heavier) dumbbell on the floor to find a pair of matching ones at the same weight. The switching process, when repeated several times, adds quite a bit of time per workout and when working out repeatedly over the course of a month, wastes a fair bit of time that would otherwise be used adding muscle and body definition.

Looking beyond standard adjustable dumbbells, there are newer types that use different approaches to selecting weight discs. With one type, manual dial system adjusts the selected weight, and it will attach or detach the appropriate weights in the dumbbell rack. With the second category, a different kind of control trigger is used to select the weights used. In either case, the floor footprint is minimal while offering up to 15 weight selection options for full flexibility for multiple people and strength exercises. Weight limits on dumbbells with these selector systems can go up to 50 pounds, in comfortable 2-3 pound increments.

A good set of adjustable dumbbells supports a range of leg, back, chest, abdominal, arm, and shoulder exercises. For the legs, stationary lunges, calf raises, and wide squats are supported. Deadlifts, alternative rows, and a wide row exercise improved back strength. Several chest exercises like the flat chest press, incline fly, and incline/decline chest press are performed with adjustable dumbbells. For keeping the adnominal region tight, ab crunches and lying leg raises do the trick. A wide range of arm exercises, including several types of curls and triceps workouts, are possible. Lateral raises, the seated overhead press, and standing shoulder press all improve the shoulder muscles.


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Buyers Guide

What’s Included with The Best Adjustable Dumbbells

Depending on the type of adjustable dumbbells chosen, they will either come as a set of dumbbell bars with a series of coin-shaped weights to be placed on the bar when needed or in a single set of dumbbells with weight adjusters.

The traditional adjustable dumbbells will take up more space in the garage or gym and make more noise when switching between weight levels. The self-contained adjustable dumbbells make substantially no noise when switching between weight levels by twisting a selector dial or other mechanism. The space taken up by the self-contained unit is much less too.

Some dumbbell collections include written instructions or a DVD illustrating how to use them and some suggested exercise positions to try out.

What to Know Before Making a Purchase

For people who do not exercise and lift weights often, they should be interested in accessing the lower weight levels quickly with their weight training equipment. For fitness enthusiasts used to using dumbbells, they will be more interested in the upper limit of the weights to ensure they will be satisfactory for their personal training routine.

The coating on the weight discs can sometimes wear or chip off over time. It is a good idea to choose a brand with good reviews regarding durability over time with the traditional adjustable dumbbells.

Other Considerations

The primary concern with adjustable dumbbells is whether to go the traditional route or use the latest technology with selectable weights in a single dumbbell container which takes up less floor space and is more convenient.

Best Brands

  • Cap Barbell make traditional dumbbells that where the end is unscrewed to remove the weights and place lighter or heavier weights onto the bar, before re-screwing the screw nut back on.
  • PowerBlock was the first to come out with a self-contained dumbbell that has multiple weights within a single unit that were adjustable, rather than many separate barbells stacked up separately the side wall of the gym.
  • BowFlex makes two part adjustable dumbbells for a compact gym that doesn’t have space for a larger set of weights.

What Consumers Say

Taking a look at consumers’ reviews, these are a few of the opinions most often voiced by buyers:

Handle thickness: Traditional dumbbell handles are thinner than the ones fitted to the adjustable selector dumbbells. Ergonomic handle design is also a consideration to look out for when choosing a dumbbell.

Solid grips: Comfortable grips are necessary when using dumbbells to exercise regularly. It is also helpful to buy a pair of workout gloves to make the grip softer and more comfortable.

Stylish: Even adjustable dumbbells with selector dials to switch weight levels can look fashionable. Not even brand is designed the same, with some looking more like traditional dumbbells and other brands sporting a boxier appearance.

Do not drop: Adjustable dumbbells with weight selectors should not be dropped on the floor. They must be placed back into the rack provided to enable a weight selector change when needed. The approach is different from traditional dumbbells and traditional adjustable dumbbells that get put on the floor.

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