No home gym would be complete without some dumbbells. Dumbbells are a gym staple – and for good reason.
Dumbbells have numerous benefits such as increased stabilization, better safety (when training alone), versatility, range of motion, and more.
Let’s check out the 5 of the best dumbbells currently on the market and how you can choose the right dumbbells for your home gym.
|Bowflex SelectTech 552|
Best for Tiny Spaces
|j/fit Dumbbell Set|
Best Set for Beginners
Best for Mermaids/Mermen
Best on a Budget
Our Dumbbell Picks
What did we choose? Check out our thoughts for the 5 best dumbbells – along with some pros and cons!
Best Overall: CAP Hex Dumbbells
There’s a reason Hex Dumbbells are the poster child for dumbbells: they’re convenient and versatile.
You can buy these dumbbells as you need them. Start with 2 pairs and as you get stronger, buy another pair, then another, and so on.
Pro Tip: If your dumbbells are all black, get a light-colored permanent market (I used a silver sharpie on mine) and write/outline the weight on the ends. You’ll be able to grab the correct size a bit easier.
Eventually, you’ll have a full set of dumbbells without feeling like you invested a fortune in them (although, if you’re buying new, you will have invested a small fortune).
Which leads me to… buying used. My grandparents were avid yardsalers and happily picked up things for their grandkids. My 30lb dumbbell pair cost $10 (for both). Thanks grandma & grandpa!
Yard sales aren’t your only option. Check out Facebook, Craigslists (or your local online buy/sell marketplace), thrift shops, etc. I have found quality home gym items through all of them.
|As Needed: no need to buy a whole set at once. Pick them up as needed.|
Buy Used: hex dumbbells are easy to find for sale used (and significantly cheaper).
No Bulk: hex dumbbells don’t have any extra length (to accommodate more weight) like multi-weight dumbbells. This can make it easier to do certain exercises.
|Storage: as your collection of hex dumbbell pairs increases, so does your need to store them. |
You can line your dumbbells up along the floor or purchase (or make) a stand.
This is only a problem later when you have several pairs of dumbbells that you need to store (or a small amount of space for storage).
Storage adds an additional cost, but most are moderately priced.
Hex dumbbells are a traditional dumbbell option and for good reason. They’re affordable, easy to find, and versatile. Start your dumbbell collection today!
Best for Tiny Spaces: Bowflex SelectTech 552
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 are an amazing compact set of dumbbells.
This one pair of dumbbells contains FIFTEEN different weight sets. Each one starts at 5lbs and increases by 2.5 lbs up to 25lbs, then it increases by 5lbs up to 50lbs, plus a bonus set at 52.5lbs. Does that sounds a bit complicated? Let’s simplify:
Each dumbbell can be adjusted to all these weights (in pounds): 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 52.5. That’s 15 different weights in one!
If that’s not enough, it’s SO EASY to change the weight. Put the dumbbell in the holder and turn the dial to your desired weight. Pick it up and get exercising. If your exercises use different weights, the Bowflex dumbbells can be changed in 10 seconds (or less once you get used to them).
|Space Saving: you have a single set of dumbbells to store instead of 15 different pairs!|
Easy Adjustments: you can change your dumbbell “size” in 10 seconds (or less).
Stand Included: the Bowflex SelectTech 525 comes with the storage stand.
|The Price: prepare for the sticker shock.|
The Bowflex feels really expensive. And it is a large expense for a single purchase of dumbbells.
However, on a per-dumbbell or per-pound basis, it’s actually reasonable. But, you do have to pay for it all at once.
The price may be a bit high, but you’re getting A LOT of weight and options for those dollars. The Bowflex dumbbells are an excellent choice for people who don’t want their dumbbells taking up their whole home gym (or living room).
Best Set for Beginners: j/fit Dumbbell Set
If you’re new to working out, a simple set of dumbbells is all you need to get started.
IMO, you’ll need 5 and 8 pound weights. You can buy a cost-effective set of 3 weights (5, 8, and 3 or 10 pounds) with a stand. This is enough to get you started.
I would highly recommend going with the 5, 8, 10 pound structure. You’ll very quickly outgrow 3lb weights but 10lb will be useful for a very long time.
|Get Started: these three weights are a great starting point. No need to wait on “finding all your equipment.”|
Stand Included: You won’t worry about storing your initial dumbbells because they come with a convenient stand.
Quality: these are quality weights for a beginner. They’re hex (so they won’t roll around), they’re coated so they’re comfy to hold (and you won’t drop them if your hands get sweaty).
|Weights: This weight combination might not be right for you.|
If you’re a complete beginner (like, never even carry groceries or anything), you might prefer 3lb weights (or even 1lb, although you could just carry more groceries for a while).
If you’re not a beginner, you might want heavier weights much sooner and may want to skip the 5-pound dumbbells. Only you can know.
A set of 3 dumbbell pairs is a great way to start your dumbbell purchases. Choose the right 3 weights (I advise 5, 8, and 10 pounds for most people) and you’ll have enough dumbbells to see you on your workout journey for quite a while.
Best for Mermaids/Mermen: Aquatic Exercise Dumbbells
I’m more of a laze by the water type of girl, but if you like to get in and move about a pair of aquatic dumbbells are a no-brainer.
These aquatic dumbbells are a super affordable way to up your water workout.
Aquatic dumbbells are meant to be held (and moved) underwater. They add resistance to your movements, making those movements a lot more challenging.
|Fun: getting in the water is fun and adding a pair of dumbbells won’t decrease your good time!|
Easy-to-Use: these dumbbells are easy to use (check out Youtube for a ton of awesome aquatic workouts).
Portable: if you don’t have a pool at home, you can take these to your local pool or beach. They’re very portable.
|Water Only: these aren’t very useful outside the pool.|
They weigh 0.66 pounds each but they’re quite bulky so you’re not going to use them in regular workouts.
However, if you’re spending a lot of time in the water anyways, they’re a great addition!
If you’re going to be in the water anyways, why not add a workout? Fun and practical!
Best on a Budget: Yes4All Dumbbell Bar
One of the most cost effective ways to build a home gym is to buy pieces that are multi-functional and that you can acquire as you need them.
The Yes4All Dumbbell Bars fulfill both of those, plus they’re inexpensive on their own.
If you buy a pair of dumbbell bars, you’ll also need a few weight plates to put on the ends. The versatility here is that you can use those same weight plates on a barbell.
**Important note: the Yes4All bars come in 1 or 1.15 inchs diameter. This refers to the size of the hole on the weight plates. I’m going to strongly urge you to buy 1 inch (or find a different brand and by 1 or 2 inch)! The most common sizes of weight plates are 1 and 2 inches.
|Cheap: these are the best option for a budget because you will not find a cheaper option.|
Versatile: you can use the same weight plates for dumbbell bars and a barbell (provided you buy the same diameter). This will save you even more money in the long run.
|Less Convenient: The only real downside of buying dumbbell bars is the inconvenience.|
You’ll have to change the weights on the bar every time you need a different weight.
Once you’re accustomed to it, it will take you about 45 to 60 seconds to adjust your weight.
If you’re going to have a barbell in your home (and you should), these are a smart, cheap, and practical choice for your home gym. Why not share weight plates (and have less to store and more money for other things) between your dumbbells and your barbell?
Dumbbell Buying Guide
The 2 most important features to consider when buying dumbbells are the design and material.
Different Design Options
There are 2 common design options: fixed or adjustable.
Fixed Weight Dumbbells
Fixed weight dumbbells are one weight, always. If you want a different weight, you pick up a different set of dumbbells.
There are several advantages of fixed weight dumbbells. Fixed weight dumbbells are versatile, easy to change, easy to use, and can be purchased on an as-needed basis.
Adjustable weight dumbbells can be changed. You can add and remove weight to them during a workout so you don’t need multiple pairs of dumbbells.
There are several advantages of adjustable weight dumbbells. Adjustable weight dumbbells are (usually a lot) cheaper on a per-pound basis, they take up a lot less space, and they give you a huge range of weights to use.
Choosing a Material
There’s no right or wrong material to choose for your dumbbells. Whatever suits your aesthetics, budget, and space.
Metal dumbbells are a classic – they don’t call it pumping iron for nothing!
Metal dumbbells are steel, cast iron, or a mix of both. They’re the most durable dumbbells because you’re highly unlikely to damage the metal. They’re also typically a little less expensive because manufacturers don’t have to add extra coatings.
On the downside, metal dumbbells can cause some damage to other items in your home gym (like the floor, or if you accidentally hit the wall).
Our Best on a Budget (the Dumbbell Bars) are metal handles. You might end up with naked metal weight plates for them, too.
Rubber dumbbells are metal dumbbells with a rubber coating on the ends.
This rubber coating significantly decreases the odds of damaging other items in your gym that naked metal dumbbells can cause. However, they come at a slight price increase and the rubber coating can become chipped and faded over time.
Our Best Overall Pick (the Hex Dumbbells) are rubber coated dumbbells.
Polyurethane (PU) dumbbells are metal dumbbells with a PU coating on the ends.
PU is much less likely to chip and fade than rubber. It’s a much stronger material. However, this means that PU coated dumbbells can be significantly more expensive.
Our Best for Tiny Spaces Pick (the Bowflex SelectTech552) have a PU coating on them.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that’s generally used to coat the entire dumbbell.
Neoprene is comfortable material to hold (even with sweaty hands) and it provides the same protection to your floor/walls/items as rubber. However, it’s really only used to coat lighter weights.
Our Best Set for Beginners Pick (the j/fit Dumbbell Set) have a neoprene coating.
Choosing the Best Dumbbells for Your Home Gym FAQ
Answers to your most frequently asked questions about dumbbells.
Can I Buy Used Dumbbells?
Hell yes! In fact, whenever possible I’d encourage it. All of my dumbbells were purchased secondhand. Saving money feels really good especially when you find like-new condition dumbbells (which honestly, most used ones are).
Yardsales are a great place to find used dumbbells so if you (or someone you know) is a yardsaler, keep an eye out! Online marketplaces are another great option (like Craigslist and Facebook). Thrift shops can be an option but they’re inconsistent with products.
Check for visible damage. If there’s none, BUY BUY BUY!
What Weight Should I Start With?
This is very dependent on your strength and the exercise.
The most important thing is to NEVER sacrifice proper form. If you can’t properly perform an exercise, decrease your weight immediately.
I would suggest you start lighter and increase after each set, if necessary. If you can complete 12 reps of an exercise with ease, you can use a heavier weight for the next set.
Are Dumbbells Good for Losing Weight or Building Muscle?
Yes and yes.
Dumbbells are (IMO) the best tool for building muscles. Dumbbells have so many benefits including increasing your stability, range of motion, and more!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.” So pick up those dumbbells to build muscle AND lose weight.
What Are Some Good Dumbbell Exercises?
There are so many amazing dumbbell exercises. You can find something to suit whatever you need. Check out:
- 20 dumbbell exercises for your entire body from Women’s Health Magazine.
- 30 dumbbell exercises missing from your workout from Greatist.
- Or this 30-minute full-body dumbbell video workout from Bodyfit by Amy.
It’s Selection Time: Pick the Best Dumbbells for YOU!
Dumbbells are an essential for any home gym. They offer a ton of versatility to help you get into the best shape of your life.
Be sure to choose dumbbells that fit your space and budget. Which dumbbells did you choose and why? Let me know in the comments below!
Now that you’ve picked out the best dumbbells for your home gym, you’re going to want to Choose the Best Weight Bench next.
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