With a lot of people trying to gradually build up their own personal workout space, the demand for space-saving, multifunctional home gym equipment is on a rise. From foldable treadmills that can be stored under the bed to squat stands that can be pushed against the wall; manufacturers are using a lot of creativity to provide us with things that we can use to do almost every type of workout that we could have probably done in a commercial gym but without cramming our home workout space.
Adjustable dumbbells are also one such innovative products. Instead of having too many dumbbells and a dumbbell rack to hold them, you could just have a pair of adjustable dumbbells! Most of them provide a very wide amount of weight change, so you probably won’t outgrow them any time soon.
How do adjustable dumbbells work
The above GIF will give you a rough idea on how they operate.
Most of them come with their own stand/base and a bunch of weight plates that can be loaded on a rod. Most of them utilize a dial mechanism that you can use for changing plates i.e. for loading or unloading the plates. And the process takes only a few seconds!
Some of them, however, may require you to manually add or remove plates. Usually, they are the ones that provide you with the highest weight capacity.
And, you will hate us for saying this but, the ones that utilize manual mechanism, are more durable than the dial-based ones. This is obvious because the dial mechanism will fail after a few years but the old-school screw-on mechanism can last for decades.
Adjustable dumbbells are more expensive and less durable than the standard dumbbells
Adjustable dumbbells require a very high upfront cost. Good quality ones like Bowflex dumbbells could cost more than $400 for one piece, which means a pair could cost you more than $800! The manual ones like the Yes4All adjustable dumbbells are cheaper but they use manual mechanism, which is time-consuming.
Further, adjustable dumbbells are made of breakable parts, especially the dial mechanism. So, you can’t throw them on the floor when you are done. You will have to use them very carefully and, even then, the dial mechanism could fail.
Standard dumbbells are cheaper. They can even be passed on to your generation when used and stored properly. If you have ample space in your home gym, you should probably go with them.
But, if you do not have too much floor space to accommodate a dozen dumbbells and a rack, adjustable dumbbells are a good alternative.
Many adjustable dumbbells are sold as single units
That’s usually the dial-based ones. The manual ones are sold as pairs.
Now, this is strange. The price that you see in the product listing is for one piece; not one pair. A lot of buyers who didn’t bother to read the description thoroughly felt cheated when they received just one of them!
Dumbbells are meant to be used as pairs, so we really don’t understand why the manufacturers are selling them as single units.
While placing your order, make sure you check if you are buying a pair or a single unit.
Adjustable dumbbells are usually bulkier than the standard dumbbells
Image Source- Prohomegyms
The above image pretty much explains what we want to say.
Not all, but many adjustable dumbbells are wider and broader than standard dumbbells. You have to use them carefully, so you don’t smash your head or shoulders. Their size shouldn’t be a deal-breaker though because they are still absolutely safe to use.
Don’t get us wrong here. Although we have listed so many negative things about adjustable dumbbells, we absolutely love using them and we highly recommend them too. We just want you to clearly understand what you are buying and what you should expect from it.
Now. Let's get to our product recommendations.
Best adjustable dumbbells that we recommend for home gyms
|Name||Dimensions||Weight range||Mechanism||Our rating||Price|
|PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells||12″L x 6″ W x 6″ H||5-50lbs||Comes with a weight-locking pin that needs to be slides at a specific slot||4.8/5||Check Price|
|Iron Master Adjustable Dumbbells||6.7″ x 6.7” x 14.5″||5-75lbs||Manually add plates and lock them using locking pin||4.8/5||Check Price|
|Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells||15.75″ x 8″ x 9″||5-52lbs||Dial mechanism for instant weight change||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbell||10” x 17.5” x 10”||10-90lbs||Dial mechanism for instant weight change||4/5||Check Price|
|Unipack Adjustable Dumbbells||16” X 1.1” rod||Upto 200lbs||Manual screw-on mechanism||4.4/5||Check Price|
|Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells||14” long rod||Available in a wide weight range||Manual screw-on mechanism||4.3/5||Check Price|
This is probably the most odd-shaped adjustable dumbbell but it is also one of the top-rated ones with 4.8-star rating and thousands of amazing reviews from buyers.
We too ordered a set for ourselves along with the Powerblock Compact Weight Stand. After using it for about a month, we wrote a detailed review, mentioning our first-hand experience and the issues that we could figure out with it. Here is our detailed Powerblock Elite Dumbbells Review.
If you don’t have time to read the whole review, below is a quick version of it:
It belongs to the Elite series
Powerblock is a renowned manufacturer of high-quality equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, and weight benches. Currently, it has three series of dumbbells:
- The Pro series
- The Elite series
- The Sport series
These products differ widely in price and usability but all of them utilize the same weight-changing mechanism, which involves a locking pin. All you need to do is to slide the pin into the spot that corresponds to the weight that you want to use.
The Elite series consist of 5-50 stage 1 sets, which can be expanded to 70lbs and 90lbs sets by using respective expandable kits.
Noteworthy features of Powerblock Elite dumbbells
- Dimensions: 12″L x 6″ W x 6″ H
- Sold as a pair
- As mentioned above, these dumbbells can be adjusted between 5lbs to 50lbs each.
- You can buy separate extension kits to further expand their weight range.
- 10-year warranty for home use.
The weights may not be accurate
Numerous buyers have stated that the dumbbells weigh about 5lbs less. So, the gross weight of the set could be 90-95lbs instead of 100lbs. This is something that we don’t like. 0.5-1lb variation is acceptable but more than that can actually make you doubt the brand’s reputation.
But, again, unless you are preparing for competitions, this isn’t a big deal.
The dumbbells are rectangular
That’s obvious from the image. You will take time to get used to their shape, which is again a common issue with many adjustable dumbbells such as the Bowflex ones we will be reviewing here.
There is nothing much you can do about the shape but most people, including us, didn’t really have trouble using them.
The locking pin is made of plastic
When we received our set, we were worried that the plastic prongs would break soon but they have already lasted a year. If you use them carefully, they won’t break any time soon but metal pins would have been better anyway.
Maybe Powerblock has a solid reason for choosing plastic over metal. But then, almost all dial-based, quick-change dumbbells have plastic dial mechanisms that are prone to breakages when used roughly.
They are well-built and deserve to be at the number position in our list of best adjustable dumbbells
The handles resemble the ones that hex dumbbells have, so they are much easier to grip. The weight-changing mechanism is not the quickest and easiest one but it is more reliable than others. Once locked, the plates remain secured and you don’t need to worry about rattling and the plates falling off. No wonder why thousands of buyers have mentioned that this is the one of best investments they have ever made for their home gym.
Our Rating: 4.8/5
With a lifetime warranty, these are one of the best adjustable dumbbells for people who love to train hard. They do not have any plastic parts that could break when dropped (but you should still not drop them). But, this also means that they require you to manually change the weights by screwing/unscrewing the loading pins.
Changing the weights takes time
Locking and unlocking the pins plus adding respective weights in each side of the dumbbell is not as easy and quick as Ironmaster wants us to believe. You will take time to get used to the process and even then, you will have to spend about 30 seconds to one minute changing the weights.
Plus, the set comes with only 2.5lbs and 5lbs weight plates. So, if you have to make 70lbs, you will have to add 10 5lbs plates and 4 2.5lbs plates to each dumbbell. That’s a lot of work!
We don’t want to say that IronMaster’s ‘patented quick-lock technology’ for quick and safe weight-change is just a typical sales pitch. The locking technology and the loading pin are well-designed and they do make the work faster and more hassle-free than what you can expect from cheaper manually adjustable dumbbells. Just that, they do not adjust instantly, like Bowflex dumbbells do.
We still love the IronMaster dumbbells because they are probably the most durable types.
Noteworthy features of IronMaster Quick-lock adjustable dumbbells
- Dimension: 6.7″ x 6.7” x 14.5″
- Sold as a pair. A dumbbell stand is included with the set, so you don’t have to buy one separately.
- Each dumbbell can be adjusted between 5-75lbs. You can buy an add-on kit to expand each dumbbell up to 120 lbs each.
- Covered by lifetime warranty
- Each dumbbell has two locking pins at the two ends. You can add weights to one or both ends as needed.
The locking pins secure the weight plates tightly
Image source: Amazon
No matter which dial-based adjustable dumbbell you choose, you will experience one common problem; the weight plates rattle a lot and make you feel nervous. The plates have enough space between them to wiggle. The above image will help you understand what we want to say.
But, the plates of the IronMaster dumbbells are tightly held by the locking pins. They do not have any gap between them, no matter how many plates you have used. There is absolutely no rattling. You will feel as if you are using a standard dumbbell and not the adjustable one. Look at the below image. There is no way the plates can wiggle.
IronMaster dumbbells are heavy-duty
Due to their all-metal design, these dumbbells do not require you to coddle them like a newborn baby. Of course, you can’t throw them when done. But, even if they slip off or even if you just drop them a bit, they are not going to break. The locking pins may start to get loose if dropped repeatedly from a height. But, you will be surprised to know that Ironmaster actually stands by its lifetime warranty and sends free replacements. Highly appreciable.
They are pretty expensive and often remain out of stock
The price at the time of writing this article was $860+, which is on a higher side. You can find a lot of cheaper alternatives but, IronMaster is definitely one of the best adjustable dumbbells and a lifetime warranty justifies its high price tag.
Another major problem that buyers have faced is that these products are often out of stock. Here is what the website mentions about its availability. You would hate to wait for them for weeks.
Our Rating: 4.8/5
Sold as a pair or single unit, Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are by far the easiest dumbbells to adjust. They utilize a simple dial mechanism. All you need to do is to twist the dial and select the weight you want to train with. The selected weights will get locked into the dumbbell rod and the unwanted plates will stay back on the base.
It takes only a few seconds to adjust the weight. So, if you hate spending time screwing and unscrewing the pins, Bowflex has a bunch of options for you.
Noteworthy features of Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells
- Dimensions: 15.75″ x 8″ x 9″
- Can be adjusted from 5 to 52.5lbs
- Provides 2.5lbs increment up to 25lbs
- The base and dial mechanism is made of plastic
- Stand sold separately
- Covered by 2-year warranty
- You will get 1-year BowFlex app membership, which has several trainer-led workout videos.
Provides instant weight change
We have already mentioned it above, but, since this is its USP, we would like to explain a bit more.
From 5lbs to 52.5lbs, no matter what amount of weight you choose, it will take you less than 10 seconds to adjust the dumbbell. The dials are pretty smooth and quick. Plus, the plates remain on the base, so you don’t have to store them elsewhere and then keep looking for them and picking them up when needed.
Faster weight change helps add more versatility to your workouts. Plus, you can do your supersets much quicker.
When you have selected the weight and have locked the plates, you will hear a clicking noise, which basically indicates that the plates are locked in. This audible noise gives you more confidence to pick up the dumbbell.
They are much more affordable than the other adjustable dumbbells we have listed above
At the time of writing this article, the Bowflex SelectTech552 dumbbells were sold at $300 for a pair, which is quite affordable when compared to the $800 Ironmaster dumbbells. These dumbbells have received a 4.8-star rating and thousands of positive reviews on Amazon. Their affordability is obviously the primary reason for their popularity. But, Bowflex is a renowned brand, known for manufacturing good-quality equipment for years. People like us would obviously choose it over the Chinese or not-so-popular competitors.
They are not meant for rough use
Since most of it is made of plastic, including the locking pin that holds the plates, it is obvious that you need to be very careful with these. You have to place them back on their plates gently. Although the plastic is pretty durable, we don't expect these to last beyond a couple of years.
They have a bulky design
As you can see in the product image above, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells have an oblong shape, which is a couple of inches longer than the standard dumbbells. It will take a couple of days for you to get used to their shape.
Our Rating: 4.5/5
These dumbbells have almost the same build and mechanism as the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells. But, they can be adjusted between 10-90 lbs, with a 5lbs increment, making them suitable for advanced trainers.
Noteworthy features of Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dumbbells
- Dimensions: 10” x 17.5” x 10”
- Weight range- 10lbs to 90 lbs
- Provides 5 lbs increment
- Utilizes a simple dial mechanism for weight change
- Base and dial mechanism are made of plastic
- Stand sold separately
- You will get 1-year complimentary membership of Bowflex’s own fitness app
- Warranty: two years
Please note: the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells are sold as a single unit. The price you see on Amazon is for one unit only; not for one pair.
They provide the highest possible weight change using a dial mechanism
Usually, dial-based adjustable dumbbells provide 50-75 lbs of weight change. But, this one can go up to 90lbs, which is more than enough for dumbbell workouts. Just like the SelectTech 552, changing the weights takes just a few seconds.
They are probably the bulkiest adjustable dumbbells
That’s obvious from their dimensions. You will take some time to get used to the huge oval shape. Plus, if you are a short person, you might not be able to do some exercises with absolute ease. This could be a deal-breaker but do not hesitate to try it out and see if it suits you.
The tabs that hold the plates are made of plastic. In 552 model, they are made of metal
We have highlighted this issue in our detailed Bowflex 1090 Dumbbells Review article.
See the tabs above. They are made of plastic, so it is obvious that buyers will doubt the durability of these Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dumbbells. Just a small drop and these tabs could break, making the plates fall on your feet. You have to handle them carefully, which could be tough because you will be training hard.
Image Source: Amazon
See the image above. This is what the tabs of BowFlex SelectTech 552 look like. They are made of metal.
We are not sure why BowFlex chose to have plastic in its premium product. Nevertheless, adjustable dumbbells are meant to be handled with care.
Our rating: 4/5 (only because of plastic tabs)
These are the best adjustable dumbbells for intermediate to advanced trainers. They provide up to 100lbs weight change per unit, making a total of 200lbs. They provide a 5lbs increment. If you are not comfortable with that, you can go with Yes4All adjustable dumbbells that we will review next. Yes4All dumbbells provide a minimum of 2.5lbs weight change.
Although these are manufactured and sold by a brand that most of us haven’t heard of, the Unipack adjustable dumbbells are one of the top-selling products on Amazon with a 4.5 star rating and hundreds of positive reviews from satisfied buyers. That’s why we have chosen it to be on our list of best adjustable dumbbells. Otherwise, we are very skeptical about choosing products from unknown brands.
Noteworthy features of Unipack adjustable dumbbells
- Set consists of two bars, 4 collars, and 24 plates.
- Sold as a pair and provides a total of 200lbs weight change
- Provides 5lbs weight change increment
- The plates are made of cast iron and the handles are made of chrome
- No information on warranty
The star collars can loosen up with time
That’s a common issue and it usually happens if you throw the dumbbells when done or if you use them roughly. All you need to do is to retighten them frequently. Or maybe you can use barbell collars or spring clamps instead.
If you buy clamps, make sure you buy the 28mm i.e. 1.1” ones. That’s because the bars that you get with these dumbbells have a 1.1” diameter, not 1”.
The paint could start chipping off faster than expected
As mentioned above, these dumbbells have cast iron plates that are painted with black paint. They do not have any polish or powder coating. The cheap paint that they have is prone to chipping and the plates could get some rust if you leave them in your hot and humid garage. All you need to do is to spray them with an anti-rust spray or coating.
They are affordable
No other adjustable dumbbells that we have reviewed here can beat their price and usability. 200 lbs weight change is exceptionally good for its price. The handles are made of chrome and they have a good knurled grip. The star collars that you thread in to lock the weight plates ensure that there is minimal wobble between plates, so you don’t feel insecure as you do when you use Bowflex adjustable dumbbells.
Even if you use them roughly, you could still expect these dumbbells to last for at least a decade!
Our Rating: 4.4/5
In our recent review of Yes4All Silencer drop pads, we had mentioned why Yes4All products are a good choice for people who want affordable alternatives to the more expensive competitors.
Its adjustable dumbbells are available in a wide range of weight capacities, so you can choose the one that best suits your workout needs. No matter which one you choose, you will get a minimum of 2.5lbs weight increment.
A major problem with most adjustable dumbbells is that they provide a minimum of 5lbs weight increment, which may be good if you are an absolute beginner. But, if you are already training with a decent amount of weight, adding 5lbs could be a major challenge, especially for some specific exercises. 2.5lbs increment will be much easier and that's what Yes4All adjustable dumbbells provide.
Noteworthy features of Yes4All adjustable dumbbells
- Available in various weights.
- Sold as pair and as single units
- Dimensions vary according to the set you buy
- Max weight change offered by Yes4All adjustable dumbbells is 105lbs in total i.e. 52.5lbs for one hand.
- You can buy a connector rod that can be used to convert the dumbbells into a barbell.
- The plates are made of cast iron and can fit in any 1.15 inch handles.
Not the finest quality dumbbells but they work as expected
The handles and plates could have splinters. You might even find the handle too rough. The star collar may start loosening after some drops. These are common issues with almost all affordable home gym equipment.
Even squat racks chip and leave splinters. So, don’t let these minor issues be a dealbreaker because this adjustable dumbbell by Yes4All is a good alternative to having multiple sets of dumbbells in your already cluttered home gym.
A few buyers have reported that the weights are not accurate
They could weigh a few lbs less than their stated weight. The difference in weight is minor plus it doesn’t really matter unless you are preparing for competitions.
Our Rating: 4.3/5
If you are a beginner or casual trainer who has no intentions of lifting heavy you can check out FLYBIRD Adjustable Dumbbell. It is available in 25lbs and 55lbs weight capacity and sold as a single unit. We recently tried it out and we are impressed!
Before you go, do check out our list of best adjustable kettlebells and best fractional weight plates that you can use for your progressive weight training workouts. If you need workout benches, we have selected some of the best flat benches and best adjustable benches for you.
Need any other product recommendations? Please leave a comment or email us. We will be happy to help.