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One Set of Weights for Everything: The Best Adjustable Dumbbells

Choosing the best adjustable dumbbells used to be easier before the market was flooded with a ton of cheap models.  Now it is difficult to decipher the originals from the knock offs which means you could be throwing away your money on dumbbell sets that will have to be replaced in less than a year. There is so much to consider when choosing adjustable dumbbells from weight to adjustment type that choosing the best set for your needs can be intimidating. Before you start to feel overwhelmed, check out our list of the best adjustable dumbbells in 2021 and the buyer's guide below to understand what makes up the best adjustable dumbbell for your individual needs. 

Here are the best adjustable dumbbells of 2021

best adjustable dumbbells

Power Block Adjustable Dumbbells - Best Adjustable Dumbbells Overall

Power Block was the first adjustable dumbbell and an increase in competition has forced this manufacturer to diversify their offerings which is awesome for the budget buyer because options abound. The U33 is made with Power Block’s signature look and feel which is plastic covered metal parts. It uses pin method more or less exclusive to the Power Block weight system which is easy to use and keeps the plates from barely moving. The U33 weight increments are unlike any other on the market with strange increment jumps, but the increment jumps are perfect for beginners and you can also add even more weight to them.

Yes4All Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbells - Runner Up

The Yes4All dumbbells are the perfect alternative for those looking for a have pair of adjustable dumbbells at a rock bottom price. It takes a page out of the book of the very first adjustable dumbbells and uses traditional plates with a screw on stopper on the end. Granted, it’s a little low tech, but the system keeps the weights exactly where they should be and allows the price to stay low. On the other hand it takes a lot longer to switch weight than with new pin or dial adjustable weights. The plates that come with the set allow you to increase increments as low as 2.5 pounds, but another benefit of a set like this is that you can add your own plates to perfectly customize your weight needs. There is no accounting for additional plates that you may buy but this is one durable dumbbell set durable thanks to chrome handles and cast iron weights.

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells - Honorable Mention

Bowflex was not the first company to manufacture adjustable dumbbells, but they definitely improved the system and brought it to the masses. The Bowflex 1090 is one of two options by Boweflex but I consider it better for the overall weight as it goes up to 90 pounds and the fact that it increases in five pound increments. Bowflex’s revolutionary turn dial does not only make choosing a weight smooth and easy but it also aids in keeping the weights where they should be so they don’t shift and knock together during movements. The weights are metal plates covered by a hard polymer coating and the surrounding plastic and metal parts assure the user that the 1090s will last for some time. Bowflex provides you with additional piece of mind with a three year manufacturer's warranty on all parts.

best PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbell

PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbell - Consider

Power Block is the grandfather of adjustable dumbbells which shows in the quality of their products and this weight set is pure magic. Though Power Block has a stable of adjustable dumbbells, I singled out the U-90 Stage 1 for a few key reasons. This set can go from from 5 to 50 pounds in 2.5 pound increments and can be added onto up to 125 pounds which makes it one of the highest weight adjustable dumbbells available. It uses a unique weight and pin system which is not only super simple to use but prevents the weights from moving at all during your workout. These weights are incredibly durable as they are steel covered by highly durable plastic which can handle all sorts of punishment in the weight room. While some users have said they don't like the way the dumbbell handles fit, this is still a great set which is also backed by a lifetime warranty.

Buyer's Guide

When adjustable dumbbells first hit the market they immediately became popular partly because they condense an entire weight rack into a small yet efficient space. You will find adjustable weights of all different sizes and prices, but not everyone can be called the best.  There are a lot of considerations to make when choosing which adjustable dumbbells will best fit your needs.

Adjustable dumbbells come in all kinds of shapes and sizes that can better lend themselves to specific types of workouts and that is only one of your many considerations. Some have a max weight as low as 12.5 pounds while others go all the way up to 75 pounds and they all have different locking mechanisms including dial, pin, and switch.  More importantly, they are all priced very differently.

All of this is important to your dumbbells, but it is only scratching the surface.  To really be content with your adjustable dumbbell you need to focus on all of its features like a solid base, additional stand, and extended warranties.  The most important aspect to consider is the quality of your dumbbells, no matter what you are using them for their reliability is their most important quality. 

Adjustment Types

Switch

The switch type is by far the easiest to use because you simply flip a switch to change the weight although this adjustment method isn’t always the most reliable. The switches have been known to break off and depending on the product, the printed numbers can rub off with continual use.

Turn Dial

The most popular form of adjustment is the turn dial which is still fairly easy to use but can get caught up every once in a while. Heavier weights often use dials located on the side while lighter weights opt to put the dial on top of the weights for the most part.

Pin

The locking pin method is only used in a select few models but works great and keeps the weights tightly together. Unlike the other models which use hanging weights, the pin system supports vertical weights so there’s no movement. The biggest downside to the locking pin method is it can get tedious to pull the pin out and stick back in, especially when inserting the pin into wrong slot more than once.

Weight

When choosing an adjustable dumbbell set, the weight is an important factor. Usually adjustable weights come in two variations with 2.5 to 25 pounds being the most popular. However, there’s also another popular variation starting between 5 to 10 pounds and caps out between 50 and 60 pounds.

There may be one or two companies out there offering adjustable weights over 60 pounds. However, given the nature of this products intended use, heavier weights are incredibly uncommon Lighter weight adjustable bells are great for cardio use but if you’re looking to build muscle you absolutely need an adjustable weight set that will go beyond 25 pounds. In all honesty, everything else is a waste of money.

Features

Base

It’s important to choose dumbbells which have a decent base to hold the weights which aren’t in use.  Most bases are decent and manufactured with sturdy materials but every once in a while you come across something cheap that won’t hold the plates in place very well. 

Stand

Some weights also come with a stand which is a nice way to store your weights when you aren’t using them.  It also prevents you from having to bend down to grab them for every set. 

Warranty

One of the most important extra features for any adjustable dumbbell is the manufacturer’s warranty.  There are a lot of moving parts involved and no matter how well these pieces of equipment are built, there’s always the possibility something could go wrong.

Your Weights, Your Workout

Dumbbells aren’t just for curls as you may know and not every adjustable dumbbell works for every movement. While weight is an important factor when considering how you’ll use your new weights, it’s not the only thing to think about. 
 

HIIT

If you are planning on a lot of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises which require substantial movements, you’ll want to get a solid pair of weights without a lot of plate movement; otherwise your dumbbells and plates will shift around, making your workout more difficult and less efficient.  For HIIT exercises, you’ll want want to invest in a nice pair of pin lock weights in order to keep the plates where they should be. 

Circuit Training

With circuit training you’re going to want to choose a pair of dumbbells which allow you to switch between weights quickly and smoothly to accommodate the rapid rounds of multiple exercises. It’s tiresome taking a long time to switch weights and it could derail your workout.

Overhead Exercises

If you’re doing a lot of overhead exercises, you absolutely want a superior set of weights because some cheaper sets have a weight slipping issue. The last thing you want is to be hit on the head by a falling ten pound weight plate during your overhead press. Any weight change system would work for these exercises as long as it’s a high-quality dumbbell set.

Price and Quality

The saying, “you get what you pay for,” is especially true when it comes to adjustable dumbbells. Even a decent set of adjustable dumbbells which max out at 25 pounds can easily run you $50 or more.  Just like any other piece of exercise equipment, it pays to invest a little more money now than buying another set a year later when the cheap one falls apart on you.

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