The Best Dumbbells To Buy

A rack of black dumbbellsA good pair of dumbbells should be top of your list

Many of us would love a well-equipped home gym with cardio machines, weight racks, benches and a plethora of dumbbells. For the majority however, a lack of space makes fulfilling this dream more of a fantasy than a realistic solution to an expensive gym membership.

So when deciding what the mainstay of your home gym should be, top of the list should be a good set of dumbbells – the go-to choice for home workouts. Not only are they small and easily stored, they can be relatively inexpensive and, with some types, you can adjust the weight on them so they’re suited to all kinds of exercises.

But don’t sprint out to the shops just yet. Here’s a quick guide on some of the best dumbbells to buy based on your needs and fitness goals.

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How To Buy The Best Dumbbells And What To Look For

If you invest in a top selection of weights you’ll be astounded at what you can achieve with the right nutrition and a good workout plan.

Dumbbells come in a vast array of shapes and sizes so choosing the right one for your needs is important. Generally a dumbbell is round or hexagonal. Hexagonal are great as they won’t roll away when you put them down and they make performing exercises such as the renegade row a lot easier.

The weight is an important feature, especially if you choose to go for a fixed dumbbell system which can’t be adjusted or the weight increased. Progression can be tricky here as it may be too heavy for certain exercises or too light to build muscle or increase the heart rate to help burn fat.

Thirdly, consider the material. Metal weights are all very good on the masculine front but they can cause damage to floors and they’re quite noisy too. Rubber coated dumbbells are quieter and generally make less mess (unless you drag them across the floor and make skid marks – no one wants those!)

Lastly look at the features. As with anything, the fewer parts it has the less chance it has to go wrong. Be careful with adjustable dumbbells that may crack if used often.

So with that said, here are some options to suit most people – from the beginner to the more seasoned pro.

The Best Dumbbells To Buy

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post there are three types of dumbbells – adjustable, fixed, and selectorised. Below are some of the best ones on the market and available online at the moment and that should cover the lower end and higher end budgets. For each of these I’ve tried to include the specifications and, what I feel, are the pros and cons of each so you can make a decision on what you feel will work best for you, your home, your workout routine and your overall fitness goals.

If you’d like me to review more, drop me a comment below and I’ll be happy to help you out.

In fact, I’ve just written a review about Aqua Dumbbells (that’s right, water-filled dumbbells!) which could be a great solution if you like to workout on your travels.

<< Check out my top three recommendations here >>

Anyway – back to the solid weights!

Selectorised Dumbbells

The Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells

A pair of black selectorised dumbbells on black stands

Key selling point: Widely regarded as the best home dumbbell weights you can buy and worth the price

Why you should buy them:

  • Hugely practical
  • The closest you’ll get to regular dumbbells

Why you shouldn’t:

  • Very expensive
  • Unduly complex mechanism

These are an investment certainly but with a weight spread of between 2 – 22.5kg or 4 – 41kg in each dumbbell – depending on which model you opt for – these will set you up for a lifetime of workouts. Generally, stopping a workout to unscrew metal spin collars and replace the weight plates can break the flow, but with these, selecting the correct weight is just a spin of a dial away. When used with a simple bench they offer a really good alternative to the gym floor yet don’t require a whole rack to store away.

These weights look and feel far more like classic adjustable dumbbells, although there is a lack of colour coding which means you need to pay attention when increasing the weight. The pricing is often only applicable to one dumbbell so you’ll need to spend twice as much to get the dual set. However, the spin dial is easy to use and the plastic stand (included) makes it simpler to guide the weight plates back into place after use.

All in all these are a great option for people who like to push themselves with intensive drop-sets, or for those who have a lack of space. The only real negative here is the price, but if you can afford them, these dumbbells won’t let you down and will keep your workouts progressing for a very long time indeed.

<<Check out the Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells on Amazon here.>>

The Nomad Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells

A pair of black selectorised dumbbells on black stands

Key selling point: A high-tech, heavy weight dumbbell and good (cheaper) alternative to Bowflex

Why you should buy them:

  • Great weight spread
  • Quite compact

Why you shouldn’t:

  • Expensive (but cheaper than the Bowflex)
  • Weights tend to move around in container a bit

Despite being more expensive than simpler dumbbell systems, these Nomad dumbbells couple great design with a really good range of weights, and they’re cheaper than the Bowflex too – coming as a pair instead of just one.

There’s a good weight spread on these offering between 5kg to 32.5kg, the downside being that the lightest weight is 5kg making exercises on smaller muscle groups tougher and potentially too heavy (especially if you’re just starting out). You can very quickly swap weight with the turn of a dial (like the Bowflex), although it takes a bit of practice to get the swaps right as the remaining weights do tend to move around in their plastic container a bit.

The raised bobble grip and intuitive design means these dumbbells can be used for a range of movements and it’s still compact enough to tuck away in a cupboard or in the corner of a room (roughly taking up the size of a couple of shoe boxes).

<< Checkout the Nomad Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells on Ebay here >>


Fixed Dumbbells

The Wolverson Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells

A black hexagonal shaped dumbbell on a white background

Key selling point: A high quality gym-standard dumbbell

Why you should buy them:

  • Very tough (can withstand punishing workouts)
  • Contoured handles

Why you shouldn’t:

  • Best stored on a gym rack – so not great if you have limited space

With a weight spread of between 1-10kg, these tough boys are made from a cast iron interior with solid rubber body and are the kind of weights you’d find in a commercial gym.

Although the weight spread is a maximum of 10kg, and therefore not necessarily suited to more serious weight lifters, they are extremely versatile. The rubber coating is resistant to cracks and chips, and the neat hexagonal shape and shock absorbing outer layer makes them ideally suited to push-ups and explosive dumbbell workouts.

You would probably want to invest in a storage rack to store these away when not in use which means you’ll need a good amount of floor space to use them properly.

<<You can buy direct from Wolverson Fitness here>>

Escape Fitness Classic Steel Dumbbells

Key selling point: A premium dumbbell

Why you should buy them:

  • Robust build
  • Storage stand comes included
  • Gym quality

Why you shouldn’t:

  • Stupidly expensive
  • Limited range of weights

The Escape brand is one that regular gym bunnies will probably recognise from their local gym as they supply all manner of weight fitness equipment.

Make no mistake, this is a stupidly expensive set that combines an upright rack and weight kit. They’re a perfect example of the real cost of investing in a good spread of individual dumbbells – which are cracking for enabling you to maintain great form but might require you to take out a small bank loan or get a second job to fund buying them.

These weights are exceptionally well put together and will go on and on, even if regularly dropped from a height and put through punishing workout routines. However, the weight spread is very limited – between 2-20kg – so will only really suit people who are aiming for precision sculpting and cardio work.

<<Check out the Escape Fitness Classic Steel Dumbbells on Amazon here.>>

Adjustable Dumbbells

TNP Accessories Vinyl Dumbbells

A pair of black dumbbells with metal handles on a white background

Key selling point: A premium dumbbell

Why you should buy them:

  • Vinyl coating to protect your floor
  • Individual multi-use weights

Why you shouldn’t:

  • They feel quite cheap
  • Take up space

This affordable dumbbell set, with a weight spread of between 5-20kg, perhaps doesn’t boast the same quality finish as some of the more premium products out there, but the innovative grip shape of the handle means the weight plates can be used for many exercises on or off the bar provided. Either load the 18-inch metal bar for your classic dumbbell curls, overhead presses and weighted squats, or remove the weight plates to help with ab work such as crunches or weighted squat twists.

They’re also constructed using a floor-friendly plastic coating, which is designed to withstand your workout sessions and last long enough for you to pay for your purchase many, many times over.

There are various maximum weight options with these in the same range too, so you can buy the right range to suit your workout goals.

<< Check out the TNP Accessories Vinyl Dumbbells on Amazon here.>>

York Fitness Cast Iron Spinlock Dumbbell Set

Key selling point: Your classic quality dumbbell

Why you should buy them:

  • Robust Cast iron with hardy coating
  • A really good selection of weights

Why you shouldn’t:

  • The spin collars are fiddly and a bit clunky

These dumbbells are like a step back in time to the old days of bodybuilding – think Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping iron in a pair of gold briefs (or not) or hanging out at Gold’s Gym.

With a hardy black coating and a weight spread of 2-15kg, these hefty metal plates will resist wear and cracks if dropped (can’t give the same guarantee for your floor though) and come with rubber grips that give really good traction, even with sweaty hands.

Each dumbbell gives a weight spread of 15kg per hand through a variety of 0.5 – 2.5kg plates, which are heavy enough to give your upper and lower body a good workout, regardless of your level of fitness.

A negative with these though is having to unscrew the metal spin collars when changing the weight which can be quite fiddly and time-consuming, interrupting the flow of your workout.

<<Check out the York Fitness Cast Iron Dumbbells on Amazon here.>>

Decide what’s going to work for you

Everyone has different goals, levels of fitness and budgets and so it’s worth doing a bit of research before opening your wallet.

Dumbbells, whatever the cost, should be considered as a solid investment as they’re a crucial addition to your home gym – offering a multitude of options to your workouts – whether that’s for resistance, cardio or both – so you want to get it right.

I’ve provided a few options above – some expensive, some budget, but the options are almost endless. As I mentioned, if you’d like me to do a review of some weight sets that aren’t included above, drop me a line in the comments below and I’ll be happy to look at these for you. If you have any questions about these, or any other equipment you’ve seen and you’d like some guidance on, feel free to get in touch!



  1. I used to own the York Fitness dumbells myself. They were quite clunky because of the metal protruding on the edges, I used to get my foot caught in them often and I can tell you it wasn’t a nice experience! But I would always go for adjustable dumbells for the home, single weight options are just not space efficient. I think your first few options offer the best of both worlds..

    • Thanks for your feedback Kit. Adjustable cast iron dumbbells, especially with spinlock collars can be very clunky and they’re not very floor friendly either. But they are quite cheap and so are a good alternative to some other, more expensive brands when starting out and on a budget. I always use a mat at home to prevent damage to my flooring and make sure I’m wearing decent footwear to avoid catching my feet on them.  Agree, these are the best option for small spaces. 

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