Types of Dumbbells: Ultimate Guide (2024 Review)

Types of Dumbbells: Ultimate Guide (2023)

You may have always loved working out at home. Or perhaps you are exploring unknown ground. Whatever camp you belong to, there are obstacles to good home workouts, one of which can be a lack of equipment. But if you put in a little work, you can build a home gym that really suits your needs.

Investing in a few important items, such as a set of dumbbells, will be the key to transforming your at-home exercises from ordinary to extraordinary. But there are many possibilities if you search “dumbbells” on Google.

And it may quickly become overwhelming if you don’t know where to start or what to look for. We researched hundreds of different opinions on the internet depending on your expertise level, workout program style, and budget to help you decide which ones are the best choice for you.

Quick Summary

  • The secret to elevating your at-home workouts from average to outstanding is spending money on a few critical tools, such as dumbbells.
  • When it comes to dumbbells, there are various materials like rubber, cast iron, neoprene, vinyl, and many more.
  • There are different kinds of shapes for dumbbells, like hex, round, and square.
  • Some dumbbells have adjustments, enabling the user to change the weight or resistance swiftly.
  • Some of the biggest brands that make dumbbells are Bowflex, Rogue, and PowerBlock.

Dumbbell Types by Material

You have undoubtedly already noticed that specific dumbbells differ somewhat from others if you look closely enough.

There are plenty of different materials when it comes down to dumbbells but other functional training equipment as well.

Some of the most popular ones are neoprene, cast iron, rubber, and many others. It helps to know whether you are utilizing rubber or cast iron equipment for safety reasons.

Although materials like iron are sturdy, you should never drop cast iron weights because doing so can cause damage.

1. Neoprene Dumbbells

The cast iron core of these dumbbells is covered with synthetic polymer neoprene.

Neoprene is frequently colored; therefore, if you see a set of colorful dumbbells, that set is most likely constructed of neoprene.

The neoprene covering protects the cast iron from moisture, preventing rust. Dumbbells made of neoprene are easy to handle and typically hold them a long time before your grip gets tired.

Additionally, because most neoprene dumbbells are hexagonal, they won’t roll about when placed on a flat surface on the ground. Dumbbells made of neoprene rarely weigh more than 15 pounds and typically weigh between 1 and 15 pounds.

However, if you intend to lift more than 15 pounds, these are not the best dumbbells for you to start with.

2. Cast Iron Dumbbells

Dumbbells made of cast iron have a sturdy cast iron mold and are made entirely of one piece. Typically, they weigh up to 120 pounds. Cast iron is the way to go if you want to elevate your workouts. Cast iron is a favorite among lifters because it is so durable. If you drop the material on the floor, there is no need to be concerned about cracking.

Cast iron dumbbells are a good option for home gym owners looking to save money and casual lifters who won’t train that hard to drop them regularly.

With these dumbbells, the essential thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t leave them outside. If exposed to moisture, they corrode quickly. You can purchase them in most sporting goods stores if you don’t want to buy dumbbells online and pay for pricey shipping.

3. Rubber Coated Dumbbells

Dumbbells made of rubber are made of metal weights. Rubber can be made from synthetic materials or the sap of trees. However, because the interior is filled with metal, their weights frequently reach 120 pounds.

If you drop it, the rubber will shield the floor from damage. There is a chance of the floor splitting when there is simply metal. Although you can perform the same workouts with these dumbbells as you can with neoprene and cast iron ones, you should be conscious of any potential odor. 

It can take some time for the strong smell that rubber occasionally emits to go away. Consider whether you may be allergic to rubber as well. In that situation, you need to choose an alternative material.

4. Chrome Dumbbells

Although they aren’t that popular, chrome dumbbells are a good option for some people. They feature a dazzling appearance and are constructed of chrome. They are often referred to as “beauty bells” as a result. Chrome dumbbells are usually limited to 50 pounds and are not very resilient. 

It is not advised to drop them because of their fragile build. They have rounded heads, which makes it challenging to perform workouts on the floor with them. They aren’t worth it unless you enjoy how they look because they don’t cost much less than any other kind of dumbbell.

Rust is another issue with this material that needs to be avoided. No matter what, don’t leave them outside. Additionally, they are susceptible to scratches and visual deterioration with time.

5. Urethane Dumbbells

Urethane is a different kind of rubber, similar to rubber-coated dumbbells. They can be dropped without fear of breaking and stored outside because the urethane won’t deteriorate in the presence of moisture or sunlight.

Additionally, urethane doesn’t smell strong like conventional rubber dumbbells do. If you regularly clean your gym equipment, it can also tolerate strong cleaners and disinfectants, which is helpful. 

Urethane dumbbells can be found in heavier weights than other types of dumbbells. Some companies offer urethane dumbbells up to 200 pounds. The size of their heads is relatively constant, even though they cannot be stored flat without rolling. They don’t occupy much space on a storage shelf as a result. 

The disadvantage is that these are frequently the most expensive dumbbells on the market. That might prevent you from including them in your home gym. Commercial-grade rubber or urethane dumbbells are often available at most luxury gyms.

5. Vinyl Dumbbells

Similar to neoprene dumbbells, vinyl dumbbells include a cast iron core wrapped in a slick, plastic-like vinyl coating. Despite not being actual hex dumbbells, they have a hexagonal form and are also available in vibrant colors.

The hexagonal form of vinyl dumbbells prevents rolling. They don’t take up much space, which makes them easier to store, and the vinyl helps shield your flooring from scuffs and scratches. If you run a small fitness facility, you can rapidly sanitize them between courses because the vinyl material is simple to wipe down.

Dumbbells made of vinyl also have a non-slip texture on the grip that makes it easier to keep your grasp even when your hands are sweaty. Beginners, people recovering from an injury, and people who wish to add a little resistance to their workout sessions should use vinyl dumbbells.

Dumbbell Types by Shape

With dumbbells, you need to consider more than just the material. In addition, they have a range of shapes. Additionally, even though the shape doesn’t significantly affect the activities you may perform, there are still minor variations that affect how comfortable your workouts are.

1. Hex Dumbbells

The name “hex dumbbells” refers to the weights’ hexagonal shape, which increases their stability. The weight of a 10-pound hex dumbbell and a 10-pound round dumbbell are equal.

Although shape can be irrelevant, it does have some bearing on the types of activities you can perform.

Additionally, there are some exercises you can perform with a hex dumbbell that you cannot accomplish with other tools. You can firmly place the dumbbell on the ground thanks to its six sides. It can then help you with dumbbell push-ups.

These dumbbells are typically cast iron, which has a nice appearance. Also, the hex dumbbells are rigid and typically more affordable than their urethane or rubber competitors. These dumbbells have the drawback of potentially scratching your floor or your shelf.

Hex dumbbells with a rubber coating are an option, but they are usually more expensive. Remember that rubber coatings can expand and fracture in the heat if you practice outside. Although hexagons are the most typical shape, square dumbbells are also frequently seen.

2. Round Dumbbells

Dumbbells with a round shape are perfectly circular. They perform the same function as hex dumbbells. However, their propensity to roll on uneven surfaces should be the primary concern. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. 

It may be simpler to roll the dumbbell than to carry it if you need to move it around a specific area. If you set it down, you only need to be cautious about it wandering off without your knowledge. There are frequently more handle alternatives available for round dumbbells.

But when it comes to conventional weight training, you can utilize a round dumbbell for almost the same exercises as a hex one. Dumbbells with fixed weights that are totally round can be hard to find. However, many adjustable sets or spinlock sets have round weights.

3. Square Dumbbells

Naturally, the primary component of square dumbbells has a square shape. Dumbbell sets using a teardrop or other unique forms can also be found. They can be uniformly distributed on the floor and used to perform push-ups, which makes them quite comparable to hex dumbbells. 

They won’t roll away from you, either. They are noticeably more stable when performing workouts that require holding the grips with the dumbbells on the floor. Square dumbbells are not very common. You will probably find more hex and round weights if you visit your local gym than square ones.

Dumbbell Types by Adjustability

There is one more thing to think about just when you thought you had plenty of research to complete before making your next dumbbell purchase!

You will need to grab a different dumbbell if you wish to lift a different weight because some dumbbells have a single, fixed weight. You will need a set or rack to provide yourself with a wide range of alternatives when setting up a home gym.

Other dumbbells can be adjusted, allowing the user to vary the weight or resistance quickly.

You must be aware of the following.

1. Fixed Weight Dumbbells

When it comes to fixed weights, there is no flexibility. A fixed dumbbell that weighs 50 pounds will always weigh 50 pounds. The dumbbell is made of a solid block that has been thoroughly formed. This is why many lifters favor these dumbbells. 

You don’t need to fiddle with the weight adjustment. Simply pick them up and move on.

Dumbbells with fixed weights are incredibly sturdy and safe. They are comfortable in your hands.

When lifting at the gym, it doesn’t really matter that these dumbbells can’t be adjusted because there will usually be a full rack of different weights available for you to select from right away.

Fixed weights, however, can become inconvenient if you have a home gym. You may not have enough room for the other dumbbells you need.

It usually costs more because you have to buy more weight as well.

2. Adjustable Dumbbells

For your home gym, adjustable dumbbells are a space-saving alternative. You can alter the weight that the device puts on your handle when you pick it up using any of the numerous mechanisms that are included, including a pin, dial, or lever. The more modern versions of adjustable dumbbells make switching between weights much more practical.

You will need to purchase each weight denomination separately if the weights on your dumbbells are fixed and unchangeable. People who value space or who live in a big city with little room for exercise equipment should utilize adjustable weights.

It greatly helps when you have a smaller home gym because you receive one piece of equipment with your purchase. But not everyone likes this type of variety. The weight adjustment process can be lengthy. It consequently reduces the intensity of your workout.

And not everyone enjoys how these tools feel in their hands. They can feel a little off-balance or rattly at times. However, it is unbeatable in terms of both price and space.

Check here our review of the best adjustable dumbbells of 2024.

Spinlock Adjustable Dumbbells

Spinlock dumbbells are a type of adjustable weight; however, they resemble a barbell with weights more so than other varieties of adjustable dumbbells. This variation is explicitly designed for lifters who prefer the feel of regular dumbbells.

To acquire the precise weight you want, put different plates on either side of the dumbbell bar. Your dumbbell weighs precisely how you want it to because plates typically come in increments of 2.5 pounds.

You use a clip or collar to secure the weight plates once you have inserted them. You have complete control over your weight training using spinlocks. Dumbbells of whatever weight you can imagine can be “created.”

If you are buying these for home use, you will need a rack of weights to add to your spinlock, which can get pricey and take up room. Additionally, changing the weights can be tedious and uncomfortable.

Dial Adjustable Dumbbells

Dumbbells with dial adjustments have dials that may be turned to lock onto the desired weight. They frequently have a circular or slightly hexagonal shape but can become huge and heavy when carrying bigger loads. Typically, they are adjustable up to 90 pounds.

Dial adjustable dumbbells offer access to numerous weight options with just one pair, like other adjustable dumbbells. They are quick and straightforward to adjust because you must turn a dial to the desired weight.

Dumbbells of this kind frequently cannot be dropped. They have little parts and gears that can break when they land, making them unusable. Depending on the brand you choose, you can only add weight in increments of 5 pounds, which is a disadvantage for those who find it challenging to add 5 pounds to specific lifts.

For anyone who doesn’t have a lot of storage space and doesn’t intend to drop their dumbbells, dial-adjustable dumbbells are the best option. Additionally, they work well for bodybuilders, general strength training, and beginners to advanced lifters.

Due to their size, which makes them too thick for dumbbell snatches and cleans, we do not recommend these dumbbells for CrossFitters. Consider using alternative dumbbells depending on your strength, as the 90-pound weight limit might be too restrictive.

Digital Adjustable Dumbbells

Each dumbbell in Jaxjox’s pair may be adjusted incrementally from 8 pounds to 50 pounds with the push of a button. It is a weight set the size of a complete rack that will fit in even the smallest home gym. The linked aspect of Jaxjox allows you to follow reps, sets, time, power, and total volume while taking part in workouts conducted by trainers. 

If you decide to download the Jaxjox app, you can also use it to change both dumbbells simultaneously and modify the weights from your phone (though you have to make sure both are on and paired, which you can do by lifting them and replacing them in the base with the app on).

Despite feeling light compared to the 50 pounds they can support, the bases are surprisingly strong for being constructed of plastic. There are eight rubberized feet on each one to keep them from moving about on the floor, and each one includes outer “wings” and ridges to aid in guiding the dumbbell into position.

Slamming your weights on the floor is rude in a gym, but it might ruin your set-up here. Having said that, the base rewards finesse because you must align the handles with the remaining plates to properly reset them in the cradle.

Dumbbell Plate Sets

Like smaller versions of barbells and barbell plates, dumbbell plate sets are used for weight training. A handle with sleeves at both ends will be provided for you to slide weighted plates on. The weights are typically restrained from sliding off the bar by a clamp on the outside, and notches at both ends prevent the plates from moving to the middle.

Plate sets take up more space than a full set of fixed dumbbells but less space than adjustable sets. These advantages may be present if you exercise at home, but you won’t typically find them in any commercial gyms because fixed dumbbells are more practical for them to use.

3. DIY Dumbbells

In many cases, making your own dumbbells at home would be much less expensive than purchasing new weights if you genuinely wanted to. You may accomplish this in a variety of ways, and if you want to develop your creativity, you might find a solution that is really ideal for your requirements.

Empty soda or milk bottles, sand, and PVC pipes are among the most widely used materials for DIY dumbbell construction. You poke PVC pipe through the holes you’ve cut out of the bottles, placing a bottle at each end. You do this to make sure the holes are of the same height.

After using silicone or a material similar to it to seal the holes around the PVC, the jugs are filled with sand or another substance to get the weight you want.

Dumbbell Types by Brand

When it comes to dumbbells, there are numerous brands. Here are a few of the more well-known and typical ones.

1. Amazon Basics

This rubber-coated dumbbell is a simple item that is reasonably priced, so you will probably need to buy two. The contoured handle is comfortable to hold, and the rubber coating helps protect floors and other surfaces. In addition, they are less likely to roll and are simpler to stack for storage because of their hex shape.

Although some reviewers claim that the dumbbells immediately after unpacking smell strongly of plastic, it is generally agreed upon that this scent goes away after a few days.

Hex construction prevents rolling, and the available weight range is suitable for the majority of activities and requirements.

Indeed, these dumbbells are effective because they have more than 40,000 reviews and a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on Amazon.

2. Bowflex Dumbbells

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dumbbells are tough to beat if you want to conserve space while still having access to a variety of difficulty levels. With this pair of two dumbbells, users can choose from 17 different weight increments ranging from 10 to 90 pounds. 

Resistance levels may be quickly and easily changed between workouts and sets thanks to the easy-adjust dial. In contrast to the SelectTech 552, this model’s modest hex shape helps keep them from rolling even when they aren’t stacked in the provided holder.

Besides that, they are compatible with the Bowflex JRNY app (and a 1-year membership to the app is provided to new JRNY members with a purchase of these dumbbells).

You should be aware that you will need to buy different dumbbells if you require weights less than 10 pounds.

Although these dumbbells are more expensive than most, the cost per pound is less than $1 when you consider that a single set can replace the equivalent of up to 17 pairs of dumbbells (34 individual dumbbells).

3. Rogue Dumbbells

Rogue dumbbells can weigh anywhere between 2.5 and 125 lbs. These rubber-coated, hex-shaped dumbbells have an ergonomic grip with a textured surface that makes them simple to use for a range of activities. You may perform workouts like renegade rows that call for the dumbbells to rest on the floor since hex dumbbells won’t roll.

You will need to buy additional sets if you want to experiment with different weights because they aren’t adjustable, but their general price makes that a little bit easier to do.

The rubber coating makes it less likely that you will scratch or otherwise harm your floors.

Cons are that they are sold as single dumbbells, not as a pair. Some people mention a strong scent and an oily coating when first unpacking them.

Just remember that lighter dumbbells are less expensive than larger ones because pricing is based on the overall number of pounds being purchased. It could be costly to buy several sets.

4. Ironmaster Dumbbells

A revolutionary lock design on the Ironmaster Rapid-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell System enables quick weight adjustments. Similar to the lesser PowerBlock sets, the system offers weights ranging from 5-45 pounds in increments of 2.5 pounds. 

But like the PowerBlock EXP models, Ironmaster provides upgrade kits to raise the weight load to 75-120 pounds, exceeding the 90-pound PowerBlock. Additionally, Ironmaster sells extras like an EZ curl bar and a straight bar. The price of the Ironmaster system is $459.

5. Yes4all Dumbbells

If you’re okay with spending more time to recover between exercises: The Yes4All Adjustable Cast Iron Dumbbells are traditional adjustable dumbbells held together by a bar, weight plates, and threaded collars. 

They do, however, take a very long time to adjust because you have to unscrew the collars, load or unload the plates, and then re-screw the collars while calculating the weight of the plates. It will take 25 seconds to switch the weight on one dumbbell, so you should expect to rest for about a minute in between exercises.

In addition, you will need to resist the powerful temptation to repeat the previous exercise with the same weight, which could result in either too little challenge or a severe struggle.

The problem is that these bars and the holes on the weight plates they fit into are 1.15 inches in diameter, making them incompatible with a more common 1-inch bar and plates. 

As a result, you cannot raise the load by using plates from another set. But if conventional strength training appeals to you and the total weight load is sufficient for your needs, this set can be a good value.

6. Powerblock Dumbbells

Making the switch to adjustable dumbbells isn’t that different if you are used to lifting weights with conventional dumbbells. You hold and hoist adjustable dumbbells the same way you would a standard dumbbell. Not how you use the dumbbells—the same—but how you choose how much weight to utilize is different.

It is a relatively common approach, even though each PowerBlock series and model has somewhat different ways of identifying and choosing how much weight you want to utilize. Locate the numbered or color-coded indicators on each block to determine the weight you want to use, then push the included pin into the slot to secure it.

There may also be the option to take an adder weight out of the PowerBlock to lessen the weight by 2.5 pounds if you want to make small modifications to how much weight you lift.

PowerBlock has a well-established reputation as a premium at-home fitness brand. That said,  85% of the 385 reviews for the service gave PowerBlock an “excellent” rating, saying that it performs as promised, conserves space, and is simple to use.

Depending on the model, PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells cost anywhere from $169 and $817.

7. Nordictrack Dumbbells

These Select-A-Weight dumbbells are more compact and take up a fraction of the space needed for various sets of dumbbells; you only need room for one large pair of dumbbells instead of the equivalent of 15 pairs for the same versatility. Moving the pin and the inner slide, you may quickly vary the weight. 

The weight of the outer pin varies from 10 to 50 pounds, and you can add 2.5 or 5 pounds to your overall weight with the inner slide. The former edition of these dumbbells had multi-sided weight plates, but NordicTrack updated them with rounded weight plates and steel handles with modest knurling in place of the plastic handles.

Although 55 pounds might not be sufficient for every athlete, this weight range is typical for adjustable dumbbells. However, you will have to invest more money for a heavier set if you require more weight than what is provided. In our opinion, the overall value and usefulness of these dumbbells make them well worth the $350 asking price.

8. Ybell Dumbbells

The YBells’ triangular shape makes it possible to hold and use them in various ways, including push-up bars, dumbbells, kettlebells, and dual-grip medicine balls. This enables you to vary your workouts even if your equipment is restricted.

Neoprene coating is gentle on your palms and other surfaces, and the triangle design prevents rolling away (in addition to providing a solid base for push-ups).

Although the weight range of 10-27 pounds is sufficient for most exercisers and programs, it might not be enough for individuals who desire to lift large weights.

The YBell may be stacked or hung on wall racks for convenient storage. Some of the cons of these dumbbells are that cost per lb is higher than many dumbbells, and they are not solid in pairs but separately.

These dumbbells are more expensive than many other dumbbells, costing from $3 to $6 per pound. You will need to purchase two of each weight you intend to buy because each YBell is sold separately.

9. Cap Dumbbells

The CAP Barbell Coated Dumbbells, another excellent option for rubber-coated, hex-shaped dumbbells, are available in a wide variety of weights from 3-120 pounds. The ergonomic handle’s rough surface enhances grip, which is crucial for lifting heavy objects.

Since each dumbbell is supplied separately, you will need to buy a number of them if you need a range of resistances. However, bear in mind that if you want pairs, you will need to buy two of each resistance.

Specialty Dumbbells

Dumbbells with a distinctive shape that are employed for a single sport are called specialty dumbbells. They can be a fun way to add some diversity to your training, but they usually aren’t required if you don’t compete in that sport.

Circus Dumbbells

Circus dumbbells are big, heavy dumbbells that are usually used by Strongman and Strongwoman athletes. Their handles are larger than those of standard dumbbells, and they usually start at 75 pounds and go up to 250 pounds.

Even when you utilize a similar weight, circus dumbbells offer a distinct training stimulus you won’t find with conventional dumbbells. They are an excellent tool for strengthening the core, building the upper body, and pressing strength. You can practice your grip strength thanks to the wider diameter as well.

Circus dumbbells are costly, take up a lot of space, and are only helpful for a limited number of exercises. Due to how cumbersome they are, lifting them differs significantly from pressing a standard dumbbell overhead and calls for a special technique.

A circus dumbbell would benefit anyone who is competing or plans to compete in Strongman/Strongwoman contests. We suggest circus dumbbells for CrossFit competitors as some CrossFit competitions incorporate strongman training. However, you could be better off attempting to drop into a nearby Strongman gym when you need to use them if you wouldn’t be training with them frequently.

Anyone who does not participate in Strongman or Strongwoman competitions or is not a highly accomplished CrossFit athlete has no reason to purchase circus dumbbells.

Check out our reviews of different dumbbells for specific needs:

FAQs

What Type of Dumbbells Do Gyms Use?

The type of dumbbells gyms use are made of steel with chrome plating on them. Most of them are made of hardened metals and have anti-chip chrome, but they are not as durable as those that have rubber or urethane coatings.

Are Rotating Dumbbells Better?

Yes, rotating dumbbells are better. They were made for dynamic, explosive weightlifting motions like the dumbbell snatch. Additionally, the rotating handle provides an exceptionally smooth sensation and reduces joint tension during exercises like biceps curls.

Are Rubber or Metal Dumbbells Better?

Rubber dumbbells are better than metal ones. Rubber dumbbells are just metal dumbbells coated in rubber. Therefore, aside from the additional layer of defense against damage, rust, and corrosion offered by rubber-coated dumbbells, the two types are generally of similar build. Dumbbells made of rubber are more durable than those made of metal.

What Is the Best Type of Dumbbells to Start With?

The best type of dumbbells to start with are coated dumbbells. They are easy on the hands and the eyes, given their fun colors. 

Some people might discover them simpler to hold than a more conventional set of dumbbells because of the neoprene coating and tiny size. They are an accessible choice due to their affordable price.

This set includes three sets weighing 3, 5, and 8 pounds and a rack to store them on. Other sets are available, one with weights between 2 and 5 pounds and the other with weights between 5 and 15 pounds, which might interest certain purchasers. 

Additionally, you can purchase individual dumbbell sets without a rack that weighs 2 to 20 pounds. This is our pick for the best dumbbells to start with, but let us know what you think about them.

Vanja Vukas

Vanja Vukas

Student at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education and a hardcore functional training enthusiast. Heavily inspired by Michael Boyle, a strength & conditioning specialist, and by Adam Sinicki, the founder of Bioneer. Vanja believes that transitioning to a movement-based exercise program can drastically improve your fitness, balance out your muscles, and support your current lifestyle.

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