Back in the day, the concept of owning a full set of dumbbells was realistic only for the most dedicated of muscleheads. The cost was prohibitive, as was the fact that you had to dedicate a substantial portion of your garage or basement to a couple rugged racks stacked with everything from 10s to 75s.
But in the past 10 years or so, the whole game has changed thanks to an ever-growing lineup of adjustable dumbbells. Employing a variety of clever mechanisms, these products enable you to quickly transform, say, 10-pound dumbbells you're using for weighted arm circles into 30-pounders for Zottman curls.
BEST OVERALL ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLBowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells Read More
BEST UPGRADE ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLSmrtft Nüobell Read More
BEST BUDGET ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLSYes4All Adjustable Dumbbells Yes4All Read More
BEST ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELL FOR GOING HEAVYAtivafit Fitness Dial Dumbbell Read More
BEST CONNECTED ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLSNordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Read More
Not only do these dumbbells cost less than a complete set, they take up a heck of a lot less space, making it realistic for just about anyone to snag a pair and open up a whole world of great strength training options. From durable staples from some of fitness’s top brands to hefty heavyweights for serious training, connected workout accessories and more, here are some of our favorite adjustable dumbbells on the market today.
How We Tested
Over the course of a few weeks, we turned a corner of our basement into a makeshift dumbbell area, testing a number of these adjustable fitness accessories in a variety of movements and modalities. We pressed, rowed, raised and flew our way through the gambit of available weights, highlighting how durable and secure each dumbbell felt in the hand, as well as how easy it was to navigate the available weight range. Bonus points were given for aesthetically-pleasing sets, as well as how diverse the listed weight ranges were.
Editor’s note: the prices shown are for paired dumbbell sets, unless otherwise noted.
Bowflex SelectTech 552
One of the original adjustable dumbbells still rules the roost. The Bowflex SelectTech 552s offer an impressive 15 available weights ranging from 5–52.5 pounds. We appreciated how the micro-adjustments within the first 25 pounds allowed us to target lighter totals, which made these perfect for shoulder exercises or light repetitions.
While the included plastic stand effectively holds each dumbbell, we’d also recommend the Bowflex Dumbbell Stand, which raises the base for more convenient storage, along with a tablet holder for following along with your favorite training workouts. And if live and on-demand classes are your preferred way to train, the SelectTech 552s come with a complimentary one-year membership to Bowflex’s JRNY digital fitness platform.
If you typically pull heavy weights or just want a set of dumbbells that look damn good, the Nüobells from Smrtft are our preferred pick. We tested the massive 80-pound set, but the brand also offers sets ranging from 5–50 pounds. The machined steel plates are well-balanced and aesthetically pleasing, but despite the steel profile, the locking mechanism is plastic, so we would recommend not dumping these fitness beauties from an extended height.
In addition to the looks and sheer weight, the Nüobell is also easily adjustable; just twist the center knurling to your preferred weight, lift from the stand and bang out your next set of muscle-building presses.
Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
Considering these weights pack a total of six dumbbells into a single unit, rising from 2.5 pounds up to 52.5 at a fraction of the cost of most other options, Yes4All's dumbbells present quite a value proposition. There are even options that let you connect a couple of dumbbells to turn them into a barbell for added training opportunities.
The big downside? They aren't nearly as quick to adjust as the competition: you must unscrew the collars at the end of each bar, then remove or add plates to decrease or increase the weight. Additionally, the cast iron plates are extremely durable but can be rough on your floors if thrown around. Consider adding a pad or carpet to your workout area — or be sure to mind your feet at the end of your set.
Ativafit Fitness Dial Dumbbell
Most adjustable dumbbells max out around 50 pounds, which is plenty for the majority of lifters but may leave more muscle-bound enthusiasts undergunned. A few brands cater to heavier lifters, including these adjustable dumbbells from Ativafit. While not the heaviest on this list, these dial-adjustable offerings pack 12 dumbbells into a single unit, tipping the scales at 71.5 pounds. That’s more than enough to satisfy anyone not named Big Ramy.
But while we enjoy the comfort and sturdiness of the soft grip handle, using these heavyweight dumbbells requires a little understanding of the metric system. The weights are listed in kilograms, so those dedicated to imperial poundage should bookmark a trusty converter before their next workout.
Editor’s Note: the price listed is for a single Ativafit dumbbell, meaning you'll have to shell out over $500 for a pair of these adjustable behemoths.
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Adjustable Dumbbells
“Alexa, let’s get training.” That’s right, with a simple voice command, you can use Amazon's cloud-based voice service to change up your workout routines. Simply connect the base to a power outlet, be within Wifi range and have your Alexa-enabled device close by to toggle through the 20 available dumbbell weights of the iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells. If you’d rather not have Alexa taking on your weight range, a convenient toggle knob in the center of the base allows for easy changes, too.
iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells also come with a 30-day membership to NordicTrack’s iFit digital fitness library, where you can follow along to live and on-demand workouts. But if you plan on viewing these sessions on your smartphone or tablet, make sure to place the dumbbell base on an elevated, sturdy surface: the tablet holder built into the base can be hard to view if placed on the floor of your training space.
Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
Core Fitness earns the user-friendly superlative for one simple reason: Twist Lock technology. Place the dumbbell in the cradle, twist the handle, and you can quickly adjust the weight from five pounds up to 50 in five-pound increments. Taking just seconds, it's about the simplest and smoothest weight adjustment we have seen yet. (For the record, Smrtft’s Nüobell boasts a similar system, but they cost considerably more, albeit with more available weight.)
PowerBlock EXP Stage 1 Adjustable Dumbbell Set
If you seek dumbbells that can grow with you, you're looking at 'em. That's because the EXPs from PowerBlock pack 16 dumbbells into each unit. Adder weights — weighing 2.5 pounds each — allow for micro-adjustment for those fine-tuned sessions as well. You can even purchase add-on stages (like this 20-pound addition) that let you boost the total weight per unit to 7o or even 90 pounds for even more muscle-building potential.
One caveat about the EXPs, however: the boxy design and pin-based adjustment system make this product noticeably less user-friendly than many others. Additionally, removing the adder weights takes extra steps that get into the true guts of the dumbbell, so changing on-the-fly is a little more strenuous.
Flybird Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
For those just getting into strength training, these adjustable dumbbells from Flybird Fitness can be an excellent point of entry. Featuring a cast-iron plate design, these durable accessories are simple to use, with each plate weighing 5.5 pounds. While this doesn’t lend itself to replacing as many standard dumbbells as other picks on this list, sometimes simple is the best solution, especially when it comes to training.
Additionally, we appreciated the comfortable feel of the black plastic handle, with an added coating for improved grip. We’re curious to see the durability of the plastic base — it feels thinner than other models we tested — the turn-style handle and cast-iron construction should be reliable for many workouts ahead.
Titan Fitness 15-inch Olympic Dumbbell Handle
Adjustable dumbbells aren’t just for those novice at-home lifters. They can be a great addition to any home gym setup, and if you already have a solid stash of Olympic weight plates, the 15-inch Olympic Dumbbell Handle from Titan Fitness is a must-own. The 3.5-inch loadable sleeves allow for a plethora of weight options, with a maximum capacity of 500 pounds. Knurled handles help with grip, and a chrome finish is sure to glisten as you sweat toward a new PR.
Nice C Adjustable Dumbbells
You don’t need to go heavy for an effective strength training session. For example, carrying a light pair of dumbbells during cardiovascular training can be a nice way to mix up your routine. These adjustable dumbbells from Nice C can be loaded with 16 small and 2 large weight bars for a total of five potential weights ranging from 2.3–11 pounds. While those aren’t record-breaking densities, that can be enough to put a little more resistance in your next run or walk.
The Nice C Adjustable Dumbbells are crafted from slip-resistant Neoprene, allowing for a comfortable feel during training. And at less than 10 inches long, these fitness accessories can sit neatly in a corner, under a desk or anywhere you plan to store them.