The best dumbbell sets to get strong with

Lift smart with these dumbbell sets.

Best Overall

Rogue Dumbbells

Rogue Dumbbells

See It

Best Value

Bowflex SelectTech 552

Bowflex SelectTech 552

See It

Best Dumbbell Set with Rack

XMark Heavy Duty Dumbbells Set

XMark Heavy Duty Dumbbells Set

See It

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Any bodybuilder or strength trainer knows that you can use dumbbells for serious gains. Real talk here: If you walk into a gym that doesn’t have dumbbells you should ask for a refund and go find a real gym. As a lifter, it is important to have the versatility offered by dumbbells. Since they’re available in almost any increment of weight, you can customize your workouts for progressive results. While adjustable dumbbells have seen a rise in popularity, there’s something about an old-school dumbbell that can’t be beaten. 

Traditional dumbbells are a simple tool for strength training as they allow you to isolate muscle groups. The typical design has not changed in over a hundred years for this reason. But what makes a dumbbell good? Why spend a lot of money on steel or iron when you can get cheap molds for concrete? If you’re asking these questions, then you should read on as we do the heavy lifting research on the best dumbbells.

Best Dumbbell Set Overall

Rogue Dumbbells

See It

Best Value

Bowflex SelectTech 552

See It

Best Dumbbell Set with Rack

XMark Heavy Duty Dumbbells Set

See It

Best Cast-Iron Dumbbell Set

CAP Hex Head Cast-Iron Dumbbells

See It

Best Dumbbell Set for Beginners

HolaHatha Neoprene Dumbbells

See It

Best Loadable Dumbbell Set

Marcy Loadable Dumbbells

See It

Why you should trust us

During my time as a strength athlete, I learned a lot about weights. My personal experiences help shape my understanding and allow me to develop friendships with people who know more than me. That’s what I combine with in-depth research to answer the big questions like Is there a barbell supreme? or What’s the best weight bench? 

Types of dumbbell sets

The dumbbell itself is a standard design that doesn’t allow for much deviation — two weighted sections connected by a handgrip. Because dumbbells are made to specific weights, the material isn’t as important when it comes to defining dumbbells. That’s why we’re going to define the types by the shape. 

Round

Probably one of the oldest designs are round dumbbells. Old school strongmen would lift dumbbells that were metal spheres connected by a handgrip. This design was eventually replaced with a cylindrical shape that looked like cans attached to the handle. 

Hexagonal

Over the past few decades, the hex-head dumbbell has become more popular. The main reason for this is that the hexagonal shape offers six flat sides for the dumbbell to rest on. This reduces the risk of the dumbbell rolling away. 

Key features of a dumbbell set

Rubber coating

Many dumbbells feature a rubber coating or hard rubber that covers the weighted ends. This is listed first because it isn’t just an appearance feature. Covering the weight in rubber creates a protective layer for both the weight and your floor.

Knurling 

To knurl or not to knurl?! That really is the question. Knurling is that dimple-looking texture on barbells and dumbbells. That texture makes the bar easier to grip, especially when your hands are sweaty. Whether you use chalk or not, I always encourage knurling. It also offers a sense of security when you’re doing Arnold Presses, or any other overhead and heavy lifting. 

Material

Is there an ideal material for dumbbells? Whether you choose to go with steel, cast iron, or even concrete, a 30-pound dumbbell is going to weigh the same. However, the durability of a dumbbell is directly related to what it is made from and should be considered. The density of the material is also a factor, as 100 pounds of concrete will have more mass than the same amount of steel. For durability and storage purposes, it is better to choose steel, iron, or similar materials. 

Benefits of dumbbell sets 

Unilateral training

The single biggest benefit of using dumbbells is the ability to train the individual sides of your body. Examples of this are single-leg dumbbell deadlifts or alternating bicep curls. While you’re lifting the weights, you are using one side to do the work at a time. This isolates the muscle group more than bilateral training and targets balancing muscles that don’t normally get used with barbells or when working both sides. A Bulgarian split squat is much more challenging than a traditional squat even at bodyweight for this reason. 

Precision muscle targeting

Our muscles are designed to move certain ways, but your grip and the direction of motion can place the stress differently on your muscles. A prime example of this is the traditional bicep curl versus a hammer curl. Because the hammer curl has your hand turned in and arcs up instead of having your hand turned out and moving linearly, your bicep gets a different form of stress placed on it and it must adapt. Using dumbbells opens the possibilities of targeting your muscles from every angle. 

Tone

Believe it or not, dumbbells aren’t just for bodybuilders. Shocking, I know. But the truth is that anyone can use dumbbells to achieve their fitness goals. Many lifters don’t want to go out and become Mr. Olympus or anything, and that’s okay. Owning a set of 10- to 30-pound dumbbells can easily allow you to get some high-volume workouts that will burn fat and tone those muscles up. 

Dumbbell set pricing

Pricing

Let’s not beat around the bush, dumbbells are going to be expensive. You’re not just paying per pound. if you’re ordering online, you’ll be paying for shipping per pound as well. Fixed weight dumbbells are typically priced around $2 per pound, give or take. Adjustable dumbbells are more expensive per dumbbell but are significantly more affordable than full sets of fixed-weight dumbbells. The more you buy, the more you’ll spend. As long as you stay committed to lifting, it will be a worthwhile investment. 

How we chose our top picks

Our top picks were selected to fit specific categorical and performance criteria, as well as features and benefits. We avoided looking at extravagantly priced products or products with unrealistic claims. Each product had to be affordable and functional. The selected dumbbells were evaluated using personal experience, industry knowledge, communication with manufacturers, and in-depth research.

FAQs on dumbbell sets

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Why are they called “dumbbells?”

A: One theory suggests that the English poet Joseph Addison unintentionally created the name when referring to the church bells he used to work out. Since he’d removed the clappers to silence them, he referred to them as “dumb” bells. This seems to be the most probable origin, but we may never know the real reason. 

Q: What range of weights do people normally use with dumbbells?

A: This is going to be highly subjective depending on spatial needs and fitness goals. That being said, most lifters can effectively utilize dumbbells from 10 to 40 pounds for their goals. 

Q: Should I buy adjustable dumbbells or fixed dumbbells?

A: Once again, this is highly subjective. If you’re tight on space, you might benefit from adjustable dumbbells. But if space is no concern and you want the widest range possible, fixed dumbbells are the way to go because you don’t have to mess with dials or plates.

Q: Is unilateral training easier with dumbbells?

A: Yes. Dumbbells allow you to focus on specific muscle groups and sections of the body. This is really beneficial if there is a large symmetrical discrepancy in performance between sides. If you can curl 50 pounds with your left arm but only 25 pounds with the right, you can tailor your workouts to improve onside and decrease the discrepancy.

Share

Scott Whisler Avatar

Scott Whisler

Contributing Writer

Scott Whisler is a Marine Corps veteran and family man. He’s an avid student of philosophy who strives for self-growth and challenge, both found in his outdoor adventures.  As a new Okie, his focus is on exploring the South Central region. His lifetime goal is to have excursions in all of the National Parks.