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Published Nov. 8, 2021

The best adjustable dumbbells can take your home gym to the next level. Don’t have a home gym? Well, congratulations, because the right set of adjustable dumbbells is a great first step to creating your very own home gym. In fact, some might consider adjustable dumbbells to be the “gateway drug” of home gym equipment addicts. Sure, it starts with adjustable dumbbells, but then you need an adjustable bench to get a proper chest workout, and next thing you know you’re sweating it out on a $5,000 stair-stepper, with a shake weight in each hand, and a Jawzrsize ball in your mouth. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the time of coronavirus and quarantines (or if you’re heading into the long dark winter of the north country like me), having a home gym can be essential for those days when you can’t make it to the gym or if you just prefer to grunt, groan, and sweat in the comfort of your own basement. The problem, however, is that with home gyms, real estate is a premium, and being able to maximize your space often becomes the name of the game. For this purpose, adjustable dumbbells are a no-brainer, eliminating the need for row after row of individually weighted dumbbells. 

In the following list, we’ll break down the top brands of adjustable dumbbells and give you the best recommendations for sculpting your guns at home. For the purpose of this list, we have limited the reviewed products to adjustable dumbbell sets utilizing internal mechanisms for (nearly automatic) weight adjustment and excluded those that require the manual changing of disc plates and collars. Read on and let’s see which of the best adjustable dumbbells is the right fit for you.

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is probably the most well-known brand and model of the adjustable dumbbells on the market today. First released in the late 2000s, the Bowflex SelectTech 552s have topped the rating charts for over a decade and, with more than 13,000 ratings on Amazon alone, they still hold an impressive average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. I’ve personally used these dumbbells a number of times and can vouch for their quality, durability, and ease of use.

Probably the best feature about the Bowflex SelectTech 552 is the adjustable dial on the ends of each dumbbell. Short of a few dumbbell models that utilize a twisting hand grip to change weights, the Bowflex SelectTech 552’s dial mechanisms are among the smoothest and easiest on the market. To adjust the weight of each dumbbell, a person must simply place the weight back into the base, turn the dials to the desired weight indicated, and pick the weight back up. This makes the Bowflex SelectTech 552 ideal for workouts requiring rapid weight changes between exercises or sets.

It is perhaps the simplicity of the Bowflex SelectTech 552 that has kept it on top for so long. More importantly, this set of adjustable dumbbells is about middle-of-the-road as far as pricing goes, which means you won’t break the bank to get a quality-proven product.

Product specs:

Adjustments: The Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells allow users to select weights ranging from 5 to 52.5 pounds with the quick turn of a dial. Weight is adjustable by increments of 2.5 pounds up to 25 pounds, and then increments of 5 pounds up to 50 pounds, with one final 2.5-pound increase at the end to max out the dumbbell’s capacity.

Size: At 15.75 inches long, these dumbbells may be a bit longer than you’re used to and may require some acclimation (unfortunately the length does not decrease with lower weight selection). Even with the greater length and a width of 8.5 inches, these dumbbells will occupy far less space than the 15 sets of regular dumbbells they’re able to replace.

Durability: Each weight plate is coated with durable plastic, which keeps the noise of shifting weights to a minimum, and the dumbbell’s base is made with the same or similar material. Despite its durability, the user should remain cognizant that even tough plastics are prone to cracking and chipping, so if you’re used to dropping your weights after each set or slamming them into the rack, you may want to tone down the macho man approach and rethink it with these.

Why we picked it:

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 was picked based on my own hands-on experience with the product, as well as the data gathered from numerous reviews and performance rating lists.

PROS

Quick-change dial for weight adjustment

Sturdy plate locks

Comfortable and grips

2-year warranty

CONS

Maximum weight of 52.5 pounds each

Plastic susceptible to cracking

NordicTrack is another high-quality brand of exercise equipment, but when you think of the company, you probably think more of rowing machines, skiers, stationary bikes, and other large-scale machines. Recently, NordicTrack began producing their own version of adjustable dumbbells, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight, which has been a constant presence on most recent review lists of best adjustable dumbbells.

In order to properly put them to the test, I purchased my own set and have been using them consistently for my own morning workouts. What I’ve found has been pretty positive all around. The dumbbells arrived in one large package weighing about 110 pounds, so I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to whatever Amazon delivery person had to lug that beast up to my doorstep. The dumbbells utilize a dual selector mechanism that allows the user to move forward and backward through 10-pound plates or side to side on each of the inside plates to select between 5, 2.5, or 0 pounds. The selector can take a few moments to get used to, but ultimately makes for a pretty fast weight change.

One of the biggest draws for the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight dumbbells is the price. Most middle-weight dumbbell sets (sets ranging up to 55 pounds) come in at around $400 for a pair, but the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight dumbbells are available for a comparably low cost. Plus, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight dumbbells come with a free trial of NordicTrack’s iFit app, which features a variety of interactive workouts to get you started.

Product specs:

Adjustments: The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight features dual sliding selectors that move back and forth along the 10-pound weight disks and side to side on the innermost disks (allowing the user to select between 5, 2.5, and 0 pounds). Weight selections include: 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 32.5, 35, 40, 42.5, 45, 50, 50.25, and 50 pounds.

Size: Unlike many of the adjustable dumbbells, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight gets shorter as your weight decreases. With the weight maxed out at 55 pounds, these dumbbells measure in at a total 16.5 inches, which is admittedly pretty long. However, as you decrease in weight and leave 5-pound plates in the base, the overall length decreases. Every plate is about .75 inches wide, so with every 10 pound drop (2x plates), you’re decreasing the overall length by 1.5 inches. When you drop to the lowest weight setting of 10 pounds, the dumbbell’s overall length is a meager 9.75 inches, which isn’t bad at all.

Durability: Like most of its competitors, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight dumbbells have plates that are coated with a durable plastic. The interlocking plates, when seated properly, offer a sturdy hold which keeps the weights from jostling too much during exercises. Like with other models of adjustable dumbbells, you’ll want to avoid tossing or dropping these dumbbells, as a number of reviews suggest the plastic casing can and will chip or crack when not treated properly.

Why we picked it:

The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight was picked based on its high ratings, lower price, and my own hands-on experience with the product.

PROS

Smooth sliding dual selectors for quick weight changes

Affordable price

Length varies on weight

Free trial of iFit app

CONS

Plates do not always interlock properly

Plastic susceptible to cracking

Surprise, surprise — another Bowflex SelectTech. This time it’s the Bowflex SelectTech 1090, which is similar in build and design to the SelectTech 552 which earned our top spot. The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 model boasts the same quick-change dial technology of its little brother, only on a larger scale, with a weight range extending from 10 to 90 pounds.

Of course, with increased weight comes increased cost, and at $399 for each dumbbell, a set will put you back about $800 (double the cost of the SelectTech 552). This might be hard to swallow for some people, but for heavy lifters, 52.5 pounds might not be enough, and for most of us, an adjustable set of dumbbells going up to 90 pounds each would ensure we’ll never need another set of dumbbells again, no matter how much protein powder we ingest.

Product specs:

Adjustments: The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells allow users to select weights ranging from 10 to 90 pounds via their quick-change dial at increments of 5 pounds.

Size: The SelectTech 1090s are a whopping 17.5 inches long, which many reviewers have voiced as their biggest beef, and understandably so. That’s a lot of dumbbells to get used to, and could certainly require the user to modify their form for some exercise. Each dumbbell measures in at 10 inches wide, but takes the place of 17 regular dumbbells.

Durability: Just like the SelectTech 552, each metal plate is coated with durable plastic. Users should be even more cautious with the SelectTech1090s, as it’s much easier to inadvertently let down heavier weights too hard, which could cause cracking and damage to the plate casings or base.

Why we picked it:

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 was picked based on performance reviews, recommendations, and overall versatility through the biggest weight range.

PROS

Quick-change dial for weight adjustment

Higher weight range

More exercise versatility

2-year warranty

CONS

Higher cost

Plastic susceptible to cracking

Best Lower Weight

If you’re looking for a set of adjustable dumbbells, but don’t need an aggressive amount of weight, look no further than the FLYBIRD 25lb Dumbbells. Whether you’re just looking to tone muscle or you’re just starting out, FLYBIRD provides a quality dumbbell with nearly 3,000 Amazon ratings and an overall 4.7 out of 5 star rating.

One of the best features of the FLYBIRD dumbbells is the utilization of a turn-grip method for switching between weights. This allows for much faster and smoother weight transitions.

The FLYBIRD 25-pound dumbbells are currently available for $99.97 per dumbbell on Amazon. The FLYBIRD dumbbells are also available with a 55-pound maximum weight, but the cost increase will reflect the weight increase.

Product specs:

Adjustments: The FLYBIRD dumbbells utilize a turn-grip method for weight changes. Simply place the dumbbells in the base, turn the hand grips to the desired weight, lift, and go. Weights range from 5 to 25 pounds at increments of 5 pounds.

Size: The FLYBIRD 25-pound dumbbells are 14.6 inches in length, which still seems a bit long for only reaching 25 pounds.

Durability: The plates on the FLYBIRD dumbbells are made of cast iron and are one of the few adjustable dumbbells not utilizing a hard plastic coating. The cast iron plates are subject to a protective spray, which eliminates any nasty odors and prevents the plates from rusting. The turn-grip mechanism is, however, made of a durable plastic material and many reviewers have voiced concern about this, but I’ve seen very few examples of actual product failure.

Why we picked it:

The FLYBIRD 25-pound dumbbells have been featured on many of this year’s lists of “top adjustable dumbbells,” and their Amazon reviews reflect the same

PROS

Turn-grip method for weight adjustment

More compact

Cast iron plates

CONS

Increments of 5 pounds (for low weight dumbbells, I would hope for 2.5-pound increments)

Best Upgradable

Do you prefer Wendy’s square hamburgers over McDonald’s or Burger King? If so, you may have an irrational fear of circles, in which case you’re going to want to check out the POWERBLOCK Elite EXP adjustable dumbbells. Unlike its competitors, the Powerblock series offers a unique rectangular structure making it the most recognizable of the dumbbell brands.

One of my close friends has been using Powerblocks (not the Elite EXP, which was released in 2020) for years now and for the purpose of this list, I gave them a try. They are sturdy and easy to change, but I will admit, the block structure does take some getting used to. While I wasn’t using the Elite EXP model specifically, the structure of the various Powerblock models seems to be very similar.

The best feature about the Powerblock Elite EXP is that they are upgradable. The base dumbbells, which are available on Amazon for $359.99 for a set, allow for a weight range of 5 to 50 pounds. There are also expansion sets available allowing you to increase your weight ranges to 70 and 90 pounds respectively.

Product specs:

Adjustments: The Powerblock Elite EXP dumbbells utilize a selector pin adjustment method. With the dumbbells inserted into their weighted plates, simply use the side handle to remove the selector pin and move it to the desired weight (weights are indicated by a colored band on the side rails). Once the pin is inserted, the user simply lifts the dumbbells, leaving the unused plates behind. There is also a dial lock, which allows you to add or remove two (or one) cylindrical weights at 2.5 pounds each. Weight selections include 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10,15, 17.5, 20, 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 37.5, 40, 45, 47.5, or 50 pounds.

Size: At a compact 12 inches, the Powerblock Elite EXP are the shortest dumbbells on our list, making them ideal for maximizing a small workout space and allowing greater range of motion in your exercises. Keep in mind that the addition of any expansion sets will increase the length with every added set of plates.

Durability: The plates of the Powerblock Elite EXP dumbbells are made of welded steel and are coated with a durable paint to prevent rust. The handles are a durable plastic with pads to protect the user’s hand and allow for optimal grip.

Why we picked it:

Powerblocks have been a staple in the adjustable dumbbells selection for years. Always highly rated and time-tested, a list wouldn’t be complete without them.

PROS

Expandable to higher weights as you make gains

Reasonable price

Durable construction

Not circles

CONS

Handle set-up requires some adjustment

A bit more labor intensive when switching between 2.5- and 5-pound increments

If you’re someone who likes to track your workouts closely and you’re looking for something a little more high-tech, look no further than the JAXJOX DumbbellConnect, which stakes its claim as the first digitally integrated smart dumbbells. With the JAXJOX dumbbells, there are no dials, selectors, or turn grips. Weight changes are made with just the push of a button on the side of the dumbbell’s base.

The JAXJOX DumbbellConnect also allows for easy tracking of your workout, as they sync up with the JAXJOX app for tracking various aspects of your workout such as reps, weights, duration, etc. The app also gives you access to a variety of workouts, but comes with its own cost of $12.99 per month.

The JAXJOX dumbbells are available for purchase through their company website at $499 per set.

Product specs:

Adjustments: The JAXJOX DumbbbellConnect uses a digital system to change weights electronically with the push of a button. This, of course, means that every so often the dumbbell set will need to be charged, which is done through a standard USB port. Many users have also reported that weight changes can be slow, as the base has to “boot up” each time it changes the weights. Weight adjustments are made at 6-pound increments, starting at 8 pounds. This makes for some rather unusual weight increments that might be difficult for people like me who like working with increments of 5 and 10 pounds.

Size: At 15.3 inches per dumbbell, the JAXJOX DumbbellConnet measures in about average for the dumbbells on our list.

Durability: Reviews for the JAXJOX DumbbellConnect suggest the durability of these dumbbells is fair, but like anything, when you start adding electronics, you’re also adding things that could go wrong.

Why we picked it:

Powerblocks have been a staple in the adjustable dumbbells selection for years. Always highly rated and time-tested, a list wouldn’t be complete without them.

PROS

Push-button weight adjustments

Syncs with workout tracking app

CONS

Abnormal weight increments

Weight set requires electric charge

Reviewers report app issues

Despite push button, weight changes are not fast

Why you should trust us

As an Army veteran, I spent a fair amount of time in the on-post and FOB gyms, with their inevitable rows of iron or rubber-ended dumbbells. In my civilian life, I’ve tried to maintain the same level of discipline when it comes to daily workouts. Six days a week, I’m up at 5:00 a.m. to work out, but I have no desire to pay for a membership to a fancy public gym where I have to compete with meatheads and gym rats for the last set of 40 pounders. Instead, I’ve spent the last few years slowly building my own home gym, with a set of adjustable dumbbells ever on the horizon. Because they come at a higher cost, I’ve really taken my time and done my research. I’ve read countless customer reviews, viewed online rating lists, and even tested out multiple sets, so I’m confident in the recommendations I’m giving, and you should be too.

Types of adjustable dumbbells

For the purpose of this review, I’ve limited the recommendations above to those sets of adjustable dumbbells that come in an “all-in-one” set-up — that is to say, adjustable dumbbells which contain an internal mechanism for adjusting through weight selections, without having to manually add or remove weight disks from the dumbbells. 

This is not to suggest there is anything wrong with the add/remove dumbbells, but for my money, if I’m trying to conserve space in my home gym, it makes more sense to have an all-in-one dumbbell than dealing with loose weight plates and bar collars lying around (or having to buy a weight tree to keep them all organized and off the ground). I also try to maintain a certain heart rate when working out, which means rapid transitions between sets and exercise. With the all-in-one adjustable dumbbells, I have to spend far less time transitioning weights than I would if I had to add or remove disks manually all the time.

Within the world of all-in-one adjustable dumbbell sets, there are several different types which earn their classifications mainly by adjustment method.

Dial adjusted

Dumbbells such as the Bowflex SelectTech series use a dial method as the primary means of adjusting weight. With the dumbbell set securely in the base, simply click the dials on each end to the desired weight, lift, and go. The dial technology is also prevalent in the Ativafit brand of dumbbells, which themselves are fairly high rated (but also a bit more costly), as well as several other lesser-known brands. 

Sliding selector adjusted

Selector-adjusted dumbbells typically have a knob or small handle that slides among the weighted disks. In order to select the desired weight, the user must lift the knob and pull it to the desired plate, or in some cases move it from side to side to toggle between a 5- or 2.5-pound increment. This type of slide mechanism is utilized in the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight model discussed earlier, as well as the highly rated LifePro dumbbells which are geared toward folks looking for a little bit lower-weight set. 

Turn grip adjusted 

While the most practical in my mind, the turn grip adjusted dumbbells are probably the least prevalent. As their classification suggests, these dumbbells allow the user to select their weight by a simple twist of the handle. Ingenious, right? I’ve read a number of reviews that suggest these types of dumbbells are quick to fail if treated rough, which is the only reason I can figure on why the turn grip adjustment type is not more prevalent. If you wish to try your luck with this type, the Core Home Fitness brand and the Flybird brand are to be among the highest-rated.

Selector pin adjusted

Selector pin-adjusted dumbbells utilize a metal pin or bar that can be pulled out and reinserted at different weight selections, resembling the weight selection system on a variety of weight room machines (think Cable-Crossover machine). This is probably the most basic of the weight selection types, but also the least prone to failure. The prominent brand using this style is the Powerblock series. 

Key features of adjustable dumbbells

When selecting your own set of adjustable dumbbells, it’s important to zero in on what features are important to you as a user. If you’re like me and need to switch weights rapidly between sets and various exercises, finding the pair with the quickest changeover would probably be in your best interest. If you’re a lifter who likes to drop their weight at the end of a set, be sure to steer clear of those constructed with a lot of hard plastic or internal adjustment mechanisms that might be prone to failure. 

As with anything, higher prices don’t always signal higher quality. From my research, it seems to me that the higher-tech dumbbells are more likely to fail or break. For my money, I’d rather have a low-tech, but durable system.

Benefits of adjustable dumbbells

Space savers

In most cases, these adjustable dumbbell systems take the place of 15 to 17 different weight sets, which translates to 30 to 34 individual dumbbells. Picture 34 dumbbells lined up on your basement floor. Got that image? Now take away all but two. See how much more room you have for all the other equipment you can buy now? Punching bags, medicine balls, rowing machines. Your spouse will be thrilled by all your new purchases.

Cost savings

Go back to picturing all 34 of those dumbbells on your basement floor again. Now consider that, for typical iron dumbbells, their cost is usually about a dollar per pound. This means that just one set of 50-pound dumbbells will cost you $100. Now you have 16 sets left to purchase. Adjustable dumbbells may seem costly at first, but when you add up the cost of buying all those individual weights, the adjustables don’t seem too bad.

Motivation!

If you’re like me, having an in-home gym greatly increases my daily chance of working out. If I had to wake up and drive to a gym, it probably wouldn’t happen. Also, if you’re going to drop close to $400 on adjustable dumbbells, you’re probably going to get pretty serious about using them. And if you do get serious about using them, you’re probably going to get ripped and then you can walk around asking people if they have tickets. They’ll ask you, “tickets for what?” and you’ll yell “THE GUN SHOW” while flexing your giant new muscles, and isn’t that motivation enough?

Pricing considerations

Up to $250

Generally, adjustable dumbbell sets in this range are going to offer a lower range of weights and be geared to beginners or folks looking to tone muscle instead of build muscle. Typical sets in this price range will max out at 25 to 30 pounds.

$250 – $500

This is the prominent price range for middle-weight dumbbell sets such as the BowFlex SelectTech 552 and the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight, as well as a wide variety of off-brand options. Typical sets in this price range will max out at 50 to 55 pounds.

$500 and up

While some of the more high-end middle-weight dumbbells may fall into this price range, this is typically where you’ll find the adjustable dumbbells with the highest weight range. As with regular dumbbells, the higher the weight, the higher the cost. Typical sets in this price range will max out at 70 to 90 pounds.

How we chose our top picks

In order to determine our picks for this list of top adjustable dumbbells, we scoured countless rating lists, read individual and Amazon reviews, and did hands-on testing with multiple products. We took into consideration a broad range of qualifiers, such as functionality, durability, sophistication, and price points. For each dumbbell selected, we did a thorough review of both the brand and Amazon web pages to ensure all statistics were up to date and accurate, so that you, the user, can make the most informed decision possible without all the added leg work. Because after all, everyone hates leg day.

FAQs on adjustable dumbbells

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

Q: What is the difference between adjustable dumbbells versus fixed dumbbells?

A: With fixed dumbbells, you’ll need to purchase an individual (or set) of dumbbells for each desired weight. With adjustable dumbbells, one set can replace the need for multiple sets.

Q: Can men and women use adjustable dumbbells?

A: Yes. There are no gender designations for adjustable dumbbells.

Q: Does the weight on each dumbbell have to be equal?

A: In most cases, the weight does not need to be equal on each end of the dumbbell in order to remove it from its base. However, the user will definitely notice an unbalanced weight during exercises.

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Brett Allen is a humor writer and former U.S. Army Cavalry Officer who served from 2006 to 2010, largely with the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. The events of his 2009 deployment to the Logar Province of Afghanistan became the inspiration for his recently published debut novel, Kilroy Was Here, which is a dark comedy highlighting the absurdities of war. Brett resides in Ada, Michigan with his wife and kids and is currently working on his next novel. He enjoys all things outdoors to include backwoods camping, backwoods cooking, hiking, and boating, but can more regularly be found mowing, weed whacking, or performing some other form of backbreaking yardwork.

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