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Dumbbell Benefits & Buying Guide

If you’re looking to grab yourself a dumbbell set, there are some things you should know. Are you looking for individual weights, or maybe adjustable dumbbells, for example? Are you looking to increase in size, or tone up? What material should they be? How about the type of bar (or handle) or the maximum weight? Fitness Savvy understand the importance of your purchase, and that is why we have put together this dumbbell buying guide to help you choose the right product for you.

Types of Dumbbells

To begin with, we will walk you through the types of dumbbells available. They are fixed weight, adjustable (sometimes called selectorised) and interchangeable dumbbell sets.

Fixed weight dumbbells – as the name suggests, these weights are fixed. Unlike their adjustable or interchangeable brothers, several weights tend to be purchased to form a set. For this reason, these are the most expensive option. As you can imagine, purchasing 15 or 20 sets can soon add up to an eye-watering sum!

Adjustable dumbbells – these are fantastic for saving space. You have 2 bars, and 2 stands. While resting in their stand, dials can be turned on each dumbbell to adjust the weight, quickly and easily. So, rather than having 15 pairs – as with the fixed weight option – you have only 2. These are more expensive than the interchangeable variety, due to the technology that goes into manufacturing them, as well as the time-saving benefits for the user.

Interchangeable dumbbells – these tend to be the cheapest option – note we say “tend” to be. When looking to purchase dumbbells, you will often see the ones with the spinning lock at the end, and several different sized plates – you know, the ones you got from Argos when you were a teenager and wanted to look buff. These spinning locks are conveniently called Spinlock Dumbbells, as we will discuss later. However, the better-quality ones come with collars or clips which make changing the plates over much faster. You can get a standard sized bar, or an Olympic bar for these.

Collar & Bar Type

You will find dumbbells can come with standard or Olympic handles.

Standard handles – these are 1-inch bars, and tend to be spinlock. They are typically the less costly than Olympic dumbbell bars. You require 1” plates for these bars.

Olympic Handles – at 2 inches thick, these are more comfortable to hold and are feel sturdier. 2” Olympic plates are required with these bars, and they tend to come with collars or clips.

Spinlocks – spinlocks take longer to adjust. You need to keep spinning the lock until it is tightened or loosened. Not great if you need to change weight quickly during your workouts.

Collars & clips – quickly remove and change plates with these locks. They simply clip on and off for super-fast adjustments to the weight load.


When you look to buy dumbbells, you should consider what material they are made of. Here are the most common types you will encounter:

Rubber Dumbbells – these are coated for extra comfort and safety. They make less noise. If you are lifting heavy weights, and you need to put them back down, they will tend to be loud.

Cast Iron Dumbbells – Unlike rubber, cast iron dumbbells are not so quiet. This is why they tend to be the cheaper option. At the end of the day, a weight is still a weight, so if noise is not an issue, these should be fine.

Chrome Dumbbells – they look awesome. That’s about it. Well, not really. The chrome protection (aside from making them look shiny and great) protect the plates against damage caused by sweating.

Maximum Weight

If you are just starting out, the maximum weight of your dumbbell set should not be an issue. However, if you have been working out for a little longer, this is certainly something to consider. When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, you don’t want to buy a set which is going to be too light, come the end of the year.

If you have the money and you can choose between selectorised dumbbells from the same brand that reach either 32kg or 41kg each, it would be advisable to purchase the heavier ones, as they will keep you going for longer without the need to purchase new dumbbells.

Individual Dumbbell, Pairs, or Sets

Individual Dumbbells – You might be surprised to discover that you can buy dumbbells as individuals. Typically, they will come in pairs. However, for the higher quality items, it might be that one dumbbell is damaged and needs replacing, and so you can purchase an individual dumbbell rather than the pair.

Dumbbell Pairs – as we previously mentioned, dumbbells tend to come in pairs. There are obviously many exercises which you can perform with a single dumbbell – such as dumbbell rows or triceps extensions. Nevertheless, a pair is preferable so you can perform more exercises such as bench press, shoulder press and chest flys.

Dumbbell Sets – If you are purchasing your weights as pairs, you are going to need more than one. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are many sets available for you to buy. As you would expect, they are cheaper when purchased as a set, so you can make some huge savings by doing it in this way.

Dumbbell Exercises

Dumbbells make a great addition to the home and commercial gym. They are also a great option if you don’t have much room or are on a budget. Many exercises traditionally done with a barbell can be done with dumbbells. For this reason, we recommend primarily performing compound moves.

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