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First time buying dumbbells? Then check out our buying guide below.
If you’re looking to grab yourself a dumbbell set, there are some things you should know. Are you looking for individual weights, or 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 understands the importance of your purchase, and that is why we have put together this buying guide to help you choose the right product for you.
Where to Buy Dumbbells
First and foremost, a common question we hear is “where to buy dumbbells”. With so many retailers to choose from, it is difficult to work out who has the best deals or compare products. This is why Fitness Savvy was created.
We list products from top retailers including Argos, Fitness Superstore, Amazon, House of Fraser, SweatBand, eBay and many, many more. You can compare products side by side, filter by features, read buying guides and then find the best prices.
Types of Dumbbells
A wide variety of dumbbells exist. We will go through the types you can expect to find and their features.
Fixed weight dumbbells – as the name suggests, these weights are fixed. Unlike their adjustable or interchangeable brothers (where you can add or remove plates or discs to change weight between exercises or sets), several pairs must 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. Each dumbbell has a dial. While they are resting in their stands, this dial can be turned to adjust the weight, quickly and easily. So, rather than having 15 pairs – as with the fixed weight option – you have only one pair. 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 buy dumbbells, you will often find 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 less costly than Olympic dumbbell bars. You require 1” plates for these bars. This is important to remember.
Olympic Handles – at two 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, weight is still 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.
What Weight Dumbbells Should You Use?
If you are just starting out, the maximum weight of your dumbbell set should not be a major issue. Ideally, you want a weight where you can lift 8 to 15 reps for two or three sets.
For men, a set ranging from 5kg each up to 25kg each should be more than enough to work with. While holding both, you will have a total of 50kg weight, which is quite heavy if you’ve never done it before!
Even those looking at gaining strength as their priority have to start off somewhere. That said, if this is your primary focus, you should consider investing in a barbell and squat rack.
The primary goal for many is muscle endurance of hypertrophy (muscle growth). For this, rep ranges from eight to 20 are ideal.
Women often ask the same question. While females tend to lift lighter weights (due to being smaller), it is a good idea to get a set which will last you.
Pick a set ranging from 5kg up to 15kg or 20kg for each weight. This will be more than enough to last you a year or so if your main aim is toning up. If, as mentioned earlier, you want to get stronger, you should look at heavier weights and maybe consider going up to 25kg per dumbbell.
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 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 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 dumbbell weights 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.
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.
If you want to continuously progress with strength and hypertrophy, you need to progressively overload. For this, you are better off investing in a barbell and some weight plates. This will allow you to increase weight far beyond what you could lift with dumbbells.
Other alternatives to consider include kettlebells and weighted vests.