Reviews Of The Best Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Sets For Building Muscle

Dumbbells are not just for getting impressive guns. Dom from BroScience might have you thinking otherwise but let me tell you that dumbbells have more than one use. Used properly, these weapons of choice can be an important tool in your fitness and health regime.

You might be thinking, “I don’t need dumbbells, I can lift rocks, curl barbells, and do handstands pushups”. There’s no denying that you can perform most workouts without the humble dumbbell. I admit that they aren’t like, totally, 100% absolutely essential pieces of equipment for beginners.

But if you’ll bare with me, I’ll show you why they can be worth it, all the same. Specifically, we’ll be talking about the ultra convenient variable weight adjustable dumbbell sets out there.

Ratings Of The Top 5 Adjustable Dumbbell Sets

Why Dumbbells Rock

Some things in your fitness life are just easier with a dumbbell. Take the following examples:

  1. Dumbbells allow you to do curls, farmer’s walks, shoulder presses, triceps extensions, and lateral raises with the same piece of equipment. This gives them the edge over most other pieces of gym equipment. And that’s not an exhaustive list of exercises. Dumbbells are versatile but we’ll get into that a bit later.
  2. Full body exercises are the mainstay of any exercise regime but there is definitely a place for isolation exercises. Hitting muscles that are imbalanced (compared to their pair) or weak is easy with dumbbells.
    Try doing single arm overhead presses with a barbell or any kind of machine. It’s not the same right? Dumbbells have the edge when it comes to isolation exercises.
  3. Dumbbells allow you to perform exercises that incorporate balance and agility in interesting ways. Single leg deadlifts with dumbbells, and walking lunges while carrying a dumbbell are just two examples.
  4. They take up a fraction of the space of barbells and plates. I’m not saying you can replace a squat rack with dumbbells. But give overhead squatting with a pair of dumbbells a try and you’ll understand why this piece of equipment really hits the muscle-spot.

Exercises Using Dumbbells You Haven’t Seen Before

Leaning Lateral Raises

Try this exercise to hit the deltoids from an angle you probably haven’t worked on in a while. It’s a simple variation on the standard lateral raise.

Hold a squat rack support with one hand. In the other hand hold a fairly light dumbbell. Keep your feet close to the support and lean away from the squat rack while holding on with your hand. Now that you’re body is at an angle you can perform single side lateral raises at a whole new angle.

I suggested lighter weights because this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Unless you’re built like an Olympic gymnast, your deltoids won’t be capable of very heavy reps at this angle.

This small change makes the exercise even more challenging. It won’t impress the ladies but it will make a huge difference in the long run. Leave the ego at home, and work those smaller muscles.

Racked Dumbbell Goblet Squat

It’s a bit of a mouthful but this exercise is a very effective way to improve posture while beefing up your wheels. The Goblet Squat works the quads, stabilizers, and arms. Your lungs will also cry out if you go hard so it’s a great exercise to get some strength and conditioning at the same time.

Goblet squats are typically performed with kettle bells but dumbbells are versatile and can be used for almost any exercise that requires kettle bells. We’re all about maximising our spending power and we believe that one set of quality dumbbells is all you need.

Hold a dumbbell at your chest with the plates at one end parallel to the base of your neck. The dumbbell will look like a capital I from the front. Hold the handle just under the top plate and keep the dumbbell close to the body.

Tighten your core and squat down, keeping the dumbbell in tight and your chest up. Maintain a straight-ahead gaze. This movement resembles a front squat as your arms are raised in front to support the weight.

Oh, and don’t forget: Repeat and feel the burn!

Other, Standard Exercises

Standard exercises that you can do with dumbbells include:

Dumbbell Press

Standing or sitting with the weights at just above shoulder height, press until your arms are completely extended over your head. The dumbbell press is very like an inverted handstand press, but is easier for beginners and also allows for more loading of weight.

Bicep Curl

Probably the best-known use for dumbbells is the bicep curl. Worshipped by gym rats, bodybuilders, and poseurs everywhere, the dumbbell bicep curl is as reviled as it is loved.

Performed properly, the dumbbell bicep curl can be a mass-building and posture-correcting exercise. Try leaning slightly forward from the hips with a straight back to vary the angle. Pull in the stomach and maintain a straight posture. This is great for building core strength and control of the body. Use the free movement of the bells to your advantage.

Triceps Press

With both arms hold a single heavy dumbbell behind your head with the upper arms pointed toward the ceiling, Press out the dumbbell by straightening your arms until the dumbbell is directly over your head. Feel the triceps burning and your muscles growing!

Dumbbell Lunge

A fantastic exercise for working the glutes, quads, abs, and come to think of it, pretty much every other muscle.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side and take a step forward from the standing position. Lunge down until your front leg is bent at 90 degrees and your back knee almost touches the ground. Press through the floor with your front foot and push yourself back to a standing position. Repeat with the other leg.

For a variation try walking continuously one leg after another. This is a tough exercise so keep the weight light until you get used to it. Using dumbbells for this exercise is safer than using a barbell because if you lose your balance you won’t have to deal with a full-length barbell flying across the room.

The Best Dumbbells A Man Can Buy

Owning a set of ‘bells is like owning a dog. They won’t let you down, don’t take up much space, require little maintenance apart from some exercise every now and again, and they make you look good. Man’s second-best friend.

Invest in some dumbbells, learn how to use them properly, and watch your physique transform from zero to hero.

“But there are lots of different products available and I’m afraid of buying a bad one”, I hear you cry.

Fear not! We’ve done the heavy lifting for you. This is the list of products that made our final list.

We know you’re short on time and you don’t want the director’s cut version. You want the streamlined list of essential dumbbells for the upwardly mobile man. We aim to please so we’ve come up with a list of the top 5 adjustable dumbbells available in 2017. We’re fans of adjustable dumbbells because they give you a range of weights without the extra cost. Here are our favorites.

But first, some thing to watch out for:

  • Some dumbbells are listed as total max weight, not the max weight of each of the pair. Make sure you are aware that 100lbs max weight could mean two 50lbs dumbbells.
  • Some products are better suited to heavy lifting and others to circuit training. Be clear about what you plan to use them for.

The Best Adjustable Dumbbell Sets Of 2018

#1. Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Probably the best looking set of dumbbells around. But don’t let looks fool you. These ‘bells are not shallow and don’t lack anything in the quality department.

A standout feature of this set is the ease of adjustment. The Bowflex uses a neat little system whereby you select the desired weight on each end of the dumbbell using a selector dial. Turn the dial to the desired weight and pull the dumbbell off the case. That’s it. No fiddling with clips or collars.

This ability to quickly change weight great for workouts that involve progressions or drop sets. Let’s take the ‘drop set’ example. Drop setting involves performing a set of reps at a particular weight and then, without resting, reducing weight slightly and performing the repetitions again. This continues until you can’t perform any more reps. Most people find that they can’t perform repetitions even at very light weights after exhausting the muscles through the previous sets. The Bowflex allows you to quickly change the weight of the dumbbells so you get the maximum response.

To store the Bowflex you simply place it back into the tray where you adjust the weights. It won’t move from there and is protected from knocks by the hard plastic casing.

What we liked:

  • Increments of 2.5lbs allow for pretty granular adjustments.
  • Easy to adjust.
  • Ability to select different weights for each end of the same dumbbell.

What we didn’t like:

  • Dropping these dumbbells will damage them so take care not to let them fall. The Bowflex has moving parts and adjustable dials which won’t withstand too much punishment, especially if the dumbbell is fully loaded.
  • You also won’t be able to perform pushup exercises using the Bowflex as a hand-hold. The plastic structure won’t withstand the weight of the average man for long without straining and possibly breaking.

Overall, we really liked the Bowflex. They are not designed for hardcore lifters, CrossFit athletes, or anyone that plans to train with extremely heavy weights. For the average guy, who needs to save space, and plans on implementing some new and challenging workouts in his routine, the Bowflex is a solid choice.

>> Click Here To Learn More And See Prices <<

#2. Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells

Despite the rather strange brand name, these adjustable dumbbells are solidly built. They also look more like traditional dumbbells than the other products reviewed.

Made of cast iron, the emphasis here is on durability. There’s also a fine coating on every plate that will help prevent rust. Be sure to check the plates for large scratches or chips from time to time. The handle length is 16”.

The Yes4All dumbbells offer a comprehensive range of weights from a lateral-raise friendly 40lbs right up to a squat-heavy 200lbs. When buying a set of Yes4All dumbbells be aware that you have 6 options to choose from.

One Yes4All adjustable dumbbell is sold on Amazon as a single handle only. If you need a pair make sure you order the pair set. The 200lbs set comes with sixteen 16lb plates as well as many smaller plates to make incremental adjustments easy. The smallest and cheapest set has just four 5-lb and four 3-lbs plates. For most guys this will be a bit light so you’ll probably want a heavier set. Especially if you plan to see some gains.

Choose wisely so that you have room to improve without needing a new set. Don’t get a set of weights too light either or you’ll lose interest. Test out some weight variations at a local gym and gauge how far you will progress once you start training. Buy a set that gives you the best value and the greatest range.

Plates are secured on the handles by a star-lock collar. Simply spin the lock on the thread to prevent loosening.

What we liked:

  • Nice grippy, solid chrome handles that give extra security for when you work up a sweat.
  • Quick to assemble and change weights.
  • The handle is a standard size so you can easily add more plates in the future.
  • 5 year warranty.

What we didn’t like:

  • It can be slightly time-consuming to unscrew the collar. If you are using these weights in a class or following some kind of tabata training, you might be pressed for time when adjusting weights.

Yes4All’s company tag line is Better Quality. Lower Price. The company seems to have gone a fair way to achieving this claim. The dumbbells are good quality and the price is affordable without being too cheap.

Give these dumbbells a try if you like your workout equipment to be as simple as possible. They are easy to use, and have less points of failure than some other sets.

>> Click Here To Learn More And See Prices <<

#3. PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells

PowerBlockElite

The funkiest looking dumbbells you will ever see. If you like ultra-modern aesthetics then this could be the workout equipment for you.

When I first saw the PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells I dismissed them as a gimmick. I’m a bit old school when it comes to weight training. The thought of reading a manual just to learn how to lift some plates did not appeal to me. However, PowerBlocks are easy to handle and simple to adjust.

The Power Block looks like a cage, or an open box. There’s a handle in the centre that allows you to lift the

Although they give the appearance of being plastic and fragile, these are not cheap products by any means. Starting at around $300 the Power Block Elite are dumbbells made from quality materials and are designed to last. They are manufactured in the USA and the customer service is excellent. You really have nothing to worry about when investing in these products.

There’s a range of 5 to 50lbs per handle and that gives you a large variety of weights to choose from: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10,15, 17.5, 20 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 37.5, 40, 45, 47.5, 50lbs per hand.

What we liked:

  • Shorter (12”) than standard dumbbell handles , so you have more free room to maneuver
  • Easy to store thanks to their compactness.
  • With practice you can change weight on each dumbbell in about 5 seconds.
  • 10-year warranty. The Power Block company is confident that their exercise equipment is built to last. The company has been around for almost three decades so you can be sure that the warranty will be honored.

What we didn’t like:

  • Expensive. At almost the same price as the IronMaster dumbbells (see below), the PowerBlocks are truly an investment. Choose wisely.

The power blocks are not aimed at beginners. Experienced lifters will find the extra weight and durability to their liking. If you can already lift the heaviest dumbbells in your gym then the power blocks will be a great addition to your workout kit.

PowerBlockElite2

>> Click Here To Learn More And See Prices <<

#4. Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell

The Bayou Fitness adjustable dumbbells are striking in appearance. The look so good, in fact, that they make me want to work out.

The Bayou Fitness company’s products are almost in the same price range as the Power Block if you go for the heaviest option of 50lb pairs. They are aimed more at serious lifters or beginners with a bit of extra spending power.

The dumbbells ship with storage trays that help protect them.
At 14” long the handles are slightly shorter (by 2”) than the Yes4All products and slightly longer than the Power Block (by 2”).

Keeping to what appears to be the standard weight increments for this type of equipment, the Bayou Fitness dumbbells uses 2.5lb plates for the lightest options.

The bar itself weighs 5lb so adding 2lbs to each side will bring each dumbbell to 10lbs in weight. That’s good enough for intermediate lateral raises, performed with good form. (No swinging the hips or arms guys!). Maximum weight on the cheaper option is 25lbs when using 4 plates per side. Note that this might not be enough for strong lifters. In that case the 50lb pair might be worth checking out. Unfortunately there’s no real discount when doubling the weight. The 50lb dumbbell pair costs almost twice that of the 25lb.

What we liked:

  • They look good, and hopefully so will you after using them.
  • Compact and neat.

What we didn’t like:

  • Limited Warranty of 180 days. This doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the product.

>> Click Here To Learn More And See Prices <<

#5. Ironmaster 75lb Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell System with Stand

IronmasterDumbbells

The most compact of the five products reviewed, the Ironmaster is also the most expensive and the heaviest.

The Ironmaster Dumbbells use a system called quick-lock, which is the company’s system for securing plates. Safely securing weight plates to the handle of dumbbells should be something we take seriously. Plates that come loose are seriously dangerous objects, when in motion. You’ll spend a lot more on hospital bills if your dumbbells malfunction when you have them over your head.

Don’t skimp on quality, especially when it comes to choosing how your adjustable dumbbells are fastened.

The ‘quick-lock’ is simply a large screw that connects through each plate and into the handle. I feel that it’s one of the more secure methods of attaching plates securely. It goes to show that sometimes the simple, original methods work best.

To change plates just unscrew the lock (can be done with one hand), grab a plate with your other hand. Add the new plate and with the screw the lock back in. The first plate will connect with the handle and subsequent weights connect to the other plates via grooves on the plates.

These are the only dumbbells in this review that come with their own rack. They are also the most expensive. But we can’t imagine that the rack stand adds much to the cost of the dumbbell. It’s definitely not going to win prizes for strength or beauty.

Going right up to 75lbs in weight for each handle these dumbbells are suitable for most amateur lifters and athletes.

For real pros, these dumbbells have an add-on kit (purchased separately) that give you up to 120lbs or 165lbs per dumbbell. That’s some serious iron. If you can lift that much, you deserve the best in equipment. I you want a solid set of ‘bells that will last you a lifetime, these are a good option.

The empty handle (without plates) weighs 5lbs. Add the screw locks and you have 10lbs per dumbbell. You could either warm up with these or use them for some tricky lateral type raise movements (see exercises earlier). One thing to note is that at higher weights, such as 100lbs, each dumbbell becomes quite long. Full-range overhead presses, and bench presses will be more difficult when lots of plates are loaded.

The company claims that you can drop their dumbbells. In fact, they encourage you to do so. We banged the dumbbells together and let them fly from a height a few times to see what happens. Not much. They acted as if nothing had happened, just as a regular dumbbell in the gym would. We did most of the testing on hard, rubberised gym floors, however. There’s a good chance of breaking them if you do the same on concrete, especially if they land at an angle. I wouldn’t recommend testing this theory.

What we liked:

  • Lifetime warranty. Beating even Bowflex’s 10-year warranty, Ironmaster have made a statement about the quality of their products.
  • Feel like gym dumbbells that most people are used to using. The also look old school solid.

What we didn’t like:

  • Ok, it’s only a gripe if you’re not doing circuit training, but the speed at which you can change plates is slower than most of the other dumbbells reviewed here.
  • The stand. It’s not built like the rest of the product. It’s flimsy. For all the bravado about durability, I wonder why Ironmaster didn’t put some extra though into the stand.

IronmasterDumbbells

>> Click Here To Learn More And See Prices <<

Safety Tips For Using Adjustable Free Weights And Multiple Weight Dumbbells

And now to the boring part, safety concerns.

We wouldn’t be good fitness citizens if we didn’t mention the fact that dumbbells can be dangerous. The adjustable versions can be even more dangerous due to the extra mechanics and points of failure.

Here’s some tips to make sure you get the most out of your dumbbells and to stay safe while training.

Don’t drop any adjustable dumbbells onto a hard floor

They won’t last if repeated impacts with the floor loosens the mechanisms that provide the weight-changing ability. Standard dumbbells can take a lot more punishment but we’re dealing with a more complex piece of kit here. If you plan on dumping the bells from a height regularly you would be better off investing more money into a full set of individual dumbbells. If you can’t handle the weight, go lighter. Most people will use this equipment in their home gym or front room. There’s no room for the ego there, so remember, only go to your own limits and your adjustable dumbbells will last you a lifetime.

Secure the plates well

Some exercise routines call for fast changing of plates. Be sure to secure the plates onto the bar as one slip and you might break a toe or worse. Even if plates miss your body as they fall, the imbalance created by the sudden loss of plates on one side will put you off balance. Falling while holding heavy weights could be disasterous. Be safe!

Get used to them before trying heavy lifts

If you are used to standard dumbbells in the gym, you might need a little time to get used to the target size of adjustable ones. The handles are longer, to accommodate the different weight plates, and this can be a little cumbersome for some people. Make sure you keep an eye on objects around you and your range of motion when performing exercises with the dumbbells. Poking yourself in the chest with a barbell handle is not laughing matter.

Summary/TLDR

Want to go heavy? Use theIronmaster 75lbs (up to 165lbs) dumbbells. As a second choice thePower Block is a quirky looking, yet heavy duty piece of kit.

TheBowflex andBayou dumbbells provide the least amount of room for expansion but have the lightest plates (i.e., more versatility) in their most expensive option.

If you’re primarily interested in circuit training then thePowerblock or Bowflex give you the advantage.

For weight training on a budget, we would choose theYes4All orBowflex options.

And finally, if you like your workout equipment to look good then you’ll love theBayou orBowflex.

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