You need some weights to actually lift in your home gym. The most popular form of weights everyone uses is dumbbells. But which ones should you get?
Here’s the short version. You’ve got two choices;
- For people that have enough space in their home gym, the AmazonBasics Rubberized Hex dumbbells are everything you need. They are cheap and do what dumbbells have to do. You can get them with free shipping on Amazon. Be aware that they are sold as SINGLES so for a pair you need to order two.
- For people that are very short on space or like a tidy look in their home gym, Bowflex SelectTech 522 (Amazon) dumbbells are a great option. You get 16 pairs of dumbbells in the space of one. Selecting the right weight is easy with a rotating dial. The weight goes from 5 to 52.5 pounds which is a good range for most casual lifters.
You might want to know why i chose these two options and which one is best for you. You can read below why i chose these two and what to look for in good dumbbells.
Why I Chose AmazonBasics Rubberized Hex Dumbbells
They are cheap, and offer everything you expect from a dumbbell. Why pay more if you don’t have to? These Dumbbells have some cool features you want;
- Hexagonal shape
- Available weights range from 10 to 50 pounds with 5 pound increments.
- Ergonomic handle
They’re basic but get the job done for a very friendly price. If all you need is a simple dumbbell, this one is exactly that. Simple, sturdy weights that you can throw around and drop on the floor if you want.
Some people report a bad smell when they first open the box. For most people this will wear off over time but until then you might want to keep your home gym well ventilated. You can also try wiping them down with some vinegar to speed up the process.
One other drawback is that there is a limited weight range available although 10 – 50 pounds will be enough for most people. The good thing is that they look very similar to other rubberized hex dumbbells so it won’t look bad if you change to a different brand down the road.
Attention: The Amazon Basics Dumbbells are sold as a SINGLE not a pair. For a pair you’ll have to order two of the same weight.
Of course the benefit of this type of dumbbell is that you can just buy one pair and see how you like them. If you’re not sure, just do that and see what you think. For the price they are hard to beat.
The Fixed Amazon Basics Hex DB’s are good for people with enough space in their gym that just need a basic dumbbell.
Why I Chose the Bowflex SelectTech 522
It’s all that 99% of people will ever need from a pair of dumbbells. The weight ranges from 5 to 52.5 lbs. which will be plenty for most but the most serious lifters. You change the weight with just a simple rotating dial. It’s not complicated at all to use and adjust these dumbbells.
The biggest benefit of these adjustable DB’s is that they take up very little space. They’re about as big as a normal 60 pound dumbbell. This means you save space in your home gym. Space you could use for other equipment or exercises. It also helps to keep your space tidy without weights scattered everywhere.
You might think that these are quite expensive. They are expensive if you think of them as a single pair of dumbbells. If you look at it as a whole set, they’re actually a really good deal. Add up what a full set of fixed dumbbells from 5 to 52.5 pounds would cost. You’ll likely find that that costs just as much or more.
The quality is great but it’s not a set you regularly want to drop on a hard floor since this could damage the mechanism that picks up the weights. While you can replace the mechanism, this will cost $56 per side. That’s a significant portion of the new price.
Many people think this set is broken when it comes out of the box. It most likely isn’t. There is a safety feature that locks the dumbbells during transportation. When you get them, you have to unlock them. Read the instruction manual or watch this video.
The Bowflex SelectTech 522 is best for casual gym users that treat their equipment well and are short on space.
Adjustable or fixed dumbbells?
Adjustable dumbbells have a single handle that you can adjust to have many different weights. There are different ways to go about this. There are adjustable dumbbells that use a selector mechanism and ones that use a threaded collar and plates.
Fixed dumbbells are the normal dumbbells you know from any gym in the world. They are one weight that can’t be changed.
If you should go for adjustable or fixed dumbbells is mainly up to how much space you’ve got available in your home gym and how you treat them. Good adjustable dumbbells like the BowFlex are expensive but so is a full set of fixed dumbbells. That means price isn’t really deciding factor.
Unless you buy very cheap fixed dumbbells, it’s actually more expensive to buy a full set that covers the range that adjustable dumbbells do. If you add up a complete set of DB’s from 5 to 50 pounds, you’ll be surprised how expensive it actually is.
Fixed dumbbells will take more abuse like dropping them. Adjustable dumbbells have a selecting mechanism that sometimes gets damaged with heavy use.
There are also some benefits to having a full rack of fixed DB’s;
- It’s super easy to change weights.
- Can be cheaper if you don’t buy the full set but only the weight you need.
- You can slowly buy new DB’s when you need them
- Sturdier. Although adjustable DB’s last very long as well, it’s hard to beat the normal ones.
In the end it depends on your personal situation. If you’re willing to make the investment and you don’t have a lot of space for a full DB rack, adjustable DB’s are for you.
If you want to buy as you go or just want the most flexibility, reliability and you’ve got the space, a full rack of fixed DB’s is what you need.
What about other options?
There are tons of options for dumbbells. Even though dumbbells are simple, there is still a lot you can do wrong with them.
Many people will start looking at the cheap adjustable options. These are plate loaded and have threaded collars to secure the weights. There are some good reasons you should give these a pass.
- They’re uncomfortable to use. Every time I’ve used one, it has distracted me enough to interfere with my workout.
- It’s a PITA to chance the weights.
If you’re willing to deal with that and you’re on a tight budget, it’s not a terrible option. If you get a set with threaded collars, make sure to get one that has enough weights to begin with. It can be difficult to find the right plates to load them up heavier later.
This Yes4All (Amazon) set comes with enough weight for almost anyone. You can get them with 200 pounds of weights for a really friendly price.
Cast iron dumbbells without a rubber coating can be had very cheap and they’re strong. For the small price difference I think the rubber coating is worth getting. Bare metal can rub you the wrong way in some positions. They’re also more prone to break when dropped.
Of course the big brands like York and Rogue have rubberized hex dumbbells. They are also a LOT more expensive than the AmazonBasics ones though. For a commercial gym that’s worth the difference, for home gym users it’s not unless you’ve got the money and just want the best.
What to look for when selecting dumbbells?
I’ve written a whole post about this topic alone so if you want more in-depth information, go here.
Here are some quick things you want to look for;
- Does the model you have your eye on, come in all the weights you need?
- Rubberized outside
- Hexagonal shape
- Does it have knurling on the handle?
- Handle 1” to 1.5” thick
- Weight range (at least 5-50lbs.)
- Adjustment mechanism. Not threaded collar.
- Construction that doesn’t allow plates to fall out with use. (there are a few…)