Went shopping for adjustable dumbbells and got a bit of sticker shock? Why do two of those things cost so much? Here’s why they cost so much and why you should pay that much.
The high price of dumbbells are the result of a few things; There are a lot of different parts and better quality control necessary than for fixed dumbbells. Raw materials, design and shipping & handling also play a role. Compared to fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells are actually quite cheap.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into those reasons and how you can best spend your money below.
Reasons adjustable dumbbells are so expensive
If you’re shopping for a set of adjustable dumbbells you might be a bit shocked by their price. You’re just buying a single pair so why are adjustable dumbbells so expensive?
There are a few reasons for this so let’s get into it.
Fixed dumbbells have been around in one shape or another for a long, long time. They aren’t very difficult to design so the costs for those will be minimal.
Adjustable dumbbells are a lot newer and different brands have different designs and especially different selection mechanisms. Those will cost a bit more to design, test and produce than simple fixed dumbbells.
Dumbbells are largely made of cast iron and rubber. Those materials aren’t very expensive at all but you do need quite a lot of it to make a set of dumbbells.
For adjustable dumbbells there will be some smaller parts in the selection mechanism that are a bit more expensive to produce/buy. All those things together do cost quite a bit.
All the weight plates are differently sized as well. It’s not like a fixed dumbbell where you can make a single chunk of steel. All the different plates mean different production lines which drives up the cost quite a bit.
Then we have the actual construction of the dumbbells. Fixed dumbbells are very simple to assemble. Take one handle and two heads and mate them together. Usually with a big bolt or they’re pressure fit together.
Adjustable dumbbells are more complicated and there are many more things that can go wrong. The selection mechanism has to be assembled carefully. All the weights have to fit perfectly so they will catch and release when you want them to.
That means more time and effort is spent to construct adjustable dumbbells and the quality control has to be stricter as well.
Shipping and handling
Dumbbells are supposed to be heavy, and they usually are. However, that weight means extra shipping and handling costs. Heavy things put more stress on the vehicles that transport them and will cost more fuel to get moving. That means higher costs all across the supply line.
Even the delivery guy to your house probably won’t be too happy delivering a few of these heavy packages so they might need a more expensive method of delivery.
You’re also just paying a little for the convenience of adjustable dumbbells. They save space and are therefore great for people with limited space. Having a full rack of fixed dumbbells can really get in the way if you don’t have a large home gym and adjustable dumbbells are one of the best ways of saving space.
Convenience is something you usually have to pay for and this situation is no different.
They actually aren’t expensive at all
If you look at them as a single dumbbell, yes it’s a lot of money. And it’s a lot of money to spend period. You have to compare it to the alternatives though. What are the alternatives?
- Fixed dumbbells
Those are the only direct alternative. Although other free weights can be used for similar purposes and exercises so if you are willing to change your workout a little, these can be viable alternatives;
- Barbell+Weight plates
Kettlebells can be significantly cheaper because you only need a couple of different weights to finish a complete workout. A kettlebell workout is quite different from a dumbbell or even barbell workout though.
However, a barbell and weight plates will also cost you quite a bit. More than a set of adjustable dumbbells. They are cheaper than a set of fixed dumbbells though. And that’s the comparison that really should be made.
Fixed dumbbells are the obvious alternative to adjustable dumbbells because they are pretty much the same thing and you can use them the same way for the same exercises. With a barbell and weights you’ll have to do slightly different exercises.
Most adjustable dumbbells have a range of 5 to 50 lbs. or slightly more. Usually the increments are 2.5 lbs. at lower weights and 5 lbs. at higher weights but all dumbbells are different so the increments can change.
A normal adjustable dumbbell can generally be set to about 16 different weights. That means to have the same flexibility with fixed dumbbells, you would have to buy 16 pairs. If you take a look at the prices of fixed dumbbells (especially the heavier ones), you will see that buying a full set will add up very quickly. Besides the dumbbells you’ll also need a rack to put them all on which is also not very cheap.
If you add all that up, you will see that the same weight range of fixed dumbbells, as you get in an adjustable dumbbells, you’ll spend more money. So in that regard, adjustable dumbbells are pretty cheap.
That’s not to say that the profit margins on adjustable dumbbells aren’t better than for fixed dumbbells, they likely are although I don’t have any hard data on that. However, if you’re saving money by buying that product over another one, you can’t be too mad.
Manufacturers need a profit margin to stay in business. And if you save money and space with a product they sell and they make more money as well, that seems like a win-win situation to me.
Best overall adjustable dumbbells
What are the best adjustable dumbbels you can feel safe spending your money on? There are two great choices;
Both those brands have a few options available. Most of those options are good and well worth your money.
Bowflex dumbbells have my preference because they look like normal dumbbells. And therefore you can do with them exactly how you would with fixed dumbbells.
The PowerBlock dumbbells are a bit more durable but because of their different shape and look, you don’t have quite the same range of motion. In some exercises. It’s also harder to hold them in any different way than at the handle.
Because of the ease of use and familiar shape I prefer the BowFlex versions.
|Bowflex||ST 552 (Pair)||5-52.5 lbs.||2.5 lbs. increments up to 25 lbs. 5 lbs. increments after.||Buy on Amazon|
|Bowflex||ST 1090 (Single)||10-90 lbs.||5 lbs. increments||Buy on Amazon|
|PowerBlock||EXP Stage 1 (Pair)||5-50 lbs.||5, 7.5, 10,15, 17.5, 20 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 37.5, 40, 45, 47.5 and 50 lbs.||Buy on Amazon|
|Yes4All||Adjustable Dumbbells||5-52.5 or 100 lbs.||2.5 lbs. increments||Buy on Amazon|
Best cheap adjustable dumbbells
Of course you want to save some money where you can. So what’s the best way to get adjustable dumbbells but don’t break the bank?
The answer is the screw collar adjustable dumbbell. You basically get a short barbell and small weight plates. The plates are fixed into place by a screw collar. The part you put the plates on is basically a big thread and the collar is a big nut you screw on.
These things are much cheaper than the adjustable dumbbells with a selection mechanism. You have to chance the plates yourself and can’t do it by just turning a dial. This means it takes more effort and time to change the weights.
However on the flipside, this type of adjustable dumbbells is a lot cheaper. Usually about half the price of dumbbells that are adjustable with a dial or slider. That’s because there are no moving parts in this type of dumbbell you’re saving money on. That also means no or very little costs in design, lower production and quality control costs. All that adds up to a much lower price.
There is another benefit to this type of dumbbell; durability. You can treat these as harsh or even harsher than fixed dumbbells and you’re unlikely to damage anything. You could damage a plate if you drop them on concrete from a decent height but that’s not too likely to happen.