The 7 Best Adjustable Dumbbells – Big Gains in a Small Space!

During the most recent update, we gave the chart on this page a little reshuffle.

While not much was removed, we did add the beginner-friendly ATIVAFIT Adjustable 27.5lb Set to the list. We also paid a little attention to our main article and FAQ section.

The winner after the latest chart update:
Bowflex SelectTech 552-01
  • Total Weight: 105lbs
  • Pairs: One
  • Material: Metal and rubber
  • Case/Stand: Yes
  • Features: 15 different weight levels, rubber grips, dial-lock system, dumbbell stands, two-year warranty

Dumbbells are some of the most versatile fitness tools you can add to your home gym. You can use them for heavy lifts, isolation exercises and everything in between! Dumbbells are also remarkably easy to use – a trait that has helped fuel their popularity.

Adjustable dumbbells are rapidly growing more common for home users. Even though they only take up the space of a single pair of dumbbells, they can adjust to offer you many different weight levels. In fact, some adjustable dumbbells include 15 or more weight settings!

If you’re strapped for space but still want to get in a great dumbbell workout, an adjustable set is the best way to go.

However, the adjustable dumbbell market can be a little confusing. To help you narrow down your selection, we’ve picked out seven of the best models on the market. These adjustable dumbbells are all high-quality sets, built for convenience, comfort and durability.

After examining each model, we’ll also discuss some features to look for when you buy a pair of adjustable dumbbells and answer a couple of the most common questions.

Top 7 Best Adjustable Dumbbells:

Pros

  • Great for all kinds of exercise
  • 15 different weight increments – up to 52.5lb each dumbbell
  • Rubber grips and classic shape
  • Included stand for weight plates

Cons

  • One of the most expensive sets on this list

Total Weight: 105lbs
Pairs: One
Material: Metal and rubber
Case/Stand: Yes
Features: 15 different weight levels, rubber grips, dial-lock system, dumbbell stands, two-year warranty

Bowflex carries a sterling reputation in the fitness equipment world, and their SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are the top pick on our list. This pair of dumbbells incorporates multiple plates to give you 15 different weight options on each hand.

With a maximum weight of 52.5lbs each, these dumbbells are heavy enough for both compound lifts and more targeted work. Bowflex uses a distinctive dial system to switch out the weight plates with just a couple of clicks. The included stands keep the plates upright to help you snap the handle into place.

Unlike some other options on this list, these Bowflex dumbbells also retain a traditional rounded shape with open handles. They’re easy to grip and use – lifters comfortable with regular dumbbells will feel right at home with these.

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Pros

  • Heavy maximum weight is great for seasoned lifters
  • 12 different weight levels availabl
  • Compact frame makes dumbbells easy to hold
  • Sturdy and durable construction

Cons

  • Will be too pricey for many users
  • Elevated stand costs extra

Total Weight: 143lbs
Pairs: One
Material: Metal and rubber
Case/Stand: Yes
Features: 12 different weight levels, heavy maximum weight, sturdy metal plates, dial system to adjust weight, included dumbbell stands

For experienced lifters looking for a heavy-duty pair of adjustable dumbbells, this Merax Deluxe 71.5 set is a great fit. These dumbbells reach up to 71.5lbs on each hand – more than any other pair on this list. With 12 weight levels (increasing in 5lb increments), these work well for a variety of exercises.

Each dumbbell attaches to the weight plates with an intuitive dial system. Simply turn the knob on the end cap to your desired weight and the plates attach. The plates lock close together to keep the dumbbell’s profile slim.

The Merax Deluxe dumbbells use heavy-duty metal plates with rubber handles and end caps. While this set is the most expensive pair on our list, the durable construction helps to offset that higher sticker price.

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Pros

  • Durable metal plates and rubberized handles
  • Sturdy box design
  • Wide range of weight levels, from 2.5lbs to 50lbs
  • Expansion weight packs available

Cons

  • No stand is included
  • Box design may feel odd for some users
  • Another pretty expensive set

Total Weight: 100lbs (extension weights available)
Pairs: One
Material: Metal and rubber
Case/Stand: No
Features: Distinctive shape, 15 weight levels available, rubber handles, made in America, expandable design, 10-year warranty

Unlike rounded pairs, these PowerBlock dumbbells utilize a boxy rectangular shape for greater stability. Their Elite adjustable set ranges from 2.5lbs to 50lbs of weight per hand in 16 increments. It’s therefore great for new and experienced users alike.

Rubberized handles help you keep a firm grip on the dumbbells during use. While the shape takes some getting used to, it’s a very versatile set. A selector pin attaches different plates to the dumbbell to change the weight levels.

One major bonus of the box design is that you can add more plates to the end of each dumbbell. While the basic set accommodates up to 50lbs in each hand, you can expand it to a mega 70lbs or 90lbs each as you progress in strength.

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Pros

  • Easy TwistLock weight change system
  • Versatile weight range, from 5lbs to 50lbs
  • Natural compact dumbbell size
  • Two-year warranty on parts

Cons

  • Quite pricey for the set
  • Elevated stand costs extra

Total Weight: 100lbs
Pairs: One
Material: Metal and rubber
Case/Stand: Yes
Features: Streamlined design, metal weight plates, TwistLock weight switching system, smooth handle grips, two-year warranty for parts

If you’re considering a pair of adjustable dumbbells but want a classic, streamlined feel, the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell set is the ideal choice. These dumbbells offer good flexibility for both new and experienced lifters, along with smooth, sleek styling.

Like many other sets on this list, these dumbbells adjust from 5lbs up to 50lbs per hand. What sets these dumbbells apart is the TwistLock weight adjustment system – you can switch between different weights using just one hand. All of the plates that you don’t use rest comfortably on the included stand.

These dumbbells are noticeably more compact than many of the other adjustable options. They preserve a natural ‘fixed’ feel, while giving you all of the benefits of the adjustable system.

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Pros

  • Lighter weights are easy for new and intermediate lifters
  • Padded grip handles
  • Eight different weight levels
  • Quite an inexpensive set

Cons

  • 24lb max weight will be light for some compound exercises
  • Box design may feel a bit odd

Total Weight: 48lbs
Pairs: One
Material: Metal and rubber
Case/Stand: No
Features: Square box design, selector pin setup, eight different weight levels, padded handles, 10-year warranty

Another entry from PowerBlock, the Sport 24 dumbbell set is a great alternative for newer weightlifters and users on a budget. These dumbbells retain PowerBlock’s versatile box design, with more manageable weight sizes and smaller increments.

The weights adjust from 3lbs to 24lbs on each hand, with eight different available levels. The 3lb increments make this set great for weightlifters looking to progress quickly. You can increase the weight smoothly without struggling to lift the heavier loads.

Like the PowerBlock Elite set, these dumbbells use the brand’s selector pin method. It’s easy to change weights with this set – just insert the pin at your desired weight level, like you would for machines at the gym. The padded handles also make them comfortable to hold for long periods

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Pros

  • Tough steel and cast-iron build
  • Rugged knurled grips
  • Different plate weights for smaller adjustments
  • Great value for a heavy set

Cons

  • Screw-on system takes time to adjust
  • Knurled handle can cause calluses

Total Weight: 105lbs
Pairs: One
Material: Cast-iron and steel
Case/Stand: No
Features: Old-school materials, screw-on weight design, different plate weights for fine adjustments, locking collars

The CAP Barbell Adjustable Dumbbell set stands out from all the other competitors on this list in one major way. It uses a screw-on design that allows you to make fine adjustments to your weight and attach the plates yourself.

On the materials side, these dumbbells are made from rugged steel and cast-iron. The handles are knurled to keep your grip secure while you lift. The materials are simple but durable – and there are fewer moving parts to break than on more expensive models.

Aside from the greater flexibility, cost is another major benefit of this set. Though it offers all of the same weight as the Bowflex and PowerBlock sets, the CAP dumbbells cost less than a quarter of the price!

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Pros

  • Five different weight levels up to 27.5lbs
  • Smooth weight adjustment system
  • Comfortable rubber handle
  • Low price, even for one

Cons

  • Only includes one dumbbell
  • Low weight level offers less room for growth

Total Weight: 27.5lbs
Pairs: Single dumbbell
Material: Metal and rubber
Case/Stand: Yes
Features: Lighter maximum weight, push-pull adjustment design, five different weight levels, compact shape, included stand

With its compact frame and lighter design, this adjustable dumbbell from ATIVAFIT is optimized for targeted work and single-arm exercises. It offers a maximum weight of 27.5lbs in five different increments, for beginners and advanced users alike.

This dumbbell combines metal weight plates with a grippy rubber handle. You can add or remove weight with the dumbbell’s push-pull mechanism – it adjusts both sides with one slider for a seamless and hassle-free experience.

It’s important to note that this package includes only one dumbbell, rather than the standard pair. Many isolation muscle exercises only require one dumbbell – but for larger lifts and movements that work both arms at the same time, you’ll need to buy two. Thankfully, they’re still pretty inexpensive!

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Shopping for Adjustable Dumbbells

Dumbbells are so ubiquitous in the fitness market that it proves quite difficult to differentiate between all the available options. Adjustable dumbbells are no exception.

So, if you’re considering a pair of adjustable dumbbells for your home gym, you’ll need to learn what sets each pair apart.

Below, our shopping guide breaks down both the major components and secondary features to help you evaluate each of the dumbbells on our list. Keep these ideas in mind when shopping!

Weight Levels

One of the great advantages of adjustable dumbbells is their weight. With just one pair of handles, you can replicate the functionality of an entire rack of fixed dumbbells.

If you’re struggling to find space for your workout gear, or simply want a more compact solution, an adjustable pair of dumbbells is the perfect option for you.

However, different pairs of adjustable dumbbells offer much different weight levels. Depending on your overall fitness, you may not need some of the weight offered.

With a bit of searching, you can find adjustable dumbbells weighing from 20lbs to 70lbs+ each. The vast majority of sets top out between 40lbs and 50lbs pounds per hand. That’s reflected in our list. In fact, most of our picks offer around 50lbs pounds of maximum weight for each dumbbell.

These weights are great for intermediate and advanced lifters. The extra resistance allows you to do pretty much any conceivable exercise with just the one pair of dumbbells.

On the other hand, beginners who just want a more compact alternative to a full dumbbell rack won’t get as much use out of the heaviest settings. Not many beginners are likely to squat while holding a 50lb dumbbell, let alone curl one!

In this case, supplemental weight plates may be a good middle ground. Some of the picks on our list, like the PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells, accommodate separate weight plates to augment the total weight of the dumbbells. If you want a platform that you can upgrade as you grow without the high upfront cost, add-on plates are the best solution for you.

If you’ve never lifted weights before or don’t have as much money to spend on new fitness gear, a lighter pair of adjustable dumbbells make a great starting point. You can always upgrade to a heavier set down the line or buy additional weight plates to improve your first pair.

Design

For all of their other differences, most adjustable dumbbells utilize a remarkably similar design. Users can add or remove weight plates by locking them onto the central handle. Any weight plates that you are not using rest on a stand or holder.

While the weight attachment system typically varies slightly between different models, the central concept remains the same.

Most of the models on our list use this modern click-attach system. However, some adjustable sets work differently. Some old-school designs will use grooved handles with detachable weight plates that you screw on, along with cogs to hold the weights in place and prevent them from coming undone during exercise.

However, this can be a cumbersome system. It’s therefore no coincidence that the heavier options on the list use the more advanced modern system. This is because, after a while, screwing on plates can get tiring – particularly as you add larger and larger weights.

However, if you do want a heavy adjustable dumbbell set, then you’ll need to make a few trade-offs. The core mechanism may be the same, but not all of the heavy pairs use the same design. Some are rounded, like traditional dumbbells, while others are thick and boxy.

No matter which design you pick, heavy adjustable dumbbells are often wider and larger than fixed dumbbells of the same weight.

The extra size is a byproduct of the adjustable system; while it’s not a dealbreaker for many users it can make certain exercises more awkward. Some lifters find it unwieldy to maneuver the cumbersome weights.

If you want a more traditional feel, the rounded models will be closer to a standard fixed dumbbell. PowerBlock models, like the Elite Dumbbells and Sport 24 set, are rectangular and may take a bit of a learning curve to adjust to. Here, users must put their hand ‘inside’ the center of the block to lift the dumbbell.

If you perform exercises that require you to hold the dumbbell at the heads (overhead triceps extensions, for example), these rectangular models may prove quite difficult to grip.

Price

Some lifters would love to buy a set of adjustable dumbbells, but balk at the high price. While it’s true that adjustable sets are far more expensive than pairs of fixed dumbbells, the added utilities often compensate for the increase in price.

If you’re not sure whether or not to spring for a high-priced adjustable pair, we can help explain whether or not they’ll be worth it.

Adjustable dumbbells offer the most value to weightlifters looking to build significant muscle across their entire body. Though they cost a lot more than traditional dumbbells, they can replace an entire rack with just one pair.

Serious lifters are far more likely to use all of the different weight levels throughout the range to target different muscle groups. For example, using a pair of 50lb dumbbells to squat a weight of 100lbs, then peeling off the weight to bicep curl 20lbs on each arm.

Even if you’re focused on increasing your strength in just one or two areas, an adjustable set might still be a good fit for you.

Experienced lifters need to use extremely heavy dumbbells to keep fit. A pair of heavy fixed dumbbells can still cost a significant amount of money. For the price of a couple pairs, an adjustable set will provide greater flexibility and take up less space.

Adjustable dumbbells still make a lot of sense for intermediate lifters too. Depending on the exercises, many intermediate users may work with dumbbells weighing 25lbs each or slightly more. Standard adjustable sets easily cover all the weights intermediate lifters need, while providing enough extra weight to grow as they improve.

The value proposition is less appealing for beginner users. If you’re not lifting above 15lbs on any of your dumbbell exercises, an adjustable set with weights ranging up to 50lbs or more on each hand may be overkill.

To reap the benefits of the adjustable design (more compact, versatile and flexible) without the weights you don’t need, look into starter sets, with weights tailored to lighter lifters.

Plenty of the picks on our list will suit new lifters well. These options are light enough for beginners and won’t break the bank with extras that you might never use. For a couple more options targeted at less experienced users, check out our list of the best dumbbells for beginners.

Secondary Features

After you’ve evaluated the basic structure of the orthodox dumbbells on our list, you’ll also need to consider some supplementary features. These additional perks may help you make a decision between two similar models.

Though we’ve already discussed the different weight sizes available, it’s also important to examine the various increments. Depending on the amount of plates included in the package, each dumbbell package will scale up by different increments.

As you increase the number of plates, certain sets may also begin to add more weight with each level – for example, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 increases in 2.5lb increments up to 25lbs, then 5lbs to their max weight of 52.5lbs each.

Smaller increments work best for lifters who want to progress gradually on targeted exercises, while larger increments are more conducive to heavy compound lifts.

By the same token, you should also evaluate the total number of weight levels available in each set. While maximum weight is a helpful measurement, it doesn’t tell the whole story. A 50lb-max set with 25 available weight levels will always be more helpful than a 50lb-max set with just 10 choices!

Various sets also offer different grip styles. This often correlates with the overall design of the dumbbells (rounded, rectangular, screw-on), but grips still vary between each individual model.

Rounded head models all tend to use smooth rubber handles. These are comfortable and easy to grip, though they may get slippery if you tend to sweat a lot during exercise. PowerBlock models also use rubber grips, which are situated inside a large rectangular box shape. These don’t allow as much freedom of motion and may be more difficult for users to hold on certain exercises.

Screw-on adjustable models use a basic steel grip instead. These grips use knurling to prevent the dumbbells from slipping when sweaty, though they’re still rougher than rubber grips. If you want to avoid growing calluses on your hands, steer clear of knurled grips (or wear a pair of good weightlifting gloves).

For some lighter models without any knurling, you can also check out our list of the best dumbbells for women.

Finally, certain models on this list come with a stand to organize your weights. Stands are incredibly useful for models that use a click-lock or dial-in system to attach extra weight plates. Without some way to keep the plates upright and tidy, they may not attach properly to the handle.

PowerBlock systems work without external stands because the rectangular weights balance on their own. Likewise, screw-on sets don’t need stands because you have to attach the weights manually, plate by plate.

If you’re considering a model with round weight plates though, make sure to find some with a stand included.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve compared adjustable dumbbell sets with fixed dumbbell pairs, you will probably have noticed that the adjustable pairs are often much more expensive.

Obviously, adjustable dumbbells can function like multiple pairs of fixed dumbbells in one. But does that extra versatility justify the high initial cost? The answer depends on your situation and your fitness goals.

Many of the adjustable pairs on our list replicate an entire rack of fixed dumbbells with just one pair. For example, some will offer weights from around 10lbs to 70lbs in 5lb steps. Though these sets may cost over $300, that cost pales in comparison to the price of buying a full rack of fixed dumbbells from 10lbs from 70lbs individually.

While it’s undeniable that adjustable dumbbells are a more cost-effective solution than buying a full top-of-the-line rack of fixed dumbbells, few people buy an entire rack for their home gym.

Comparing the value of a pair of adjustable dumbbells versus their reasonable alternatives is a much more difficult task. First, you’ll need to evaluate your current weightlifting habits to determine whether or not adjustable dumbbells are right for you.

For a seasoned dumbbell lifter that uses dumbbells for the majority of their workout, a high-end heavy adjustable pair makes perfect sense. Advanced lifters can take advantage of even the heaviest weights on these dumbbells for exercises like deadlifts, rows and squats. Plus, they’ll get use out of the entire range by using the dumbbells for myriad different exercises.

If you’ve never touched a dumbbell or just want to get back into regular strength training after a long break, a high-end set won’t help you out as much. It may take you months to approach the highest weight settings.

In cases like these, a small rack of fixed dumbbells would be a far more cost-effective purchase than a top-of-the-line pair of adjustable models. If you still want to take advantage of the space-saving benefits of adjustable dumbbells, you should look into lighter adjustable pairs (such as ones that max out at around 25lbs for each hand).

Not only will these dumbbells cost less, but you’ll also get more use out of the full range of weights. They often feature smaller weight increments as well, which will keep your strength gains more consistent and smoother than models with big jumps between levels will.

Ultimately, adjustable dumbbells make more sense for some lifters than for others. They’re certainly a useful tool to have in any gym, but they may not be a smart purchase depending on your strength and goals.

Thankfully, our list includes models targeted towards all different types of users – you’re nearly certain to find something that fits your personal goals.

Barbell lifts may steal a lot of the credit, but the truth is that dumbbells can build big muscle as well!

In fact, when used properly, dumbbells are some of the most effective tools for muscle-building that you’ll find in any gym – and adjustable dumbbells are no exception.

The myriad different weights available in one package make it easier for users to train all different muscle groups and engage their entire body in each workout.

Because dumbbells are free weights, your body must work to keep the weights steady each time you lift them. In contrast, lifting machines, which are designed to target one or two specific muscles, take out much of this stabilization work. Therefore, if you’re looking to increase your overall strength and work different muscle groups at once, dumbbells are an outstanding solution.

Adjustable dumbbells are, in some respects, even better than fixed dumbbells for building muscle. They make it easy to perform both heavy compound lifts and lighter targeted exercises during the same workout, without needing to switch to a different set.

This opens up the opportunity to superset your workouts, or switch between multiple exercises without needing to take a break to swap weights or rest in between.

Supersets target certain muscle groups more effectively than single exercises can on their own. If you want to lift weights to get in better shape and lose a little weight, supersets will also increase your heartrate (and by extension, your calories burned) throughout your workout session.

While dumbbells in general are a great tool for muscle-building, you should be aware that not all weight levels will help you towards that goal. To consistently build muscle, you must constantly challenge your muscles to grow.

This means steadily increasing the weight level you use. Therefore – if you are progressing well – you may outgrow light adjustable dumbbells after a few months of serious lifting.

The debate over whether or not to lift every day divides the fitness world. Though many experts (including plenty of legendary powerlifters) advocate ample rest days to help your muscles recover and grow, others routinely lift weights every day.

Both methods have their positives and negatives. Evaluate both sides to determine which strategy is best for you.

Most beginners and intermediate lifters work out their entire body in one session – a full-body workout. It’s easy, compact and helps you feel good right out of the gate.

However, if you’ve worked out every muscle group in your body one day, they all must recover the next day. Working out the same muscles on back-to-back days doesn’t give them enough time to recover properly in between. Instead, they get stressed and break down rather than building up.

On the other hand, many advanced weightlifters and bodybuilders focus on small, targeted exercises to augment their physiques. Their workouts are more thorough and may only target one muscle group each day (i.e. chest on a Monday, back on a Tuesday, and so on).

Because these lifters haven’t exercised all parts of their body in every workout, they can afford to lift every day without destroying their hard-earned gains.

The key comes in scheduling your workouts in a cycle pattern. Rather than making every gym session a full-body circuit, you could emphasize more specific exercises for one set of muscles each day. Then, rest those muscles for a couple of days while you work other muscle groups individually.

This focused approach isn’t necessary for beginners. Full-body workouts get you acclimated to lifting weights and keep your gains more consistent across muscle groups. However, once you grow comfortable with plenty of different exercises, it’s easy to make the switch to daily workouts.

As long as you don’t stress the same muscles, you can lift weights every day without adverse effects. Dumbbells are a great tool for these muscle-specific workout cycles – they’re versatile enough to adapt to nearly any exercise and can be used to work all of the different muscle groups in the body.

Adjustable units offer you freedom to find your desired weight level for each exercise without any obstacles or hassle.

Any gym-goer who has spent time around serious weightlifters knows that dumbbells and barbells are their two main tools.

Both items are durable enough to support heavy weights, yet versatile enough to use for all different types of exercises. However, if you’re building a home gym and only have the space to use one of the two, which one should you get?

Barbells are certainly easier for exercises that involve resting weight on your back, like squats and lunges. Without the ability to hold the weight across your shoulders, dumbbell squats may be a bit trickier for beginners to execute with proper form.

Some lifters also prefer barbells for exercises like curls and presses, though they don’t offer a concrete edge over dumbbells there.

Overall, dumbbells are the more versatile of the two options. Outside of squats, you can easily substitute barbells for dumbbells in pretty much any exercise. Beyond barbells, dumbbells also offer you the ability to work on small, isolated muscles with shorter movements. Triceps kickbacks are a great example – this outstanding arm exercise is easy with dumbbells but impossible with a barbell!

Beyond their added flexibility, dumbbells may also offer some muscular benefits compared to barbells. The added surface area of a barbell makes it easier for lifters to press against and generate more force. They’re also relatively easy to stabilize during lifts, which makes barbells safer than dumbbells for extremely heavy lifts.

On the other hand, dumbbells take significant effort to keep on track when lifting. They bring more stabilizer muscles into your exercises and often increase your range of motion. This is why lifters struggle to lift as much weight with a dumbbell press as with a barbell press, for example.

Some lifters may prefer to use barbells because they can lift more weight with them. However, dumbbells are helpful to ensure that both sides of your body are evenly matched – because dumbbells force you to work each side independently, one side of your body won’t outpace the other in terms of strength or appearance.

The Ver(ve)dict!

Though each of the dumbbell pairs on our list offer their own advantages, we ultimately decided on the Bowflex SelectTech 552 set as our top pick.

These high-end dumbbells offer top-notch quality and a stable, intuitive switching system. The high maximum weight and 15 different levels only made the package more attractive.

If you’re considering purchasing a pair of adjustable dumbbells, make sure to take a look at all of the pairs we have highlighted and don’t be afraid to do your own research on the market.

Every situation is unique, and a different pair may offer a better fit for you than the Bowflex set. No matter which pair you have your eyes on, our shopping guide and FAQ responses will hopefully help you make an informed purchase.

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