Dumbbells are some of the most versatile tools in any gym. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, get strong, or boost your conditioning, dumbbells are at your service.
I don’t consider them to be a part of the core four for a home gym, which consists of a rack, a barbell, some weight plates, and a weight bench, but dumbbells are what I recommend for most people as their next purchase outside of the essentials.
dumbbells can be fixed or adjustable, and they can range in terms of price, materials, features, size, adjustment speed, etc… which can be a challenge when narrowing down a list of potential options.
In this article, I’ll take you through some of the best dumbbells to buy in 2022. Whether you’re a beginner lifter or an experienced lifter, this article covers it all. Each winner has either been personally owned/used by me or has been meticulously researched through spec comparisons, user reviews, and feedback from people I trust.
Let’s dig in!
Best Dumbbells in 2022
- Best Rubber Hex Dumbbells – REP Rubber Hex Dumbbells
- Best Rubber Grip Dumbbells – Vulcan Pro Hex Rubber Dumbbells
- Best Urethane Dumbbells – Rogue Urethane Dumbbells
- Best Stainless Steel Dumbbells – Intek Delta Series Dumbbells
- Best Budget Dumbbells – CAP Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells
- Best Loadable Dumbbell Handle – Gungnir Dumblers
- Best Adjustable Dumbbells – NÜOBELL Adjustable Dumbbells
- Fastest Adjustable Dumbbells – Powerblock Elite Series Dumbbells
- Most Durable Adjustable Dumbbells – Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells
- Most Versatile Dumbbells – Kabuki KYÜBELL
- Best Dumbbell Rack – Rogue Universal Storage System 2.0
- Best Budget Dumbbell Rack – REP Dumbbell Rack
Price: Starting at $15.99 w/ Free Shipping (sold in pairs)
Materials: Rubber heads & steel handles
Shape: Hex-heads and straight, knurled handles
Weight Increments: 2.5lb-125lb in 5lb increments
Handle Diameter: 22mm (2.5lb), 28mm (5lb-15lb), 34mm (17.5lb+)
Available in Sets: Yes, multiple
Warranty: Lifetime in a home gym; 1-year in a commercial gym
- Straight knurled handles provide a barbell-like feel
- Many options ranging from 2.5lb to 125lb
- Several sets available, including 5lb-100lb
- Excellent warranty for home gym use
- Hex design prevents rolling
- Rubber hex dumbbells are longer than other styles, which can limit range of motion on some lifts
- Can arrive with somewhat heavy oil application. A rag and silicone spray removes it easily and helps eliminate any initial odor.
When it comes to rubber hex dumbbells, there are a lot of versions that are made in the same factory and simply rebranded with different company logos. I’ve owned several of these REP DBs for a couple of years, and they’re the best of this style that I’ve tried. I’m not saying that they’re totally unique, but they do have one distinguishing quality.
Unlike most rubber hex DBs that have contoured, partially knurled grips, the REP version has straight handles that are knurled from end to end. This gives them a more authentic, barbell-like feel that I prefer. Some users like the contoured grips. If that’s you, I would suggest looking at the Rogue Rubber Hex Dumbbells.
These DBs have steel heads that are coated in thick rubber to provide extra durability to the dumbbell as well as your floor. They’re friction welded, much like a barbell sleeve, so dropping them is perfectly acceptable. The fact they have a lifetime warranty for home gym use should provide additional peace of mind.
I found that the REP Rubber Hexes had a fairly minimal amount of odor – not completely odorless, but less than several other versions I’ve tried. They did, however, come with a heavy layer of oil, which is fairly common. I used a rag to wipe them off and applied some silicone spray where needed. After doing this, the smell was virtually non-existent.
The biggest downside to these dumbbells, and rubber hex DBs in general, is that they can be quite long. This is especially true when handling heavier increments. Compared to a more compact dumbbell, rubber hexes will limit some range of motion. I have a full breakdown of the three dumbbell styles that REP offers below.
The REP rubber hex dumbbells ship for free and, when you factor in their straight handles, I think they’re the best option for this style.
RELATED: REP Fitness Dumbbell Buying Guide
Best Rubber Grip Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $27.19 (sold in pairs)
Materials: Rubber heads and rubber handles
Shape: Hex-heads and contoured, textured handles
Weight Increments: 5lb-75lb on pairs and up to 120lb on sets in 5lb increments
Handle Diameter: 30mm (5lb-20lb) and 34mm (25lb+)
Available in Sets: Yes, multiple
- More compact than traditional rubber hex dumbbells
- Rubber grips are resistant to cold temperature and provide more grip than some chrome-plated handles
- More accurate than traditional rubber hex dumbbells (+/-1% of stated weight)
- Little-to-no odor
- Excellent warranty for all use
- Only sold up to 75lb when buying pairs – must purchase sets to get to 120lb
- Contoured grips are not everyone’s cup of tea
The Vulcan Pro Rubber Hex Dumbbells are not your typical rubber hex DBs. These have a rubber, contoured grip that has a couple of advantages relative to some other contoured steel handles. They also have a size advantage relative to traditional rubber hexes.
The most unique thing about these dumbbells is the rubber handle. Where many rubber-style DBs have a chrome-plated and partially knurled handle, these from Vulcan have neither. They’re coated in rubber that’s textured, not knurled, and I’ve found that they’re actually more grippy than chrome-plated versions. What’s even more beneficial is that they’re much more resilient to cold temperatures. If you train in a garage gym, for instance, where it gets cold in the winter, these will feel very comfortable in the hands immediately. No more grabbing a freezing cold handle – they’re basically immune to the cold.
The second big advantage of these dumbbells over some traditional rubber hexes is that they’re more compact by up to several inches on heavier increments. Again, this allows for additional range of motion and generally makes them less unwieldy.
The heads are steel and the handles are pressed into them vs welded or bolted, providing a very durable bond. You can feel confident in dropping them, and they’re backed by a lifetime warranty. The rubber is very durable and emits less odor than traditional rubber hex DBs. They too arrive with some oil and may show some dirt on arrival. Again, a rag and silicone spray did the trick perfectly.
Aesthetically, I love these Pro Hex DBs from Vulcan. They have a contrasting white logo and, while I wish the weight call-outs were white too, they still look very sharp. A downside of these, however, is that you cannot buy increments over 75lbs in pairs. If you want to get up to 120lb, you’ll need to look at their several set options.
REP fitness also sells similar dumbbells, but they only go up to 55lbs on pairs and 100lbs on sets. This is the primary reason why I think Vulcan is the better buy, even if they are a bit more expensive.
Best Urethane Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $45 (sold in pairs)
Materials: Urethane heads and steel handles
Shape: Round head with straight, knurled handles
Weight Increments: 5lb-150lb in 5lb increments
Handle Diameter: 31mm (5lb-45lb) and 34mm (50lb+)
Available in Sets: Yes, multiple
Warranty: 1 Year
- Urethane is among the most durable dumbbell materials
- Significantly smaller profile than traditional rubber hex dumbbells
- Available up to 150lbs, including pairs and sets
- White name and weight call-outs are easy to read and provide a nice aesthetic
- Straight knurled handles provide a very traditional feel
- Expensive for the average home gym owner
- Round heads are sometimes harder to store, as they tend to roll
- Shorter warranty compared to some other options
The Rogue Urethane Dumbbells are some of the most durable DBs in the game and they offer some of the heaviest increments on the market – up to 150lbs. These increments are the main reason I picked them over the REP Fitness version, despite me owning a complete REP set since 2019. Price aside, they’re otherwise very similar.
There are a few benefits to picking urethane over standard rubber as it relates to dumbbells. The first is that urethane is more durable than rubber. Even with a thinner application vs rubber hex, they provide excellent resiliency to drops, scrapes, etc… Despite their enhanced durability, however, these from Rogue only carry a 1-year warranty compared to the 5 years on the REP version. I’m very confident that a warranty claim is unlikely, even within a 5-year window on the Rogue version, but this is a distinction nonetheless.
Another big benefit of urethane dumbbells is that they’re significantly more compact than traditional rubber hex or even the rubber grip hex above. Again, this can make a big difference with range of motion, and it’s one of the biggest reasons I recommend urethane if you have the budget. These also come with straight, fully knurled handles with a chrome plating.
Other benefits of urethane include no odor and a better aesthetic. Something else to consider is that these use round heads vs. hex heads. I prefer round heads personally because I love the pro-style look. They can tend to roll on the floor and within some storage units, however.
Urethane dumbbells come with a premium price, but if durability is important to you, if you like the look, and you want heavier increments, these from Rogue are a great choice.
Best Stainless Steel Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $289.50 (sold in pairs)
Materials: Stainless steel heads and handle
Shape: Round head and straight, knurled shaft
Weight Increments: 5lb-150lb in 5lb increments
Available in Sets: Yes, special order
- Stainless steel is very durable, very rust-resistant, and very aesthetic
- Self-leveling end caps keep your dumbbells facing the right direction at all times
- Straight, fully knurled handles
- 100% solid construction (no welds or bolts) increases durability
- Made in the USA, which is very rare for dumbbells
- Custom end caps are available
- Very expensive for the average home gym owner
If you’re looking for some of the most premium, beautiful, and high functioning dumbbells in the world, the Intek Delta Series are stellar. It is very uncommon to find American-made dumbbells, but that’s exactly what you get with the Intek Deltas. I’ve owned a pair of Deltas since 2018… they look and perform the exact same as the day I received them.
In terms of construction, the entire Intek Delta DB is stainless steel from the heads to the handle. These dumbbells are pressed together, so there are no welds, bolts, etc… making them virtually indestructible in a gym setting. The handles are straight and they’re fully knurled in a refined, medium profile. They’re sold online in pairs, but you can contact Intek to purchase as a set. They offer up to 150lbs in 5lb increments.
Perhaps the best feature of these dumbbells, aside from the all-stainless construction, is the self-leveling end caps. This is a luxury to be sure, but they make sure your logo and weight increments are always facing the right direction. If you have OCD, as I do in the gym, then this is a HUGE benefit. I’m constantly adjusting my urethane DBs so they all line up consistently. With the Deltas, that’s handled for you, and it also has a fun fidget factor.
Aesthetically, there aren’t many dumbbells that can compete with the Deltas. The stainless is gorgeous and the end caps can be customized to different colors, logos, etc… Highly customized home gyms are becoming more and more popular – these fit the bill perfectly.
Speaking of bills, the Intek Deltas are very expensive. You get what you pay for in this instance – a very high-quality, beautiful, made in the USA dumbbell – but it’s going to cost you a lot more than other styles of DBs.
With that, I can’t recommend these enough if you have the budget and the space.
Best Budget Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $17.99 (sold in pairs)
Materials: Cast iron heads and handles
Shape: Hex heads and straight, knurled handles
Weight Increments: 1lb-120lb in 1lb-5lb increments
Handle Diameter: 29mm (1lb-45lb), 30.5mm (50lb-65lb), 31mm (70lb-80lb), and 31.75mm (85lb+)
Available in Sets: No
Warranty: 30 days
- Very budget-friendly
- Weights ranging from 1lb up to 120lb
- Hex heads help to prevent rolling
- Straight, knurled handles
- Less durable compared to other dumbbells
- Warranty isn’t as strong as other dumbbells
- Some users have complained of uncomfortable cast splatter
The CAP Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells are a solid budget offering if saving money is important to you. There’s nothing particularly special about these DBs, but CAP has a respectable reputation for providing some decent value options.
As the name implies, these DBs are made entirely of cast iron and then coated in a baked enamel, which is a CAP staple. As with budget cast iron plates and dumbbells, there may be some splatter left behind. If that splatter is on the handle or the heads where they may rest on your legs, it can be fairly uncomfortable. Some owners have complained of this issue.
The nice thing about these DBs is that there are a lot of increments available ranging from 1lb up to 120lb. These increments increase by 1lb, 2lb, 3lb, and 5lb once you get past the 15lb mark. You can purchase all of them as pairs on Amazon, but no sets are available.
Durability on the CAP dumbbells is good, but not great. There have been some, not a lot, of cases of heads breaking. Considering they’re constructed with only cast iron, you’ll need to be considerate of your floor and the DB overall. I don’t recommend dropping these from anywhere higher than bench height. They do come with a 30-day warranty, which isn’t very impressive and certainly lags behind some other options.
At the end of the day, these aren’t going to compete with higher-quality brands, but they’re a good pick for budget-seekers, beginners, and/or recreational lifters.
Best Loadable Dumbbell Handle
Materials: Stainless Steel, Electroless Nickel, and Titanium
Loadable Sleeve Length: 6.25″
Total Length: 18.42″
Handle Diameter: 28mm
- Revolutionary titanium SlideLock eliminates external collars
- Offers a very traditional, barbell-like feel
- Straight, fully knurled handle
- Not as long as some other loadable handles
- Accepts Olympic plates
- Rotates via bronze bushings
- Despite being shorter than some, loadable handles are still long compared to fixed dumbbells
- It can be challenging to load heavy depending on what plates you’re using
The Dumbler from Gungnir of Norway is the most revolutionary loadable dumbbell to ever hit the market. Gungnir is known for their SlideLock technology, which completely eliminates the need for external collars. They first introduced these locks on their Allrounder Bar, which is one of the best barbells I have ever used. Read the full Allrounder Bar review.
The SlideLock is a precision-machined titanium piece that slides along the sleeve of the Dumblers and locks into place. Along the sleeve are machined grooves that allow the lock to rest in place. With the added benefit of built-in magnets on the clip, you can rest assured the lock will never budge. Seriously, I’ve done 80lb drop tests with the Dumblers and they’ve never shown any signs of concern.
RELATED: Read about the Best Collars to buy.
The handles on the Dumbler include a moderate knurling that’s consistent with dumbbells. The beauty of these handles, however, is that the handle is stainless steel. Not only does this look great, but it also provides an unmatched feel in the hand. The handle measures 28mm in diameter, which acts like an Olympic weightlifting bar. This is great for snatches and other Oly-style dumbbell movements.
The sleeves measure 6.25″ in length and they have a standard Olympic bar diameter of 1.96″, which accommodates Olympic-sized plates. This length is conducive to loading over 80lbs, but keep in mind that because the clips locks into place short of the total length, you may actually need external collars when going heavy. This depends on what type of plates you’re using. These sleeves also rotate, which is different from most fixed dumbbells. It does so with bronze bushings, which create a smooth operation.
A couple of downsides to loadable handles, in general, is that they take longer to load and they’re physically longer, which can limit range of motion.
The Gungnir Dumblers are simply the best loadable handles available. The machining is next-level, the SlideLock works perfectly, they’re very aesthetic, and they perform very well. If you want the absolute best loadable handles, look no further than the Dumblers from Gungnir.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells
Price: $595 for 50lb/$745 for 80lb (sold in pairs)
Materials: Steel & hardened plastic
Shape: Round head with straight, knurled handle
Weight Increments: 5lb-50lb or 5lb-80lb in 5lb increments
Handle Diameter: 32mm
Adjustment Mechanism: Handle dial
Warranty: 2 years
- Extremely fast adjustment mechanism
- Takes up a very small footprint
- Available in 50lb or 80lb pairs – both with 5lb increments
- Easy-to-read number call-outs for weight selection
- Satisfying clicking noise
- Traditional dumbbell feel
- Plastic components are a possible concern for long term durability
- The 2-year warranty is less than some other adjustable dumbbells
I’ve owned the NÜOBELLS since the beginning of 2020 and after using them extensively over that time, I think they’re the best adjustable dumbbells for most people.
The best thing about the NÜOBELLS is how quickly they can adjust. These adjustable DBs come with cradles that, when engaged, allow the users to adjust the weight. This is done through a clever spinning handle mechanism that takes all but a couple of seconds to adjust. By spinning either left or right, you increase or decrease the weight selection, which is then shown through a little window for easy identification.
The 32mm handle is straight and knurled, which provides a good overall grip. This is a hollow handle, to allow for a steel threaded core to accomplish the actual weight adjustment. In general, the NÜOBELLS feel like traditional dumbbells and, among other adjustable dumbbells, they look the most like them too.
The plates consist of machined steel and plastic inserts that join them together with other plates. The plates are round, but they do have a flat edge that helps prevent them from rolling. You purchase the NÜOBELLS as pairs and they’re available in 50lb or 80lb versions, both of which come with 5lb increments. While I would like to see heavier options, that would increase the total length, which could further reduce range of motion.
The biggest concern of the NÜOBELLS over the long term is the number of plastic components. There is plastic on every plate, on the inner collars, and on the cradles. Over time, this could cause issues. I haven’t experienced any issues yet, but at least one review pointed out a cracked piece of plastic. I have heard far more positive things than I have negative, however, and NÜOBELLS do come with a two-year warranty.
I’ve had my NÜOBELLS sitting in their cradles on my floor – they take up virtually no footprint, but you can purchase an optional stand.
If speed and traditional look and feel are what you’re after, the NÜOBELLS are an excellent option. The price is in line with some of the higher-end offerings.
Fastest Adjustable Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $419 (sold in pairs)
Materials: Steel, rubber, and plastic
Shape: Square heads with recessed straight rubber handle
Weight Increments: 5lb-50lb in 2.5lb-5lb increments with add-ons for 70lb and 90lb
Handle Diameter: 33mm
Adjustment Mechanism: Selector pin & dial lock
Warranty: 5 years
- Very fast adjustments
- Mostly steel construction makes for a very durable set
- Available in 2.5lb, 5lb, and 10lb adjustments
- Color-coded side rails for easy weight identification
- Powerblock stand is sold separately
- The unorthodox handle may be awkward for some users
When you think ‘adjustable dumbbell’ there’s a good chance that Powerblocks are one of the first things that pop into your head. That’s for good reason because they’ve been around for years. These are some of the fastest and most reputable adjustable DBs on the market.
The Powerblocks are very memorable because they have a unique and unorthodox design. The most unique thing about them is their handle system, which sits recessed into the “block”. Almost as if you were putting on a glove, you stick your hand into the Powerblock to grab a 33mm straight rubber-coated handle. There is nothing traditional in how this looks or feels. You will either care for it or you won’t.
What’s most beneficial about the Powerblocks is how quickly they adjust. On the outer edge is a selector pin that can quickly be extracted and inserted into color-coded slots to select the weight in 10lb increments. These colors are referenced on the top of the Powerblocks with their associated weights. On the top, you will also find a dial lock that you can open to add or remove “adder” weights for either 2.5lb or 5lb adjustments. So while the 10lb jumps are very fast, the smaller jumps take a marginally longer time. Still, it’s very easy.
The Powerblock Elites are sold as a 50lb set, but you can buy two expansion sets that will take it to 70lb and up to 90lb. To get to 90lb, you must buy the stage 2 expansion set (50lb-70lb).
Although there are some plastic components on the Powerblock Elites, these dumbbells are extremely durable and they have years of solid reviews backing them up. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a fast-changing, proven, and durable adjustable DB.
Most Durable Adjustable Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $749 (sold in pairs)
Shape: Square head with straight, knurled handle
Weight Increments: 5lb-75lb w/ 2.5lb increments and add-ons for 120lb and 165lb
Handle Diameter: 31.75mm
Adjustment Mechanism: Plate-loaded with quick-lock
Warranty: 10 years
- Extremely heavy-duty
- Straight, knurled handles provide a traditional look and feel
- Available as a 75lb set with add-ons up to 165lbs
- One of, if not the best warranty among adjustable dumbbells.
- All-steel construction
- Adjustment speed isn’t as fast as some competing adjustable dumbbells
- VERY hard to order right now in 2022
Ironmasters were the first adjustable dumbbell that I ever purchased for my home gym. I absolutely loved them for their durability and feel, but I ultimately elected to buy a full set of fixed dumbbells because of the adjustment speed. I 100% believe these are some of the best adjustables anyone can buy. I think they’re especially great for heavy lifters and powerlifters… or for anyone who doesn’t mind the slightly longer setup time.
The best thing about the Ironmasters is that they are built to be virtually bombproof. Every component of these dumbbells is made from steel. You can drop them, slam them, drag them, and do whatever else you want with them without concern of them failing. The 10-year warranty that comes with them is industry-leading as well, so you can be even more confident.
Ironmasters are sold as a 75lb set, which includes a convenient stand that stores your Ironmaster plates. This stand takes up a very small footprint, making them a great option for the space-conscious lifter. From there, you can buy the 120lb add-on kit and on up to the 165lb kit. The 75lb dumbbells have a great length to them that makes them truly feel like traditional dumbbells. Once you start using the add-ons, the length begins to get somewhat unwieldy, but on things like rows, etc… it’s no concern.
The Ironmaster plates are secured with a “quick-lock” mechanism, which is essentially a threaded screw. It’s removed by twisting counterclockwise and then locked into place by twisting clockwise until you feel a click. It’s a seamless operation that works great, but at the expense of speed.
If you do a lot of drop sets, supersets, etc… the Ironmasters probably aren’t for you. Otherwise, this is a terrific and extremely durable option that will serve many people well for years.
Most Versatile Dumbbells
Price: Starting at $187.98 (sold in singles or pairs)
Materials: Steel with polyurethane end caps
Shape: “Guitar pick” heads with three straight, textured handles
Weight Increments: 10lb-50lb in 10lb increments
Handle Diameter: 31.75mm, 44.45mm, or 63.5mm
Available in sets: Yes, sets are available with pairs or singles
- Three handles in three different diameters for various grips
- Open design lets users create three different load positions
- All-steel construction is very durable
- Available as singles, pairs, and sets
- More versatile than traditional dumbbells
- Made in the USA
- Only available in 10lb-50lb with 10lb increments
- Not adjustable
The Kabuki Kyubells are the brainchild of the collaboration between Kabuki Strength and Havak, who originally created the same-concept Triads. This is a very versatile hand implement with a unique design.
When you look at the Kyubell, you’ll see guitar pick-shaped end plates with three handles attached at the corners. Each of these handles differs in diameter, including 1.25″, 1.75″, and 2.5″. In this way, you can train different grips to increase variety in training, but that’s not what truly separates the Kyubell from other tools (although it is a unique factor).
Where the Kyubell shines is in its ability to influence force curves by using an open design between those handles. You can position your hand to create three positions: the rack position, the long lever position, and the center mass position. On the ends are polyurethane covers with a diagram showing these various positions.
For example, the center mass position will be most similar to a traditional dumbbell. You achieve this by sticking your hand through the opening and grabbing the back handle. The long lever position is achieved by grabbing the closest handle. This position is the most demanding. The rack position is achieved by grabbing a handle and letting the Kyubell rotate onto the forearm. In this position, you’ll be under load longer and, according to some users, it will be more comfortable for certain movements (e.g. presses).
A downside to the Kyubells is that they’re not adjustable and they’re only made available to 50lbs. This max weight, however, can be influenced via the handles to create more challenging scenarios beyond just absolute weight.
Another benefit of them is that they’re very compact, so you’ll get a great range of motion.
The Kyubells are not for everyone. These are very unique handles that are best-suited for advanced lifters.
Best Dumbbell Rack
Price: Starting at $345
Materials: 2×3 and 3×3 11-gauge steel with steel shelves
Tiers: 2 or 3
Shelf options: Dumbbell, kettlebell, and/or medicine balls
Footprint: 76.5″ long, 23.75″ deep, 29.25″-48.25″ tall
- Adaptable to accommodate dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls
- Includes wheels for easy maneuvering
- Heavy-duty 11-gauge steel construction
- Available in two or three-tier height
- Vertical barbell holders can be added to store up to four barbells
- 76.5″ length may be too big for some users
The Rogue Universal Storage System 2.0 is one of my favorite storage systems. It’s great for dumbbell storage, but it also allows for kettlebell, med ball, and barbell storage.
This system is considered ‘universal’ because you have control of what goes where. The first thing to decide is whether you want two tiers or three. From there, you can pick which type of shelf you want and in which position. Maybe you want all dumbbells, maybe you want one of each, etc… you can make it your own.
RELATED: Read about the Best Home Gym Storage to buy.
The unit is 76.5″ long, which is a good length for storage, but which also might be too long for some rooms. It will sit either 29.25″ or 45.25″ off the ground depending on how many tiers you select. It’s made of a combination of 2×3 11-gauge steel and 3×3 11-gauge steel, making it a very heavy-duty system capable of storing a lot of weight. It also comes with a wheel kit that you can install for portability, but you don’t have to if you have a good permanent spot for it.
As it relates to price, you will pay a base price for the number of tiers and then a premium based on what actual shelves you buy. Dumbbell trays are the most expensive, then kettlebells, and then medicine balls. A 3-tier dumbbell system will cost you less than $1,000.
If flexibility is important to you or if you want just one storage unit instead of possibly two or more, the Rogue Universal Storage System is a great choice.
Best Budget Dumbbell Rack
Price: $179.99 w/ free shipping
Materials: 2×2 11-gauge steel with steel shelves
Shelf options: Dumbbells
Footprint: 48″ long, 24″ deep, 36″ tall
Colors: Red, Blue, or Black
- Excellent value
- Capable of holding full 5-50lb set with 5lb increments
- Space friendly at only 4 feet long
- Made with 11-gauge steel
- You may need two racks depending on how many dumbbells you have
- Shelves may slightly sag if you have a lot of weight loaded
When I first bought a fixed set of dumbbells, I bought these racks from REP Fitness. They serve their job well and, while they aren’t as versatile as something like the Rogue Universal System, they’re great for the money.
The REP Dumbbell Rack sits 36″ tall, 48″ long, and 24″ deep, so it’s a compact unit. With three tiers, it’s capable of holding a set of 5-50lb dumbbells in 5lb increments. Keep in mind this is based on REP’s Rubber Hex dumbbells. Most others will fit the same, but if you have any that are larger, they may not fit.
The unit itself is easy to assemble and it’s plenty strong. One thing I did notice, however, on the bottom shelf where I had heavier pairs loaded (70-100), the shelf would sag a little in the middle. This isn’t a big deal with rubber hex dumbbells, but with round head urethanes, they would want to roll into each other. This made it slightly hard to re-rack and it also made it more challenging to line the DBs up neatly.
Also, keep in mind that you will need two racks depending on how many dumbbells you own. Even still, at less than $200 shipped, the price is right for a simple and quality dumbbell storage rack.
Dumbbells come in two main styles: fixed or adjustable. Within the adjustable dumbbell market, you have purpose-built setups and you have loadable dumbbell handles, which are essentially mini barbells. I’ll break all three down below.
Fixed dumbbells are the most traditional dumbbells and what most people are accustomed to using in larger gyms. These dumbbells have fixed heads that are pressed, welded, or otherwise fastened to a handle. Most fixed dumbbells will have a knurled steel handle that’s either straight or contoured. You also may find some fixed dumbbells that offer rubber handles, which are better for cold weather environments.
Fixed dumbbells are by far the easiest to use among the three. You can quickly move from weight to weight and you can much more easily perform drop sets, supersets, etc… Fixed dumbbells will typically range from 5lbs-125lbs, often with 5lb increments.
The downside to fixed dumbbells is they take up a lot more space than adjustable dumbbells. They’re also more expensive depending on how many pairs of fixed dumbbells you purchase.
If space and budget are no issue, fixed dumbbells are the best option, in my opinion.
Adjustable dumbbells have soared in popularity because of a boom in the home gym market. These are great options for home gym owners because they take up far less room and they’re generally less expensive than a fixed set.
Adjustable dumbbells can range in size, adjustment mechanisms, size, shape, etc… There are generally more tradeoffs with adjustable dumbbells as well. For example, you may have an adjustable dumbbell that can adjust weight very quickly, but at the expense of traditional dumbbell look and feel (e.g. Powerblocks). You may also have an adjustable dumbbell that offers a traditional look and feel, but at the expense of adjustment speed (e.g. Ironmasters). You also may have a dumbbell that offers both, but at the expense of long-term durability (e.g. Bowflex).
There is typically a close correlation between price and quality when it comes to adjustable dumbbells. Consider function, speed, durability, and feel when you’re deciding which is right for you.
The three adjustable dumbbells mentioned in this article are all quality options.
Loadable Dumbbell Handles
Loadable dumbbell handles are the most manual of adjustable dumbbells. These are quite literally mini barbells, so you have to physically load plates onto them and secure them with collars. These often have the same shafts as some of the larger barbells in terms of knurling, diameter, etc… In that sense, they feel very natural in the hand.
Loadable handles are the most economical in terms of price and even space, but they have a couple of downsides. The first is that they’re longer than most fixed or adjustable dumbbells. Therefore, range of motion could be impacted on certain movements (e.g. chest press).
The second downside is that you have to own plates, and a lot of them if you want to lift heavy. Change plates or smaller diameter iron plates are best to avoid further limiting range of motion. If you have a pair of handles, you’ll need twice as many plates and twice as many collars. This can add up in dollars, space, and time spent loading the plates onto the handles.
If budget is the most important factor for you, loadable handles may be your best bet.
Fixed or Adjustable
The first thing you have to determine is if you want fixed dumbbells or adjustable dumbbells. This is going to come down to several things, including budget, space requirements, training style, and just general preferences.
How you train is going to play a big role in selecting the right dumbbells. For example, if you perform a lot of bodybuilding movements with drop sets and supersets, fixed dumbbells or very fast-changing adjustables (e.g. Powerblocks) will be ideal. If you perform really heavy lifts, you drop your dumbbells, etc… then fixed dumbbells or very heavy-duty adjustables (e.g. Ironmasters) will be your best bet. If you don’t do any explosive movements and you’re just looking for something to do heavy rows with, for example, loadable handles may appeal to you.
In order of least expensive to most expensive, you have loadable handles, adjustable dumbbells, and fixed dumbbells. There may be cases where adjustable dumbbells could be more expensive than, say, a 5-50lb fixed set, but this is a general rule of thumb. Once you’ve determined which style of dumbbell is best for you, you can begin to narrow down the list by price. Keep in mind that some companies, like REP and Titan Fitness, offer free shipping.
Size is a really important factor in two different ways. Firstly, how much space do you have in your gym to allocate to dumbbells? This could ultimately be the reason why you would pick one style over the other. Secondly, what is the footprint of the physical dumbbell(s)? For example, loaded handles are longer than most rubber hex dumbbells, which are longer than urethane dumbbells. The measurement of the actual dumbbells could mean a meaningful difference in range of motion on some lifts.
When it comes to dumbbells, handles are usually straight or contoured. A straight handle will be more similar to a barbell, whereas a contoured grip is more unique. I prefer straight handles, but some lifters prefer the opposite. Regardless of design, most handles will offer medium knurling or some type of texture to enhance the grip. Most handles will also be steel, but you will find rubber handles on some fixed sets as well as some adjustables, like the Powerblocks.
Unlike fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells and loadable handles will only have one diameter. Loadable handles will generally be standard barbell thickness, usually 28mm or 28.5mm. Adjustable dumbbells will range typically anywhere from 30mm-38mm depending on the manufacturer and/or the model. Fixed dumbbells will scale up starting in the 28mm-30mm on low weight increments up to ~34mm on heavier increments. Some will be even thicker.
The most common materials on fixed dumbbells are rubber, urethane, and cast iron, although you will find stainless steel from select manufacturers. Rubber is a very durable option and typically among the least expensive. It may have an odor at the beginning, but that will subside. Urethane is the most durable and it typically has a round head. It usually looks the best due to its customization qualities and it has no smell. It’s also among the most expensive.
Cast iron is among the cheapest dumbbell materials. Durability is good overall, but they’re more susceptible to damage and they aren’t as accurate on weight. Stainless is far and away the most expensive, but it looks amazing and it’s very durable.
Some adjustable dumbbells will have a combination of materials, including plastic. Adjustable dumbbells with a lot of plastic are generally not going to provide the same long-term durability as without plastic.
As with many products, it’s important to consider the warranty of different dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells with moving parts typically don’t have warranties as long as others. For instance, Nuobells have a two-year warranty whereas Ironmasters have a 10-year warranty and REP rubber hex dumbbells have a lifetime warranty in the home gym.
Should I Buy Dumbbells for My Home Gym?
Dumbbells are extremely versatile and they can add a lot of variety to your training. I don’t consider them to be essential in a home gym, but they’re the first thing I recommend to most people after they do buy the essentials (rack, bar, plates, and bench).
I see a lot of value in dumbbells, especially in home gym training. If they fit your training style and you have the main bases covered, I 100% think you should consider investing in quality dumbbells for your home gym.
Should I Buy Dumbbells or Kettlebells?
Dumbbells and kettlebells are both fantastic tools that offer a lot of versatility. While they’re both handheld free weights that can do some things similarly, kettlebells have a different load distribution, which makes them better for certain things. For example, kettlebells are great for explosive Olympic-style movements (e.g. clean and press), whereas dumbbells are great for pure strength/hypertrophy (e.g. heavy chest presses).
In a perfect world, you’d have a combination of both, but I would start with your training style to determine which to buy first.
Who Makes the Best Dumbbells?
The reality is that many dumbbells are made in China in the same factories as others, with branding being the only real differentiator. There are, however, a few respected dumbbell manufacturers who have great reputations and very nice offerings:
- Rogue Fitness
- REP Fitness
- Gungnir of Norway
- Vulcan Strength
- American Barbell
- Intek Strength
- Iron Grip
How Heavy Can Dumbbells be?
Most companies produce dumbbells up to 125lbs, although you can find some that make 150lb dumbbells. There are even some companies that will produce specialized dumbbells reaching up to 350lbs!
So, there you have it – my top-ranked dumbbells to buy in 2022!
If you have any questions about dumbbells, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own any of these dumbbells and you want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!
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The bar is loaded,