Dumbbells are some of the most versatile tools in any gym. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, get strong, or boost your conditioning, they’re a great option.
I don’t consider them 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.
We’ve tested every type of dumbbell on the market, including adjustable, rubber hex, urethane, and iron. We’ve used them on presses, rows, carries, curls, and much more. Here are some of the things we considered when making our list (more below):
- Durability: Are the dumbbells made with high-quality materials and built to last? Do they offer good warranties?
- Performance: Does the length allow for a full range of motion? How do the handles feel?
- Usability: Are they easy to use/adjust? How heavy do they go?
In this article, I’ll share our top picks for the best dumbbells. Whether you’re looking for fixed or adjustable dumbbells, we’ve got you covered.
The Best Dumbbells for Your Home Gym
- Best Dumbbells for Most People: REP Rubber Hex Dumbbells
- Best Adjustable Dumbbells: NÜOBELL Adjustable Dumbbells
- Best Round Dumbbells: Rogue Urethane Dumbbells
- Best Ergonomic Dumbbells: REP Rubber Coated Dumbbells
- Best Premium Dumbbells: American Barbell Series 4 Dumbbells
- Fastest Adjustable Dumbbells: PowerBlock Dumbbells
- Most Durable Adjustable Dumbbells: Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells
- Best Loadable Dumbbell Handles: Bells of Steel Loadable Handles
- Best Budget Dumbbells: CAP Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells
REP Rubber Hex Dumbbells: Best Dumbbells for Most People
The REP Rubber Hex Dumbbells are affordable, high-quality dumbbells with straight and fully-knurled handles.
- Materials: Rubber heads & steel handles
- Shape: Hex-heads and straight, knurled handles
- Weight Range: 2.5-125 lbs in 5 lb increments
- Handle Diameter: 22mm (2.5 lbs), 28mm (5-15 lbs), 34mm (17.5 lbs+)
- Available in Sets: Yes
- Warranty: Lifetime in a home gym; 1 year in a commercial gym
When it comes to rubber dumbbells, many are made in the same factory and simply rebranded with different company logos. I’ve owned these dumbbells since 2019, and they’re the best of this style that I’ve tried. I’m not saying they’re totally unique, but they 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 REP Ergo Hex Dumbbells.
These DBs have steel heads coated in a thick rubber to provide extra durability and floor protection. They’re friction welded, much like a barbell sleeve, so dropping them is perfectly acceptable. They have a lifetime warranty for home gym use, which 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. However, they did come with a heavy layer of oil, which is common. I used a rag to wipe them off and applied 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’re longer. This is especially true with heavier increments. Compared to a more compact dumbbell, rubber hexes will limit some range of motion.
The REP Rubber Hex Dumbbells are truly best-in-class. They’re durable, affordable, ship for free, and come with a lifetime warranty.
- Straight knurled handles feel like a barbell
- Many options ranging from 2.5lb to 125lb
- Several sets available, including 5lb-100lb
- Excellent warranty for home gym use
- Hex design prevents rolling
Further reading: REP Fitness Dumbbell Buying Guide
NÜOBELL: Best Adjustable Dumbbells
The NÜOBELL is a high-end adjustable dumbbell with a fast handle adjustment and several color options. You can purchase in 50 or 80-lb versions with an optional stand for storage.
- Materials: Steel & hardened plastic
- Shape: Round head with straight, knurled handle
- Weight Range: 5-50 lbs or 5-80 lbs in 5 lb increments
- Handle Diameter: 32mm
- Adjustment Mechanism: Handle dial
- Warranty: 2 years (options for 3 and 5)
I’ve owned the NÜOBELLS since the beginning of 2020, and after using them extensively, I think they’re the best adjustable dumbbells for most people.
The best thing about the NÜOBELLs is how quickly you can adjust them. By spinning the handle left or right, you can increase or decrease the weight in just seconds. Compared to traditional end-cap dials, you can adjust these twice as fast, making them excellent for drop sets, super sets, etc.
The 32mm handle is straight and knurled, which provides a good overall grip. I prefer this over contoured handles because it offers a more traditional look and feel.
Unlike most DBs in this class, NÜOBELLs have mostly steel plates, making them more durable than others. They do have plastic dovetails to connect the plates, so I don’t recommend dropping them, but I haven’t noticed any material concerns.
You can buy NÜOBELLs in 50 or 80 lb variants. Both come with 5 lb increments, meaning you can replace up to 16 pairs of fixed dumbbells.
Starting under $600, they’re well-priced and come with a standard 2-year warranty. However, you can upgrade to 3 or years if you want extra peace of mind.
If you’re looking for a traditional dumbbell feel without sacrificing speed, the NÜOBELLs are an excellent adjustable choice.
- Extremely fast adjustment mechanism
- Takes up a very small footprint
- Available in 50 80 lb sets with 5lb increments
- Easy-to-read call-outs for weight selection
- Satisfying clicking noise
- Traditional dumbbell feel
Full Review: NÜOBELL Adjustable Dumbbells Review
Rogue Urethane Dumbbells: Best Round Dumbbells
The Rogue Urethane Dumbbells are durable, ordorless, and aesthetic DBs that go up to 150lbs.
- Price: Starting at $45 (sold in pairs)
- Materials: Urethane heads and steel handles
- Shape: Round head with straight, knurled handles
- Weight Range: 5-150 lbs in 5 lb increments
- Handle Diameter: 31mm (5-45 lbs) and 34mm (50 lbs+)
- Available in Sets: Yes
- Warranty: 1 Year
The Rogue Urethane Dumbbells are some of the most durable DBs in the game. They also offer some of the heaviest increments on the market – up to 150 lbs. These increments are the main reason I picked them over the REP Fitness version, despite 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. 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. However, despite their enhanced durability, these from Rogue only carry a 1-year warranty compared to 5 years on the REP version.
Another big benefit of urethane dumbbells is that they’re significantly more compact than traditional rubber hexes. 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 because I love the pro-style look, but they’re prone to rolling on the floor and within some storage racks.
Urethane dumbbells come with a premium price, but if durability is important to you, and you like the look and heavier increments, these from Rogue are a great choice.
REP Rubber Coated Dumbbells: Best Ergonomic Dumbbells
The REP Ergo Hex Dumbbells are lower profile than traditional hex DBs and they include a rubber contoured grip that better controls temperature.
- Materials: Rubber heads and rubber handles
- Shape: Hex-heads and contoured, textured handles
- Weight Range: 5-50 lbs on pairs and up to 100 lbs on sets in 5 lbs increments
- Handle Diameter: 30mm (5-20 lbs) and 34mm (25 lbs+)
- Available in Sets: Yes
- Warranty: Lifetime in a home gym; 1 year in a commercial gym
The REP Rubber Coated Dumbbells are not your typical rubber hex DBs. These have a rubber, contoured grip with some advantages relative to some other contoured steel handles. They also have a size advantage over traditional rubber hex options.
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 REP have neither. They’re coated in a textured (not knurled) rubber, which I’ve found more grippy than chrome-plated versions.
Even more beneficial is that they’re much more resilient to cold temperatures. If you train in a garage gym where it gets cold in the winter, these will immediately feel comfortable in your hands. 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 hex DBs is that they’re more compact by up to several inches on heavier increments. Again, this allows for additional range of motion and makes them less unwieldy.
The heads are steel and the handles are friction welded, providing a very durable bond. You can feel confident dropping them, especially with the lifetime warranty. The rubber is very durable and emits less odor than traditional rubber hex DBs. They may arrive with some oil and may also show some dirt on arrival. Again, a rag and silicone spray did the trick perfectly.
Aesthetically, I love these Rubber Coated DBs from REP. They have a contrasting white logo, and while I wish the weight call-outs were also white, they still look very sharp. A downside of these, however, is that you cannot buy pairs over 50 lbs. To get up to 100 lbs, you’ll need to look at their set options.
American Barbell Series 4: Professional Grade Dumbbells
The American Barbell Series 4 is their most accessible line of urethane dumbbells. These DBs are extremely high-quality, attractive, and affordable compared to other premium dumbbells.
- Materials: Urethane heads and steel handles
- Shape: Round head with straight, knurled handles
- Weight Range: 5-100 lbs in 5 lb increments
- Handle Diameter: 32mm (5-35 lbs) and 35mm (40 lbs+)
- Available in Pairs: No
- Warranty: 3 Years
If you’re looking for a premium set of dumbbells, the American Barbell Series 4s are a great option. American Barbell is known for being the innovator behind urethane-based dumbbells and plates. Their molding process creates a durable and aesthetic urethane that can withstand a lot of abuse. There’s a reason every Planet Fitness in America uses American Barbell dumbbells.
These dumbbells have a round head, which provides a pro-style look and feel. The urethane creates a very durable outer layer and has no smell. The pebble grain surface looks and feels premium compared to the smooth surface of most urethane dumbbells.
The handles are fully knurled with 32mm or 34 mm diameters, depending on the weight. American Barbell is known to have excellent but passive knurling on their bars and dumbbells. These dumbbells are no exception, so if you’re looking for a dumbbell with a more aggressive texture, Rogue or REP are likely better options.
I have been very pleased with my American Barbell dumbbells. They’re well-made and look as professional as any commercial-grade dumbbell. You’ll be able to pass these down to your grandchildren, but be prepared to spend more for them.
PowerBlocks Dumbbells: Fast Adjustable Dumbbells with a Great Reputation
When you think ‘adjustable dumbbell,’ there’s a good chance that PowerBlocks are one of the first things that pop into your head. I’ve used every type of PowerBlock dumbbell and have owned various sets for years in my home gym. These are some of the fastest and most reputable adjustable dumbbells 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 the handle. There is nothing traditional in how this looks or feels.
What’s most beneficial about the PowerBlocks is how quickly they adjust. On the outer edge is a selector pin that you can quickly insert into color-coded slots to select the weight. These colors are referenced on the top of the PowerBlocks with their associated weights.
You can buy the PowerBlocks in several styles. Most start as 5-50 lb sets but have expansion options to 70 and 90 lbs. However, the commercial series can get as heavy as 175 lbs.
PowerBlocks are some of the most durable adjustable dumbbells on the market. I and others have used the same set for years and even decades. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a fast-changing, proven, and durable adjustable DB.
Full Review: PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbell Review
Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells: Heavy-Duty Adjustable Dumbbells
The Ironmaster Dumbbells are bomb-proof DBs that are built to withstand anything you can throw at them. They're ideal for heavy lifters and they can be expanded to a whopping 165 lbs.
- Materials: Steel
- Shape: Square head with straight, knurled handle
- Weight Range: 5-75 lbs w/ 2.5 lb weight increments and add-ons for 120 and 165 lbs
- Handle Diameter: 31.75mm
- Adjustment Mechanism: Plate-loaded with quick-lock
- Warranty: 10 years
Ironmasters were the first adjustable dumbbell that I purchased for my home gym in 2016. I love them for their durability and traditional feel, and I think they’re the best for heavy lifters.
My favorite thing about the Ironmasters is that they’re 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. The 10-year warranty that comes with them is industry-leading as well, so you can be even more confident.
You can buy Ironmasters as a 45 or 75 lb set, each with 2.5 lb weight increments. From there, you can buy add-on kits to take the max weight to 120 or 165 lbs. The 75 lb dumbbells have a great length to them, making them feel like traditional dumbbells. Once you start using the add-ons, the length begins to get somewhat unwieldy, but on things like rows, it’s no problem.
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 it does take longer.
An underrated benefit of this ecosystem is that Ironmaster makes a high-quality adjustable kettlebell using the same plates. If you enjoy kettlebell training, you can purchase the handle separately and have both options at your disposal.
If you do a lot of drop sets, supersets, etc. the Ironmasters probably aren’t for you. Otherwise, this is a terrific and durable option that heavy lifters will love.
Full Review: Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbells Review
Bells of Steel Loadable Handles: Affordable Loadable Dumbbells
The Bells of Steel Loadable Dumbbell Handle is a space-friendly, affordable option. These handles can hold up to 200 lbs and offer a barbell-like feel.
- Materials: Black Zinc and Bright Zinc
- Loadable Sleeve Length: 6.6″
- Total Length: 20.5″
- Weight: 13.2 lbs
- Handle Diameter: 28mm
- Warranty: Lifetime
The Bells of Steel Loadable Dumbbell Handle is like a mini barbell. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for a compact, affordable dumbbell option with solid performance. I’ve used numerous handles and feel this one offers the best value.
This dumbbell has a 28mm shaft, which is comfortable for most and consistent with other handles. It has a volcano knurl pattern, providing solid grip without being too aggressive. The black zinc coating does a good job of fighting rust, but it doesn’t feel as good as stainless steel.
The 6.6″ sleeves offer excellent loading potential and can hold up to 200 lbs in total. These sleeves are Olympic sized, meaning you’ll need 2″ weight plates and durable barbell collars. They also rotate via bronze bushings for a barbell-like feel. If you perform a lot of dumbbell snatches, you’ll likely love this feature.
If you want to save the most space and money, investing in loadable dumbbells is a great idea. They take longer to set up but are a solid option for home gym owners. I recommend the Bells of Steel Handles because of their performance, price, and lifetime warranty.
CAP Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells: A No-Frills Budget Dumbbell
The CAP Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells are a no-frills dumbbell option with basic specs and good overall user reviews.
- Materials: Cast iron heads and handles
- Shape: Hex heads and straight, knurled handles
- Weight Range: 1-120 lbs in 1-5 lb increments
- Handle Diameter: 29mm (1-45 lbs), 30.5mm (50-65 lbs), 31mm (70-80 lbs), and 31.75mm (85 lbs+)
- Available in Sets: No
- Warranty: 30 days
The CAP Cast Iron 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, some splatter may be left behind. It can be fairly uncomfortable if that splatter is on the handle or the heads where they may rest on your legs. Some owners have complained about this issue.
The nice thing about these DBs is that there are a lot of increments available, ranging from 1 to 120 lbs. You can purchase them as pairs on Amazon, but no sets are available.
Durability on the CAP dumbbells is good, but not great. There have been a few cases of heads breaking, so I don’t recommend dropping these. They do come with a 30-day warranty, but this lags behind the competition.
At the end of the day, these aren’t going to compete with higher-quality brands, but they’re a good pick for budget shoppers, beginners, and recreational lifters.
Dumbbells come in two main styles: fixed or adjustable. Within the adjustable dumbbell market, you have purpose-built setups and 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 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.
In my opinion, if space and budget are no issue, fixed dumbbells are the best option.
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 are 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 cost 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 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 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 collars. This can add up in dollars, space, and time spent loading the plates onto the handles.
If budget is your most important factor, loadable handles may be your best bet.
How to Store Dumbbells
When adding dumbbells to your home gym, it’s important to consider storage. I recommend buying a quality dumbbell rack to organize your gym and protect your investment.
Fixed dumbbells store the best on tiered racks. These are great for storing sets of 5-50 lb dumbbell sets, but larger ones can store up to 20 pairs. I recommend the REP Dumbbell Rack for most home gym owners because it’s compact, affordable, and durable. I used this rack for years in my home gym before upgrading to a larger one.
Many adjustable dumbbells come with optional stands for storage. While not necessary for everyone, they elevate the dumbbells for easier handling and keep your gym looking neater. You can purchase a stand directly from the manufacturer or one that fits different brands and styles, like the Titan Adjustable Dumbbell Rack.
Further reading: Best Dumbbell Racks
Here are the most important factors to consider when buying dumbbells:
Fixed or Adjustable
The first thing you have to determine is if you want fixed dumbbells or adjustable dumbbells. This will come down to several things, including budget, space requirements, training style, and just general preferences.
How you train will 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 heavy lifts, 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 a 5-50lb fixed set, but this is a general rule of thumb. Once you’ve determined which dumbbell style is best for you, you can begin narrowing down the list by price. Remember that some companies, like REP and Titan Fitness, offer free shipping.
Further reading: How Much do Dumbbells Cost?
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 why you would pick one style over the other. Secondly, what is the footprint of the physical dumbbell(s)? For example, loadable handles are longer than most rubber 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 and 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 typically range anywhere from 30mm-38mm, depending on the manufacturer and model. Fixed dumbbells will scale up starting at 28mm-30mm on low-weight increments 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 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 aren’t as accurate on weight. Stainless is far and away the most expensive, but it looks amazing and is very durable.
Some adjustable dumbbells will have a combination of materials, including plastic. Adjustable dumbbells with a lot of plastic will generally not 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, Ironmasters have a 10-year warranty, and REP rubber dumbbells have a lifetime warranty in the home gym.
Should I Buy Dumbbells for My Home Gym?
Dumbbells are extremely versatile and can add a lot of variety to your training. I don't consider them essential in a home gym, but they're the first thing I recommend to most people after they 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.
What are the Best Dumbbell Exercises?
Dumbbell exercises are virtually limitless. You can perform chest presses, shoulder presses, pulls, rows, squats, lunges, curls, triceps kickbacks, and many more. With dumbbells, you can also easily perform super sets and giant sets.
How Heavy Can Dumbbells be?
Most companies produce dumbbells up to 125lbs, although you can find some that make 150lb dumbbells. Some companies will even produce specialized dumbbells reaching up to 350lbs!