Updated May 15, 2019
It can be quite confusing trying to choose an adjustable dumbbell set, different weight ranges, different adjustment systems and varying degrees of build quality, they can also be expensive and when you’re spending upwards of $300 for some of the high-end adjustable dumbbells sets you need to have all the information available to make sure its the right choice for you.
I’ve picked out 6 of the very best adjustable dumbbell sets on the market, we will take a close look at the most important features of each dumbbell set, taking into consideration the dumbbells pros, cons, price range, adjustability speed, weight range and build quality.
Nothing is missed out in our reviews, there’s also a helpful video at the end of each review and a link to our full in-depth review of that particular pair of dumbbells.
As with most reviews I read, my first thought is…Does this guy know what he’s talking about? I hope you trust I do! I’ve been lifting weights for over 20 years, 10 of those in a commercial gym and the other 10 at home.
I have at least 15 friends who train at home, so I’ve owned, seen, tried just about every adjustable dumbbell out there. I know what works and I know what doesn’t.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells – Comparison Table and Reviews
First were take a quick look at the comparison table, here we have our Top 3 adjustable dumbbells, followed by the next best 3 available.
Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells
A fantastic set of adjustable dumbbells from Powerblock, these guys have been producing dumbbells for the past 25 years so you can trust they know what they’re doing. This is a review for the most popular of Powerblocks ranges, the Powerblock elite range.
The sets come in 50lb, 70lb
For the sake of saving some cash for intermediate to serious weightlifters, the 70lb per dumbbell set is recommended, this is an excellent weight range that most will not outgrow.
Let’s not forget the elite 50lb set is still a fair amount of weight that many of you may never outgrow, or take years to do so before you will need that extra expansion pack. So think carefully here what set suits your needs best.
Much quicker to adjust in 5lb increments than the Ironmaster, literally takes a few seconds! The Powerblock elites use a magnetic selector pin to adjust the weights, as can be seen, and much better explained in the video below.
But that’s not all with this set, what makes them just as versatile as the Ironmasters is the option to change the selected weight in 2.5lb increments, which is done using a 2.5lb cylinder placed in the handle.
The Powerblock adjustable dumbbells weight range is selected through a stacking system, the reason this is important is that it will allow for a much more compact dumbbell compared to a dumbbell with a fixed handle length.
The Powerblocks dumbbells only increase in length as the weight is increased, similar to the Ironmaster but faster to adjust as you do not manually have to add or remove weight plates.
Surprisingly these dumbbells have been reported to be very tough and with a 10yr warranty it looks like Powerblock can back this up, that’s actually a long warranty for an adjustable dumbbell that has a fair bit of plastic inside it.
After reading through many, many reviews of the Poweblocks there doesn’t seem to be any serious complaints about durability even from guys who have had them a few years.
I’ve had a few curls with one of these and must say they looked a little strange when I first laid my eyes on one, but once I had picked one up and done a few curls the shape and length of the dumbbells worked well, no hits on the hips, they were compact and comfortable.
Overall an excellent set of adjustable dumbbells, Powerblock have put a lot of thought into their elite range and it shows with their compact design, fast adjustment times and the highly versatile weight ranges. There’s something here to suit about every weightlifter out there.
Adding 2.5lb weight cylinders slow adjustment times
Ironmaster Quick-Lock adjustable Dumbbells 5-75lb
The Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells make it to
They are, by a small margin the best adjustable dumbbell on the market right now. Ironmaster has done what Ironmaster do best, they have really thought about what a serious weightlifter wants from a dumbbell and they have delivered exactly that.
A very nice compact design makes the Ironmasters more than desirable, no overly long handles here, the compact design gives you a dumbbell that reflects the natural feel we all like from a fixed weight dumbbell.
The length of the Ironmaster dumbbells’ handles only increase in length when extra weight is added.
A little slower to adjust than the Core Fitness, Bowflex and Powerblocks the Ironmaster dumbbells adjust using a metal locking pin.
To lock them, you slide the steel locking pin through the dumbbell until it reaches its stopping point, with a half twist of your wrist it then locks in place. It’s nice to see the locking pins are knurled on each end, the knurling will give you added grip when hands get a little sweaty, a nice touch from Ironmaster.
The locking pins lock extremely tight with no rattles from the weight plates.
By far the most solid of the new school adjustable dumbbell sets, the weight plates are square and have indented groves that attach together with 1″ size holes, machine fitted to prevent any of that unwanted rattle.
There’s no need to worry about plastic coasted weight plates here, the Ironmasters will survive drops at height, I can happily say there’s no plastic in sight.
At 75lb per dumbbell, the Ironmasters should suit just about anyone from the beginner to the more experienced weightlifter, 32 different weight settings make this set highly versatile, adjustable in 2.5lb increments. There’s no need to stress about outgrowing this set.
The Ironmaster set is expandable with the company selling separate expansion sets: set 1 – up to 120lb per dumbbell and the second set a whopping 165lb. Great news for serious strength and bodybuilders.
The 75lb set sells for around $600, this is a fair price for an adjustable set that offers a lifetime guarantee and the option for adding extra weight in the future, not forgetting the fantastic quality stand to store the weight plates and handles. A rock solid dumbbell set to last a lifetime.
There is a 45lb per dumbbell set on offer for the less serious among you, that comes without the stand for about half the price. Recommended if you have less cash to splash, and don’t forget you can beef it up in the future with an expansion pack.
Bowflex 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
The Bowflex series of dumbbells have become by far the most popular set of adjustable dumbbells on the market right now.
The reason for the popularity may be their respected name in the home gym industry.
But on the most part, the reason these dumbbells became so popular is that Bowflex introduced an adjustment system that you change with a simple twist of the wrist. It was something new to the adjustable dumbbell market and it has helped sell thousands of the adjustable dumbbell sets.
The Bowflex 552 pair has a weight range of 5-52.5 lb, adjustable in increments of 2.5lb up to 25lb and in 5lb increments thereafter, replacing 16 pairs of standard fixed-weight dumbbells.
Whilst not being the best set of adjustable dumbbells on the market, they were the first to introduce the Selecttech adjustment system, each dumbbell has
What’s nice about the Bowflex system is you can select different weight settings on either end. This will allow for some offset training. Not a particularly important feature but experienced weightlifters might get some valuable use from this feature for exercises such as farmers’ walk, hammer curls, lunges
This feature coupled with the 2.5lb increments settings are the only reasons the Bowflex dumbbells are ranked above the Corefitness adjustable set.
With a non-expandable weight range of 5-52lb, the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells will not appeal to the more serious of weightlifters. this set is geared toward the beginner-intermediate weightlifting market. And I’m sure 1000’s of these sets sell to fitness fanatics who do not need a particularly heavy set of dumbbells for their resistance training.
Remember with the Bowflex 552’s there’s no way of adding any extra weight to the existing 52.5 lb per dumbbell. It should be more than enough weight for most people but you will have to buy a completely new set of dumbbells if you need something heavier in the future.
With a Bowflex product, you usually are treated to premium quality and the dumbbells are no exception, I like the ergonomic handle which is slightly rigid and makes for a comfy non-slip grip.
The weight plates are coated with a thick super hard plastic and look to be fairly durable. As with all of the fast adjustment systems the amounts of plastic used is worrying.
The use of plastic is probably the Bowflex’s biggest con, plastic surrounds the plates and some plastic is used in the handles which means you will have to be careful when training with the Bowflex dumbbells.
There will be no dropping from height or throwing around these dumbbells, you will more than likely crack the hard plastic surrounding the weight plates which is not covered by the 2 yr warranty Bowflex offer. The longest of all handles make the Bowflex the least compact of all of our adjustable dumbbells in this review.
The reason the handles are long is that they go through the entire set of weight plates, the handle is a fixed length so no matter how much weight you select the handle length will stay the same.
Long handles can prove to be awkward especially to beginners who are not used to handles of this length but its something you can get used to after a few weeks and hopefully will not affect your training in a negative way.
There are 1000’s of reviews of the Bowflex dumbbells and only a small number of people had serious issues with the handle length.
Overall a very nice set of dumbbells from Bowflex, not as versatile, durable, or compact as the Ironmaster and Powerblocks but a great set of adjustable dumbbells, high in quality with a decent weight range, the Bowflex 552’s shouldn’t disappoint most who buy them.
Best of The Rest
Corefitness Twist-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
The Twist Lock adjustable system is what sells this dumbbell, and it must be the fastest of all of the adjustable dumbbells to adjust. Instead of having the adjustable select dial at each end of the dumbbell the Corefitnes incorporates its adjustable system straight into the handle.
With one single twist, you can adjust the dumbbell in seconds. It’s an impressive bit of kit and the easiest to adjust out of all of the dumbbell sets.
With a non-expandable weight range of 5-50lb, the Corefitness dumbbells are not as versatile as the Ironmaster or Powerblocks and no 2.5lb option here, making the weight range somewhat limiting.
But what I really like about the Corefitness dumbbells is their compact size, just like the Ironmaster and the Powerblocks the handle length only increases in size when the weight is increased, making for a very solid natural feeling dumbbell.
If you are looking for that fixed weight feel, then Corefiteness are certainly the ones to go for, their size and shape feel natural, more so than any other adjustable dumbbell out there. If only you could add extra weight through expansion packs to a set like this then they could rival the top two, because the design is really that good.
Just like the Bowflex, the Corefitness weight plates are covered in a hard plastic coating and just like the Bowflex the handle has some plastic parts too. So it’s another set you’re going to be very careful with if you want to avoid any breakages.
The Corefitness dumbbells are the same or very similar to the Stairmaster dumbbells but half the price, so I highly recommend you buy the Corefitness dumbbells and not the Stairmasters, save yourself $300.
Both of the Corefitness dumbbells come with their own cradles to store the dumbbells in, this is also where you adjust the dumbbells, you place the dumbbell in the cradle twist and select the weight you want to train with, the selected weight plates lock in place through a little key inside the handle, the unwanted plates are then left behind.
There is absolutely no risk of any plates falling from the handle whilst exercising and the reason for this is the handle can only adjust while it’s in the cradle.
You are left with a very solid compact dumbbell with no room for wobbles. Compact, foolproof and a decent weight range make the Corefitness a very welcome addition to any home gym.
Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbell Set 50lb
I’ll start off by saying the weight is not 50lb per dumbbell, 50lbs is the weight of the whole set including the handles, with around 20lb per dumbbell this set is great for a beginner.
Whys 1″ standard important? well when you grow out of the relatively low weight range offered, you will be able to buy extra weight plates from any other fitness company who sell the industry standard 1″ weight plates.
50lb is a great weight to get you started in weightlifting especially if you do not have the budget for one of the more expensive new school sets.
Yes4All’s are cheap, less than $60, almost unbreakable and can grow with you as your strength increases, yes they take some time changing out the weight plates because you have to unscrew the collars, but when think you can get close 90-lb on each dumbbell, think how many years of training you can get out of a set like this for minimum damage to your wallet.
There’s not a lot I can say about build quality their basically iron weight plates with two chromed handles and 4 spinlock collars, all are well made. You may encounter a few casting abnormalities “lumps, indents” but nothing that effects the overall use of the weight plates.
It’s worth noting spinlock collars do become loose quite easily, make sure you tighten them as securely as possible to avoid any plate rattles when training. A few reports of paint coming off of the weight plates when in use but nothing a vacuum won’t sort out.
Old school weights and handles at a very reasonable price, extremely durable and versatile if you don’t mind the slow adjustment times between sets then there’s nothing bad I can say about this set, it’s well worth the money.
Stairmaster Twist-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
It’s sad to see the Stairmaster dumbbells in
Essentially the Stairmaster dumbbells are incredibly similar to the Corefitness set, actually, you would be hard pushed to find any differences.
For fear of repeating myself and wasting your time with the exact the same review as for the Core Fitness set, I will not write a lengthy summary of the dumbbells here. The Corefitness dumbbells look to be the same product but at half the price.
Please if you know of any differences in the two sets leave us a comment I’d love to know! You can read my full review of the Stairmaster dumbells in the link below the pros & cons, but really I can’t see anyone paying twice the price of a set of Bowflex for one set of Stairmasters however good they are.
Adjustable dumbbells have been around for well over 30 yrs, and as working out at home became increasingly popular, there was a growing need for a set of adjustable dumbbells that could match the speed and weight range of fixed weight sets people had got used to in their local gyms.
A decent set of fixed weight dumbbells cost $1000+ although they are the gold standard for home gym setups not all of us have that type of cash to spend and many of us have limited space in our home gyms, 10 – 15 sets of dumbbells can take up a heck of a lot of valuable space in your home gym:
This is where the adjustable dumbbell wins its brownie points, just one set can have up to 16 different weight settings, that’s 16 pairs of fixed weight dumbbells in one set of adjustable dumbbells, you can see now why they are so popular. And if you add expansion packs into the equation then you can almost double that amount for some adjustable dumbbell pairs.
Now let’s look at the four most important features you should take into consideration before parting with your cash!!
This is something you need to think about carefully before buying any set of adjustable dumbbells, are you training for strength? Bodybuilding? Toning? Are you a fitness fanatic looking to add resistance training to your overall fitness regime?
As you can see there are many different kinds of weightlifters out there and it’s vital to pick an adjustable dumbbell that suits your needs. Adjustable dumbbell sets come in two different forms…And it’s very important you choose the one that suits you best:
The first type of adjustable dumbbells are dumbbells that have a weight range that is not expandable, this basically means you can not add any extra weight to the existing set you have bought.
Take the Bowflex for eg; sets like the Bowflex offer you a weight range of 5-50lb but have absolutely no way of adding any extra weight in the future, so if you’re buying a set like this you need to consider how quickly you will outgrow them. You don’t want to be left having to buy another complete set just a year on down the line.
The second type offers the opposite of the non-expandable pairs, pairs like this offer extra expansion packs you can add at a later date as your strength increases, there’s no real risk of outgrowing sets like this as you can buy extra packs to coincide with your strength development.
Expandable sets are c
Ease of Adjustment
Not all of the new sets are super quick to adjust, take the Ironmasters which use a quick lock pin, this proves to be a little slower than the twist lock systems because you have to manually change the weight plates, but as they use a metal pin with metal plates and handles the construction of the Ironmaster is tough.
What you lose with adjustment times you make up for with a very durable dumbbell, much more durable than the speedy sets like the Bowflex or Corefitness.
If you’re looking for speed, you will want to look at systems like the Twist-Lock of the Core fitness or the Select-tech dial system of the Bowflex, these are the two fastest adjustable systems on the market but because of the plastic built into the adjustment systems, they are also the most fragile.
Not everyone is concerned about adjustment times between sets, and if you are not, then I’d highly recommend a cheap set of iron plates and handles like the Yes4alls, a cheap option that’s almost unbreakable.
Slow to adjust because of the twist lock collars keeping the weight plates in place, you will need to unscrew these each time you wish to add or take off a weight plate, they are a fantastic choice for those of you who are on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with an
Build Quality & Durability
Life for a dumbbell can be pretty tough, I’m sure many of you have trained in your local gyms and seen people dropping the dumbbells on a regular basis.
I’ve watched guys throw them around in anger when they mess a set up, but for the most part dumbbells get dropped because people like to train to failure and drop the weight on that last killer rep. But the last thing I would recommend, is doing any of this with the adjustable dumbbell sets.
I wouldn’t advise dropping a few of the adjustable pairs from any height at all, and this is all thanks to the use of plastic in their construction. Some of the top adjustable sets use plastic in the handles, adjustment mechanisms, and surrounding the weight plates. A drop from any height above 6-12″ and you’re going to risk breaking something.
It’s important to remember the warranties do not cover breakages from drops or the splitting of plastic surrounding weight plates.
It’s a little scary to think of training with some of the top sets costing up to $300-600 and one drop from a height and you’ll be paying a substantial repair bill. So keep in mind when choosing or using sets with plastic parts that extra care must be taken with them.
People often forget when choosing their adjustable dumbbell set how important the length of the handle is, compact is better when it comes to adjustable dumbbells, longer handles can be awkward to train with. Longer handles have an annoying habit of hitting your hips when curling, they can also clash above your head when pressing.
Longer handles are not a complete deal breaker because you will slowly get used to training with longer handles but if you want a more natural feel, look for a shorter handle length or a handle that only increases in length when extra weight is added.
A few of the Dumbbell sets come with stands included in the price although many of the stands are available separately, the one set I would recommend buying the stand and dumbbells as a package would be the Ironmaster, one because its pure quality, and two it’s super useful, why?
Because of the design of the Ironmaster dumbbells you will be adding and taking plates off quite frequently in your workouts so rather than having to bend over all the time to pick plates up, it’s nice to have a stand specially made for storage of the weight plates.
Powerblock, Bowflex, Core, and Stairmaster do all offer different packages with the stand or without.
If you have the extra $’s it’s nice not to have to bend and pick your dumbbells off the ground everytime you use them but its defiantly not an essential purchase and something most people can go without. But changing your mind and buying separately down the road will cost extra compared to a package deal.
To Sum Up
With 10 or so excellent sets of adjustable dumbbells around at the moment, it was a difficult choice to pick out the top 3, but The Powerblock Elites and Ironmaster dumbbells stood out from the rest, the build quality the thought put into the design was that much better than anything else.
We need a set of dumbbells that are compact, durable and most importantly expandable. The Ironmasters are going to take pretty much anything you throw at them, their only drawback is they are to slow to adjust for drop sets plus you have to buy the stand which makes the whole purchase a bit pricey.
The Powerblock Elite, therefore, is our no.1 recommendation, an excellent set of expandable dumbbells compact, fast to adjust, well priced and durable, there really isn’t anything else better out there.