If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Gym closures during Covid lockdowns made us realize just how nice it is to work out at home. Without waits for equipment, travel time, unsavory patrons (every gym has them), and all other pitfalls of the gym, we started getting in better workouts more regularly (plus, we saved quite a bit of money). One essential piece of gear in our home gyms was a set of the best adjustable dumbbells.
Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It?
The short answer is yes. Firstly, adjustable dumbbells let you strength train, while most other home gym gear is cardio-focused. Sure, you can do bodyweight strength exercises, but you’ll quickly hit a plateau — especially if you’ve been hitting the gym for years. With the best adjustable dumbbells, you can build muscle in every part of your body, or elevate cardio workouts by adding a little weight. In short, you can get a challenging full-body workout with just two adjustable dumbbells.
Secondly, the best adjustable dumbbells are perhaps the most compact of all home gym equipment. They can be easily stored in a cabinet or under a desk, and when they’re out, they take up a fraction of the space that a treadmill does, for example.
Better still, adjustable dumbbells have come a long way in the last couple years. Fitness brands pulled out all the stops to design the best adjustable dumbbells while people were stuck at home, leading to some impressive innovations that make the equipment more worthwhile than ever.
How to Choose the Best Adjustable Dumbbells: Buying Guide
Because they only recently become so popular, adjustable dumbbells are all over the map in terms of quality. Here is a buying guide we put together to help you find the best adjustable dumbbells for your needs.
Weight and increments: Most adjustable dumbbells can be set between about five to 50 pounds, and operate with 2.5- or five-pound increments. If you’re a seasoned lifter, you’ll definitely want a pair of dumbbells that can hit at 50 pounds each, if not more (a select few options can go as high as 100 pounds per dumbbell). If you’re new to lifting, small increments are key: this will make it easier to steadily progress to heavier weight.
Adjustment: It’s the name of the game: adjustable dumbbells should be easy to adjust. We looked for dumbbells that can be adjusted as quickly and as easily as possible, allowing for supersets and fast adjustment between exercises.
Also, some adjustable dumbbells change size at different weights (the weight plates connect to one another instead of to a central bar) while others add weight plates to a long, non-adjustable bar. The former is definitely better, making dumbbells more manageable, size-wise, at low weights and more similar to regular dumbbells.
Durability: Dumbbells often get dropped, and the best adjustable dumbbells can handle the occasional bump. Although all adjustable dumbbells are more fragile than regular dumbbells (and should never be thrown down after a set), we tried to find options that won’t break in case of a mishap.
What Are the Best Adjustable Dumbbells?
Below are some of the best adjustable dumbbells that you can order online right now.
1. NordicTrack iSelect
These newly-released iSelects from NordicTrack aren’t just the most high-tech adjustable dumbbells yet — they’re also the best. They feature a motorized weight selector which can be controlled using a single dial in the middle (that adjusts both dumbbells simultaneously), or they can be adjusted using voice control with Alexa.
You can say “Alexa, set weight to 25 pounds” or “Alexa, increase weight by five pounds,” which, combined with the fast single-dial adjustment, makes the iSelects the fastest-adjusting dumbbells available. This is a major advantage, as we could easily perform true supersets with different weights while testing (this isn’t always easy with adjustable dumbbells).
You get a good range of weight from five to 50 pounds (per dumbbell) in five-pound increments. NordicTrack was also able to keep size to a minimum, as the weight plates connect to one another instead of to a central bar. No matter the weight, the iSelects feel close to the size of a normal dumbbell, which is another big plus in our book (less accidentally clanking the dumbbells together when doing a chest press, for example). Overall, we found the iSelects to be very well-made and durable, even if dropped (although that should still be avoided).
NordicTrack also includes a free 30-day membership to iFIT, which hosts on-demand and live-streamed fitness classes. These can be accessed through a smart device, or through a built-in tablet on the iSelects weight rack (this is sold separately). The only possible downside is that the iSelects need to be plugged in to change weight, but that’s not a problem for most users.
2. Bowflex SelectTech 552
Bowflex’s SelectTech adjustable dumbbells have become a best-seller for good reason. The package includes two dumbbells that each range from five to 52.5 pounds, with 2.5-pound increments up to 25 pounds and five-pound increments from 25 to 52.5 pounds. This provides plenty of options for different exercises and smooth progression if you’re building strength.
The best thing about the SelectTechs, however, is their overall ease of use. They come fully assembled — all you need to do is remove a safety strap with an included Allen wrench. Adjusting weight is also very easy, thanks to a simple dial system on either end of the dumbbell. In our testing, we were able to switch weight in a few seconds.
In terms of build quality, the SelectTechs do quite well. They’re not too bulky, especially considering the wide range of weights, and the tapered ends let you hold the dumbbells by the ends (say, for Russian twists). They’re not the most durable, however, so be careful not to drop them on hard floors.
In addition to the dumbbells, Bowflex includes a free one-year membership to JRNY. Normally $149 per year, JRNY gets you on-demand fitness classes through your smartphone, laptop, tablet, and any other smart device, with dozens of classes that make use of the SelectTech dumbbells. These classes are geared towards beginners, making it easy to learn the basics of weight training.
3. Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
Besides the NordicTrack iSelects at the top of our list, these adjustable dumbbells from Core Home Fitness feature the easiest adjustment mechanism around. Simply twist the handles while the dumbbells are racked to select a weight. This worked very quickly, especially considering the dumbbells’ wide five to 50-pound weight range and five-pound increments.
Another standout feature with Core Home’s dumbbells is that the plates disconnect from one another for a streamlined size, no matter the weight. This makes the dumbbells easy to maneuver, and the rubberized bar offers ample grip for dealing with heavy weight. The cradle is equally well-built, remaining stable even if you roughly re-rack the dumbbells after a set. Overall, Core Home delivers a well-built pair of dumbbells that are extremely easy to use.
4. Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
As you may have noticed, almost all adjustable dumbbells max out around 50 pounds, which isn’t high enough for some serious lifters. If you need more weight, check out this pair of adjustable dumbbells from Yes4All. Each dumbbell maxes out at 100 pounds, ensuring plenty of weight for seasoned bodybuilders.
The Yes4All dumbbells are more like traditional weights (or mini barbells) with a central handle and weight plates that you manually load onto the handle. This can be laborious, but the upside is that these are far more rugged than other adjustable dumbbells: You can drop them after a set (provided your floor can handle it), which is a significant advantage for anyone lifting heavy weight.
With a knurled chrome handle and cast iron plates, the build quality is very durable. It’s recommended that you keep these indoors when not in use, although they’ll easily survive a rainy day (or a few) outside.
5. Flybird Adjustable Dumbbell
Good adjustable dumbbells can be had on a budget, as proven by these Flybirds. One 25-pound dumbbell costs just around $100, making the Flybird one of the most approachable dumbbells on the market (you will need to buy each dumbbell separately if you want a pair). The Flybird’s immediate drawback is obviously less weight, but 25 pounds should be enough for many people to tone and maintain muscle.
Despite its low price, the Flybird dumbbell is well-designed. It uses a twisting handle for fast weight selection, and knurling on the metal handle offers a good grip. The lowest weight is five pounds, and you get five-pound increments up to 25.