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COUPONS in pursuit: if you want a complete home gym setup, you need a good set of dumbbells –period, full stop. Of course, a barbell, weight plates, and a pull-up bar are great starting points. Bench presses, pull-ups, and pull-ups are great for building muscle and strength in your back. But these aren’t quite the “ultimate” exercises you’ve been led to believe, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s partly because they’re so tough. It’s also easy to overdo it or, worse, injure yourself with poor form in the process.
” The solution ? ” request men’s health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, “Grab a pair of dumbbells (or heck, a Single dumbbell). With a pair of dumbbells, you can build the back strength you need to eventually eliminate pull-ups and pull-ups, while training the critical muscle groups that protect your shoulder blades and refine your posture.
If you’re a novice weightlifter, “adding dumbbell back exercises to your routines…helps you build the back muscle and strength you want, by layering the thickness between your shoulder blades and in the upper back,” says Samuel. He goes on to say that this is “especially true once you adopt heavier barbell back exercises, such as farmer lifts and powerful barbell rows and incline rows.”
In short, dumbbells dramatically improve any home gym setup. They are great for rows, help establish better posture, and allow for more gradual and predictable weight progression. The best part, though? They are more accessible and affordable than almost any other gym tool. Whether you invest in rubber or iron, adjustable or standard, round or hexagonal, they are guaranteed to elevate your gym game.
If you’re looking for new dumbbells, it’s easy to think that most of them are the same. This is to sort true, but there is more to the story. If you want to invest in a good set, it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to figure out which set is really the right one for you. We’ve researched and tested dozens of the most popular and best-selling models. Here are our brutally honest picks of the best dumbbells to buy in 2022.
Read more: The best adjustable dumbbells
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Best Dumbbells Overall
SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (pair)
|dumbbell material||Plastic coated steel|
|Total weight (set)||105 pounds|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||15.75 x 8 x 9 inches|
Best Budget Dumbbells
Hex Dumbbells (15 lb pair)
|dumbbell material||rubberized cast iron|
|Total weight (set)||30-200 pounds|
|Dimensions (LxW)||17 x 8.6 inches|
Best Adjustable Dumbbells
EXP Adjustable Dumbbells (pair)
|dumbbell material||Welded steel with powder coat paint|
|Total weight (set)||100 pounds|
|Dimensions (LxW)||12 x 6.5 inches|
Best dumbbells for beginners
Coated Hex Dumbbell Weights (10lb Pair)
|dumbbell material||Rubber coated iron with a steel handle|
|Total weight (set)||20 pounds (for 10 pound dumbbells)|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||10.5 x 3.8 x 6.6 inches|
Best Premium Dumbbells
Nuobell 80 lb Adjustable Dumbbells
|dumbbell material||machined steel|
|Total weight (set)||160 pounds|
|Dimensions (LxW)||17 x 7.5 inches|
Why invest in the best dumbbells?
So why should you invest in a set of dumbbells? In short, they are arguably the most versatile and value-for-money addition to any home gym setup, which is why our very own Ebenezer Samuel is a huge dumbbell fan. He’s already shared at least 15 ways to smoke your back using dumbbells, including dumbbell pull-ups, raised plank row holds, and most importantly, a wide variety of rows.
Our friends across the pond at Men’s health in the UK shared the best ways to blast your whole body with just of them dumbbells:
“If you don’t have access to a weight selection, but are still looking for a balanced way to hit your entire body, our ‘Ladder Down’ is here for you. You’ll start with a pre-fatigue bodyweight primer, hitting those pecs and getting the blood pumping, before picking up your dumbbells and working your way through heavy leg muscles, all the way to your back, before finishing with a shoulder thrust.Reps of each move descend tactically throughout the circuit, which means you’ll be working every muscle group to its limits.”
They also discussed their favorite and most underrated dumbbell exercises, including Devil’s Press, Renegade Row, Goblet Cyclist Squat, and Dumbbell Deadlift. Because, in their words, “When it comes to fitness, it takes a little to do a lot. This is especially true when it comes to your workouts – sometimes the shortest, fastest dose you can muster is the most optimal for your lifestyle. Life’s too short for two-hour workouts…” We totally agree, and that’s where the best dumbbells can help.
The Best Dumbbell Materials
As we like to say, there is no “best dumbbell equipment”, but rather what is the best for you. Dumbbells come in a handful of major construction types, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Steel: Traditional steel dumbbells generally do not have a protective coating. This means that while they are incredibly strong, they are also susceptible to rust and corrosion over time.
- Melting: These are the classic dumbbells you’re probably used to seeing on TV and in old-school gyms around the world.
- Rubber: This is the material we recommend for just about everyone. The rubber is extremely strong, designed to last for many years. However, some models retain that familiar rubber smell, which can be off-putting and difficult to completely eliminate.
- Urethane: Urethane is a special type of rubber that is even more durable than traditional rubber. The wrong side? This means that it usually costs more.
- Plastic: We can’t think of any type of fitness that would benefit from plastic dumbbells over any other material. They feel cheap (usually because they are) and just don’t hold up as well as rubber or metal alternatives.
How to Buy the Best Dumbbells (For You)
FITNESS AND TRAINING GOALS: As with any new home fitness equipment, you should always consider your own training goals first. If you’re looking to supplement your existing powerlifting or strength training with accessory work, a set of adjustables is best. If, however, you’re looking to do Olympic lifts, rubber hex dumbbells are the way to go.
- Space: How much space do you have? If you’re a city dweller, live in a cramped apartment, or set up your home gym in the corner of a garage, consider a set of adjustable dumbbells. These take up much less space than a full (and massive) set that includes a rack and a bunch of fixed dumbbell weights that individually weigh between 10 and 100 pounds.
- Standard or Adjustable: Here it depends on your available space and a bit of personal preference. In most cases, adjustable dumbbells are the answer. They take up much less space and are often quite a bit cheaper than the standard fixed-weight alternatives.
- Ease of use: Basically, does the dumbbell feel “good” or natural to you? Again, this comes down to personal preference and may involve a visit to your local sporting goods store or gym equipment supplier to compare a few models in person.
- Construction: We are talking about the composition of your dumbbells and their durability. We recommend rubber hex dumbbells for the vast majority of fitness types. They are extremely durable, built to take a beating, including being dropped, dragged and god knows what else. Buy a decent set of rubber hex dumbbells, and chances are you won’t have to buy another one for a very long time, if ever.
- Budget: Price is important for just about every home gym builder. For many people, this could be the deciding factor. We recommend adjustable dumbbells for most types of fitness, and they’re usually the most affordable, so we’d suggest starting there. If, on the other hand, you have space and extra money to spend, a dedicated set of rubber or iron hex dumbbells might be the best solution.
We consulted men’s healthFitness editors and writers on the best dumbbells and dumbbell sets. Experts including our fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, fitness editor Brett Williams, NASM, and fitness instructor Hollis Tuttle put dozens of dumbbell models through their paces to evaluate their design, durability, functionality and efficiency. We’ve also considered the top-rated dumbbells with at least 100 five-star customer reviews from reputable e-commerce websites we trust. The above list represents our honest and carefully considered picks for the best dumbbells to improve your home gym in 2022.
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