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The best dumbbells to add to your home workout routine in 2024

Personal trainers and fitness pros say dumbbells can add some variety to your weighted workouts.
Dumbbells can help you get stronger by adding both variety and intensity to weighted exercises, experts told us.
Dumbbells can help you get stronger by adding both variety and intensity to weighted exercises, experts told us.Kara Birnbaum / NBC

For those who rely on at-home workouts, getting the right equipment can be crucial — in addition to stationary bikes, treadmills and ellipticals, basic fitness equipment like dumbbells can help you maintain a workout routine at home while building strength and muscle.

Dumbbells are extremely versatile since you can incorporate them into many types of workouts, experts say. But with so many options on the market, finding the right one for your home gym can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for. We spoke to personal trainers and fitness experts to help break down the different types of dumbbells and what to consider when shopping for them. We also compiled a list of expert-recommended and top-rated options to shop.

SKIP AHEAD The best dumbbells to shop | How to shop for dumbbells | How to safely use dumbbells

Selected.Our top picks

  • Best fixed
    Amazon Basics Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbell
    $26.71
    $28.12
    Amazon
  • Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
    Best adjustable
    Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
    $379.99
    $429.99
    Best Buy
  • CAP Barbell Coated Dumbbell
    Best budget-friendly
    CAP Barbell Coated 20-Pound Dumbbell
    $29.47
    $31.99
    Amazon
  • Nuobell 80-Pound Classic Adjustable Dumbbells
    Best splurge
    Nuobell 80-Pound Classic Adjustable Dumbbells
    $undefined
    $745.00
    SMRTFT

How we picked the best dumbbells

When shopping for dumbbells, our experts recommend keeping the following factors in mind:

  • Fixed vs. adjustable: Fixed weights are sold either individually or in pairs and have one set weight, while adjustable dumbbells let you choose your weight using a rotating dial or a removable pin. Fixed weights are great for beginners and low-impact workouts or those who want to work out a specific part of the body. Adjustable weights, on the other hand, allow for variety without taking up a lot of space.?
  • Material: Dumbbells are typically made of rubber, neoprene or metal. Metal is typically more durable, while rubber and neoprene are softer and are less likely to damage floors.
  • Shape: Fixed dumbbells typically come with either hexagon (which are preferred by our experts) and round ends. Those with hexagonal ends are less likely to roll away compared to round dumbbells and tend to run a little cheaper.

The best dumbbells to shop

Each of the following dumbbells — which we broke up into two categories for fixed and adjustable — are made from durable metal, rubber or neoprene material in line with our experts’ guidance.

Best fixed dumbbells

Amazon Basics Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbell

Amazon Basics Rubber Encased Hex Dumbbell

$26.71
$28.12

The Amazon Basics dumbbells — which earned a Select Wellness Award — are a favorite of Jordan Rowe, a certified personal trainer and founder of NOEX Fitness in Richmond, Virginia. These dumbbells are a budget-friendly, rubber-coated option, and can be “a great investment for a beginner,” she says. Amazon Basics offers single hexagonal dumbbells that range from 10 pounds to 50 pounds — they have rubber-encased ends and equip a solid cast iron core with a non-slip textured surface for a more secure grip, according to Amazon. Amazon Basics does not offer these dumbbells in pairs, which means you’ll have to buy two if you’re hoping for a set.

REP Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells

REP Fitness Rubber Hex 20-Pound Dumbbells

$99.99
$94.99

REP Fitness also comes recommended by Rowe, who says she loves these fixed rubber hex dumbbells. “They have been continuously putting out quality home gym equipment at an affordable price in comparison to other companies,” she says. The dumbbells have rubber-encased ends that can limit wear and tear to both the dumbbells and the floor, according to the brand. They come in pairs, with weights ranging from 2.5 pounds to 125 pounds. The handles are also fully knurled, meaning they contain ridges that provide a more comfortable and sturdier grip when working out, according to the brand.

CAP Barbell Coated Dumbbell

CAP Barbell Coated 20-Pound Dumbbell

$29.47
$31.99
$29.47
$32.99

“Any chrome-plated handle with a hex rubber grip is a perfect choice — lots of companies offer this style when it comes to a fixed dumbbell,” says Rowe. CAP Barbell, which makes both fixed and adjustable dumbbells, “offers a standard, quality dumbbell that is a great fit for anyone,” she says. The rubber-coated hex dumbbells from the brand come in singles and are available in a range of weights from three pounds to 115 pounds. If you’re willing to splurge on a set, CAP Barbell’s Dumbbell Set comes with five pairs of weights ranging from five pounds to 25 pounds as well as a rack to store them in your home.

Titan Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells

Titan Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells

$89.99
$84.99

These rubber-coated dumbbells from Titan Fitness are a reasonable price for home gym users, says Rowe. They have a hexagon-shaped head that deadens the sound when they’re dropped to the ground and ergonomic chrome handles for comfort, according to the brand. You can purchase them either in singles that range from five pounds to 100 pounds (with limited availability for each) or as sets of 10 dumbbells with multiple weight options that go up in increments of five pounds, including a 5-pound to 55-pound set and a 55-pound to 100-pound set.

Portzon Weights Dumbbells

Portzon Weights Dumbbells

$39.99

These dumbbells are a favorite of NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin, who uses them for low-impact workouts. “They’re easy to grip and soft, and I can hold them tightly even during sweaty hot yoga or weight lifting workouts,” she says. Weights range from one pound to 15 pounds, so they’re a great option if you prefer less weight. Made from neoprene, these hexagonal-shaped dumbbells are also anti-slip and won’t roll away on the floor, according to the band.

Best adjustable dumbbells

PowerBlock PRO EXP Adjustable Dumbbells

PowerBlock PRO EXP 5-50 Stage 1 Set

$489.00

These PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells are recommended by Mike Boyle, co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, and Craig Levergood, a personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist, both of whom use these dumbbells in their respective gyms. “PowerBlocks are some of the best adjustable dumbbells you can get in the fitness industry,” says Levergood. These dumbbells have durable urethane-coated steel plates and the attachments allow them to go up to 90 pounds per dumbbell. You can adjust the weight by inserting a pin into the plate of your choice. These dumbbells also include an auto-lock lever on the handle that can help make micro-adjustments in 2.5-pound increments, according to PowerBlock.

Nuobell 80-Pound Classic Adjustable Dumbbells

Nuobell 80-Pound Classic Adjustable Dumbbells

$745.00

These Nuobell adjustable dumbbells are great for those looking for a wider weight range, says Rowe — you can adjust the weight from five pounds to 80 pounds. They have an easy-to-use adjustment mechanism, which involves twisting the handle instead of using a dial, she says. These dumbbells come as a pair and include a portable cradle to store both dumbbells and avoid damaging your floors, according to the brand.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

$379.99
$429.99
$379.98
$429.99
$379.00
$429.00

Bowflex’s adjustable dumbbells are a great basic option, says Rowe. These SelectTech 552 dumbbells have circular weights and you can adjust them from five pounds to 52.5 pounds — you simply need to place the dumbbells on the included resting tray and twist the selection dial to adjust. These dumbbells also work with the Bowflex SelectTech app, which lets you manually keep track of your reps. If you’re looking for more heavy lifting during your workout, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 goes up to 90 pounds.

Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set

Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set

$369.99
$349.99
$399.99

These staff-favorite adjustable dumbbells provide weights ranging from five pounds to the maximum 50 pounds, which you can manually adjust at increments of five pounds using the built-in knob. Each dumbbell sits in its own aluminum stand, so the set saves plenty of space in smaller homes and apartments, according to the brand.

How to shop for dumbbells

Not all dumbbells are created equally, and certain factors can affect the quality of your workout. As you’re shopping for dumbbells, experts recommend considering dumbbell type, material and shape.?

Fixed versus adjustable dumbbells

Dumbbells usually offer either a fixed or adjustable weight, each of which can be beneficial for specific types of workouts and preferences.

Fixed weights are sold either individually or in pairs and offer one set weight — in other words, “a 15-pound dumbbell can only be and will always be a 15-pound dumbbell,” says Rowe. Our experts say these are best for people who are just starting to lift weights or want to focus on one area of the body. If you’re buying multiple fixed weights, you’ll need to consider storage space and you’ll likely need to invest in a storage rack to keep your dumbbells together.

Adjustable weights offer multiple increments of weights that can be adjusted using a rotating dial or a removable pin. They can provide variety without taking up as much space as a rack of fixed dumbbells, says Levergood. Adjustable dumbbells can also be good for people who like to lift heavier and weight train since weight increments tend to go higher.

Adjustable dumbbells can ultimately be a more affordable option than investing in a whole set of weights, according to Rowe. “Not only do [sets of weights] take up space, but it’s going to cost you a lot of money in comparison to some of these [adjustable dumbbells],” she says. “In an ideal situation, fixed dumbbells will always be better when it comes to durability, convenience, functionality and simplicity, but the price difference between the two options can be substantial for many.”

Material

Dumbbell material includes rubber, neoprene or metal. You’ll typically see dumbbells with cast iron or steel heads that are rubberized or coated in neoprene, but some are made entirely of cast iron or other types of metal, according to our experts. But keep in mind that the material doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of exercise — it simply comes down to personal preference, says Traci Thompson, associate professor of health and kinesiology and director of PEAK Health and Fitness at the University of Utah Health. Metal is typically more durable, while rubber and neoprene are softer and less prone to damaging floors, she says.

Shape

Fixed dumbbells come in two shapes: hexagon and round. Dumbbells with hexagonal ends (which our experts say they typically prefer) are much less likely to roll away when placed on the floor compared to round dumbbells and typically run a little cheaper, says Rowe. Either shape can be made of any material.

The shape of your dumbbell doesn’t typically affect the type of workout you’re doing, either, experts say. “The shape is really going to be dependent on what you find and how you use it, but in my experience, the dumbbell shape doesn’t really matter whatsoever,” says Levergood. In some instances, you can benefit from using one shape over the other — for example, if you’re using your dumbbells as platforms (for something like a renegade row), you’ll likely want a hexagon shape.

What are the benefits of dumbbells?

Dumbbells are considered free weights, which means they’re not attached to another piece of gym equipment and can be picked up and moved around. They can be a great workout tool for just about anyone — whether you’re a beginner or an experienced weightlifter — because you can easily determine the weight that’s most comfortable for you, our experts say.

“If you are just starting to exercise, dumbbells can help you add intensity slowly so you don’t get injured as you are getting stronger,” says Thompson.

Dumbbells can also be more shoulder-friendly for upper body exercises: “The shoulder joint seems to self-select a path that’s most comfortable when using dumbbells [and] this isn’t as achievable with a straight bar,” says Boyle.

Both fixed and adjustable dumbbells can also provide some variety to your weight training since you can utilize them for practically any weighted exercise, ranging from bicep curls and overhead presses to lunges and squats. They can also encourage more range of motion and help challenge your joint stabilizer muscles — muscles like the gluteus medius and triceps that help stabilize your body while performing different exercises — by requiring more balance to control two weights versus one, says Rowe.

Dumbbells (especially adjustable dumbbells) can also be useful for those building a home gym in a small or tight space. “Dumbbells tend to take up less space versus a barbell and plates — you can easily stack a couple of dumbbell sets even in an apartment,” she says.

However, keep in mind that you will need to lift the dumbbells into position when you work out, which can be an issue if you suffer from back pain. “I often caution those with lower back issues to be careful with heavy dumbbells as the back stress of lifting them into position can be significant,” says Boyle.

How to safely use dumbbells during your workout

For anyone just starting out with weights, it’s important to develop a proper lifting technique. “If you have not lifted weights or are unsure how to lift weights safely, you should meet with a certified personal trainer to help you dial in the technique so you don’t get injured,” says Thompson.

Once you nail down the technique, “it’s important to increase weight gradually — a good rule to follow is to lift a weight that’s challenging by the time you reach the recommended number of repetitions, but you can still complete with proper form,” says Thompson. For example, if you’re doing 12 repetitions of a biceps curl, you should choose a weight that’s heavy enough to make the last repetition hard, but not to the point where you’re compromising your form just to finish.

If you can do your weight lifting exercises very easily, you probably need to increase the weight. “Muscles need to be challenged; If it doesn’t feel challenging, you may not be using enough weight to receive benefits,” says Thompson. However, “if you’re unable to do 12 [repetitions] without ‘cheating’ by letting your form deteriorate — arching your back or swinging your arms, for example — you need to reduce the weight,” she says.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Traci Thompson is an associate professor of health and kinesiology and director of PEAK Health and Fitness at the University of Utah Health.
  • Mike Boyle is the co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning.
  • Jordan Rowe is a certified personal trainer and founder of NOEX Fitness in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Craig Levergood is a personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist.

Why trust NBC Select?

Mili Godio is an editor at NBC Select who has written a variety of stories about fitness equipment, including indoor exercise bikes, affordable ellipticals, weighted hula hoops and more. For this article, Godio spoke to four fitness experts about how to shop for dumbbells and researched dozens of options on the market to recommend the best ones to consider.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

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