I remember watching countless fitness infomercials as a kid, but none piqued my interest until I saw one for adjustable dumbbells — you just had to turn a knob to adjust each dumbbell. You could have an entire rack of dumbbells without devoting an entire wall for them. Still a bit young to pump iron, I wasn’t planning on purchasing them — nor could I afford them — but I remained curious about adjustable dumbbells ever since.
When the pandemic started, I would go weeks at a time without leaving a three-block radius — sometimes I would stay in my tiny apartment for days at a time. A lot of my built-in activity vanished, and I was no longer maintaining a healthy weight. It was time to get serious about fitness. I was still uncomfortable going to the gym with Covid circulating, and adjustable dumbbells made perfect sense for my situation. My small apartment meant setting up dumbbells or a barbell rack was unrealistic.
I specifically wanted dumbbells with an internal locking mechanism — I didn’t want to deal with pinning or clipping or plates to switch around. I also wanted the weights to go up to at least 50 pounds to match what I generally lift with plain dumbbells. Luckily for me, we’d recently spoken to experts about adjustable dumbbells and recommended the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set. Going off that, I bought them for myself and they haven’t disappointed. The dumbbells have an intuitive weight switching system — you just rotate the handle — as well as a classic, sleek style that distinguishes them from other options available.
Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set
You can adjust each dumbbell in this set at increments of 5 pounds, from the minimum 5 pounds to the maximum 50. All you have to do is twist the handle to switch between weights — you’ll hear the dumbbells click into place at each 5 pound increase or decrease in weight. Each dumbbell sits in its own aluminum stand, so storage is pretty simple. Together, the adjustable dumbbells take up less than two square feet of space in my living room, a huge space saver compared to a full rack of dumbbells.
And I like how the dumbbell set looks and feels compared to others. It has traditional looking round plates, and the dumbbells get wider when you add weight — the locking mechanism adds plates — and narrower when you drop weight. To me, that makes the weight distribution of the dumbbells feel more natural, and closer to what a regular weighted dumbbell would feel like.
I love my adjustable dumbbell set, and use them whenever I strength train, but I don’t love how much plastic is used in the construction. Experts previously recommended looking for less plastic and fewer moving parts to ensure durability, and these dumbbells include both. Specifically, I wish the handle was metal and textured for better grip, similar to a dumbbell or barbell I’d find at the gym — if my hands are sweaty, I don’t always have the greatest traction when holding these. But I don’t feel that any of my lifts have been limited by poor grip. And for any durability concerns I have, I’ve seen no issues with the locking mechanism, even when doing lifts like goblet squats or dumbbell pullovers for which I grab the dumbbells by the plates rather than the handle.
Other adjustable dumbbells to consider
If you don’t need as much weight capacity and need something more affordable, or if you’re willing to spend more to have a greater weight range, here are some other options to consider that we’ve also recommended in our guide to adjustable dumbbells. For both of these sets, you can adjust the weight by twisting the handle.
FLYBIRD 25-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell
I’ve personally had good experiences with FLYBIRD — the company makes my favorite adjustable and foldable weight lifting bench — and these dumbbells seem like a solid option if you lift lighter weights. Like the Core dumbbells, you switch between weights by twisting the handles, and these dumbbells adjust at 5 pound increments between 5 and 25 pounds. On the FLYBIRD website, the dumbbell set is over $100 cheaper than the set I purchased, though on Amazon and Walmart, you have to buy each dumbbell one at a time.
SMRTFT Nuobell 80-Pound Classic Adjustable Dumbbells (preorder)
If you’re a more advanced lifter, or want even more room to grow into your adjustable dumbbells, these might be for you. They have a similar handle twisting weight switching mechanism, but they can switch between 5-pound increments all the way up to 80 pounds. However, at more than double the price of my adjustable dumbbells, they’re a hefty investment perhaps most suited for serious lifters.
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