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Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It? | All You Need To Know

Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It

Adjustable dumbbells are space-saving, versatile, and easy to use, making them a potentially worthy investment for home and commercial gyms. They also come with different adjustment mechanisms and handle designs to suit the preferences of users.

Although having an intense fitness routine is crucial for good health, having multiple pieces of fitness equipment can become a problem. And this is especially true if you don’t have the budget and space for a large home gym. 

Enter adjustable dumbbells, which have been gaining popularity on the fitness market. But are they worth investing in? Join me as I answer this in the following sections. 

What Are Adjustable Dumbbells?

What Are Adjustable Dumbbells

It only makes sense for me to start by introducing adjustable dumbbells, especially if you haven’t seen or heard about them. Simply put, adjustable dumbbells (or adjustable weights) come with interchangeable weight plates so that you can increase or decrease the weight as and when required. 

Now, the important thing to note is that the mechanism for changing the weights of your set of adjustable dumbbells will depend on the brand, model, and maximum weight capacity you opt for. For instance, some adjustable sets, called plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells, will require you to change the plates manually. This means you will have to remove the existing plates, add the required ones, and lock them in place- much like you’d do for a barbell. 

Another category, known as selectorized dumbbells, is equipped with a dial or pin mechanism for controlling the weight increments. All you have to do is choose the desired weight by either turning the dial or toggling the pin. 

What Are The Benefits Of An Adjustable Dumbbell?

If you own a home gym or train regularly at a commercial one, you’d know that traditional fixed dumbbells (or hex dumbbells) are still widely considered the “benchmark” of a good setup. However, adjustable dumbbells are becoming increasingly popular, too, especially in home gyms, for many reasons.

So, I thought it’d be a good idea to quickly tell you about adjustable dumbbells vs. fixed-weight dumbbells so that you can make the right decision.

1. Versatility

As far as versatility is concerned, it’s safe to assume that adjustable dumbbells offer maximum convenience by means of a weight increment mechanism. If you’re into regular weight training or resistance training, carrying fixed dumbbells to reap the benefits of a diverse weight range will be a herculean task.

This is also true for personal trainers who may have to visit multiple clients in a day or people who have a home gym but don’t have a lot of storage space to spare and are looking for space-saving dumbbells. However, how much space your adjustable dumbbells require will depend on their model, so make sure you measure the available space beforehand to avoid any issues.

But with an adjustable dumbbell set, you can easily switch between weights by changing the weight plates. Sure, the weight plates are heavy, but they’re still better than carrying around multiple fixed weights.


Don’t try to substitute an adjustable dumbbell set with a barbell, as the weight you should curl in the bench press will differ from the weight required for weight training.  

2. Longer Use And Cost-Effectiveness

Don’t get me wrong here- I don’t mean to say that a fixed dumbbell will become unusable after some time. The best quality traditional dumbbells will last you for a lifetime, provided they are cared for and stored properly. But as you train more and become stronger, you will invariably need heavier weights to keep up with your routine.

Given the fact that fixed dumbbell sets don’t come cheap, getting a full rack for your future needs can become a hefty investment over time. And this problem can be easily solved with adjustable dumbbell sets.

One thing to note here is that most adjustable dumbbells, especially the quality ones from top fitness equipment brands like NordicTrack and Bowflex, aren’t cheap either. However, you may need to keep a few things in mind to ensure that your purchase doesn’t go down the drain. I will talk about this in detail in a later section.

3. Ease Of Use

Another thing to keep in mind when comparing adjustable dumbbells to regular dumbbells is that both are extremely convenient to use. You may think that a fixed dumbbell set is more convenient since there’s no adjustment mechanism to control. However, getting used to the process of changing weights manually or with the help of a dial or pin adds virtually nothing to your efforts.

How To Choose The Best Adjustable Dumbbells

How To Choose The Best Adjustable Dumbbells?

No matter how expensive or affordable your preferred set of adjustable dumbbells is, it won’t be worth your money if they don’t meet your needs. And for that, you should factor in some important criteria, like:

1. Weight Increments

No surprises here- if you plan to get an adjustable set of dumbbells, the first and foremost thing to take note of is the weight increment on offer. Generally, adjustable dumbbells are preferred for their low weight increment range, as this helps with better progress irrespective of the type of exercise you’re performing.

As such, I’d ideally recommend getting a pair that has a minimum weight increment of 2.5 lbs and a maximum weight increment of 5 lbs. Not only does this allow you to perform a wide variety of exercises with different weight requirements, but it also keeps you from challenging yourself unnecessarily.

While the maximum weight capacity of adjustable dumbbells can extend well beyond 20 lbs, the minimum weight capacity is usually 5 lbs for most brands. And this is a good place to start for novices.


Many first-timers make the mistake of choosing adjustable dumbbells with high weight increments of 10 lbs or more. However, this may be detrimental to your exercise routine, as you may find yourself cheating and lifting too much from the first go. In the worst-case scenario, lifting excessive weight without proper training or warmup can lead to serious injuries. 

2. Handle Length

Most adjustable dumbbell sets come with fixed-length handles, meaning the dumbbell handle won’t change with the weight plates. As such, you can choose the handle length according to your convenience, but keep in mind that it may take you some time to get adjusted to it.

Some people have complained that the long fixed-length handles are longer than the ones on standard dumbbells. And that can make it challenging to perform certain exercises like bicep curls and strength training. But again, it’s really a matter of how fast you adapt to the handles, so don’t give up!


If you’re too wary about the fixed-length of adjustable handles, I’d suggest going for compact adjustable dumbbells. The handles on these don’t stay the same length but increase as the weight increases (i.e., you put on round or square plates). Plus, these dumbbells give you a closer feel to that of the standard ones.

3. Plastic Construction

Plastic may not be synonymous with durability when it comes to fitness equipment, but that’s not really the case with adjustable dumbbells. However, it’s important to remember that these dumbbells may not survive multiple falls and hits, so it’s your best bet to be careful when working out and storing them, especially during home workouts.

And unless you’re ready to pay an exorbitant amount for your adjustable dumbbells, they will have a significant amount of plastic. From what I have seen, most of the plastic is concentrated in the handle and adjustment mechanism but some adjustable dumbbells also have plastic casings around the weight plates.  

However, you can avail other alternatives, like rubber and urethane. The rubber coating on the former makes them less prone to damage, corrosion, and protects your floors should you accidentally drop the dumbbells. Urethane dumbbells, on the other hand, are mostly made of steel and are extremely durable while sporting a sleeker profile. 

4. Adjustment Speed

The adjustment speed of your adjustable dumbbells is an important criterion to consider, as some exercises, like drop sets, will require you to change the weight very quickly. Hence, many people look for a lightning-fast adjustment mechanism. And the good news is most adjustable dumbbells come with this feature.

That being said, there are a few models that may work better than the others in this. For instance, dumbbells with a twist locking mechanism can help you achieve the desired weight in a second; all you have to do is twist your wrist in the right direction. This is the reason why these are considered among the most convenient ones to use.

Apart from these, you will find the more traditional weight adjustment dial mechanism, commonly featured in Bowflex dumbbells. Just turn the dial towards the desired weight to get your dumbbell ready.

The pull and side selectors dumbbells are another option, which, albeit not as fast as the twisting lock and dial adjustment mechanisms, gets the job done fairly quickly. In fact, these dumbbells are used by both novices and pros for advanced as well as basic bodybuilding routines.

What Are Some Other Things To Consider?

1. Price

Adjustable dumbbells, at least the best ones out there, aren’t the cheapest, and you may find yourself spending hundreds of dollars for a single pair. However, this price will generally still be less than preparing a “dumbbell rack” with multiple fixed weights. If you have a core home fitness setup, then investing in a quality set of adjustable dumbbells may be a better idea.

2. Durability

People with fixed dumbbells often drop their weights casually on the ground after a strenuous workout regime- a luxury that adjustable dumbbells don’t come with. Hence, you have to be careful while handling them, making sure that they don’t slip out of your hands.

For this, I’d strongly recommend wearing workout gloves while handling them so that sweat and moisture don’t affect your grip. You can also look for models with knurled handles or grips to prevent the risk of accidental falls.

3. Feel

Adjustable dumbbells may not provide you with the same feel as that of fixed dumbbells, as they may feel a bit weird against your skin when compared to hex dumbbells. Some people have also reported that even the adjustable handle models don’t solve this problem, but this really depends on the individual user and how they adapt to the new dumbbells.

Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It Final Words

Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It Final Words

Now, to answer your question- are adjustable dumbbells worth it?

Well, this will completely depend on your preferences and needs. If you’re on the hunt for space-saving dumbbells that allow you to work out with different weights, then adjustable dumbbells can be the perfect addition to your home gym. Besides, you can choose from different weight adjustment mechanisms and weight ranges to best fit your requirements.

However, if you aren’t ready to compromise with the feel of traditional fixed weights and don’t mind purchasing multiple units for all your weight-lifting needs, then you give adjustable dumbbells a pass. But make sure you have enough space to store them!

And with that, it’s time for me to wrap up today’s proceedings. See you next time with more such informational reads! 

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