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As much as we might like the fancy equipment and comprehensive facilities of commercial gyms, many of us really prefer to work out at home. It’s private, it’s convenient, and it’s open 24 hours. If you fall into that category, and are thinking about how to equip your home gym for strength training, then a good quality, comprehensive dumbbell set is the perfect place to start.
Dumbbells have a lot of advantages over barbells for home workouts. They take a lot less space to store, and a lot less space to use – there’s much less risk of damaging something working with dumbbells than trying to find space to lift with a loaded barbell!
Dumbbell sets also give you an easy-to store set of multiple weights, and allow a lot more flexibility in exercise programs and movements than a dumbbell and weights will.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Dumbbell Set
So how do you choose? Dumbbell sets actually present you with quite a few options, and depending on your needs, there will be a perfect set out there for you. Of course, price is almost always a consideration, but even if you are on a budget you can get a decent starter set that will meet most people’s home workout needs.
If you are short of space, like you need to workout in a small apartment or a bedroom, then you might look for one of the adjustable sets where don’t need a large weight rack, and you simply adjust the grip bar to the weight you need.
If you are new to working out, then safety is going to be important, and you will want the stability of a short grip so and more options at the lower weights so you can keep your dumbbells under control while your skill and strength develop.
If you are really serious about your home strength training, and you might be pretty hard on your weights, then you will probably want to spend a little more for protective coatings that will help your dumbbells last – those coatings can also help keep the noise down if you are working out in a house you share with others!
Here are five of the best dumbbell sets for home workouts.
If you are really serious about strength training, and you can afford the top options, then the Body Solid SDRS550 is going to be your choice. Not only are you getting a fully comprehensive range of weights, with pairs from 5 to 50 pounds and small intervals at the lower weights, but the quality is also excellent.
Cast iron, no-roll hexagonal heads are coated with a non-slip, non-scratch rubber and a patented fusion system between the heads and grip makes sure that your dumbbells last a long time. If you are at all unsure, Body Solid stands behind the products with a robust warranty.
They aren’t the only option out there, but they are top quality and packed with innovations that die-hard lifters will appreciate.
What we really like about these dumbbells is the shorter steel shaft. This makes the dumbbells easier to control and gives you much more stability in your grip, especially when working with the heavier weights.
If you’ve ever experienced wrist pain after a heavy dumbbell session – or worse, ended up with a ligament or tendon strain after a heavy dumbbell got out of control – then you’ll know how important it is to keep your dumbbells stable. Keeping the heads close to your hand makes these dumbbells one of the most stable around.
Also, unlike most cast iron dumbbells, the Body Solid dumbbell heads have a rubber coating. This means that they won’t scratch your floor or platform, and they are much quieter than other dumbbells if you drop them or when you rack them – ideal if you workout early in the morning and don’t want to wake up your household!
When you first get them, be aware that the rubber needs a thorough clean with disinfectant wipes or a scrub in the sink. They come with a protective oil coating that can mark your floor (and doesn’t smell great either) so take some time to prep you dumbells before the first use.
Once they are clean, it’s safe to say the Body Solid dumbbells are really unique and designed for serious strength training.
If you want a full set of dumbbells, but are short of space, then the BowFlex SelectTech is ideal. Forget about a big dumbbell rack in your garage or basement (or your living room) and check out these dumbbells.
Just like a barbell system, the SelectTech dumbbells have a stackable grip so you can add or remove weights as you need to – perfect for small spaces – and yet you still get a complete 5 to 50 pound dumbbell set!
Before you start to worry that your high-intensity circuit training session will grind to a halt every time you need to change the weight, you need to check out the clever ‘dial’ system. The specially designed compact rack (which comes with the dumbbells) lets you simply drop the dumbbell in, turn the dial to the weight you want, and the grip automatically picks up – or drops out – the weights you need.
There are a couple of things to be aware of with this design. To fit the full range of weights, the grips are 15 inches long, which can make the dumbbells a little imbalanced and hard to control.
If you really like the look and feel of traditional dumbbells, then you might find the innovative look of the Bowflex SelectTech a little hard to accept. But if you are looking for an affordable and versatile set of dumbbells, and you don’t have a lot of space, these could be the perfect choice for you.
Okay, so let’s say you like the space-saving functionality and affordability of the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells, but you want a more traditional dumbbell design and a shorter, more stable grip. If that sounds like you, then take a look at the CAP Barbell PVC Dumbbell set. At a fair price, you get a set of hexagonal-head dumbbells and a pretty compact rack.
These dumbbells aren’t particularly innovative, but they are very functional. Like the Body Solid dumbbells, the cast iron heads have a protective coating, but with these it’s PVC. That means these dumbbells are quiet and won’t mark your floor, but they don’t come with that chemical smell of rubber coated dumbbells that just never seems to go away.
The downside of PVC coatings is they will eventually chip and wear, so you need to take care of these dumbbells – but if you don’t drop them or let them hit each other they will last a long time.
This set also tops out with the 30 pound pair. For a lot of home gym lifters, this may be enough. But if you are really serious about your strength training, you might crave a set that hits that 50 pound mark. If 30 pound is enough for you, then this is a very affordable set of basic, no-nonsense weights with enough perks to make them look good and work well.
If you really love traditional hex-style dumbbells, then you won’t like the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells. But if you want a set of dumbbells that look as cool as you do, then these are the ones. The PowerBlock Elite is a complete innovation in dumbbell design, and doesn’t look like anything you’ll see at your local gym.
If you are working out in a small space, then you’ll love the PowerBlock Elite too. A bit like the Bowflex dumbbells, they have a lock in, lock out system so you can add or remove weights on a single frame.
The shape takes a bit of getting used to, and at first they can feel a little awkward and unbalanced. Once you get the hang of them though, they offer a lot of versatility. The grip is actually shorter than most adjustable dumbbells, so once you are comfortable with the shape, they work well and are actually very stable.
The competitively-priced base set takes you up from 2.5 up to 50 pounds, perfect for beginners and serious lifters. If you’re one of those super-lifters where 50 pounds still isn’t enough, then unlike almost all other dumbbell sets on the market, you won’t be held back by the PowerBlock Elite. Add-on kits can take you up to a whopping 90 pounds per grip.
The only downside – unless you already don’t like the shape – is the enamel coating. Sure, it keeps them quiet and protects your floor, but it isn’t as durable as rubber. The enamel will chip if you drop them or handle them roughly. Although if you look after them, they’ll last you for years, and with the versatility, might just be the last set of dumbbells you ever need to buy.
Let’s say you want a traditional set of dumbbells and rack, but you want to keep them in a small(ish) space, and you don’t need or want to pay for a really powerhouse heavy dumbbell set. Well, if you can top out happily at a 25 pound pair of dumbbells, then you can get the CAP Barbell 150 pound dumbbell set.
This is a no frills cast iron, hex-head dumbbell set. The CAP dumbbells are robust and well made, and very affordable, and so make a perfect starter set. You don’t get any fancy features here though. The hex heads have no protective coatings, so you need to be careful with dropping them on your floor. And if you work out in the small hours, they can be pretty noisy to rack.
Unlike the other, pricier sets we’ve already talked about with some 2.5 pound increment options, these start at 5 pounds and go up in 5 pound jumps to the top end 25 pounds. You’ll also want to wear gloves with these dumbbells; the grips are cast iron too and can be tough on your hands.
They rack isn’t overly compact, but as there are only 10 dumbbells total, the rack doesn’t need to be that big either. Overall, this is a simple, workable, affordable starter set of dumbbells that will work just fine for most home workouts. Once you start to gets serious about your strength training though, we think you’ll want to upgrade to a set with more weights and more features.