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Any at-home workout routine can be leveled up by a pair of dumbbells. Very few of us have room for squat racks, bench presses, and other weight room classics. But dumbbells? Just about anyone can make room for those. And since a little strength-training can go a long way, they’re well worth the investment.
Kenta Seki, FitOn trainer, says he uses dumbbells in almost all of his strength workouts. “I have a favorite dumbbell exercise for nearly every muscle group,” he says. “I especially love using them for exercises that involve alternating sides—like chest presses, shoulder presses, bicep curls, walking lunges, and rows.” Seki recommends buying a pair of dumbbells that are challenging enough to leave you fatigued at the end of a workout, but not so heavy that you’ll sacrifice your form. And if you feel yourself outgrowing your go-to pair, Seki says you can always make workouts more challenging by slowing down your exercises, upping your reps, or holding two dumbbells in one hand.
Read on for the best dumbbells.
Best Budget: CAP Barbell Adjustable Dumbbells
CAP Barbell’s Adjustable Dumbbells may not be as sleek as some of the other adjustable dumbbells out there. But at their budget-friendly price point, we’re certainly not complaining. Each set ships with two handles and eight plates, which you can slide on and lock into place any time you want to scale up your weight. Add on the 3-pound plates for a lighter workout, or load on all the plates at once to make things seriously challenging. Whether you want to level up over time or simply change things up on a day-to-day basis, these dumbbells will easily meet your needs.
Best Luxury: Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells with Adjustable Weight
It may seem extreme to spend more than $1,000 on a pair of dumbbells, but Bowflex’s SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells are basically 17 dumbbell sets in one. Simply turn the dial on the side of the dumbbell, and select a weight between 10 pounds and 90 pounds that works for you. Another cool feature is that this set comes with a free training program. Download the Bowflex SelectTech app to access trainer-led workouts, track your progress, and to build custom workouts of your own.
Best Set: Fitness Republic Dumbbell Set
Fitness Republic’s Dumbbell Set is a 10-piece set, perfect for anyone who really loves their dumbbells. The set includes five pairs of weights, ranging between 3 pounds and 12 pounds—giving you a total of 76 pounds to play with. Plus, each set ships with an A-frame rack, so it's easy to stay organized. If you’re an avid strength-trainer, the range will ensure your workouts stay challenging over time. Instead of using the same 3-pound weights over and over again, you can graduate to the 8-pound weights—and then the 12-pound weights. With this many dumbbells on hand, there will never be a dull moment in your fitness routine.
Best Portable: Lixada Flexible Fitness Water-Filled Dumbbells
Weights are rarely travel-friendly. No one wants a bunch of dumbbells weighing down their suitcase or backpack—and most of us need all the packing space we can get. Thankfully, Lixada’s Flexible Fitness Water-Filled Dumbbells make it much easier to get a strength-training workout on-the-go. The dumbbells get their weight from water, meaning you can make them as heavy as you want them to be. Once you've emptied them, they’ll fold up for easy storage in your bag—and since they’ll weigh a whopping 1.1 pounds, you won’t have to worry about extra suitcase weight.
Best for Walking: Gold's Gym Walking Dumbbells
Dumbbells can be a great way to add intensity to daily walks. The only problem is that they can be tedious to hold. Thankfully, Gold’s Gym has come to our collective rescue and crafted a pair of dumbbells with walking in mind. Each weight boasts a built-in Velcro strap that you can tighten until it hugs your hand. Simply hold the dumbbell the way you normally would, slide the strap over your hand, and tighten it until it feels snug. This strap should keep your dumbbell in place—even if you open your hand for a moment.
Best for Pool Workouts: Trademark Innovations Aquatic Exercise Dumbbells
If you’ve ever dreamt of using your dumbbells in the pool, this set will be perfect for you. You can swim with them—or more realistically, use them for water aerobics. Each dumbbell weighs 0.66 pounds, so you shouldn’t expect them to wear you out. But they can add a little intensity to water-based workouts. Oh, and in case you were curious—the weights are crafted from buoyant EVA foam, so you don’t have to worry about them sinking to the bottom of the pool.
Best for Small Spaces: NiceC Adjustable Dumbbell Pair
Dumbbell sets can take up a lot of room, and even adjustable dumbbells can get a little bulky. So if you’re low on space, you may want to invest in an even lower-profile option—like NiceC’s Adjustable Dumbbell Pair. The sleek weights are smaller than many standard dumbbells, and they get their weight from little metal blocks inserted inside the hourglass-shaped shell. Everything is contained, so you won't have a ton of pieces to keep track of. The only downside? The weight range is relatively limited—each dumbbell maxes out at 4.5 pounds.
Dumbbells are an easy and space-efficient way to build strength, whether you’re at home or on-the-go. If you’d rather invest in a dumbbell set that’ll keep you challenged as you build strength, opt for an adjustable set, like the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells.