Dumbbell buying guide
May 20, 2021
Dumbbells without no doubts are one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment, especially for strenght training, both for gym at home use. As there is so many options available, how do you know which are best for you or your gym?
Read the following article to before buying!
There are 3 top level categories of dumbbells: fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells and studio dumbbells.
A fixed dumbbell is the most common type of weight to be found in a gym. These are normally the kind you would see on a horizontal or upright rack. They are usually sold in pairs, with a weight from 1kg to 100kg each.
Small gyms or home users will normally look at a 2.5kg-30kg fixed dumbbell sets. However, it depends on the client base or individuals strength. Larger gyms with a wider member base will look at 2.5kg-50kg. The higher end of 50kg-100kg will probably only be relevant for gyms made for serious weight lifters and bodybuilders.
Althought, there is a wide variety of fixed dumbbell stylesfollowing will describe the ones fitness advisors are most frequently asked about.
Fixed Rubber Dumbbells
Fixed Rubber dumbbells are hard wearing and robust. They tend to be most suitable for gyms, as rubber dumbbells will withstand the daily use. The quality and feel from these dumbbells is exceptional which makes them a great addition to a high-end home gym.
One of the main benefit of using rubber over bare chrome or cast iron is that it offers a protective outer coating. This protects both the dumbbell, the storage stand and the surrounding lifting area from scratches, chips and dents. Rubber dumbbells also are far more quitet when they are dropped.
Furthermore, they usually have more attractive, colourful designs and clearer numbering of weight.
Fixed Hex Dumbbells
Hex Dumbbells are named after their specific shape. Thanks to many facets, they will not roll around on the floor. This is a great advantage when you are switching between weights or exercises and are constantly picking them up and putting them down. They are also excellent for floor based circuits, for example dumbbell push-ups, because of their added stability.
The Hex Dumbbell usually is a bit cheaper than a standard rubber or urethane dumbbell which makes it a great budget option. Additionally, the shape make them easy to store if you do not have storage a rack.
Adjustable dumbbells is great product for ones who want a variety of weights but either don’t have the space, storage or budget for a full set of fixed dumbbells.
The thechnology of these dumbbels is developing quickly and many brands offer adjustable dumbbell solutions but with different, shapes, sizes and designs.
The cons of adjustable weights is that they are usualyy quite bulky because of the ways in which the weight needs to be segmented. It can also make it quite difficult if you are trying to do sets where you need to to change weights quickly.
Considering all this, adjustable dumbbells do make great products at a exceptional value for the home use if compared to a full set of fixed dumbbells, especially if you are looking to save space and don’t have a need for multiple sets.
Many fitness classes use light resistance work as a part of their training. Studio dumbbells are cheap to buy in large quantities and usually include a studio storage unit. They also tend to be colour coded by weight for easy identification.
Studio dumbbells are fully coated, which means the whole dumbbell (including the handle) is covered in a layer of textured rubber or neoprene to protect it against the regular use. The full coating makes the dumbbells easier to grip especially during cardio-heavy group exercise classes. These dumbbells have an anti-roll shape, which will ensure that, equipment on the floor doesn’t cause a hazard during training.
Studio dumbbells are usually sold in pairs and are a perfectly good option for home if you are looking for very low weight denominations. Studio dumbbells typically range from 0.5kg – 10kg and for commercial purposes can normally be purchased in sets of between 40-50 pairs.
Fixed Urethane Dumbbells
These dumbbells are another popular, but more premium option of commercial equipment. Although, to urethane (technically polyurethane or PU) seemingly might not show a huge difference to rubber dumbbells there are numerous performance benefits which describes it's slightly more premium price.
Firstly, urethane products are stronger than rubber. It's much harder to cause a cosmetic damage to, because the outer layer is tougher and more resistant to the scratches, chips and marks that can occasionally occur on rubber weights.
PU weights also have the benefit of non-marking, which is often sited as an issue with rubber dumbbells when they are dropped on a new wooden or vinyl floor. One more benefit is that urethane doesn't have the signature odour, that rubber is known for.
Fixed Chrome Dumbbells
Metal dumbbells have had a big popularity in the past and are often a cheaper alternative to more modern rubber or urethane dumbbells. Cast iron weights are often found in 'old school' gyms and are for great value can be found second hand. These also come in classic and ‘hex’ shapes and are strong, solid products which stand up to a heavy lifting environments. However, they have a risk of chips and scratches.
Many gyms are using steel and chrome plated dumbbells which are very stylish. They are all made with toughened metals and anti chip chrome but still, they are not as robust as those coated in rubber or urethane.
With all said above, for home gyms and gyms which are not super busy at a free weights area, chrome dumbbells will look great and deliver their function perfectly well.
Dumbbell Plate Sets
One more popular option for home users is a dumbbell plate set. These consist of a small bar with plates which attach on either end. They are a very cost effective option for people looking for a range of weights and to save on space.
Plate sets normally utilise a spinlock collar, which isn’t always the most secure method of fastening, but it is quick and easy to fasten and remove. They allow to adjust the weight by adding or removing weight plates, which usually come between 0.5kg to 2.5kg.
It’s highly unusual for a commercial gym to use this option, as fixed dumbbells are a more convenient alternative.
Racks & Storage
To store all the dumbbells in one place it is important to have adequate storage and dumbbell rack facilities. Rubber, Urethane and cast iron bells are normally racked on either horizontal or vertical stands. Horizontal racks will normally be able to hold 10-12 pairs of dumbbells over either two or three tiers and upright racks can often hold a similar number. Studio dumbbell racks hold pairs in separate vertical slots for each weight.