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8 best dumbbells in 2021 to add to your home workout routines

Considering equipping your living room with a set of dumbbells or investing in adjustable dumbbells to save some room? You're certainly not alone. With COVID-19 back on the rise in the United States and parts of the country turning back to restrictions, we're continuously left finding creative ways to resume our normal daily routines inside our homes. Home gym equipment paired with virtual workouts has become increasingly popular as a way to stay in shape and as a good mental break during a stressful time, long before coronavirus was on our minds and with renewed vigor since, from exercise bikes and treadmills to under-desk ellipticals and TRX-like trainers. Fitness studios are offering instructor-led workout classes via Zoom and Instagram Live so you can still break a sweat in your sweats — which has prompted people to turn their living rooms into makeshift gyms fully equipped with yoga mats, kettlebells, and resistance bands.

SKIP AHEAD Best dumbbells to shop

The unexpected and sudden peaking of at-home workouts can take some time getting used to especially if you normally like to do circuit training or prefer to do your workouts on a treadmill. However, the good news is you can still get a good workout at home and build muscle at the same time by investing in basic fitness equipment like dumbbells. Are dumbbells a good investment? They’re versatile, extremely effective in building strength and can be used in many different types of workouts. A seemingly simple purchase can be a daunting task if you don’t actually know what to look for, though. With so many options on the market, we decided to reach out to fitness experts to provide their recommendations for the best dumbbells in each category.


How to shop for dumbbells

It’s important to note that not all dumbbells are created equally. Jillian Michaels, health and fitness expert and creator of the My Fitness app, explained the most important factors to consider when shopping for dumbbells.

Fixed or adjustable weights

  • Fixed weights are eponymously named because they are a fixed weight that is usually sold in pairs. These are best for people who are just starting to lift weights, or want to focus on one area of the body. If you’re buying multiple fixed weight sizes then you’ll also need to consider storage space.
  • Adjustable weights use a dial system to adjust the amount of weight on each dumbbell, including a safety lock to prevent the weights from falling off. Saving money and space is another convenience to consider with adjustable dumbbells -- you get the variety without having to purchase multiple dumbbell sets. These are best for people who like to lift heavier weights and weight train (weighted lunges, weighted squats, chest press, etc.)


Dumbbell material

Dumbbells can be made using several different types of material including rubber, neoprene or metal. Rubber and neoprene are softer and less prone to damaging floors, which makes them more ideal for use at home.

Dumbbell shape

Dumbbells come in two shapes: hex and circle. Dumbbells with hexagonal ends are much less likely to roll away when placed on the floor. The best dumbbell shape for you depends on how you plan on using them. If you plan on doing exercises that use the dumbbells as platforms (like a renegade row), then you might want the hex shape. If you want to use the dumbbells like an ab roller you might prefer the circle.


Best dumbbells to shop

Choosing a dumbbell that’s comfortable for you is a personal preference. You want to pay attention to the grip and the size of the handle, as well as the dumbbell’s shape, material and cost. “Heavier doesn’t necessarily mean better,” said Leyon Azubuike, founder and CEO of Gloveworx. “You have to make the weight work for you and make sure they feel comfortable in your hands!”

Best all-around dumbbell: CAP

1. CAP Barbell 150-Pound Dumbbell Set (limited availability)

Melissa Vogel, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and certified personal trainer and certified group fitness instructor — who mostly works with busy moms — said, “This one is great for a little more advanced and serious client that is looking to take their at-home workout to the next level.” The set includes weights that range from five to 25 pounds, which is convenient for a variety of workouts. The steel handles sport medium-depth diamond knurling meant to provide a secure, non-slip grip when working out. The cast iron heads are also coated with a protective layer not only to reduce damage to the equipment itself, but to your floors, as well.

Best affordable dumbbell: CAP

2. CAP Barbell Coated Hex Dumbbell

If you’re looking for something basic and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a big set, Vogel recommends CAP’s Iron Hex model. “They are basic, sturdy, and reliable,” she told Shopping. “They also have a hexagon shape to the ends that allow you to balance on them for planks and other body resistance/isolation moves.” These dumbbells have a baked-in enamel coating for better durability.


Best high-end dumbbell: BowFlex

3. Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbell (limited availability)

Believe it or not, even dumbbells can be high-tech these days. Michaels prefers the BowFlex SelectTech 1090 model which can be used with the free BowFlex SelectTech app that allows you to keep track of your reps. This model also has the largest weight range, from 10 pounds and up to 90 pounds in 5-pound weight increments. “If the sky is the limit here, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090s are awesome. They have the dial system. They have a special shape so they don’t roll around [and] they don’t take up a ton of space. The only downside is they are still metal, but the product is well built and doesn’t clank when you lift them,” said Michaels.

Best dumbbells for smaller hands: Ativafit

4. Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell

Nicole Ferrier, an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer said the Ativafit adjustable dumbbell is her top choice for an at-home gym, noting typical hand sizes she's come across. “Women should look for dumbbells with smaller grips on the handle. This is because a female’s hand is smaller than a male’s hand. Having a firm grip is essential to lift safely and comfortably.” The space-saving design takes seven sets of weights and puts them into one plastic tray, and makes it easy to switch to your desired weight.

Best dumbbells for comfort: Bowflex and NordicTrack

5. Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells

“Personally I make sure the dumbbells have a short handle so they are far easier to balance when I’m lifting heavy,” said Jillian Michaels. Some handles are also knurled, which means the grip is lined with a raised pattern with ridges that allows for a better hold. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 has a straight handle with extra grip and the coating on the weights allows for a more silent workout. At the end of the dumbbells is a dial so you can easily adjust the weight and resistance to best suit your workout.


6. NordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55-Pound Dumbbell Set

NordicTrack appeared in many of our fitness equipment roundups, from exercise bikes to treadmills. This set of adjustable dumbbells are similar to the Bowflex model (and look similar, too), but reach a slightly higher maximum weight per dumbbell: 55 pounds (as opposed to Bowflex's 52.5 pounds). The set comes with a free year of iFit, a fitness subscription that gives you access to live and on-demand workouts and classes (normally $468). To adjust the weights, you can remove a simple notch at the top of the dumbbell to the proper spot for your desired weight.

Best dumbbells for beginners: SPRI

7. SPRI Deluxe Vinyl Dumbbells

Beginners will require less weight range and won’t need any of the fancy bells and whistles (like Bluetooth capability) so the options are more affordable. Michaels recommended these light hand weights — which you can get in either 3-pound or 8-pound version. They also have a hex cap and vinyl cover for protection.

Best dumbells for durability: Weider

8. Weider Select-a-Weight 50-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell Set

Dumbbells can be costly, but if you invest in a high-quality pair of weights and they are stored properly they can last for many years. Certain materials like metal can show signs of wear and tear sooner than other materials so if you’re looking to invest in weights for the long haul, consider dumbbells with a protective rubber coating. It not only lasts longer but doesn’t make as much noise when dropped on the ground. Azubuike recommended Weider Fitness dumbbells and said they are cost-friendly and have a good range. “I’ve been trusting these since my collegiate athlete days [and] they are durable! They won’t tear your hands up and they have a good grip,” he said.


Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Leila Najafi

Leila Najafi is a freelance lifestyle writer with bylines in Thrillist, USA Today, Business Insider, and Reader's Digest.


Discount Online Fitness is a commercial used gym equipment dealer focusing on used fitness equipment, offering top fitness brands for full gym packages, fitness center floor plans, cardio, strength, and accessories.

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by James - This article may contain affiliate links.

Best Places to Buy Weights

Finally, you have decided to build your free weight home gym to build muscle. You do a few searches online, and you realize that weights are pretty expensive. If you buy some home gym equipment, and your monthly budget is gone.

Well, I was in your shoes. I carefully planned everything. I included only home gym essentials such a barbell with weights, a power rack, dumbbells, and an adjustable weight bench. Nothing fancy. But, I’m a perfectionist who likes buying the best thing that I trust. My plan would have cost me almost 5000 dollars. When I told my wife, she said, “You’d better go back to the local gym. For that money, you can lift there for years.” And there is truth in it what she said.

But, I did not give up, and I was searching for the best places to buy weights. To make the story short, in the end, I could get everything for less than 2000 dollars. I had to compromise a bit here and there, but I can have quality and safe strength training at home whenever I want. My investment paid off in 1.5 years.

How to save money on home gym equipment

1. You do not always need “trendy” things

regular vs dial hand weights

Bowflex vs standard hand weights

If you have ever been looking for home workout equipment at big online stores, always the latest, trendy products come up. They are promoted as the “ultimate device.” We have a feeling as if they were the only solution for strength training, and nothing else would work.

For example, there are adjustable dumbbells with pins or dials for quick weight changing, such as Bowflex or Powerblock. There is no question that they are easy to use, but costs hundreds of dollars. While a pair of regular dumbbells with weight plates and collars cost less than half. Almost the same workout experience for a fraction of the price.

But, the same is valid for everything else. That is why I do not have trendy and fancy gym stuff at home.

2. Choose weight lifting equipment for your needs

Not everyone wants to be the new Schwarzenegger lifting hundreds of pounds. Somebody just wants to be a little bit stronger and put on a bit of muscle mass. For them, there is no need to invest into a hundred pounds of weights and most robust workout bench or rack. It is enough to get home gym equipment with lower capacity that costs far less. Maybe for them, a pair of cheap dumbbells will do, which are perfect for a full body workout.

On the other hand, big lifters, people who have been lifting weights for years must be careful with what they opt for. There are so many rubbish products out there that will break in your hands sooner or later. Even worse, they may cause you injury during your workout. Go with the best.

3. Buy used weights

Maybe I’m undemanding, but I do not really care about if the painting chips or there are scratches or a bit of rust on the weights or the machine. I use them for strength training and not for showing the world what a perfect gym I have. The only thing that is important for me is how well and safely the unit functions. Iron is iron.

I’d instead buy a used Rogue power rack than a new one made by a no-name Chinese manufacturer. The price is the same, but you will never be disappointed with a Rouge cage even if it is rusty and dirty.

To sum up, quality weight plates, barbells, benches, and racks are not such things that can easily go wrong. And, used items cost far less than new.

What are the best places to buy weights?

1. Amazon Strength Training Department for new equipment

I list Amazon on the first place for many reasons.

  • Firstly, they have a huge collection of weights and other home gym equipment we can choose from. Hence, from beginners to advanced, people can find weights for their level and workout goals
  • Moreover, Amazon prices are pretty good compared to other online stores. And, it is not rare when the products are on sale to save even more money. Besides, because of the large number of offers, the price range is also wide. Therefore, anyone can find products for their budget.
  • Amazon is a trusted online seller who cares about its customers so if you have any problem you will get help.
  • Because of being so popular you can read a lot of real customer reviews about fitness equipment before buying it.
  • Last but not least, you can get your order almost always with free shipping which is not negligible when you buy weights.

2. eBay & Craigslist to find used gym equipment

Both are excellent places to buy used weights. If you are lucky, you can bump into sellers who are close to you so you can check out the workout equipment. It may take some time to find the best offer, but you can save a lot of money on these sites.

However, recently, I experienced on eBay that a lot of new products are promoted maybe by the manufacturer or a reseller. And, in most of the cases, those products cost more on eBay than at Amazon.

3. Facebook Marketplace

Just like Craigslist, the Facebook marketplace is useful to find local listings for exercise equipment with pictures. Hence, you can check out the item before buying and do not have to worry about shipping.

4. Garage sales

Yard sales are excellent opportunities to buy useful stuff at a low price. And, maybe you can stumble upon some weights you can use at your home gym. Just be tricky and visit the sales as early possible before they get picked over.

5. Muscle building forums

There are thousands of bodybuilding forums online, and almost each of them has a section for people selling second-hand things. I know, it takes time to find and research these forums and boards, but you can find great deals there as well.

6. Going out of business or gym equipment upgrade sales

These are the best options to put your hands on commercial grade gym quality equipment at a much lower price. In most of the cases, such places hold auctions.


Well, this website is dedicated to selling used gym equipment for commercial gym owners, but that does not mean individuals cannot buy there. Behind the site, there is a trusted company, so the quality of the used item is not a question. Maybe you even get a warranty on the products.

To conclude

I hope I could help you a bit with my tips and the best places to buy weights to save money on your home gym building project. If you are watchful, you can set a workout room even if you are on a low budget.

Have no money at all? Check out how to build a home gym with no money here.


James Wright

James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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