Posted on 06 Aug 2013
6 min read
In an ideal world, I’d have my own air-conditioned gymnasium with endless rows of dumbbells, a post-workout canteen serving up huge sirloin steaks, and a masseuse with a pair of norks so vast they would make a seasoned prostitute blush.
The reality is I live in a pathetically tiny flat.
There is barely room for a single bed let alone a private gymnasium with an all-day buffet of meat, iron and happy endings.
And like many enthusiastic bodybuilders, I don’t always have time to get down to the gym, so working out at home has always been a vital part of my fitness routine.
In the past, I’ve used various dumbbells from various manufacturers but always found storage and space a problem.
I decided, therefore, to look into buying some adjustable dumbbells, as this would seemingly solve my quandary.
As most reviews online tended to be useless and spammy, I decided to take it upon myself to whittle down all the adjustable dumbbells on the market to the 6 best candidates.
These were as follows…
Unsurprisingly, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are a great bit of kit.
Each dumbbell combines 15 different weights, from 5lbs up to 52.2lbs, and adjusts in handy 2.5lb increments.
Adjusting the weight is a piece of cake, as you simply have to turn a dial, allowing for a hassle-free workout.
Even a baby could do it – although, if you’re letting your baby curl and press, you should probably be neutered.
In addition, Bowflex chuck in two years free warranty and a free workout DVD (probably shit).
Great quality product for $299, but the limited max weight of 52lbs will undoubtedly put off serious lifters, and no stand is included.
These Ironmaster 75lb Quick-Lock adjustable dumbbells are no different.
Each dumbbell adjusts from 5-75lbs in 2.5lb increments, and for the serious lifters there is also an add-on kit which allows each dumbbell to handle 120lbs.
Although adjusting the weight is pretty quick and painless, Ironmasters are certainly not the leaders in this department.
On the plus side, the welded steel and chrome-plated handles make these dumbbells very heavy duty and sturdy, meaning the weights won’t slip about like some other brands, and, also, they will last for generations.
And, please, don’t go chucking them around your girlfriend’s laminate floor like it’s Apollo Creed’s gym in Rocky III, or you’ll be in for it!
Another advantage of these adjustable dumbbells is that, unlike, say, the Powerblocks, they feel like traditional dumbbells – allowing for good flexibility when lifting.
The stand (which is included free) takes up about 2 square feet.
A nice ornament for any room, especially if you’re after that industrial, Blade Runner kind of look.
Easy and flexible to use, highly durable, and perfect if you’re looking for something that feels like a traditional dumbbell.
Each Weider SpeedWeight 120 dumbbell adjusts from 15-60lbs in 5lb increments, and, in a similar fashion to the Bowflex dumbbells, changing weight merely requires twisting a little knob (oo-err).
Weider also throw in a free weight stand and storage plates, in addition to a 90-day warranty.
A huge plus of these dumbbells is that they are easily among the most comfortable to use.
Like a finely honed boob or Big Mac, the ‘ergonomic hand grips’ are an absolute pleasure to hold.
Easy-to-use, take up little room, and without doubt are the most comfortable dumbbells on the list.
Each Universal Power-Pak 445 dumbbell can adjust from 4-45 lbs, in 5 increments.
Plus, changing weights is easily and quickly accomplished by the turning of a dial.
Their non-slip rubber handles mean they are very comfortable to use, and a sturdy little stand is included too.
They also look like miniature space ships, which, for me, is definitely a bonus.
However, the biggest advantage is the cost.
At $289 – and with a stand included – these are excellent value-for-money.
Easy-to-use, changes weight quickly, and great value-for-money.
Like the Ironmasters, these guys are manufactured from chrome plated steel, making them fairly heavy duty, and their economical design minimises space effectively.
The shiny metallic look of the Bayou Fitness Pair also makes them look like something Buck Rogers would lift if he were a bodybuilder.
$260 for the 50lb dumbbells also makes the Bayou Fitness Pair the clear winners when it comes to cost.
An absolute steal compared to some of the other brands.
Easy-to-use, sturdy, comfortable, and the cheapest on the list!
These dumbbells were the first of their kind, and they are still considered by many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts to be the best adjustable dumbbells on the market.
They are certainly the most expensive on this list, and they might look a lot like miniature shopping trolleys with handles in the middle, but they are the brand of choice for a reason.
Unlike many of the other dumbbells, there are no plates to be dealt with; like a weight stack at a gym, you simply change weight by moving a pin.
This makes the Powerblock Elite 90 adjustable dumbbells unbelievably convenient.
Being able to jump from 25lbs to 100lbs in a matter of seconds makes these adjustable dumbbells well worth the money.
Navigating your way through supersets, drop-sets and pyramids is very easy to do when using the Powerblocks.
They also adjust from 5-90lbs, in 5lb increments (never used this word so much in all my life!), making them the brand of choice for heavy lifters.
And, as an extra bonus, they also come with an unequalled ten year warranty.
The brand of choice for many, Powerblocks are extremely durable and the unmatched leader when it comes to adjusting weights quickly and easily.
Pricey but worth it.
There we have it, six of the very best adjustable dumbbells on the market.
So what do I recommend?
Well, if you’ve got the money and are serious about training, the Powerblocks are the industry leaders for a reason.
A great product which has stood the test of time – and the undisputed leader when it comes to changing weights quickly and easily.
If you can’t afford the Powerblocks, but still have a fair bit of cash to spend, I’d go for the Ironmasters.
The fact that they look and feel like a traditional dumbbell is a huge plus, and they are sturdy and very durable.
Failing that, if you’re constrained by a budget, and are looking for cheap adjustable dumbbells that won’t fall apart instantly, then you can’t go wrong with the Bayou Fitness Pair.
Don’t let their relative low cost fool you – they’re still great dumbbells which are durable, well-made and very easy-to-use.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on any of the adjustable dumbbells on this list – or if there are any products that aren’t on the list that you think should be – I’d love to hear from you!
Just drop me a message in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.