Picking up a dumbbell set

For home use, most experts recommend adjustable dumbbells, which allow weight to be added or reduced as needed, over individual dumbbells. As you become stronger, you will need progressively heavier weights to reap the same benefits, which may require a number of individual dumbbell pairs. Instead of having 10 individual dumbbell pairs in varying weights, an adjustable set can grow with you as you gain fitness. On the downside, adjustable sets aren't as durable as fixed-weight dumbbells.

When shopping for dumbbells, it's a good idea to look for a weight that you can lift for at least three sets of 12 repetitions (reps) each. You should be able to complete each rep with good form, but your muscles should feel fatigued at the end of each set. Some experts recommend that beginners use lighter weights for more reps, while advanced weightlifters should choose heavier weights for fewer reps.

  • Buy dumbbells in various weights. If you are a beginner, one set of dumbbells can get you started, but you'll want to eventually get heavier weights so your strength training doesn't plateau.
  • Test the adjustment mechanism. For adjustable or selectorized dumbbells, the adjustment mechanism should be smooth and easy to use. The remaining weight plates shouldn't stick to the handle. 
  • Look for rubber or neoprene coatings. Coated dumbbells preserve your floors. All-metal dumbbells can damage your floors if dropped, but some come with a rubber coating on the weight plates to prevent this. Neoprene-coated weights are also gentler on your floors. Clearly, this doesn't matter so much if you're using your weights in a garage or basement.
  • Check out the weights at a retail store before you buy. At a store, you can make sure the grip is comfortable and natural, and you can also ensure the dumbbells aren't too bulky to complete your desired exercises.  
  • Invest in a personal training session. If you are new to strength training, a personal training session is a great idea. A trainer can run through exercises with you and make sure you know the proper form to use to prevent injury.

Back to top