Are dumbbells worth buying?

Are Dumbbells Worth Buying? Here’s What Beginners Need To Know To Make A Decision.

Many people who like the idea of home workouts are also tempted by dumbbells. But most beginners are also undecided about spending their cash on said dumbbells. If you don’t want to waste time and money purchasing the wrong home gym equipment, then stick around. Today I’ll be explaining if dumbbells are worth buying!

In general, dumbbells are worth buying. They are an affordable way to build muscle and lose fat at home. The dumbbell should be from a reputable brand, be heavy enough to reach the specified training goals, and have the required weight increments for progression.

Having just taken the plunge to buy myself a pair of Powerblock dumbbells, I know how difficult it is to make the decision.

So here’s my personal research and experience with buying dumbbells.

Let’s jump right in.

Best Value For Money Dumbbells

Dumbbells Are Expensive: But Are They Worth Buying?

Why dumbbells are so expensive

If you’ve even had a brief look online, you’ll know that dumbbells aren’t the cheapest piece of kit.

So let’s address the first elephant in the room- why are dumbbells so expensive?!

Dumbbells are expensive because they need to be designed, manufactured, and shipped. Design and manufacturing often have a moderate cost. But dumbells are expensive to ship due to their weight. This makes it costly for dumbbells to reach the customer from the manufacturer and retailer.

You should remember that dumbbells also have a low price:weight ratio.

In other words, they don’t sell for very much compared to how heavy they are!

They also require careful packaging to prevent damage in transit.

It’s also important to note that most retailers provide free shipping. So the shipping costs are generally built into the final retail price.

Finally, the demand is currently very high.

This is why so many dumbbell brands and companies exist.

Combined, these reasons help to paint a clearer picture of why dumbbells are so expensive!

Dumbbells Are Worth Buying For Beginners & Pros.

Dumbbells are worth buying for beginners.

Many beginners enjoy the idea of weight training. They just don’t know the best option to do so.

“Should I buy gym equipment for the home?”

“Or should I just pay the gym membership?”

The cost-comparison table below will help you decide if you should buy dumbbells or go to the gym:

Resistance Training MethodTypical Initial CostTypical Ongoing CostOngoing Annual CostSuitable For Beginners?
Dumbbells$400$0$0Yes
Barbell & Rack$1000+$0$0No
Kettlebell Set$600+$0$0Yes
Resistance Bands$50$0$0Yes
Body Weight Training$0$0$0Yes
Gym Membership$60$60 / month$720Yes
Based on personal experience, research, and current market prices.

Generally speaking, the gym requires a smaller short-term investment but a larger long-term investment.

A gym will also provide you with everything you need.

In contrast, home weights are the complete opposite.

They require a larger short-term investment, but there are no long-term costs.

Therefore home weights require you to spend more money upfront compared to a gym membership.

So if you buy home equipment, you better be 100% committed to using it!

But why use dumbbells over the other free weights?

Here are the differences in results you can expect from each training method:

As you can see, dumbbells are worth buying for beginners looking for the best balance in functionality, flexible training results, and cost-effectiveness!

You may be interested in checking out my other article for more information on how to build and use a dumbbell-only home gym.

Achieve Different Training Goals At Home Using Dumbbells.

What you can do with dumbbells- cardio, strength, muscle building, and fat-burning

Aside from price concerns, most beginners simply don’t know what they can achieve with dumbbells (otherwise the choice to buy wouldn’t be so difficult!).

Here are the types of workouts you can do with dumbbells:

Training GoalReps Per SetRecommended WeightProtein Intake
(g/lb of bodyweight)
Calorie Intake
(% of maintenance)
Build Strength3-690% 1RM1.0 to 1.5g+10% to +15%
Build Muscle & Tone8-1270-80% 1RM1.0 to 1.5g+5% to +10%
Get Ripped8-1570-80% 1RM1.0 to 1.5g-5% to -10%
Burn Fat & HIIT8-1560-70% 1RM1.0 to 1.5g-10% to -15%
Cardio & Endurance15-25+40-60% 1RM0.5g0% (maintenance)
How to workout with dumbbells

Note: 1RM stands for 1 repetition max. It refers to the maximum weight you lift in one go for a specific exercise.

You can see that by changing the reps, weight, and nutrition, you can use dumbbells to achieve different training goals.

Regardless of your goal, you should work each muscle with 10-20 sets per week.

Rest time between sets should usually be around 1 minute 30 seconds.

But rest times will vary depending on your goal.

Generally speaking, lower and heavier reps require more rest time and vice versa.

Here are some of the dumbbell exercises you can use to reach your training goal:

  • Bench press- chest and arms.
  • Shoulder press- shoulders and arms.
  • Rows- back and arms.
  • Squats- legs, core, and back.
  • Deadlifts- total body.
  • Lunges- legs, core, and back.
  • Flys- chest and back.
  • Bicep curls- arms.
  • Tricep extensions- arms.
  • Weighted ab exercises- core.

As you can see, dumbbells are well worth buying for beginners to reach a variety of training goals!

Some of these exercises require a weight bench to gain the full training benefits for that exercise. You might be interested in my other article for 7 dumbbell bench recommendations.

How To Buy Dumbbells For Home Training.

Different types of dumbbell include adjustable plate-loaded, selectorized, and fixed-weight dumbbells

Great, so you’re (slightly?) more convinced that dumbbells are worth it.

But the next obstacle:

“There’s so much variety, how the hell do I avoid choosing the wrong dumbbell and wasting money?!”

Don’t worry.

Here’s a 101 crash course for you to avoid choosing the wrong dumbbell.

There are 3 main kinds of dumbbell types available on the market:

  • Selectorized adjustable dumbbells are moderately priced. They feature rapid weight-adjustment mechanisms and contain a variety of weights in a single unit. They can also be very heavy and this is great for future progression. But the weight-change mechanisms can be fragile.
  • Plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells are cheap and effective. But they have limited weight capacities, are slow to adjust weight, and have large weight increments. They are great if you aren’t 100% commited to training. Metal ones are generally hardwearing.
  • Fixed-weight dumbbell sets are the most expensive. Only suitable for experienced lifters looking to build a home gym. Each weight is preset and you’ll need an entire set to make up all the required weight increments. This makes them expensive but they are also nigh bulletproof.

Additionally, dumbbells can be made from different materials.

But they will always be made from a combination of iron, steel, aluminum, plastic, and/or synthetics (like rubber or neoprene).

The more expensive dumbbells are made mostly from metal and are the most durable.

I would avoid any dumbbell made entirely from plastic (you can go to my other post to find out which dumbbell type I think is the best)….

Choose a dumbbell type based on your budget and needs.

I would also recommend selectorized adjustable dumbbells for most beginners (see below for my recommendations).

Now you have to choose a good dumbbell brand!

You can go to my other article for my most cost-effective dumbbell recommendations for novices.

What Are The Best Dumbbell Brands?

The Best Adjustable Dumbbells for 2021! (I Bought Every One Made)

This is a common question asked by beginners and pros alike:

“What brand dumbbell shall I buy?”

Here are the best dumbbell brands in 2021:

  • Powerblock- OG of selectorized adjustable dumbbells. In my opinion, the best in the market.
  • Bowflex- the other OG of selectorized adjustable dumbbells. Overall reviews aren’t as good as the Powerblocks.
  • Nuobell- produce great looking, high functioning dumbbells, but pricey.
  • Ativafit- affordable, effective, and durable selectorized adjustable dumbbells.
  • Core Home Fitness- good selectorized adjustable dumbbells but only moderate weights.
  • York- OG of the spinlock (plate-loaded) dumbbell.
  • Myo- high quality but pricey fixed-weight dumbbells.
  • Jordan- same as Myo.
  • Rogue- house-range by a reputable US distributor with a heritage in strength training.
  • Mirafit- house-range by a reputable UK distributor.

These are my favorites based on personal research and experience.

But I would always recommend you do your own diligent research.

You can do this by reading reviews.

Here, look for comments on durability, warranties, and how well the weight-change mechanisms work (for adjustable dumbbells).

Now that you’ve chosen a dumbbell brand, it’s time to choose the right weight!

Check out my other article for some of the heaviest adjustable dumbbells you can buy!

Choose A Suitable Dumbbell Weight For Your Level & Goals!

Choosing the right dumbbell weight is probably one of the hardest dilemmas for beginners.

You don’t want to waste money on a dumbbell that’s too light.

Yet you don’t want a dumbbell that’s so heavy that you can’t lift them.

So how heavy should your dumbbells be?

In general, dumbbells should be heavy enough to be challenging to the user. The dumbbell should also be heavy enough for a variety of different exercises in order to perform an effective workout. Finally, a dumbbell should also have redundant weight to allow for future progression.

Here’s what I recommend:

Body WeightRecommended Male Dumbbell WeightRecommended Female Dumbbell Weight
100-150lb50-70lb20-30lb
150-200lb70-90lb30-50lb
200+lb90+50-70lb
How heavy dumbbells should be for male and female beginners.

These are general recommendations (you can find my dumbbell recommendations for men here).

In reality, your ideal dumbbell weight should match your goals.

The more muscle and strength you want to build, the heavier your dumbbells should be.

Additionally, the more redundant weight you have, the longer your dumbbells will last before you need to upgrade.

You should also choose dumbbells with 2.5-5lb weight increments.

This will allow for smooth and steady progression.

If the weight increments are too large, you’ll struggle to progress smoothly.

It’s a bit daunting to choose the right weight, but finding the sweet spot will make your dumbbells well worth buying!

Go to my other article for more information on choosing the right dumbbell weight!

Which Dumbbell Is Best For Beginners?

Best dumbbells for beginners in the UK and USA

If you don’t want to do your own research, fear not.

Here’s a selection of the best dumbbells for beginners:

  1. Core Home Fitness (budget dumbbell in the US). $349, 50lb max weight, 5lb increments.
  2. Ativafit 71.5 (mid-range dumbbell in the US). $571, 70lb max weight, 5lb increments.
  3. Powerblock Elite with stage 3 add-on (premium dumbbell in the US). $627, 90lb max weight, 5lb increments.
  4. Ativafit 44 (budget dumbbell in the UK). £254, 45lb max weight, 6.5lb increments.
  5. Braingain 40 (mid-range dumbbell in the UK). £399, 90lb max weight, 5lb increments.
  6. Bowflex Selectech 1090 (premium dumbbell in the UK). £750, 90lb max weight, 5lb increments.

If you want a good brand name and heavy poundage, then go for a premium.

These also generally have better build quality, a longer lifespan, and longer warranties (but do your own research).

But if you’re happy with a smaller name and lower poundages, then go for a budget model.

You should also note that these are all selectorized dumbbells.

If you aren’t 100% committed to buying, then you may want to try the cheaper spinlock dumbbells first!

Besides, you can always sell them to recoup some money and then upgrade to the selectorized models mentioned above.

Go to my other article to find out if you should buy dumbbells or go to the gym!

My Dumbbell Recommendation

I use and recommend the Powerblock Elites.

Having researched almost 2 dozen different models, I felt the Powerblocks to offer the greatest value for money.

Versatility is the first reason they’re awesome.

The standard model weighs 50lbs which is good beginner-friendly poundage. But as you become stronger, you also have the flexibility to upgrade to 70lbs and 90lbs with the addon kits. This means you don’t need to splash all your cash in one go. Instead, you can pay for the weight that matches your strength level.

90lbs is more than enough for most people to build muscle and lose fat at home, making the Powerblocks pretty future-proof.

They’re also one of few dumbbells on the market that offer 2.5lb increments. These small weight increments are great for smaller isolation-type exercises like the bicep curl and lateral raise.

Secondly, the Powerblocks are compact and the adjustment mechanism is slick to use. They are also protected by a 5 year warranty which is one of the longest in the market.

Thirdly, Powerblocks depreciate the least out of all the selectorized dumbbells. So you can always recuperate your money after you’re finished using them.

You can get the cheapest Powerblock Elite price here.

If you’re from the UK, then the Powerblock Pros (click here for the cheapest price) are actually cheaper than the Elites (the Elites are cheaper than the Pros in the USA).

If your budget is low, then I would recommend these Yes4All spinlock dumbbells (check user-reviews here). They can go as heavy as the Powerbocks, but the weight increments are much higher.

Why Dumbbells May Not Be Worth Buying…

Don't WASTE Your MONEY: Best Adjustable Dumbbells...

So far I’ve talked a lot about the pros of buying dumbbells.

That’s because dumbbells have helped me achieve all my training goals and I know they can help you do the same.

But they aren’t all 100% amazeballs.

Here are some disadvantages to buying dumbbells:

  • Limited weight capacity. No good if you want long-term strength and mass gains.
  • Not the best free weight for the lower body. Low weight and compact shape makes barbells better for leg workouts. Don’t get me wrong, dumbbells are perfectly fine, but barbells are just better.
  • Large initial payment. There’s no escaping that $300-400+ price tag unless you buy second hand.
  • Weight bench is recommended. Dumbbells alone can be effective, but a bench will allow you to get the most from your dumbbells. Bench’s cost around $100-300+.
  • Requires a training program. You wouldn’t drive without directions, and nor should you workout without a structured dumbbell program.
  • Requires space. A dumbbell workout needs around 25 square foot of space. To store dumbbells requires around 4 cubic foot of space.
  • Selectorized dumbbells can be fragile. The selector mechanism can break if dropped. And this isn’t covered by warranty.

These are just things to consider when deciding if dumbbells are worth it!

Check out my other article for a dumbbell workout to get ripped!

Are Dumbbells A Good Investment?

Ok let’s cap things off.

Are dumbbells a good investment?

For the average person, dumbbells are a good investment. They are cheaper to use in the long-term, compared to a gym membership. Additionally, dumbbells are highly versatile free weights that allow every muscle in the body to be trained. They will also last a lifetime if they are looked after.

I’ve been using my current Powerblock dumbbells for 3 years, and don’t expect to stop using them anytime soon.

Additionally, my dad still has his spinlock dumbbells from 30 years ago.

Talk about a long life span!

Conclusion

Today I’ve helped you decide if dumbbells are worth buying.

For most people, they definitely are.

In fact, 76% of Redditors agree that adjustable dumbbells are worth it.

But you should carefully choose your potential dumbbell.

Refer back to the “How To Buy Dumbbells” section of this article to refresh your memory!

Will you be buying a set of dumbbells?

Let me know in the comments!

Alternatively, download the FREE Kalibre Muscle Blueprint PDF to find out EXACTLY how I transformed my skinny body as a hardgainer!

I achieved my training goals and think dumbbells are worth buying

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy).

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