Potential buyers of adjustable dumbbells are often worried about the durability of these free weights. If you are looking to get a pair of adjustable dumbbells for intense home workouts, then you may want to keep reading. Because today I’ll be explaining whether or not adjustable dumbbells can be dropped.
It is not recommended to drop adjustable dumbbells. They have internal moving parts and plastic components that can be damaged upon shock and impact. However, they also feature protective components such as rubber outer casings which allow them to take minor bumps.
Having been through the buyer phase myself, and witnessing my friend’s dumbbells break, I know the reservations about spending hundreds of dollars on your first pair of adjustable dumbbells.
I believe my research and experience will help you make a more informed decision!
- 8 Reasons Why Adjustable Dumbbells Shouldn’t Be Dropped.
- 1) Falling Weights Lead To Injury.
- 2) Voided Warranty When Adjustable Dumbbells Are Dropped.
- 3) Plastic Parts Can Break Upon Impact.
- 4) Adjustable Dumbbell Collars Become Loose When Dropped.
- 5) Weight Plates Can Crack On Impact.
- 6) Locking Mechanisms Fail When Dropped.
- 7) Dumbbell Paint Will Chip When Dropped.
- 8) Falling Dumbbells Damage Belongings.
- 7 Features Protect/Prevent Adjustable Dumbbells Being Dropped.
- What If You Drop Adjustable Dumbbells?
- My Recommendation For Durable Dumbbells
8 Reasons Why Adjustable Dumbbells Shouldn’t Be Dropped.
Generally speaking, you should not let dumbells fall.
And they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to fall from extended heights.
In fact, there’s a reason why most adjustable dumbbells come with a “Do Not Drop” label or warning.
You guessed it…
Here are 8 reasons why adjustable dumbbells shouldn’t be dropped.
1) Falling Weights Lead To Injury.
Dropping your weights is a cardinal sin pic.twitter.com/3F9Ezr82Q6
— Men’s Health UK (@MensHealthUK) January 15, 2016
People often drop weights because of two reasons- fatigue and accidental.
An intense set may fatigue your muscle. And you may become so fatigued that the weights just fall out of your hands….
Or the weight may fall if you accidentally lose your grip.
Regardless of the reason, you should always take measures to prevent weights from falling.
Falling weights not only increase injury risk to yourself but also to others.
Dropping weight can cause unnecessary joint stress (for example if it causes your arm to jerk on the elbow) and also result in crushing injuries if the weight lands on a body part.
You knew that already right?
But did you know that a falling weight can bounce?
And this can also cause injury to anyone/anything unfortunate enough to be in proximity?
That’s why most gym-goers frown upon weight-dropping.
Because it’s outright dangerous!
So consider the safety of yourself as well as others the next time you think about dropping your adjustable dumbbells.
If you’re interested, you can check out my other article to learn about the good and bad of adjustable dumbbells!
2) Voided Warranty When Adjustable Dumbbells Are Dropped.
Any reputable adjustable dumbbell brand comes with some form of guarantee.
Many of these guarantees come in the form of a limited warranty.
This means the manufacturer takes liability to fix your adjustable dumbbell if it malfunctions due to manufacturing defects.
However, being a “limited” warranty, you also need to follow the rules set out by the manufacturer.
And most manufacturers have a “misuse and abuse” clause.
What does this mean?
If your adjustable dumbbells break because of carelessness (e.g. being dropped!), you can expect to pay for the repair!
Here are the policies of popular brands regarding adjustable dumbbells being dropped:
- Powerblock– covers falls up to 12 inches.
- Ironmaster– void warranty.
- Bowflex– void warranty.
- Ativafit– void warranty.
- Nuobell– void warranty.
- MX-Select- void warranty.
- Core Home Fitness– void warranty.
- Nordic Track– void warranty.
As you can see, it’s rare for a manufacturer to repair damaged adjustable dumbbells, free of charge, after they’ve been dropped.
3) Plastic Parts Can Break Upon Impact.
Ask someone this: what material are dumbbells made from?
Most people would assume metal.
Although most adjustable dumbbells ARE primarily iron/steel, most also include plastic parts somewhere in the design.
This is particularly true for selectorized adjustable dumbbells (those that have rapid weight-change mechanisms).
Here are examples of plastic components on selectorized adjustable dumbbells:
- Bowflex adjustable dumbbells have a plastic dial, handle bridge, and internal weight-selector mechanism. You can find more details in my full Bowflex 552 review here.
- Nuobell adjustable dumbbells have plastic components on the weight plates and cradle.
- Powerblock adjustable dumbbells use a plastic pin-selector for weight changes.
Whilst designed to be durable, these plastic components also make adjustable dumbbells vulnerable when dropped.
If dropped from significant heights they will crack or shatter.
You should be especially careful with dial-select adjustable dumbbells.
These invariably have internal components made from plastic, and regular shock impact will cause these parts to fail over time.
Ultimately, plastic components are not uncommon. And they serve as major weak points when your adjustable dumbbells are dropped.
You can go to my comparison post if you can’t decide whether the PowerBlock or Bowflex dumbbells are better.
4) Adjustable Dumbbell Collars Become Loose When Dropped.
Adjustable dumbbells come in two variations- selectorized and plate-loaded.
Plate-loaded dumbbells are generally much more durable than selectorized dumbbells (they have less fragile components).
However, they are still susceptible to damage when dropped.
Plate-loaded dumbbells (such as spin-locks) have a sleeve that allows you to add/remove weight plates.
The sleeves are usually threaded, and this allows the weight plates to be secured by a spin-lock nut.
Additionally, good spin-lock dumbbells have metal sleeves, but cheaper ones can be made from plastic.
Either way, the sleeves can chip when dropped (especially if impact occurs directly on the sleeve).
If this happens, the spin-lock nuts may then become loose.
Not only are loose nuts extremely annoying (the weight plates rattle like hell), but they can also be very dangerous.
If the nut becomes loose, it may become completely undone during a lift, allowing your weight plates to fall off (and most likely onto your head).
Take home message?
It doesn’t matter how sturdy you think your adjustable dumbbells are, they should not be dropped!
If you’re interested in learning how to keep your dumbbells in tip-yop condition, you can check out my dumbbell cleaning and maintenance guide here!
5) Weight Plates Can Crack On Impact.
Cheap dumbbells are made from cheap materials.
This is something you need to know before buying an adjustable dumbbell.
The cheapest adjustable dumbbells feature plastic weight plates, which are basically plastic cases filled with either water or cement.
Although these adjustable dumbbells are budget-friendly, it’s definitely not a good idea to drop them.
That’s because plastic is highly susceptible to cracks.
And after repeated impact, the cracks will eventually split, causing all the contents to spill out.
And guess what?
You can sure as hell be sure you’ll need a replacement after this happens!
Therefore you should think twice about dropping your adjustable dumbbells, especially if they have plastic plates!
Check out my other article to find out if adjustable dumbbells are worth the money!
6) Locking Mechanisms Fail When Dropped.
A locking mechanism prevents the weight plates from falling off a selectorized adjustable dumbbell.
This often takes the form of an internal selector disc that has notches that physically hold the weight plates onto the handle.
Some adjustable dumbbells can also have a twin-locking system, attaching each plate to the adjacent plate as well as the handle.
And guess what?
The locking mechanisms are often made from plastic!
In fact, even expensive models like Bowflex feature plastic locking mechanisms. And these are notorious for failing.
If you repeatedly drop your adjustable dumbbells, the locking mechanism will become damaged.
And when this happens, the weight plates can become loose, start rattling and can even fall off.
The plates can also become misaligned. And this causes the dumbbell to become jammed, causing it to become stuck in the cradle.
The exceptions are the Powerblock and Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells, which feature a more solid construction (Ironmasters are 100% metal).
But it’s still something to consider before allowing your adjustable dumbbells to be dropped!
7) Dumbbell Paint Will Chip When Dropped.
Most people value aesthetics to some degree or another.
And if you’re like most people, you probably want to keep your brand new adjustable dumbbells looking new for as long as possible.
This becomes an issue when your adjustable dumbbells are constantly dropped.
That’s because the outer coating will become damaged over time.
Adjustable dumbbell outer coats are usually:
- Painted metal.
- Coated in a synthetic (rubber/neoprene/urethane).
- Machined to a smooth surface.
Painted surfaces are the cheapest way to coat a dumbbell.
These will become scuffed and scratched in no time.
Synthetic outer coats and machined surfaces are the most durable, and it takes some heavy trauma to permanently damage them.
But it can still happen.
Not only is a chipped surface unsightly, but it also exposes the underlying metal.
And when this happens, rust will quickly spread all over the dumbbell, weakening its integrity.
8) Falling Dumbbells Damage Belongings.
Collateral damage describes damage to objects in proximity of an incident.
And that’s exactly what could happen if you drop your adjustable dumbbells.
A falling dumbbell won’t just damage the dumbbell itself, but also your other belongings.
Floors, furniture, side skirts, benches, chairs, etc.
These can all be damaged by a falling dumbbell.
Also bear in mind most adjustable dumbbells aren’t light either.
They often weigh over 50-pounds each and can cause serious damage, especially if the point of impact occurs on an area of the dumbbell with a small surface area (like the ends of a spin-lock dumbbell).
7 Features Protect/Prevent Adjustable Dumbbells Being Dropped.
Just because adjustable dumbbells shouldn’t be dropped, doesn’t mean they WON’T be dropped.
No matter how careful you are, sometimes the inevitable happens.
The good news is that adjustable dumbbells aren’t as fragile as I may have made them out to be.
Here are 7 features that will prevent/protect you and your adjustable dumbbells when they are dropped.
Just don’t abuse them and you’ll be fine!
1) Adjustable Dumbbells Are Manoeuvrable.
Dumbbells being what they are, naturally weigh less than barbells.
This makes it SAFER (but not safe) to drop a dumbbell, compared to a barbell.
A dumbbell is also more maneuverable, compared to a barbell, due to its compact ergonomics.
This makes it easier to avoid a falling dumbbell during a failed lift.
Now compare this to a barbell- it’s nigh impossible to avoid a falling barbell when you’re laid on a bench!
Additionally, dumbbells have a higher surface area compared to barbells.
If a dumbbell lands on you, the weight is distributed over a wider area, compared to a barbell which concentrates all the weight onto a bar.
And trust me, I’d rather have a 50lb dumbbell fall on my chest than a 100lb barbell (though ideally neither).
This may be reassuring for beginners.
Go to my other article to find out if adjustable dumbbells are safe!
2) A Flat Base Reduces Accidental Falls.
Most adjustable dumbbells have a flat base, and this prevents them from rolling on an uneven surface.
For example- the Bowflex-style adjustable dumbbells have a flattened area where the weight contacts the ground, whilst the Powerblock and Ironmaster dumbbells have a rectangular shape.
This stops the dumbbell from rolling onto you, your friends, and your belongings.
When unused, selectorized adjustable dumbbells are also housed in cradles.
These are flat and have a low center of gravity, again, preventing the dumbbell from rolling and falling.
So in theory, the only time an adjustable dumbbell should be dropped is if it’s dropped from your hands!
3) Synthetic Casings Absorb Impact.
Most adjustable dumbbells feature a synthetic outer-casing of some sort.
This casing protects the dumbbell from scuffs and prevents the weight plates from cracking.
Synthetic casing materials include:
These materials are all hardwearing enough to protect the dumbbell, but also pliable enough to absorb shock impact.
The outer casing also reduces impact damage to your floor and other belongings if the dumbbell is dropped.
Learn how to choose your perfect home dumbbell in my adjustable dumbbell buyers guide!
4) Knurling Prevents Handle Slipping.
Knurling describes the cross-hatching etched into a dumbbell handle.
The purpose of knurling is to optimize grip and prevent the dumbbell from slipping out of your hand.
As a result, knurling also reduces the likelihood of accidentally dropping your adjustable dumbbell.
Some cheaper dumbbell models may also feature a rubber handle sleeve instead of direct knurling. These are often more comfortable for beginners.
Either way, knurling helps stop your adjustable dumbbells from being dropped!
5) Plate-Lock Mechanisms Secure Adjustable Dumbbells.
Plate-locking mechanisms serve to secure the weight plates onto the adjustable dumbbell.
They can take different forms depending on the type of adjustable dumbbell. And different locking mechanisms are more susceptible to fall damage than others.
Selectorized adjustable dumbbells have an internal locking mechanism.
It usually comprises an internal disc that rotates with the weight-select dial, locking the desired weight in place.
These are the most vulnerable to being damaged by falls.
Plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells usually feature either a spin-lock nut or a spring-loaded collar.
These are the most durable.
Ironmaster dumbbells have a patented quick-lock system which is like a hybrid between a spin-lock and selectorized dumbbell.
They are also quite durable.
All locking mechanisms serve one purpose- to prevent weight plates from falling off and you dropping the dumbbell!
Check out my other article to decide what’s better for you- home dumbbells or gym membership!
6) Fixed-Components Are Durable.
Adjustable dumbbells all feature moving parts. It’s just an inherent tradeoff for their convenient functionality.
These parts are also the most vulnerable.
Therefore it’s important for the moving parts to be concealed.
After all, concealing the vulnerable parts will reduce the likelihood that the dumbbell breaks on impact.
The good news?
These components are usually hidden inside the dumbbell.
So if you do drop the dumbbell, these parts won’t take the brunt of the impact.
Having said that, you shouldn’t be dropping your dumbbells anyway. But we’ve already established that…
If you’re looking to buy some dumbbells, you may be interested in my other article which reveals how much you should pay for dumbbells.
7) Rounded Edges Are Safe When Dropped.
The majority of adjustable dumbbells have rounded or soft edges.
For example, Bowflex dumbbells have rounded weight plates and dial, whilst the Powerblocks have flat faces and curved edges.
This design feature reduces the risk of cuts and other injuries when the dumbbell is dropped.
It also reduces damage to your belongings since rounded/flat edges also increase surface area for the point of impact.
Furthermore, the outer synthetic coating reduces any physical damage which may be caused when a dumbbell is dropped.
Check out my other article for a guide to dumbbells and other free weights, and which is best to reach your training goals!
What If You Drop Adjustable Dumbbells?
So far, it’s clear that you shouldn’t drop your adjustable dumbbells.
But in reality, no matter what precautions you take, your dumbbells will take a few knocks during their lifetime.
So what should you do if you drop your adjustable dumbbells?
The first and most obvious thing to do is prevent it from happening in the first place.
When you lift weights, you should always lower them carefully after you’ve finished using them.
This is just common weight lifting good practice.
You should also store them in a stable and even-grounded location after your workout.
Here’s what to do if you drop and damage your adjustable dumbbells:
- Assess the damage before taking the next step. Certain types of damage can occur from natural use anyway. For example, the plastic internal weight-select mechanism in Bowflex dumbbells are prone to breaking. And the company knows this. This could affect their decision to give you a free repair.
- Contact the manufacturer to see where you stand. Some brands such as Powerblock have leeway for the height of the drop. They could consider offering a free repair if the fall is within the threshold. Unfortunately, the decision is entirely at their discretion.
- Pay for manufacturer repair if needed. Just because they can’t fix it for free doesn’t mean they won’t fix it for a price. It’s around $200+ (depending on brand).
- Or attempt a self fix. Many popular brands have first- and third-party parts available online. There are also lots of instructional videos on Youtube to fix your adjustable dumbbells.
- Consider selling for parts if you want another dumbbell. Just because you can’t do the fix, doesn’t mean someone else can’t. Now do some research for a better pair of dumbbells!
My Recommendation For Durable Dumbbells
Durability was a major concern for me when I was researching the ideal dumbbell to buy.
Having researched over 2 dozen different dumbbell models, I eventually took the plunge with the Powerblock Elites. You can find the results of my user-testing here.
The reviews are 95% great and the majority of users gave a positive comment regarding durability.
And I agree!
All the Powerblock dumbbells are constructed from a heavy-duty steel that feels like it’s built like a tank. I’ve actually dropped them a few times (unintentionally of course) after some intense bench press sets and they’ve survived.
They’ve developed a few scratches, but that’s mainly because I’m an idiot (they were dropped on a concrete floor).
The powder-coated finish is durable and should prove to be scratch-resistant if you’re sensible.
But overall, I’ve not had any issues with them.
They also come with a 5-year warranty. But that doesn’t protect the dumbbell from drops, so be careful.
The best thing about the Powerblocks is that the weight adjustment mechanism is minimalistic, unlike the dial-a-weight dumbbells which have intricate moving parts. For me, that’s one less area to worry about the Powerblocks breaking.
Those from the UK will find the Powerblock Sports to be cheaper and better than the Elites.
If you want adjustable dumbbells that are 100% bulletproof, then the Yes4All spinlock dumbbells will handle any drop you throw at it (within reason of course!).
I’ve explained why adjustable dumbbells shouldn’t be dropped.
Adjustable dumbbells feature vulnerable moving parts which allow them to change weight so conveniently.
The heavy impact from a high drop will damage these parts in the long term (if not immediately).
Furthermore, manufacturer warranties do not cover damage caused by dropping an adjustable dumbbell.
Not to mention falling free weights are outright dangerous.
This being said, adjustable dumbbells do have features that allow a degree of protection from knocks.
But ultimately, you should look after your adjustable dumbbells and not throw them around!
What other concerns do you have regarding adjustable dumbbell durability?
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)