Different dumbbell types

15 Different Dumbbell Types: With The Benefits And Drawbacks For Each Kind Explained

If you’ve ever looked online for dumbbells, you may have felt overwhelmed by the sheer variety of different kinds. I know I was! This post explains the 15 different dumbbell types, as well as the benefits and drawbacks for each kind.

Dumbbells can be broadly classified into 3 main types- fixed-weight, spinlock adjustable, and selectorized adjustable. Each type differs in the way they adjust their weight. They can also be further sub-categorized into 15 different kinds based on the shape and materials they are made from.

Below, I’ll explain what these 15 types of dumbbells are, and also give you an overview of the good and bad points for each.

Here’s a quick summary to get started:

Chart showing which type of dumbbell is the best.

The 3 Main Types Of Dumbbells

The 3 main types of dumbbell you can buy.

The 3 main types of dumbbells mainly differ in how they adjust their weight, as follows:

  • Fixed-weight hex or round dumbbells- these are basically two weights fixed onto either end of a handle. These dumbbells cannot adjust weight. You need a set of dumbbells to provide all the weight increments you require for your training.
  • Spinlock adjustable dumbbells- these comprise a handle bar with threaded ends and seperate weight plates. You change the weight by adding or removing weight plates and securing them using the “spinlock” nut.
  • Selectorized dumbbells- these consist of a dumbbell unit that contains multiple weight settings. You change the weight using a switch mechanism that’s unique to each manufacturer. But the mechanisms usually fall into 3 sub-categories; handle-twist, dial-a-weight, or pin-select.

Fixed-Weight Hex And Round Types Of Dumbbell

Fixed weight dumbbells have two hexagonal, also known as hex dumbbells, or round heads on either end. It has a pre-manufactured weight that cannot be removed, changed, or adjusted. Therefore multiple dumbbells are needed to form a complete set to provide all the required weight increments.

Pros and cons of fixed-weight round and hex dumbbells.

Fixed-weight dumbbells are generally inconvenient for home gyms.

Why?

Since each dumbbell handles a specific weight, you need multiple dumbbells to provide you with all the weight increments you need.

A typical set goes from 5-50lbs, or more, in 5lb increments.

This equates to 10 individual dumbbells which cost a lot of money and take up a lot of space.

Fixed-weight hex or round dumbbells are generally used by most commercial gyms. That’s because, compared to the other types of dumbbells, they have unbeatable durability, take a lot of weight, and usually last for many years of heavy use. They can be dropped and knocked without malfunctioning.

Spinlock Adjustable Types Of Dumbbell

Spinlock dumbbells consist of a handle and weight plates. Different combinations of weight plates can be removed and added to form different weight loads. The handle has threaded grooves on either side which allows a spin lock nut to tighten the weight plates against the handle.

Pros and cons of spinlokc adjustable types of dumbbell.

These are the old-school type of adjustable dumbbell that were popular in many home gyms back in the day.

Why?

A single spinlock dumbbell allows the user to lift varying amounts of weight by simply changing the weight plate combination.

Think of them as a mini barbell.

Depending on what model you buy, a typical spinlock dumbbell goes from 5-60lbs per dumbbell (and sometimes even more).

Not only do they save you money by replacing multiple dumbbell weights, but they also save you a lot of space since the weight plates can be stacked on top of one another during storage.

These are gradually being ousted by the newer and modern selectorized adjustable dumbbells (which I’ll discuss below).

Selectorized Adjustable Types Of Dumbbell

Selectorized dumbbells consist of a single unit with multiple weight settings. A selector mechanism allows the user to quickly choose a weight, pull it off the main unit, and leave the remaining weight plates behind. Typical weights for these dumbbells range from 20lbs to 90lbs.

Pros and cons of the new types of selectorized adjustable dumbbells.

These are the new type of dumbbell that currently dominate the market.

Think of them like modern-day spinlock adjustable dumbbells.

But instead of fumbling around with the spinlock nut, you can effortlessly change weight using a flick of a switch or a turn of a dial.

There’s a wide array of models available, each differing in its max weight capacity and how the switch mechanism operates.

Premium dumbbells usually contain heavier poundages and more innovative adjustment mechanisms.

These are versatile dumbbells that cater to all training levels.

But they are also some of the most expensive kinds of dumbbells out there.

You can check out my other post to find out how much adjustable dumbbells cost.

The 15 Sub-Types Of Dumbbell

The 3 main dumbbell types can be further subcategorized into 15 different kinds, based on the kinds of material they are manufactured from, shape, and functionality, as follows:

Dumbbell
Sub-Type
Dumbbell
Main
Type
MaterialsDurabilityMax
Weight
Per Dumbbell
Cost
Studio hand weightFixed-weightIron, steel, rubber urethane, neopreneHigh15lbsModerate
Bare cast iron hexFixed-weightIron, steelHigh80lbsModerate
Rubber-coated hexFixed-weightIron, steel, rubber Very high125lbModerate
Urethane/neoprene-coated hexFixed-weightIron, steel, urethane, neopreneVery high125lbHigh
Rubber-coated roundFixed-weightIron, steel, rubber Very high150lbModerate
Urethane/neoprene-coated roundFixed-weightIron, steel, urethane, neopreneVery high150lbHigh
Vinyl water-filledFixed-weightVinyl, plastic, steelVery low20lbVery low
Vinyl cement-filled spinlockSpinlock adjustableVinyl, plastic, steel, cementLow30lbLow
Spinlock with barbell connectorSpinlock adjustableIron, steel, rubber urethane, neopreneModerate25lbLow
Chrome-plated spinlockSpinlock adjustableIron, steel, chromeModerate30lbLow
Bare cast iron spinlockSpinlock adjustableIron, steelHigh45lbLow
Steel Olympic dumbbell handleSpinlock adjustableIron, steelVery high200lbVery high
Handle-twist selectorizedSelectorized adjustableIron, steel, rubber urethane, neopreneModerate90lbVery high
Dial-a-weight selectorizedSelectorized adjustableIron, steel, rubber urethane, neopreneModerate90lbVery high
Pin-selectorizedSelectorized adjustableIron, steel, rubber urethane, neopreneModerate90lbVery high
Specs are typical- not absolute- for an average pair of dumbbells in each category type.

Note: these are average specs for a pair of typical dumbbells in each subcategory. As with all products, you get a degree of variation in function depending on the brand, model, and price of the dumbbell.

Here’s how much you should expect to pay for a dumbbell pair in each price subcategory:

  • Very low- around $40.
  • Low- around $75.
  • Moderate- around $100.
  • High- around $125.
  • Very high- more than $175.

You should also note that “max weight per dumbbell” simply refers to the maximum weight setting that the dumbbell provides. It doesn’t take into account the individual weight increments provided by adjustable dumbbells.

For example: a 90lb selectorized dumbbell usually has 15 or more weight increments that take it from 5lbs all the way to 90lbs.

Next, I’ll give you examples for each dumbbell sub-type.

1) Studio Hand Weight Dumbbells

Hand weight dumbbells- also called studio dumbbells- are miniature weights designed for light resistance training. They are usually made from a solid iron or steel core and coated with rubber or urethane. A typical weight for these dumbbells ranges from 2.5lbs to 15lbs (1kg to 7.5kg) per dumbbell.

Example of a hand weight type of dumbbell.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: fixed-weight.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: urethane, neoprene, rubber.
  • Durability: High.
  • Weight capacity: ~15lbs
  • Cost: Moderate

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of studio hand weight dumbbells:

ProsCons
Affordable and durableLimited in weight
Small space-saving designWeight cannot be upgraded
Synthetic outer coating provides grip and protectionCan be expensive for the weight they provide

These are the lightest types of dumbbell you can buy and are mostly used in fat-burning HIIT-style aerobics classes.

They are extremely convenient for home use given their small size, neoprene outer coat (prevents scratches to your floor when dropped), and durable construction.

Most hand-weight dumbbells are sold as singles, but some like the Hola Hathas come in sets containing different increments.

Handweights make great starter dumbbells for beginner women to tone, burn fat, and build some muscle at home.

You can find the cheapest Hola Hatha dumbbell price here.

You can also check out my other post to find out how much you should expect to pay for dumbbells.

2) Bare Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells

Bare cast iron hex dumbbells comprise two hexagonal heads attached to a central handle. They are made from a solid cast iron mold and left uncoated. Each dumbbell is a weight that cannot be changed or adjusted. A typical weight for these types of dumbbells ranges from 2.5lbs to 80lbs.

Papababe cast iron hex dumbell example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: fixed-weight.
  • Inner material: solid cast iron.
  • Outer material: solid cast iron (uncoated).
  • Durability: high.
  • Weight capacity: ~80lbs.
  • Cost: moderate.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of bare cast iron hex dumbbells:

ProsCons
Extremely durable and resistant to knocksCast iron leaves a metallic smell on the hands
Heavy weight capacityCan scratch or dent flooring if dropped
Relatively cheap for fixed-weight dumbbellsBare cast iron does not provide the best grip

These are the cheapest kind of fixed-weight dumbbells you can buy.

They have a simple and extremely affordable design that makes them great for a casual home gym.

The hexagonal-shaped head prevents them from rolling on the floor, making them great for floor-based exercises like the dumbbell push-up, sit-up, and squat.

They will likely last you your entire lifetime.

Cast iron hex dumbbells like the Papababes can be sold as singles or as a set (it’s cheaper overall to buy them as a set).

They’re ideal for male and female casual beginners who are looking to tone their arms, build some definition, and lose weight at home.

You can find the cheapest Papababe dumbbell price here.

You may also be interested in my other post to find out what dumbbell weight (kg) you need for your biceps.

3) Rubber-Coated Hex Dumbbell

Rubber-coated hex dumbbells are made from two hexagonal heads joined by a central handle. They are usually constructed from an iron or steel core and the hex heads are coated in rubber. The weight of each dumbbell is predefined. A typical weight for each dumbbell ranges from 2.5lbs to 125lbs.

Amazon basics rubber hex dumbbell example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: fixed-weight.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: rubber.
  • Durability: very high.
  • Weight capacity: ~125lbs.
  • Cost: moderate.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of rubber-coated hex dumbbells:

ProsCons
Very durable and resistant to knocks, drops, and scratchesRubber emits a smell that some people find unpleasant
High weight capacityA complete set is expensive and occupies a lot of space compared to adjustable dumbbells
Comfortable etched handle grips (knurling)Rubber can expand and crack in extreme weather conditions

These are some of the most durable types of fixed-weight dumbbells (other than neoprene-coated dumbbells).

They are mostly used by home gym enthusiasts and commercial gym owners due to their durability and the protective aspect given by rubber (they’re less likely to dent a floor compared to bare iron).

Rubber-ended hex dumbbells like Amazon Basics are usually sold as singles, but some brands also offer complete sets.

They’re great for male and female beginners who need a long-lasting dumbbell to tone their bodies, burn fat, and do general fitness workouts at home.

You can find the cheapest Amazon Basics dumbbell price here.

4)Urethane/Neoprene-Coated Hex Dumbbell

Neoprene and urethane hex dumbbells comprise two hexagonal heads joined by a central handle. They are mostly constructed from a steel core and the hex heads are coated with neoprene or urethane. A typical weight for each dumbbell ranges from 2.5lbs to 125lbs.

Ziva fitness is an example of a urethane hex dumbbell.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: fixed-weight.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: urethane or neoprene.
  • Durability: very high.
  • Weight capacity: ~125lbs
  • Cost: high.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of urethane and neoprene hex dumbbells:

ProsCons
Urethane and neoprene has a premium look and feelMost expensive type of fixed-weight dumbbell
Does not scratch your floor unlike rubberRequires a lot of space to store and use
Does not emit a chemical smellSynthetic layer can begin to wear after 10+ years of heavy use

These are the second most expensive types of dumbbell and are mainly used by home gym enthusiasts and gym owners.

Compared to rubber, urethane is much stronger, does not mark your floor, is chip-resistant, and is generally more durable.

The hexagonal shape prevents them from rolling and makes them stable for floor exercises like the dumbbell push-up.

As with most fixed-weight dumbbells, they can be bought as singles or as a set, the latter being cheaper overall.

They’re perfect for current/aspiring bodybuilders and powerlifters who need a heavy and durable dumbbell to reach their training goals.

The Ziva fitness dumbbells (you can find the cheapest price here) are good examples of urethane-coated hex dumbbells.

You can also go to my other article to find out what dumbbells are considered to be heavy.

5) Rubber-Coated Round Dumbbell

These are round versions of the rubber-coated hex dumbbells described in point #3.

As such, they come with a similar array of benefits and drawbacks.

Balelinko is an example of a rubber round type of dumbbell.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: fixed-weight.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: rubber.
  • Durability: very high.
  • Weight capacity: ~150lbs.
  • Cost: moderate.

The main difference between these types of dumbbells and their hex counterparts is obviously their shape (round vs hex).

Round heads are generally less bulky and have a streamlined feel.

This isn’t so important in the lighter-weight denominations.

But on the heavier-weight denominations, round dumbbells are more comfortable to lift due to their more compact design.

For example, I find hex dumbbells can bang into each other at the top of a heavy dumbbell bench press.

They’re also easier to hold against your chest in exercises like the weighted crunch.

However, they have a tendency to roll around on the floor, unlike hex dumbbells.

The Balelinko dumbbells (you can find the cheapest price here) are a good-value example of rubber-coated round dumbbells.

You might also be interested in my other post for 36 different types of dumbbell exercises.

6) Urethane/Neoprene-Coated Round Dumbbell

These are round versions of the urethane/neoprene-coated hex dumbbells described in point #4.

As such, they come with a similar array of benefits and drawbacks.

Rep fitness fixed-weight urethane rubber round dumbbell.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: fixed-weight.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: neoprene or rubber.
  • Durability: very high.
  • Weight capacity: ~150lbs.
  • Cost: high.

These are the most expensive types of dumbbell and are mainly used by bodybuilders, powerlifters, home gym enthusiasts, and commercial gyms.

As with all fixed-weight dumbbells that are round, this type of dumbbell feels compact, is durable, handles heavy weights, and is comfortable to use.

If you walk into a decent commercial gym, these will be the type of dumbbells you find sitting in the middle of their weight room.

Gyms usually prefer these over their hex counterparts due to their better lifting ergonomics (see above #5).

They’re ideal for lifters at all training levels.

The REP Fitness dumbbells (you can find the cheapest link here) are a good example of urethane-coated round dumbbells.


If you would like to learn how to look after your dumbbells properly for maximum lifespan, you can check out my dumbbell cleaning and maintenance guide!

7) Vinyl-Coated Water-Filled Dumbbell

Water-filled dumbbells consist of vinyl balloons joined by a central handle. These balloons contain water. Therefore these dumbbells are similar to regular dumbbells, but weight is provided by water instead of metals. A typical weight for these kinds of dumbbells ranges from 2.5lbs to 20lbs.

Deiris water-filled dumbbell example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: spinlock adjustable.
  • Inner material: water.
  • Outer material: vinyl or plastic weight plate, steel handle.
  • Durability: very low
  • Weight capacity: ~20lb.
  • Cost: very low.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of water-filled dumbbells:

ProsCons
Cheapest type of dumbbellNot very durable
Portable and convenient for travel workoutsCauses a mess if the water-filled container bursts
Safe for most people to use and won’t damage the floor if droppedVery limited in weight

Water-filled dumbbells are some of (if not the) cheapest types of dumbbell you can buy.

They’re mainly for casual beginners who work out for general fitness.

They can also be a convenient type of travel dumbbell for those who like to work out on a business trip or vacation.

Unless you’ll genuinely benefit from the travel perks of these dumbbells, I would not usually recommend them.

They’re cheap, not very heavy, and not durable at all.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested in them, then the Deiris dumbbells (you can find the cheapest price here) have relatively good reviews for a water-filled dumbbell.

8) Vinyl-Coated Cement-Filled Spinlock Dumbbell

Cement-filled spinlock dumbbells comprise a central steel handle and removable weight plates. The plates are usually made from a plastic or vinyl casing and filled with solid cement or concrete. A typical weight for these kinds of dumbbells ranges from 10lbs to 30lbs.

Yaheetech is an example of a plastic cement filled type of spinlock adjustable  dumbbell.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: spinlock adjustable.
  • Inner material: cement or concrete.
  • Outer material: vinyl, plastic.
  • Durability: low.
  • Weight capacity: ~30lbs.
  • Cost: low.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of plastic cement-filled dumbbells:

ProsCons
Relatively cheap for the weight they providePlastic weight plate shell can crack over time
Replaces multiple dumbbells to save spaceLimited weight unsuitable for building significant amounts of muscle
Convenient for beginners to start resistance trainingSlow and cumbersome to adjust the weight

These are some of the most popular types of dumbbell for beginners due to their convenient design.

They are suitable for novices to train in small home spaces such as a shared house or condo.

These types of dumbbells are usually sold in pairs (e.g. the Yaheetechs), but not always.

So watch out for dodgy sellers.

You won’t build a huge amount of muscle with these, but they can help a beginner to tone their arms, gain some definition, and lose weight at home.

You can find the cheapest Yaheetech price here.

Or you might be interested in my other post to find out if 10lb (5kg) dumbbells are enough for you.

9) Spinlock Dumbbells With Barbell Connector

Some spinlock dumbbells have a barbell connector accessory that allows the user to join the handles into a barbell shape. This provides a beginner with an affordable and space-effective way to perform barbell training at home. A typical weight for these dumbbell types is around 25lbs per dumbbell.

Example of a spinlock adjustable dumbbell with barbell connector.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: spinlock adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: iron, steel, rubber, urethane, or neoprene.
  • Durability: low.
  • Weight capacity: ~25lbs.
  • Cost: low.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of spinlock dumbbells with a barbell connector:

ProsCons
Cheapest way to perform barbell trainingBarbell connectors are usually cheap and not very durable
Space-efficient designSlow and cumbersome use leads to longer workouts
Replaces multiple dumbbell weightsLow weight capacity is not ideal for building muscle

These types of dumbbells are catered for casual lifters who want to add some (very) basic barbell functionality to their home workouts.

Whilst they don’t offer much in terms of weight, they are very affordable and easy to use.

They’re quite gimmicky in my opinion, but they can be appealing for novices who aren’t yet ready to spend their money and space to buy a full-blown barbell set-up.

The Runwe dumbbells (you can find the cheapest price here) has some of the best reviews for this type of dumbbell. They also offer relatively heavy poundages compared to their competitors.

10) Chrome-Plated Spinlock Dumbbells

The design of chrome-plated spinlock dumbbells is just like regular iron spinlocks. However, the handles and weight plates are coated in a layer of protective chrome that prevents corrosion and provides a stylish finish. Typical weights for these dumbbells are around 30lbs.

Balelinko makes a good example of a chrome-plated type of spinlock adjustable dumbbell.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: spinlock adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: chrome-plating.
  • Durability: moderate.
  • Weight capacity: ~30lbs.
  • Cost: low.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of chrome-plated spinlock dumbbells:

ProsCons
Chrome plating reduces the rate of natural wear and tearChrome plating will eventually scratch in most budget dumbbells
Relatively cheap dumbbell for beginners to startNot as robust as urethane or rubber
Durable and space-saving designNot everyone likes the look of chrome

These are some of the best types of dumbbell that are stylish, durable, and affordable all at the same time.

But they are usually capped at around 30lbs per dumbbell, making them most suitable for casual home gyms.

In my opinion, the chrome plating is more for aesthetics than it is for function.

I would choose a bare cast iron spinlock (see next #11) over these if you’re looking for maximum durability.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for something that looks sleek and stylish, the Balelinko chrome dumbbells (find the cheapest price here) have excellent reviews.

11) Bare Cast Iron Spinlock Dumbbell

Bare cast iron spinlock dumbbells are one of the most popular types of dumbbells. They comprise a threaded handle, removable weight plates, and threaded spinlock nuts. They can be painted or left uncoated. Typical weights for these dumbbells range from 20lbs to 45lbs or more.

Yes4all cast iron spinlock adjustable dumbbell example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: spinlock adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid cast iron or steel.
  • Outer material: bare cast iron (uncoated).
  • Durability: high.
  • Weight capacity: ~45lbs.
  • Cost: low.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of bare cast iron spinlock dumbbells:

ProsCons
Durable, space-saving, and simple design that is also effectiveBare iron can leave a metallic smell on your hands
Relatively cheap for the weight they provideCan scratch or dent flooring if dropped
Some models can reach very heavy poundages which are ideal for muscle-buildingSpinlock mechanisms are inherently slow and cumbersome to adjust weight which leads to longer workouts

These are some of the most common types of dumbbells on the market and in home gyms around the world.

Why?

They’re cheap, durable, and offer enough weight well for most people.

Lighter models are great for novices looking to tone their body and lose some fat, whilst the heavier models are great for intermediates who want to build or maintain muscle mass at home.

I’ve owned multiple sets of iron spinlocks in the past, and honestly feel that the Yes4All spinlock range (you can check the cheapest price here) offers the best quality at the most competitive price.

12) Steel Olympic Dumbbell Handle

Olympic dumbbell handles consist of a collared bar from which the user can add or remove Olympic bumper weight plates. These are expensive dumbbells because weight plates need to be purchased separately. But they can be cost-effective for someone who already owns the weight plates.

Olympic dumbbell handle example by Sunny Health.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: spinlock adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: chrome-plated or stainless steel.
  • Durability: very high
  • Weight capacity: ~200lbs.
  • Cost: very high.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of Olympic dumbbell handles:

ProsCons
One of the most durable types of dumbbellPointed ends on the bar can make setup difficult in exercises like the seated shoulder press which requires you to push the dumbbells off the thigh.
Extremely high weight capacityThey are bulky when loaded and can feel awkward for beginners to use
Cost-effective dumbbell for people who already own Olympic barbell weight platesUnnecessarily expensive for a beginner or intermediate who does not already own plates

These are some of the heaviest types of dumbbells you can get for a home gym.

They are mainly used by home gym enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and powerlifters due to the generous amounts of weight they can provide.

But the weight capacity is overkill for the average beginner.

They’re also bulky and awkward to handle for someone who rarely lifts weights.

That said, they are a good cost-effective option for advanced lifters who already own Olympic barbell weight plates.

The Sunny Health Olympic dumbbell bars (you can get the cheapest price here) are one of the most affordable and best-reviewed options on the current market.

13) Handle-Twist Selectorized Dumbbell

Handle-twist selectorized dumbbells adjust the weight by turning the handle. The handle is connected to the internal locking mechanism inside the weight plates, and each turn of the handle allows the user to select a specific weight setting. They typically range from 20-80lbs per dumbbell.

Handle-twist selectorized adjustable example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: selectorized adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: painted metal, rubber, urethane, neoprene.
  • Durability: moderate.
  • Weight capacity: ~90lbs.
  • Cost: very high.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of twist handle selectorized dumbbells:

ProsCons
Replaces multiple dumbbells in one money and space-saving unitUpfront cost is expensive compared to the other dumbbell types
Twisting the handle simultaneously adjusts weights on both sides of the dumbbellSmall lettering located inside the dumbbell can make it difficult to view the weight readout
Adjustment mechanism is located internally which means you don’t have dials sticking outside the main dumbbell unit.Cheap models can be fragile and have higher malfunction rates compared to the other types of selectorized dumbbell

Twist-handle-type selectorized dumbbells are favored by a lot of people because the adjustment mechanism is generally slicker compared to dial-a-weight (see #14) and pin-selector (see #15) variants.

A single handle twist adjusts weight on both sides of the dumbbell at the same time.

In comparison, most dial-a-weight dumbbells need to be adjusted independently on both sides. This is slightly more cumbersome and leads to slightly longer workouts.

Additionally, you don’t get dials sticking out of these dumbbells. This is great for protecting the adjustment mechanism as well as reducing overall bulkiness.

The Core Home Fitness dumbbell (you can find the cheapest price here) is an affordable and highly-rated handle-twist selectorized dumbbell.

14) Dial-A-Weight Selectorized Dumbbell

Dial-a-weight selectorized dumbbells adjust by turning two knobs located on either side of the weight plates. The adjustment mechanism is located separately from the handle. Each turn of the knob allows the user to select their desired weight setting. They typically range from 20-90lbs per dumbbell

Dial-a-weight selectorized adjustable example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: selectorized adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: painted metal, rubber, urethane, neoprene.
  • Durability: moderate.
  • Weight capacity: ~90lbs.
  • Cost: very high.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of dial-a-weight dumbbells:

ProsCons
Each unit replaces multiple dumbbell weights to save the user space and moneyInitial cost is expensive compared to the other types of dumbbell
Dial mechanism is intuitive to use and easy to readDial on both sides of the dumbbell are adjusted independently which leads to slower adjustment times
Contain a higher number of individual weight settings compared to handle-twist Dial is located externally and this makes it susceptible to knocks and bumps

These are the most common types of selectorized dumbbells on the market.

Manufacturers like this type of design because it’s user-friendly and makes it easier for them to fit more weight settings into their dumbbells without compromising the integrity of the internal locking mechanism.

Just be aware that in most models, you have to adjust each side of the dumbbell independently.

This doesn’t add too much time to your workouts, but it can be slightly annoying for some people.

The external location of the dial also makes it vulnerable to knocks and bumps (something to be careful of).

I use and recommend the Bowflex 552s (link for the cheapest price). They provide enough weight for beginners to intermediates to build muscle, tone up, and burn fat at home.

The dial is also slick and durable.

You might also be interested in my other article to find out which dumbbells are best for beginners.

15) Pin-Selectorized Dumbell

Pin-select dumbbells change weight by removing and inserting a pin in the main dumbbell unit. Adjusting the pin position allows the user to select their desired combination of weight plates. These kinds of dumbbells typically range from 50 to 90lbs per dumbbell.

Pin selectorized adjustable example.

Here’s an overview of these types of dumbbell:

  • Kind: selectorized adjustable.
  • Inner material: solid iron or steel.
  • Outer material: painted metal, rubber, urethane, neoprene.
  • Durability: moderate.
  • Weight capacity: ~90lbs.
  • Cost: very high.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of pin-select dumbbells:

ProsCons
Contains multiple weight settings that replace an entire set of dumbbells to save space and moneyOne of the most expensive types of dumbbell
Pin mechanism is sturdy and can be replaced independently from the main dumbbell unit if it becomes faultyPin-selector mechanism is slightly slower than dial-a-weight and handle-twist selector mechanisms
Reduced number of moving parts leads to an overall more durable selectorized dumbbellUnconventional block-shaped dumbbell

This category of dumbbells is mainly occupied by the innovative Powerblock brand.

In my opinion, they are the most versatile types of selectorized dumbbells currently on the market.

Whilst they aren’t the cheapest of dumbbells- and their selector mechanism isn’t the fastest either- they ARE durable, easy to use, and offer enough weight settings for beginners to advanced trainees alike.

A lot of people deem their block-shaped design a con as they look awkward to use.

But having used them for over 2 years myself, I can say I prefer these over the conventional round-shaped adjustable dumbbell (the block-shape is more compact and less bulky).

The flat base also prevents it from rolling and the dumbbell unit itself feels sturdy.

You also get a 5-year warranty which is unheard of in selectorized adjustable dumbbells.

I currently use and recommend the Powerblock Elites (find the cheapest price here).

They are the cheapest in the Powerblock line, but they pack a hell of a punch!

You might be interested in my other post to find out how to choose the right dumbbell weight!

What Is The Best Type Of Dumbbell?

This is hard to answer because everyone has different needs.

But here are some factors to consider when choosing the best type of dumbbell for you:

  • Budget- the more expensive types of dumbbells usually give you a better material that’s more durable, resistant to knocks, does not scratch, and are generally longer-lasting.
  • Current training level- beginners can find the cheaper spinlock type of dumbbells enough to challenge them, whilst more experienced lifters usually need the pricier fixed-weight or selectorized dumbbells that provide heavier weights.
  • Training goal- if your goal is to gain some muscle tone, definition, and burn fat, then the lighter spinlock-type dumbbells are usually sufficient. But if your goal is to build muscle, then you’ll need the heavier fixed-weight or selectorized type of dumbbells.
  • Space available- those with limited space should go with the spinlock or selectorized type of adjustable dumbbells. Those with plenty of space to dedicate to a home gym can go with a fixed-weight dumbbell set.

Generally speaking, selectorized adjustbale dumbbells offer the best-value for money for most people.

For more tips on how to choose the perfect dumbbell, you can check out my other post which explains what is the best dumbbell type for you!

Dumbbell Recommendations For Beginners

Conclusion

I’ve shared the 15 different dumbbell types you can currently buy on the market.

These 15 kinds of dumbbells can be broadly classified as fixed-weight, spinlock adjustable, and selectorized adjustable.

Each comes with a unique array of benefits and drawbacks (refer to my pros and cons tables).

Which one you choose to buy is dependent on your budget, current training level, training goal aspirations, and the space available in your home gym.

What type of dumbbell will you be using?

Let me know in the comments!

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 I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

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

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