Find the best adjustable dumbbells to build muscle and tone up at home

The best adjustable dumbbells allow you to lift at home without taking up space

Person kneeling down by best adjustable dumbbell
(Image credit: Getty Images)

So you want to lift weights at home but without transforming your living room into a full-on gym? This is where the best adjustable dumbbells could be your new best friend. 

The main appeal of owning a set is that it saves a lot of space and can end up being much more affordable than splashing out on a whole set of dumbbells and a rack to store them on. 

They differ from the traditional dumbbell in the way that you can adjust the weight of one or a pair rather than using a collection of individual dumbbells of mixed weights. 

Online personal trainer, Scott Laidler, tells Fit&Well that adjustable dumbbells are an elegant way to introduce scalable fitness equipment into your home. 

Scott says, "They have the dual advantage of having a very small footprint in your living space, and allowing you to match your strength improvements with increased resistance."

The term ‘adjustable’ may make this simple piece of equipment sound more complex than it is.

Some models have been designed with a lock mechanism positioned at both ends - allowing weights to be added or removed by changing the position of the lock. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 hosts this feature in its design and why it is a favourite of Fit&Well’s to work out with. 

To adjust the weight on some other best adjustable dumbbells you will need to adjust the weight by adding or removing different plates to the centre bar. 

You are looking at spending around $50 / £40 for a more basic lighter set or up to $900 / £700 for a top of the range heavier set.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLS FOR YOU

There are various factors to take into account before buying the best adjustable dumbbells. Down below we have a few helpful considerations

Weight range - The first thing anyone will want to consider is what weight range you want to go for. This will vary for individuals. If you use weights for gaining muscle mass you will want to look for adjustable dumbbells with a higher range in order for you to perform fewer reps with a heavier weight. Alternatively, you might prefer cardio, fat burning workouts and adding a little weight can up the intensity. You will benefit from dumbbells of a lower weight range for high-rep sets.

Practicality - Firstly, it is handy to know that different adjustable dumbbell sets are made of different materials. Some are more steel based and could cause damage to a wood or tiled surface. If this is a concern for you, a set with less hardy materials i.e. more rubbery in form, will be ideal. 

You also will want to consider the practicality of adjusting the dumbbells. Some sets feature an adjustable plate system enabling you to adjust the weights with a dial which is said to be most convenient. Whereas others are more traditional in their setup and require a screw feature for removal. The latter is good for feeling confident about the weights being securely placed but will take up more setup time during your workout. 

The best adjustable dumbbells you can buy right now

Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells

(Image credit: Bowflex)

1. Bowflex SelectTech 552

Best adjustable dumbbells – in fact the best home weights you can buy

Specifications
Weight spread: 2-22.5kg or 4-41kg (per dumbbell)
Reasons to buy
+All the weights you need…+…In a compact footprint
Reasons to avoid
-Need to be put down with a little care

With a weight selection as easy as spinning a dial, these champion adjustable dumbbells from Bowflex make mid-workout weight changes fast, efficient and a damn sight less frustrating than having to unscrew a metal spin collar to change the plates when you’re in the flow of a good weight sesh.

Coming in two models, one with a 2-24kg range per dumbbell and one with a heavier 4-41kg range, the SelectTech 552 don’t require a weight changing rack to house them so will save you an awful lot of space if your home gym is essentially a converted pantry. 

The plastic stand that is included means changing the weights sets is smooth, although with no colour coordination you do have to pay careful attention to certain configurations. Despite the brow-mopping RRP, these adjustable dumbbells will give weightlifters everything they need, especially those into more intensive 'drop set' workouts. Although don't actually drop them – they need to be placed back into their stand when put down.

A set of Ironmaster Quick-Lock adjustable dumbbells

(Image credit: Ironmaster)

2. Ironmaster Quick-Lock Set

The best premium adjustable dumbbells of a more traditional design

Specifications
Weight spread: 2-34kg (per dumbbell)
Reasons to buy
+Wide weight spread+Easy to use+Robust
Reasons to avoid
-Slower to change weight

Where some adjustable weights such as the Bowflex boast very efficient plate change mechanisms, others can fall by the wayside a little bit when it comes to speed. IronMaster’s Quick-Lock adjustable dumbbells do fall into this category, but at the same time, they feel much more robust than any other weights in this category. You could throw them around when you feel like playing that guy, and they’ll hold it together. They are also way more swift when it comes to altering the weight than awkwardly spinning a collar off and on again for time, and much more compact, too.

While IronMaster's kit is pretty pricey, the quality you’ll get in return will feel well worth it. These beasts will last you a lifetime. And with a 4-68kg overall weight range, you’re getting a good spread even at that price.

The Domyos Weight Training Dumbbell Kit

(Image credit: Domyos)

3. Domyos Weight Training Dumbbell Kit

Best cheap adjustable dumbbells

Specifications
Weight spread: 2-10kg (per dumbbell)
Reasons to buy
+Stunning value+Handy carry case
Reasons to avoid
-Decathlon's ropey website

Where would we be without Decathlon when we’re in need of some cheap and cheerful gym equipment? Considerably poorer, most likely. The French sporting goods retailer has done it again with the Domyos Weight Training Dumbbell Kit, offering a pair of adjustable dumbbells with a quick-fix collar for snappier plate changes for under £40. 

Obviously the quality isn’t going to be anywhere near what you’d find with some of the others on this list, but with two 2kg bars, plus eight 1kg and four 2kg plates - not to mention a handy carry case you can pack it all away afterwards - who cares. Weight range is a little lacking, however, as the set comes with a warning that the collars will only take 6kg of weight on each side, but for £20 per dumbbell, it’s still an excellent choice for beginners or those looking to add low weight to their cardio workouts. 

The only problem with Decathlon is that its website is very bad at telling you if something is in stock or not – good luck with this one, as it sells out as fast as it comes in.

Bodymax Hammertone Dumbbells Kit

(Image credit: Bodymax)

4. Bodymax Deluxe Hammertone Dumbbell Kit

Reliable, old school-style adjustable dumbbells at an affordable price

Specifications
Weight : 2-15kg (per dumbbell)
Reasons to buy
+No nonsense+Affordable+Easy to store
Reasons to avoid
-Usually sold out right now

If it’s a good old school-style set of dumb dumbbells you're after, then the Bodymax Deluxe will sort you right out. These bad boys are extremely durable, plus the handles are covered with rubber for a super comfortable grip. 

There’s also a spin-lock collar mechanism for changing the weight discs, which - while isn’t as fast and efficient as the Bowflex or IronMaster dumbbells - will secure them firmly in place.

As for the weight spread, you can work with up to 15kg per dumbbell, with eight 2.5kg weight plates, four 1.25kg weight plates and four 0.5kg weight plates, plus two 16" bars.

Power Block Sport 24 Adjustable Dumbbells

(Image credit: Powerblock)

5. Power Block Sport 24 Adjustable Dumbbells

Unusual but impressive design

Specifications
Weight spread: 0.5-10kg (per dumbbell)
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Decent weight spread+Easy to adjust weight
Reasons to avoid
-You have to say it looks a little odd

With a patented compact design that keeps workout area neat and organised, these quite frankly strange-looking dumbbells from Power Block do their job well. Reducing eight pairs of traditional weights into one contraption that allows you to change the weight in seconds with a selector pin, like a weight stack machine at the gym, these dumbbells are like nothing else out there. 

They might be a little limited in terms of weight spread – only up to 10kg per dumbbell – but they’re incredibly space saving and well built. They can rattle a fair bit during use which might make you feel a little uneasy, but once you get used to these unique dumbbells, they're great.

Lee Bell
Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a London-based journalist, copywriter, specializing in all things tech and lifestyle. He is also a qualified personal trainer. He started his journalism career a decade ago as a reporter covering the latest gadgets and innovations at tech tabloid The Inquirer. Lee went freelance in 2016 to broaden his expertise, moving into news, reviews and feature writing for a host of national print and online lifestyle titles such as GQ, Forbes, Esquire, Men’s Health, Wired, The Metro, and The Mirror. He has an insatiable appetite for travel, Dharma yoga, and the odd outdoor challenge.