Best adjustable dumbbells 2023 to build muscle and boost your metabolism

We've tested the best adjustable dumbbells to help you reach your fitness goals without the gym

Person exercising with adjustable dumbbells at home
(Image credit: Brielle Diskin)

Investing in a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells is a great way to build muscle and boost your metabolism at home. These space-saving weights combine several dumbbells, and you can quickly change the load, even mid-workout. 

This makes them an ideal companion for following the progressive overload technique, where you gradually increase the weight as you get stronger. But it can be hard to decide which set to buy when there is so much choice out there. 

To help you out, we've tested many of the best adjustable dumbbells, putting them through their paces for strength and high-intensity workouts and looking at how easy the adjustment mechanism is, the weight's durability, and any extra features, like access to a workout app. 

Some, like the Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells, are ideal if you're looking for a great value pair with changeable weight plates. At the same time, the Bowflex SelectTech552 are ideal if you like tracking your workouts. 

Whatever your preferences, we'll take you through the best adjustable dumbbells you can buy right now, from premium weights to budget-friendly options to help you hit your fitness goals without cluttering your house with fixed-weight dumbbells. 

The best adjustable dumbbells you can buy right now

Core Home Fitness adjustable dumbbells on an exercise mat

(Image credit: Vicki-Marie Cossar)
Best adjustable dumbbells for most people

Specifications

Weight spread: 5-50lbs / 2.25-22.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly easy to use
+
Feels like a traditional dumbbell
+
Secure grip 

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly cumbersome 
-
Flimsy construction 

The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells will change the way you workout. Not only are they incredibly stylish looking (the aluminium cradle lets them down a bit) but they have a versatile weight spectrum. 

Each dumbbell ranges from 5lbs (2.25kg) to 50lbs (22.5kg) and goes up in increments of 5lbs which gives you a ten-piece dumbbell set in a single dumbbell. The contoured hand-hold feels incredibly comfortable and the TwistLock technology means it’s a simple rotation right or left with the hand-hold — a click will tell you when it’s complete — to change weights. 

It takes just seconds to change weight during a workout and this made our sessions seamless when switching between upper and lower body exercises. We also loved that the weight plates are a little larger than other models and that they sit at the ends of the barbell. This meant that we could easily grab hold of them when we wanted to execute moves like a sumo squat or single leg RDL.

They’re relatively well priced, costing $250 less than the popular BowFlex models. This makes them seem like a no-brainer to us, as they offer all the benefits of this big-name brand at a smaller price. You’ll also get a two-year warranty when you buy this product.

The model did occasionally need a little extra coaxing out of its cradle (we occasionally had to lever it out using our foot) but we think this minor inconvenience doesn’t detract from the model. 


Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells being used at home

(Image credit: Vicki-Marie Cossar)
Best budget adjustable dumbbells

Specifications

Weight spread: 3-19lbs / 1.3-8.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Budget-friendly price
+
Comes with a case for storage and transport

Reasons to avoid

-
Adjustable screws aren't quick to undo/redo
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Handlebar grip can be uncomfortable 

The Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells are a more budget-friendly way to work out at home. These weights don't come with smartphone apps, quick-release toggles, or fancy designs, but they offer a decent weight range at a lower price. The US retailer's dumbbells come packed into a carry case, so you can store them between workouts or take them away while traveling.

There's no cradle, though, and the weight plates are round, so they are liable to roll around while on the ground. There are two handlebars with a textured grip, but we found that it was quite rough and uncomfortable to hold, so we'd definitely recommend using a set of workout gloves with these weights.

You'll need to do manual adjustments to the dumbbells by unscrewing the collars and switching or removing weights. It's a bit more time consuming, but these traditional-looking weights cost significantly less than other models, so it might be worth the trade-off. Especially since we used them across a range of exercises and thought they were a reliable, sturdy set of adjustable dumbbells.


Bowflex SelectTech 552 on an exercise mat

(Image credit: Bowflex)
Best premium adjustable dumbbells

Specifications

Weight spread: 5-52.5lbs / 2.3-28.3kg

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek design 
+
Connects to the brand’s app with free workouts 
+
Great variety of weight adjustments 

Reasons to avoid

-
On the expensive side 
-
Has the potential to break 

Arguably the most well-known adjustable dumbbells on the market, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are a premium set with a super-sleek design. They also boast an incredible weight range offering 15 sets of dumbbells (30 actual dumbbells!) in one piece of kit. 

They can adjust from 5lbs (2kg) to 52.5 lbs (24 kg) with a varied setting range which only misses out a few kg markers. These are quite cumbersome in design and might be best for resistance-savvy trainers who would make full use of the range, of which there is real versatility for your training. 

The adjustment dials are located at the end of the barbells and incredibly easy to move and click into place, however, you need to turn both the dials in opposite directions for the weights to align (ie right hand turns clockwise to reach the 20lb weight marker and your left hand turns anti-clockwise to reach the same marker).

This can be a little bit of a faff and if you don’t align the same markers you end up with an uneven barbell distribution. Watch out for moves like burpees and press ups though as the instructions clearly state not to lean on them. Like the Core Home Fitness model, these come with a two-year warranty.

We did like the hand hold here though — it has a soft rubber coating. Add that to the well-sized barbells and it makes for an easy grip.


Flybird Adjustable Dumbbell Set set on a floor at home

(Image credit: Brielle Diskin)
Best adjustable dumbbells with detachable plates

Specifications

Weight spread: 5-25lb / 2.25-11kg

Reasons to buy

+
Simple to adjust 
+
Secure and safe design 
+
Compact build

Reasons to avoid

-
Only five weight options 
-
Round shape means weights roll 

If you’re in the market for some fuss-free weights to boost home workouts, then the Flybird Adjustable Dumbbell set is a good option. The dumbbells offer a sleek, easy-to-use design that only requires a simple twist of the handle to shift between weights, making workout transitions remarkably painless.

The handle is quite long and makes the dumbbells feel balanced, with an anti-slip coating for a sturdier grip. The set also has a lock design for weight changes, with the added bonus of a satisfying click when the plates have locked into place — we never found ourselves worrying about our toes or hardwood floors. 

We like that you can use the weights separately; we used them for things like plate lunges and squat presses. We didn’t like that they have a round shape, which makes them susceptible to rolling away during a workout. This could have been avoided if they’d been designed with at least one flat side, like the Core Home Fitness models.

These dumbbells definitely sit at the top-end of the price scale, alongside brands like Bowflex and NordicTrack, but you can usually find them cheaper or buy them as singles to save a bit of cash. All in all, a solid option for most home-based strength training and speedy drop sets.


Person exercising with the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Set

(Image credit: Brielle Diskin)
Best adjustable dumbbells for sustainable training

Specifications

Weight spread: 10-55lbs / 4.5-25kg

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with 30 days of iFit workouts 
+
Change the weight by 2.5 or 5lbs

Reasons to avoid

-
On the expensive side 
-
Difficult to shift between weights
-
Plastic parts
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Bulky

Whether you train in a home gym or your spare bedroom, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells are a solid bit of kit if you’re looking to save some space without compromising on weight selection. 

The weights range between 10lb/4.5kg - 50lb/22.5kg and use a pin for plate selection and an inner plastic dial to add on smaller weights of 2.5lb/1kg or 5lb/2kg, which makes them perfect for just about any training style – especially gradual strength training.

There’s a lot to enjoy with these dumbbells — the octagonal plate shape prevents the weights from rolling around and creates stability and versatility, and they feel sturdy overall. You also get a free 30-day iFit family membership trial which offers plenty of classes incorporating the dumbbells. 

They’re among some of the best adjustable dumbbells we’ve tested, but they’re still not quite perfect. The weight-changing mechanism is fiddly and time-consuming, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to catch an uninterrupted sweat. The design also relies quite heavily on plastic — including plastic handles — and we got small blisters on first use. 

NordicTrack Select-A-Weight dumbbells are also not cheap at $499 — although you’d be hard-pressed to find many sets offering this sort of weight range. Unfortunately, these dumbbells aren’t shipping to the UK, but other models are available from the company. They are big at 16.5 x 8-inches, and getting the dumbbells into our apartment proved a challenge, but this is less hassle than the 30 or so sets you’d otherwise need.


Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell on an exercise mat

(Image credit: Vicki-Marie Cossar)
Best heavy adjustable dumbbell set

Specifications

Weight spread: 5.5-55lb / 2.5-25kg

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use 
+
Comfortable soft-grip handle
+
Heavy weight

Reasons to avoid

-
Less premium design
-
Button adjustment can be fiddly 

The Ativafit 55lbs Adjustable Dumbbell Set would suit most households as they offer a weight range of 5.5lbs (2.5kg) to 55lbs (25kg). These are a mid-range set that mimic the premium models and yet are about $100/ £100 cheaper. 

While they don’t have as much versatility in the weight range, they are a ten dumbbell set in one, they do offer the heaviest weight plate we tested at 55lbs (25kg). They are also pretty compact and would be best for serious trainers who have limited space. 

They certainly look the part despite the grey plastic-looking barbell, which lowers the tone slightly and they have a hand-hold that feels like it is moulding into your hand as you perform an exercise. 

For a weight adjustment you simply press a little red safety button on the top of the barbell and turn the single weight dial at the end of the dumbbell at the same time – a click tells you when it’s complete.

The weight cannot be changed without both of these actions. The weights are evenly distributed along the barbell but sadly they do rattle a bit when removing/inserting them into the cradle and also when performing exercises.  


How to choose the best adjustable dumbbells

Although they're good value in the long-run, adjustable dumbbells are a sizeable investment, so it's worth spending some time considering what you want to use them for.

To make things a bit easier, we asked Elizabeth Butler-Clack, a physical performance coach at the digital coaching platform P3RFORM with an MSc in strength and conditioning, what you should look out for. 

Elizabeth Butler-Clack

Elizabeth Butler-Clack is a Strength and Conditioning coach and a physical performance coach for P3RFORM. She holds an MSc in Strength and Conditioning. 

Weight-changing design

“Many adjustable dumbbells allow you to change the weight by turning the grip when the dumbbell is placed in the base. Other designs require the user to turn a dial on each side of the dumbbell,” says Butler-Clack.

These designs are called selectorized adjustable dumbbells. She explains they’re great for allowing users to change the weight quickly between sets and exercises, making them a top option for circuit workouts and at-home training. 

Others, like the Amazon Basics Adjustable Dumbbells in our list, are less tech-heavy, using changeable plates and spinning collars to secure them into place. These tend to be cheaper than selectorized sets, but it will take you longer to change their weight.

Weight range and increments

“The weight range and increments [the weights increase by] do vary between dumbbells,” Butler-Clack says. “It’s important you choose a dumbbell with a weight range and increment size that best fits your needs to avoid having to purchase multiple sets.”

If you’re newer to strength training, a pair that max out at 25lb per dumbbell (like the more affordable Flybird Adjustable Dumbbell Set) will likely be heavy enough. However, if you’re an experienced lifter, the 55lb Bowflex SelectTech 552i might be more your speed. 

The increments are also important to consider. One of the reasons we loved the Bowflex dumbbells was their ample offering of weight options (15, to be exact) with small jumps of 2.5lb between them in most cases. This way, you can gradually increase the weight you lift as you grow stronger. 

In contrast, the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell increases in larger increments of 5lb, making it better suited to those used to heavier loads. 

Material

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 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.

FAQs

Are adjustable dumbbells any good?

Gone are the days when a dumbbell was just a dumbbell. Now, with fixed weight, spinlock, selectorized and even digital dumbbells to choose from, there’s a lot more to think about than just picking the right weight. 

So, why should you plump for a pricier adjustable set over a classic fixed-weight design? “The benefits of adjustable dumbbells in comparison to fixed dumbbells are vast,” says Butler-Clack. “Firstly, they’re cost-efficient.” 

This might surprise you, with the upfront cost of fixed-weight dumbbells coming in well below their changeable successors. But their versatility quickly makes up the difference. 

“Although one set of adjustable dumbbells might be more expensive than one set of fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells are a lot more cost-efficient in the long run,” says Butler-Clack. 

Not only do they offer the equivalent of up to 15 different sets of dumbbells in one compact package, but they also “allow you to increase and decrease the weight according to the exercise you’re doing, so you only need one set to complete a workout.”

Adjustable dumbbells are space-saving too. “As you only require one set, adjustable dumbbells are a lot more convenient to store in comparison to multiple sets of fixed dumbbells,” Butler-Clack explains. 

Finally, Butler-Clack highlights how adjustable dumbbells can be a useful tool for supporting training progression. “Adjustable dumbbells have smaller weight increments in comparison to most fixed dumbbells. 

“This will allow users to gradually increase the weight they are using and better apply the principle of progressive overload to their training, allowing for greater progression to be made.”

Are Bowflex dumbbells worth it?

During testing, we found that the Bowflex SelectTech 552i are some of the best adjustable dumbbells you can buy right now. However, they're also some of the most expensive, so it's right to question whether Bowflex dumbbells are worth it.

The weights look and feel like a premium set of dumbbells, with an all-black design for the cradle and weights plates, a chrome handle, and a black grip with a soft rubber coating.

The SelectTech 552i have a weight range of 5lb/2.3kg to 52.5lb/24kg, which is about in line with other models like the slightly more basic Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell, although that weight retails for about $200/£150 less.

But you can get similar features and weight range with the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Adjustable Dumbbells for $100/£75 less. Both brands also offer access to a companion smartphone app for virtual workouts and session tracking (iFit and Bowflex, respectively).

However, Bowflex dumbbells are Bluetooth-enabled and connect to the smartphone app to record your workout, including repetitions, load, and duration. If you're keen on tracking your progress, then the Bowflex SelectTech 552i are a great value set of durable weights.

Can you build muscle with dumbbells only?

"In short, yes," Omar Mansour, coach for audio-led fitness app WithU tells explains. "In order to build/gain muscle with just dumbbells, you need to be increasing the weight over time. This process is known as progressive overload.

"Over time, you will notice that the same workouts become easier. I'd suggest every four-six weeks to switch up your program and create a new stimulus for your body to respond to and to expose your muscles to different rep ranges. 

"Overall, dumbbells can help you gain muscle mass, and even correct muscle imbalances and help you gain strength."

And it's not just in your biceps or triceps where dumbbells can help you add muscle. Thanks to the best dumbbell ab exercises, you can also build a stronger core by adding extra resistance to exercises like crunches, cycles, and even planks. But first, if you're wondering what dumbbell weights should I use, be sure to follow our handy guide. 

Vicki-Marie Cossar

Vicki-Marie Cossar is a UK-based freelance journalist who has more than 20 years experience writing across the topics of health, fitness, fashion, beauty and wellbeing. She was formerly responsible for the Life & Style section of Metro’s features department (now called Trends) and currently writes Metro’s weekly Wellbeing supplement.

With contributions from