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5 Best Cheap Dumbbells (2021 Review Updated)

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Buyer’s Guide

Cheap Dumbbells that are Actually Affordable

Weight

The weight you need for your dumbbells will depend on your strength and your body weight. A beginner should be using a dumbbell weight that is 10-15% of their body weight whereas a more experienced fitness person should go with dumbbells that are 20-25% of their body weight. 

The weight you need will also depend on what kind of workouts and movements you plan on doing with the dumbbell. If you’re just going to be doing isolated exercises like bicep curls, then you won’t need a dumbbell that is overly heavy, however, if you intend on doing a full-body workout that incorporates squats and lunges, then you should go for something heavier as you’ll need something that can test your full body strength. 

A beginner who has never used dumbbells before should consider getting 5,10 or 15lb dumbbells to use for upper body workouts. As you increase the weight of your dumbbells, the cost of them will also increase. Unfortunately, for those heavy lifters out there this means that you’ll be spending more than everyone else. 

Fixed or Adjustable Dumbbells

Now there isn’t just one type of dumbbell out there, so you’ll need to decide whether you’d want fixed or adjustable dumbbells.

Fixed Dumbbells

Fixed dumbbells are the most common and are typically found in generic gyms. Like the name says, these dumbbells come in one fixed part and are not adjustable so they’ll always stay the same weight. 

These sorts of dumbbells are extremely durable as they’ve got no parts that can fall off and break. If you like to have an efficient workout with no hanging around for machines or equipment, then you’ll love using fixed dumbbells as you won’t have to spend time changing the weight plates over like you would with adjustable dumbbells. 

However, you will be stuck with just one weight and you’ll have to invest in another set of dumbbells if you do want to change the weight.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable dumbbells are ideal for people who have home gyms or enjoy working out in or around their home. They allow you to have multiple weight plates on either side of the dumbbell to increase or decrease the weight.

These are typically better value for money as they’ll come with numerous weights with them that can be adjusted to your preference. If you’re new to the world of working out, then adjustable dumbbells are recommended as they’ll give you a good handful of starting weights to try out until you’ve found what you’re comfortable lifting. 

These dumbbells are slightly more fiddling and can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry as they require you to spin the side nuts off when increasing or decreasing the weight. If you’re after some heavier weights, then adjustable dumbbells may not work for you.

Materials, Shape & Grip

You’ll now need to decide what sort of materials you want for your dumbbells. 

Rubber Dumbbells

Rubber dumbbells have a coating over the disk or plate that protects them and makes them last longer. 

They’re often used in busy gyms as they’re able to withstand constant use and they also protect your floor from getting unsightly scratches due to the protective coating. 

Cheap rubber coatings do smell a bit unpleasant, so be on the lookout for that when you’re buying new dumbbells.

Hex Dumbbells 

Hex dumbbells are named after they’re shaped and they’re great because they prevent your dumbbells from rolling away when you’ve placed them on the floor. 

They’re used in gyms for circuit classes as they offer good stability for doing exercises like pushups. 

Urethane Dumbbells 

These dumbbells are a more premium alternative to rubber dumbbells but they do not offer the unpleasant smell that rubber ones do. 

They’re also very durable and do not mark your floor when you drop them. 

Vinyl-coated Dumbbells

This dumbbell is made from cast iron and coated with vinyl which often comes in different colors. 

These colors will signify the weight of each dumbbell and after time you’ll find it easier to identify which one you’ll need next in your workout. 

Solid Metal Dumbbells

You’ll commonly find solid metal dumbbells in old school gyms and you’ll often find the weight of each dumbbell stamped on the end. 

They’re a lot easier to hold and grip than rubber-coated ones when your hands get sweaty as the handle is textured to give better grip. 

Racks & Storage

Remember, the heavier your weights are the bigger they will also be, so they will prove more difficult to store. 

If you have an at-home gym then you could invest in a dumbbell rack to keep all your weights organized and out of the way when they’re not being used.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should dumbbells cost?

On average, you could look at paying around $1.50 per pound for dumbbells. A small pair of 5lb dumbbells could cost you between $15-20 depending on where you buy them from and what materials they’re made of. The best way to buy weights is in a set and it will often reduce the price of them, a set of beginner weights (2.5-8lbs) could cost you between $40-50.

If you’re looking to buy a full collection for your at-home gym, then you could look at spending at least a few hundred dollars. Adjustable dumbbells (the ones with removable plates) are the most cost-effective and if you don’t mind spending the extra time adjusting the weight plates on them between your workouts then they’ll be a great solution for you. 

Why are dumbbells so expensive?

Dumbbells are expensive because they’re heavy and made from strong materials that are made to last. 

They’re also expensive because it costs the company that makes some a large amount of money to transport them due to their weight. They add extra weight to the transportation trucks which require more fuel to drive to distribute them. 

Some dumbbells are crazy expensive because most people opt for buying cheap dumbbells so then there is no demand for the higher-quality more expensive ones so they have to keep their prices higher.

Do I need 2 dumbbells?

Some exercises will need to be done with 2 dumbbells, so if you have one then you’ll need to spend even more time doing the workout on each arm. 

If you’re doing exercises with heavy weights then this could unbalance you, using 2 would even out the weight so you are stabilized. Dumbbells come in pairs so you won’t need to worry about investing in two individual ones.

Are 4.5lb dumbbells good for beginners?

Anything between 2.5lb to 20lb is good for beginners, however, what you should use will depend on your body weight and your strength. 

Start small and then work your way up the weights if you feel you’re not being tested enough.

Is it better to use light or heavy dumbbells to tone arms?

If you’re looking to tone your arms, then you should use lighter weights than you normally would but focus on doing more repetitions of exercises. 

So where you normally would do 3 sets of 8 repetitions with a 20lb dumbbell in each hand, you will do 3 sets of 15 repetitions with 10lb dumbbells.

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