The Best Dumbbells, According to a Personal Trainer

NordicTrack's SpeedWeight Dumbbells are adjustable between 2.5 and 12.5 pounds

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Verywell / Chloe Jeong

Dumbbells can up the ante on your strength workouts, as well as on your cardio routines, by increasing your heart rate and helping to lower body fat. With a set of these handheld weights, you can maximize the benefits of moves like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, rows, and more.

Reviewed & Approved

NordicTrack's SpeedWeight Adjustable Dumbbells can be adjusted between 2.5 and 12.5 pounds. We also recommend Portzon's Neoprene Dumbbells as an affordable and portable option.

When looking for dumbbells, consider your lifestyle needs. There are adjustable options and pairs sold in fixed weight increments. You should also pay special attention to the the handle grip to prevent dropping it—rubber grips will provide more traction, especially as you work up a sweat. We researched dozens of dumbbells and evaluated them for price, material, weight, and size.

Here are the best dumbbells on the market.

Best Overall: NordicTrack SpeedWeight Adjustable Dumbbells

4.9
NordicTrack SpeedWeight Adjustable Dumbbells

Courtesy of NordicTrack

These adjustable dumbbells from NordicTrack give you five sets of weights—all in one compact case, which is why we chose them as our top pick. Starting at 2.5 pounds each and going up to 12.5 pounds, you can easily add weight to your exercises as you get stronger without having to buy multiple pairs of dumbbells.

With your purchase, you also get one year of an iFit membership, meaning you get access to tons of free video workouts from top trainers who show you smart ways to lift weights. If you’re looking for a heavier set, NordicTrack also sells a pair that goes up to 55 pounds each.

Consider this a complete at-home training kit.

Best Budget: Portzon Set of 2 Neoprene Dumbbell Hand Weights

Portzon Neoprene Dumbbell Hand Weights Set of 2

Amazon

These neoprene dumbbells from Portzon are a classic pick—and a pretty budget-friendly one, too. The dumbbells are coated with easy-to-grip neoprene, which will make them comfortable to hold onto. And their hexagonal shape will keep them from rolling away when you set them down.

Choose from a pair of 1-pound dumbbells, 10-pound dumbbells, or something in between. Since the dumbbells come in eight different weights and 10 fun colors, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Best Adjustable: Bowflex SelectTech 560 Dumbbell

Bowflex SelectTech 560 Dumbbell

Courtesy of Walmart

Investing in an adjustable dumbbell is a time- and space-saver. The Bowflex SelectTech 560 compact design adjusts from 5 to 60 pounds with a turn of the handle, meaning that you don’t need to purchase (or make room for) other sets of dumbbells as you progress.

Users say they like the sleek design and soft, rubbery grips. But what’s especially cool about this model is that thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, repetitions, weight lifted, and calories burned are all tracked on the accompanying Bowflex Connect app. 

Best for Beginners: NiceC Adjustable Dumbbell Pair

4.6
NiceC Adjustable Dumbbell Pair

New to weight training? Nice C's adjustable dumbbells are the perfect starter kit. Choose the 4-pound or 11-pound pair and you can add or subtract mini bars that screw into the sides of the dumbbell. That means your weight can range from 2.3 pounds up to 4 or 11 pounds, depending on the number of bars you add. As you get stronger with your weight training, continue to increase the load for added intensity.

In addition to being adjustable, these also come in a range of cool colors and feel super comfy in your hands. 

Best Advanced: CAP Barbell Set of 2 Hex Rubber Dumbbell

CAP Barbell Set of 2 Hex Rubber Dumbbell

Courtesy of Amazon

If you’re looking for a gym-like pair of solid, sturdy dumbbells, these CAP Barbell sets definitely fit the bill. While they have lighter weights for sale, you can also go super heavy—with pairs of dumbbells up to 120 pounds each. Anyone with experience lifting who wants to take their training to the next level can do so by choosing a heavier set of these weights.

The cast iron, chrome-plated, and rubber dumbbells are also durable enough to last for years, while the hexagon shape keeps them from rolling around when you set them to the side or use them on the ground. 

Best Space-Saving: Bala Weighted Bala Bars Set of 2

Bala Bars

 Courtesy of Bala

If you’re working on building your arm workout equipment arsenal, these 3-pound dumbbells from Bala are a solid starting point. Whether you’re new to upper body strength workouts or you need a break from heavier weights, these offer a light challenge. And as you build your strength, you can always increase your repetitions to make the workout more challenging.

Available in a variety of fun colors and less bulky than traditionally-designed dumbbells, the bars fit perfectly in your hand as you work through curls, extensions, and raises. Each set is complete with a mesh carrying case for seamless portability, whether you’re toting these to the gym or on a trip. 

Made with recycled stainless steel covered in silicone, the bars are a sustainable choice you can feel good about. 

What Our Editors Say

"These are great for daily use and give me a break from my 5-pound dumbbells. I appreciate the sleek design, which can initially feel slippery, and place them in a corner of my desk as a reminder to take standing breaks. I use them a lot for lateral raises or shoulder presses. The Bala Bars also complement my trampoline workouts, and the 3-pound weight is just right for simultaneous jumping. I’ll even hold these during leisure walks for added resistance." Tori Zhou, Associate Commerce Editor 

Best for Pool: SunLite Sports High-Density EVA-Foam Dumbbell Set

SunLite Sports High-Density EVA-Foam Dumbbell Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Prefer to work out in the pool? These dumbbells up the resistance on moves like bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and rows. Made of EVA foam, they're designed to float, so it takes strength to move them underwater. The material won’t hold onto water, so don't worry about H2O getting everywhere when you put them in storage or carry them home from the public pool.

Use them to maximize the benefits of classes like water aerobics classes or aqua Zumba, too. 

Best Portable: Mworld2 2Pcs/Set Portable Adjustable Water-Filled Dumbbell

Mworld2 2Pcs/Set Portable Adjustable Water-Filled Dumbbell

Courtesy of Amazon

Searching for a set of dumbbells you can travel with? Look no further. These water-filled dumbbells are lightweight, compressible, and completely adjustable. Toss them in your suitcase, knowing they won’t weigh it down or demand a ton of space. Just fill them up once you reach your final destination. 

Since they’re completely adjustable, you can control how heavy they are. And yes, they do get pretty heavy—when completely full, they can weigh up to 20 pounds apiece. 

Best Rack Set: CAP Barbell 150-Pound Dumbbell Set with Rack

CAP Barbell 150-Pound Dumbbell Set with Rack

Courtesy of Amazon

Looking for an all-in-one training system? This CAP Barbell dumbbell set has you covered. The set comes with five different pairs of dumbbells, which range from 5 pounds to 25 pounds—giving you a total of 150 pounds to work with. 

The dumbbells are made of heavy-duty iron and durable steel, so you don’t have to worry about them failing to hold up over time. And since they ship with an A-frame rack, they’re incredibly easy to store between workouts. 

Final Verdict

You get the most bang for your buck with a set of adjustable dumbbells, like the NordicTrack SpeedWeight Adjustable Dumbbells, though they’re definitely more expensive than single sets. If you’re looking for that single weight set—and a pair that’s heavier in weight—CAP Barbell Set of 2 Hex Rubber Dumbbells are a great go-to. 

What to Look for in Dumbbells

Weight

When deciding which dumbbells to go with, think about the amount of weight you want to lift. If you’re new to fitness and just want to add a little resistance to your typical bodyweight workout, stick to a set of lower weight dumbbells. If you’re an avid exerciser who’s looking to go heavier on moves like deadlifts and squats, you’ll want a double-digit load. 

Convenience

If you want a few sets of weights to have more options, but you don’t have a ton of space, choose an adjustable dumbbell or a set that comes with a stand. That way, you don’t have to worry about stacking your own weights or having multiple sets taking up tons of room. And if you travel often and want to bring your workout with you, a collapsible, portable set of dumbbells is ideal.

Fitness Goals

For those who prefer cardio workouts or those who want to increase their muscular endurance, a lighter set of dumbbells is better suited for higher-rep workouts. But, if you want to build strength and muscle, a heavier set could get you there faster. Decide what you want out of your weighted workouts to determine what set of dumbbells is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What muscles can you work with dumbbells?

    You can work all of your muscles with dumbbells. Dumbbells are among the most versatile pieces of equipment for resistance training and building muscle and strength. The options for dumbbell exercises are highly varied.

  • How often should you use dumbbells?

    You should perform resistance exercise at least two days per week, but can use dumbbells every day, if you choose to. As long as you allow 24 to 48 hours of rest between training a specific muscle, you can incorporate resistance training with dumbbells every day.

  • How do you determine the best weight of dumbbells for you?

    Choosing the best weight of dumbbells for you depends on how many repetitions and sets you plan to do. You should choose dumbbells that create a challenge by the last couple of repetitions in your set. You will need a different weight for varying exercises. Movements such as squats will require heavier weights than bicep curls, for instance. You will need heavier weights for lower repetition work and lighter weights for higher repetition work.

  • How do you prevent injuries when using dumbbells?

    When using dumbbells, you can prevent injuries by learning proper form first and being sure to warm up properly. Practice the body weight version of the exercise before moving on to light dumbbells. After you have the form down, you can add more weight. Getting form advice from a personal trainer can help ensure safety and prevent injuries.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Mallory Creveling has been covering the fitness industry for more than a decade, often writing about workout equipment. She’s also a personal trainer who’s tried tons of at-home equipment. She knows what moves work best with added weight, and what to look for to get the most out of your gear.

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