Last updated: August 9, 2021

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The gym isn't your thing? You prefer to train within your own four walls? If you still want to do weight training, you should consider buying dumbbells. Dumbbells help you to define your body and they are also very compact and space-saving. So you can easily work on your bikini figure from home.

If you're looking for dumbbells, you've come to the right place. In our dumbbell test 2021 we give you all the important information about dumbbells. We introduce you to different types of dumbbells, explain all the advantages and disadvantages and also give you tips on training with dumbbells.




Summary

  • Dumbbells are suitable for you if you don't feel like going to the gym but prefer to work out at home.
  • Dumbbells can basically be divided into two categories: Dumbbells with a fixed weight and dumbbells where you can adjust the weight.
  • For most people who like to exercise at home, dumbbell sets are the best choice. Dumbbell sets are inexpensive, take up little space and allow for a wide range of weight variations.

The Best Dumbbell: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a dumbbell

Who are dumbbells suitable for?

In principle, dumbbells are suitable for everyone who is healthy and wants to do strength training. Gender does not play a role.

Dumbbells have particular advantages for people who want to train at home. They are versatile and easy on the wallet. They also take up little space. Furthermore, beginners and advanced exercisers alike can train with dumbbells because the weights can be scaled very well.

What are the advantages of dumbbells?

You want to train at home and wonder whether you should buy a different training tool or a whole dumbbell set? The answer is: no. Of course, this cannot be generalised, but for the general public, dumbbells are the most sensible tool to use at home. Here are the reasons:

  • You can do strength training with dumbbells. Strength training is the best way to lose weight and build muscle.
  • Dumbbells are cheap
  • Dumbbells train coordination skills
  • Each arm is addressed individually, which can prevent imbalances or counteract existing ones
  • Dumbbells are versatile (many exercises and exercise variations are possible).

Of course, a barbell, for example, is also a very good training tool. But for people with less money or limited space, dumbbells are simply better suited, especially for starters.

Should women use different dumbbells than men?

No, women can train with the same dumbbells as men.

Under no circumstances should women use only light gymnastics dumbbells, for example. Gym dumbbells are much too light for most women to do proper strength training. Too light a workout will not lead to success. This in turn leads to frustration and many then stop training.

Schwarze Kurzhanteln aus Eisen mit einem Sternverschluss

Dumbbells can be used regardless of gender. Only the weight is adjusted to the respective needs.

As a woman, will I become heavily muscled from dumbbell training?

No. Women do not become "muscle animals" through strength training.

This is a myth that has lasted forever. Many women are afraid that strength training will make their muscles grow extremely large and that they will therefore lose femininity. This worry is unfounded.

For one thing, women build much less muscle than men anyway because they have less testosterone in their bodies. In addition, a diet with increased calorie / protein intake is also necessary for real muscle growth.

If you follow such a diet as a woman, you will not become heavily muscular. Many really muscular women that you may know from magazines or the internet often help themselves with illegal substances or do competitive sports.

Frauen Kurzhanteltraining

Women should also integrate dumbbells into their training and not just do the classic "abdominal-legs-buttocks" workout. The reason for this is that muscular imbalances can lead to injuries. As you can see in the picture, dumbbells can also be used for various other exercises besides the classic biceps curl. (Photo: ammentorp / 123RF.com)

How much do dumbbells cost?

Due to the large number of dumbbell types, suppliers and materials, it is not possible to generalise about the price. However, the enormous range has the advantage that there is something for every budget.

A dumbbell set with a total weight of 20 kilograms (10 kilograms per side) starts at about 20 euros. However, these are filled plastic dumbbells. Depending on the material, number of weight plates and manufacturer, the price can rise to around 213 euros.

For example, for 213 euros you can get a pair of dumbbells (cast iron) from Bad Company with a total weight of 100 kilograms (50 kilograms per side).

Type Price
Dumbbell set with cast iron discs from €30(10 kg/dumbbell)
Dumbbell set with chrome discs from €50 (10 kg/dumbbell)
Dumbbell set with plastic discs from 20 Euro (10 kg / dumbbell)
Dumbbells with fixed weight from 60 Euro (2 dumbbells with 10 kg / dumbbell)
Adjustable dumbbells from 300 Euro (25 kg / per dumbbell)
Gymnastic dumbbells from 3 Euro (0, 5 kg /dumbbell)

Decision: What types of dumbbells are there and which one is right for me?

The market for training equipment is very large. There is a suitable model for every athlete, so that all conceivable exercises can be performed with the free weights. With a targeted choice of dumbbells, you can optimise your training and achieve maximum success in the shortest time.

This section lists all the information you need about common dumbbells according to their type and composition. Basically, there are two categories into which dumbbells can be divided. A distinction is made between a dumbbell with a fixed weight and a dumbbell with an adjustable weight.

Basically, you can distinguish between three different types of dumbbells:

  • Disc dumbbells
  • Metal bone dumbbells
  • Plastic bone dumbbells

The choice of weight must of course be made according to the athlete's training level. Under no circumstances should beginners expect too much weight, as there is a high risk of injury and this can have drastic consequences.

With dumbbells, you should approach heavier weights step by step. You should never be demotivated if a session takes a little longer, as this is normal in a training plan. Furthermore, you should make sure that you also take the safety criteria of the dumbbells into account when making your choice.

This criterion is especially relevant for variable dumbbells. When buying adjustable dumbbells, make sure that they have a robust safety system so that strength training can be carried out without risk of injury.

The spring rings, screw locks and adjusting rings ensure that you can easily attach and fix the plates. Thanks to spring washers, a quick change is possible, but they can slip quite easily. With screw caps and adjusting rings, you are on the safe side in this respect, as they offer more security.

With dumbbells it is therefore essential that you pay attention to high quality so that you are not exposed to any risk of injury. You should also choose your dumbbell according to your workout to ensure optimal results for muscle building.

How do disc dumbbells work and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Variable dumbbells are not made of one piece and therefore you can mount additional training discs on your dumbbell. They are perfect for most workouts and are long lasting.

Advantages
  • Suitable for any workout
  • Long lasting
Disadvantages
  • Time consuming
  • Very expensive

How do bone dumbbells work and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

With fixed-weight dumbbells, you cannot adjust the weight yourself. If you want to change the training resistance when training with fixed dumbbells, you have to change the entire dumbbells. This has some advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages
  • Cheap
Disadvantages
  • Only available in low weight classes
  • Not flexible

What are the advantages and disadvantages of metal bone dumbbells?

A basic distinction can be made between dumbbells made of cast iron and plastic. These two materials are very different and therefore not suitable for every type of training. To help you find the right dumbbell for your workout, we will explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different materials.

Advantages
  • Space-saving
  • High weight
  • Inexpensive
Disadvantages
  • Risk of rust

What are the advantages and disadvantages of plastic bone dumbbells?

Plastic bone dumbbells are especially recommended for beginners. They are usually very cheap but not very durable. They break more easily if dropped and can show signs of wear after a few months. They are also very large for higher weight classes.

Advantages
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Very cheap
Disadvantages
  • Not space-saving
  • Short durability

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate dumbbells

In the following section we would like to give you some important criteria that you should consider when buying a dumbbell. In the first part of this page we have already given you some points to consider. However, in addition to the type of dumbbell and the material, there are other factors that should not be neglected.

Here is an overview:

  • What do I want to do with the dumbbells
  • Diameter of the disc holder
  • Length of dumbbell bar
  • Disc size
  • Additional material

What do I want to do with the dumbbells?

If you want to buy dumbbells, you should first be clear about how you actually want to train or what your goal is.

If you want to build muscle and lose fat, strength training is the way to go. For strength training it is important that you can increase the weights, only then will you achieve success.

This means that you can rule out gym dumbbells as a training tool. The gym dumbbells are also probably unsuitable for you here, as it would be necessary to buy several pairs.

Your options are the classic dumbbell with adjustable weights or the adjustable dumbbell system.

You should never neglect the fun factor in your training. A workout that you don't enjoy will not last long.

So if you prefer aerobics, for example, gym dumbbells could very well be the right thing for you. Since dumbbells are relatively cheap, buying several pairs is less of a problem.

Aufeinanderliegende lilafarbene Gymnastikhanteln

Dumbbells are not just for strength athletes. The smaller and lighter gym dumbbells are often used in various endurance sports and gymnastics.

Diameter of the disc holder

Three different bar diameters are possible. There are 25 millimetre, 30 millimetre and 50 millimetre bar diameters.

25 millimetres: You will only find 25 millimetre bar diameters in sets that are made entirely of plastic. Rod, fasteners and discs are all made of this material.

Because of the material, these sets are the cheapest on the market. Of course, for the low price, you also have to make compromises in terms of quality.

30 millimetres: This is the normal, commercially available diameter for dumbbell bars. Most exercisers should choose this variant because the range is much larger and the price is lower.

50 millimetre: The 50 millimetre diameter is particularly suitable for people who want to combine really professional barbell training with dumbbell training.

This means, for example, heavy deadlifts or heavy squats. This way you only need one type of weight plate, which you can then use for the barbell and the dumbbell.

But why buy another barbell? Although dumbbell training has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages. For example, a barbell is simply better suited for heavy squats or heavy deadlifts.

Powerlifting Bumperplate

For exercises such as deadlifts or squats, you usually use the so-called rubber bumper plates. These are made of a special rubber and provide optimal impact absorption. They are usually slightly larger than comparable weight plates. (Photo: Tyler Olson / 123RF.com)

At a certain level of training, it can become difficult to train the legs with dumbbells only.

The heaviest dumbbell set we know of has a weight of 100 kilograms (50 kilograms per dumbbell.). 100 kilograms may sound like a lot, but it is not really a challenge for a male advanced athlete weighing about 80 kilograms.

However, the problem is not that there are no heavier dumbbells. The real disadvantage of dumbbells is that you simply can't position them properly at such a high weight.

If you simply hold the dumbbells in your hand during a squat, for example, your grip strength in front of your legs will be exhausted because it is very difficult to hold 50 kilograms in one hand.

So it's mainly the forearm muscles that are being trained instead of the leg muscles. Besides, many athletes who can easily do 100 kilograms of deadlifts might have problems even gripping 50 kilograms anyway.

So if you want to include the barbell in your workouts in addition to dumbbell training, you should buy dumbbells with a 50-millimetre disc holder.

The reasons for this are as follows:

  • 30 millimetre barbell bars have a much lower load limit (maximum 200 kiloramm). There is a risk that the bar will break at high weights.
  • It is very difficult to find weight plates with a 30 millimetre hole and a 450 millimetre diameter. This is important because this is the standard height for deadlifts and all other exercises from the floor.
  • There are hardly any bumper plates, which are weight plates that are easy on the floor. This is especially problematic for people who train at home, because no one wants to break their floor.

If you have decided on a diameter, it is of course important to buy the weight plates with the corresponding bore.

Length of the dumbbell bar

The length of the dumbbell bar is not considered by many exercisers. This mistake is very annoying because it can hinder your training progress and also put a strain on your wallet. Because it happens that the dumbbell bars are no longer sufficient and you would then have to buy two new bars.

A dumbbell has three parts. The first disc holder, the handle in the middle and the second disc holder. Dumbbell sets with 25 kilograms per dumbbell usually have a total bar length of 35 centimetres. The total length is divided into a 12-centimetre handle and a 10.5-centimetre disc holder.

The length of the plate holder limits your maximum possible weight. For advanced exercisers and those who want to increase their weight considerably, it may be worth buying a set with weights that are still too heavy. Sets over 25 kilograms have a longer disc holder. The longer disc holder ensures upward flexibility.

Disc size

One of the great advantages of dumbbell sets is that if the original weight is no longer sufficient, new discs can simply be added. However, there are a few things to consider here as well.

The plates in this type of dumbbell are usually made up of many small or light plates, for example 2.5 kilograms or 1.25 kilograms. This allows for more weight combinations.

But that is not the only reason. Small weights logically also have a smaller disc diameter. A large disc diameter interferes with training because it restricts the range of motion. For this reason, we recommend not buying discs over five kilograms.

All weights over five kilograms can interfere with training due to their dimensions, as their diameter is at least 26 centimetres.

Additional material

Do I need any additional material besides the dumbbells? No, even with just two dumbbells you can do a strenuous and challenging workout.

You can enhance your workout with additional equipment. A weight bench can be a useful purchase as it increases the range of exercises you can do with dumbbells. Examples of this would be the different variations of the bench press or the bent-over dumbbell row.

Facts worth knowing about dumbbells

How heavy is the heaviest dumbbell in the world?

Good studios usually have dumbbells weighing up to 60 kilograms. However, it is rather rare that these are used.

In California, in the town of Yucaipa, you will find a dumbbell weighing a whopping 375 pounds (170 kilograms) at the Powerhouse Gym, the heaviest dumbbell in the world.

How were dumbbells originally used?

In fact, the ancient Greeks used the dumbbell to jump further. They held a dumbbell in each hand and swung forward during the jump.

In the course of the flight phase, they moved the weights downwards with momentum and threw them off. This gave them another jump.

Which exercises are suitable for training with dumbbells?

A great advantage of training with dumbbells is that, on the one hand, the entire body can be trained and, on the other hand, no additional equipment is needed. In the following table we will give you 6 exercises with which you can also train your whole body at home and in a very short time.

Exercise Muscles used Number
Side and front raises in superset Lateral and front shoulder muscles 10 side raises, followed directly by 10 front raises. 3 sets
Lunges glutes and hamstrings 10 steps each with right and left. 3 sets
Biceps curls arm muscles (biceps) 8-10 repetitions. 3 sets
Overhead triceps press arm muscles (triceps) 8-10 repetitions each. 3 sets
Bent-over row back muscles and biceps 8-12 repetitions. 3 sets
Push-ups supported by dumbbells chest muscles and triceps 3 times as many as possible

Photo credits: GYMer_Jason / Pixabay.com

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