5 Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Serious Lifters: Heavy Dumbbells Only
Top 5 Best Adjustable Dumbbell Sets

5 Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Home Gyms: PowerBlock vs Ironmaster vs Bowflex & More

Rank

Dumbbell Set

Rating

Price

#1

PowerBlock Elite 90 - 5-90 lbs

PowerBlock Elite 90 Dumbbells

#2

Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells

Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells

#3

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells

#4

Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells

Yes4All 200-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell

#5

Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Handle with Weights and Collars

Cap Olympic Dumbbell Handle

If you're trying to build a high quality home gym on a budget, then you'll want the best adjustable dumbbells you can afford.

Sure, a full set of fixed dumbbells would be nice. However, you can the same benefits of dumbbell training with a good adjustable dumbbell system, at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the space requirements as a fixed dumbbell set.

In this article, I'll teach you all about adjustable dumbbells, including their benefits, the different types and what to look for when buying them. Then, I'll lay out my top 5 picks for the best adjustable dumbbells, including the pros and cons of each system.

I've chosen to review only heavy adjustable dumbbell systems. My criteria is that each dumbbell set must be able to adjust to at least 90 pounds per dumbbell.

This can include dumbbell sets that come with a base model that is less than 90 lbs per dumbbell, but which have add-ons that for increase the max capacity.

Now, let's get started! You can start reading the full article, or jump to a specific part of it by using the table of contents below:

Advantages of Using Adjustable Dumbbells vs Fixed Dumbbells

While you may be accustomed to using that long line of dumbbells at your local gym, adjustable dumbbells are far more convenient. Adjustable dumbbells only require you to buy two pieces of equipment, which will save you the hassle of transporting dozens of traditional fixed dumbbells. What’s more, you only need a small corner space to store adjustable dumbbells.

Compared to a fixed dumbbell set, a pair of adjustable dumbbells is the more cost-effective option. For example:

  • The price of the Rep Fitness 5-100 lb Rubber Hex Dumbbell Set (fixed DBs) is $2379. That doesn't include shipping, which is an extra ~$300+ depending on where you live. The set goes from 5-100 lb dumbbells in 5 lb. increments. This is one of the best bang for your buck sets out there (i.e. good quality, great price).
  • The price of my #1 rated dumbbell, the PowerBlock Elite 5-90 Set is only $557 plus $89 for shipping. It goes from 2.5-90 lbs in 2.5 or 5 lb increments.
  • So, the fixed set in this example is a whopping 400%+ more expensive than the adjustable set!

Are All Adjustable Dumbbells the Same?

Adjustable dumbbells, unlike most commercial gym dumbbells, are quite different from one another.

First, the size and shape of adjustable dumbbells can vary drastically.

Some may be top heavy while other brands may balance the weight throughout. Some adjustable dumbbells may have a circular shape while others have a block or boxy shape. You may find that you prefer one size and shape over another so it’s important to take this into consideration.

Next, the method in which you change the amount of weight you’re using can be very different depending on the adjustable dumbbell. Some dumbbells have a twist-action change while others have movable pins.

Finally, not all adjustable dumbbells are built the same. If you’re someone who tends to get rough with their gym equipment, you’ll want to avoid certain brands of adjustable dumbbells because of their durability.

With all of these differences to consider, let’s jump into the top 5 adjustable dumbbells for home gyms.

The 5 Best Adjustable Dumbbells for Home Gyms

#1 PowerBlock Dumbbells

PowerBlock is one of the veteran brands in the fitness industry for adjustable dumbbells.

PowerBlock Dumbbells

I want to focus on two sets of PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells: the Elite 90 and the Pro EXP Stage 3 sets.

If you’re on a budget and you still want to ensure that you’re getting a top-quality product, the Elite 90 adjustable dumbbells by PowerBlock are your best bet.

PowerBlock Elite 90 Pros

PowerBlock Elite 90 Adjustable Dumbbell Set - 5-90 lbs

PowerBlock Elite 90 Dumbbell Set: This is the most popular adjustable dumbbell set made by PowerBlock.

  • Easy and quick to adjust, a pair of Elite 90 adjustable dumbbells are maxed-out at 90 pounds, which means that they are going to be ideal for the greatest number of weight lifters regardless of physique goals. In terms of quality, the Elite 90 set was built to take some punishment. Still, I wouldn’t recommend throwing them around as you would with traditional dumbbells.

PowerBlock Elite 90 Cons

  • The biggest complaint that you’ll hear about the Elite 90 adjustable dumbbells is that due to their box-like shape they can be awkward to handle. This, of course, can be remedied with time and practice.

PowerBlock Pro EXP Stage 3 Pros

  • The PowerBlock Pro EXP Stage 3 set (purchased in 3 pieces: Stage 1 Set + Stage 2 Kit + Stage 3 Kit) is the most durable and robust PowerBlock you can buy. Unlike the Elite 90, it has a protective urethane coating on the weight blocks. Plus, the weight block rods have a non-welded "flex" design. This makes them MUCH less susceptible to damage from short drops compared to the Elite, which uses an inflexible welded design.
  • They go all the way up to an impressive 90 lbs per hand, just like the Elite 90.
  • They're the only PowerBlock dumbbells that are compatible with the KettleBlock handle, which converts them into an adjustable kettlebell. Similarly, they're the only models that are compatible with the PowerBlock EZ Curl and Straight Bar handles, which convert them into adjustable barbells.
PowerBlock Pro EXP Stage 3 Set

PowerBlock Pro EXP Stage 3 Cons

  • The PowerBlock Pro EXP Stage 3 adjustable dumbbells are more expensive than the Elite 90 set by about $200, which might be out of the budget range for some lifters.

#2 Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbell Set

With the ability to max out the weight at 165 pounds per dumbbell and the durability of commercial grade gym equipment, the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells are a formidable choice.

ironmaster dumbbell system

Ironmaster Dumbbell Set Pros

  • You can expand them to VERY heavy weights. The base set goes to 75 lbs., which is impressive in and of itself, and adequate for most lifters. Need more weight than that? No problem, just get the 120-lb add-on kit. Is 120 lbs. still too light for you?! Well worry not, there is yet another add-on kit that takes you all the way up to a max weight of 165 lbs.! That's almost the highest you can go for any adjustable dumbbell set. The only one I've seen that can go higher is one of the commercial sets from PowerBlock that goes up to 175 lbs. However, it's also significantly more expensive than the Ironmaster -- And with the Ironmaster, you can start with a much lower investment by getting just the base set, then buy the add-on sets later.
Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells - 75 lb Set

This is the base 75-pound dumbbell set

Ironmaster Dumbbells 120-lb add-on kit

This is the 120-pound add-on kit

Ironmaster Dumbbells 165-lb add-on kit

This is the 165-pound add-on kit

Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells - 75 lb Set - 120 lb Set - 165 lb Set

This image shows visually how the different add-on kits, when combined with the base set, can be used to expand the maximum weight capacity to 120 lbs. or even a full 165 lbs.!

  • I really like this adjustable dumbbell pair because of the potential that comes with purchasing them. They are a vital tool for any fitness goal and they are built so tough that I believe they are going to last a long time once you make the buy.
  • It comes with the dumbbell stand included in the price of the 75 lb. base set. With most other adjustable dumbbell sets, you have to buy the stand separately.

Ironmaster Dumbbell Set Cons

  • The Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells aren’t the fastest locking dumbbells. They are much quicker than traditional spin-lock adjustable dumbbells. But they can’t compare to the speed of the PowerBlock or BowFlex brands. At the same time, though, they are more durable than both the PowerBlock and BowFlex dumbbells – you trade adjustment speed for durability.

#3 Bowflex SelectTech 1090

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbell Set with Stand

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Pros

  • With a weight limit of 90 pounds that you can rapidly spin and set, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dumbbells are a great choice for anyone looking to build a respectable home gym.
  • The 1090 dumbbells are reasonably priced for the quality and while not as tough as the Ironmaster dumbbells or even the PowerBlock dumbbells, they’re more durable than most other adjustable dumbbells.
  • While I don’t own the 1090s, I did have the opportunity to train with them before. I found that the handle of the 1090 dumbbells helped me train up my grip strength considerably more than traditional dumbbells, because it’s thicker.
Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbell Set without Stand

This is what you'll get if you buy just the dumbbells.

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbell Stand

You can buy the Bowflex dumbbell stand separately, or included with the dumbbells.

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Cons

  • The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dumbbells start at a relatively high weight of 10 lbs. This isn't an issue for the vast majority of exercises, but there are times where being able to go as low as 5 lbs. (e.g. rotator cuff exercises like shoulder external rotation and shoulder internal rotations).
  • They are the same length at 10 lbs. as they are at 90 lbs. They don't get shorter/longer as you adjust the weight lower/higher. This can make it awkward to do exercises like biceps curls or lateral raises where you bring the dumbbells to your sides or in front of you -- the long handles may get in the way of your hips or thighs, even when using a relatively weight.

#4 Yes4All 200-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell Set (100 Lbs per Dumbbell)

When you want the feeling of holding a traditional dumbbell and the option to expand your weight limit to 100 pounds per dumbbell, the 200-pound set of Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells may be what you need.

Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells

Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells Pros

  • It's the least expensive set of twist-on collar style adjustable dumbbells I could find that adjust up to 100 pounds per dumbbell.
  • Do not confuse the 200-pound set with the 105-pound version of the Yes4All dumbbells. The 105-pound set only comes with enough weight plates to adjust each dumbbell up to 52.5 pounds per dumbbell. If you're a serious lifters, you're going to want use more than that eventually, on some exercises.
  • Of course, if you did get the 105-pound set, you could buy more plates later on so that it's effectively the same as the 200-pound set. BUT there's a catch: You can't buy just any standard weight plates. You can only buy plates that fit the 1.15" diameter handle (the standard size is 1 inch). Yes4All sells these, but when you buy them separately from the dumbbell set, they're more expensive than many other 1 inch standard weight plates...

    ...All of the above just lends itself the 200-pound set being the smartest buy to begin with--even if you don't think you'll need more than 52.5 pounds per dumbbell at first, you will eventually. So you may as well buy it now and save. That is, of course, if you choose Yes4All dumbbells vs the others I mention in this article.

Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells Cons

  • The issue that I have with the Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells is  the twisting cap that secures the plates. It is quick to wiggle and become loose. I think this won’t be a problem for the observant lifter but if you tend to get into the zone, you may not realize you’re about to lose some weight plates.

#5 Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Handle + Olympic Weights

If budget is your main concern when buying adjustable dumbbells, Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Handle with Olympic Weights is a low-cost option that gets the job done.

Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Handle with Weight Plates and Collars

Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Set Pros

  • It gives you that old school feel of traditional dumbbells with the Olympic-style plates. What’s more, you can rest assured that you’re getting a set of dumbbells with a high durability level.
  • Also, if you already have an Olympic weight set already (i.e. plates with 2-inch diameter hole), then you can just buy 2 handles and use your existing weight plates.

Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Set Cons

  • My concern is with the collars that come with the Cap Barbell Olympic Dumbbell Handle + Olympic Weights. I don’t think they are the best quality and if you’re moving heavy weights above your body, you may be putting yourself at risk. The one remedy to this is to purchase secure and higher quality collars. This isn’t ideal but it may be a necessary solution if you can’t afford the higher priced adjustable dumbbells.

Which Adjustable Dumbbell Set Should You Buy?

1st Place: PowerBlock Elite 90

I believe that the greatest long-term investment is going to be the PowerBlock Elite 90. These adjustable dumbbells offer excellent weight expandability up to an impressive 90 pounds.

PowerBlock Elite 90 Adjustable Dumbbell Set

Possibly the biggest draw of the PowerBlocks is their incredibly fast adjustment. You can go from 5 pounds to 90 pounds in literally just a few seconds.

Outside of having sufficient weight and an easy adjustment mechanism, my biggest concern is safety. And the Elite 90 adjustable dumbbells are incredibly safe and secure. You don’t have to worry about wear and tear, unlike with the BowFlex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells. So you can rest assured that what you’re buying will last a long time.

2nd Place: Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells

My runner-up would be the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells. The brand’s greatest asset is the fact they expand up to 120 lbs with the first add-on kit, and then even higher to a whopping 165 pounds with the second add-on kit.

Ironmaster Quick Lock Dumbbells with 120 lb add-on kit

I love how most accessories come standard with these dumbbells and their durability is elite quality. They are super safe, secure, and effective. I own the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells and love them.

The only reason I gave them the #2 spot was because you can adjust the PowerBlocks noticeably faster. I know that a lot of people in the market for adjustable dumbbells value adjustment speed very highly. However, if you're okay with just fast adjustment (as opposed than very fast), and prefer a more robust and natural-feeling dumbbell, then the Ironmasters are for you.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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