Buying Basics for Adjustable Dumbbells

Planning on buying an adjustable dumbbell? Before you start building those arms, arm you mind with the right questions and considerations. They can help you find the adjustable dumbbell that you enjoy using. That choice is key to staying on track, perfecting your form, and reaching your goals sooner.


Benefits of Using Dumbbells

You’ve already made one great choice opting to work out with dumbbells. They’re an ideal means of getting in your recommended two muscle-overloading strength exercises per week. Many lifters prefer them to barbells because you have to do the extra work of keeping them balanced.

That makes dumbbells a natural choice for isolation exercises (working the muscles around a single joint). You can build muscle mass and tone your physique – and not just in your arms, chest, and shoulders. Dumbbell lunges and squats can do for your legs and glutes what other exercises do for your upper body.

That full-body workout effort is rewarded with several health benefits beyond muscle-building. These include increased bone density, boosted metabolism, better sleep, more efficient fat burning and a lowered risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. 


Adjustable Dumbell Advantages

The trick with dumbbells is that you need to keep progressing. To keep making gains, you’ll have to move up to a heavier weight your developed muscles can’t easily handle.

At the gym, you’d just have to reach for the next highest weight, but you may not have the space, the budget, or even the inclination to bring a whole rack of dumbbells into your home. If you prefer your privacy and personal space to lining up and taking turns with equipment, adjustable dumbbells are your answer.


Select Your Selection Methods

They come in several different forms. Depending on the set, you can replace three to 15 (or more) sets of traditional dumbbells. Almost all of them offer several weight plates in increments of 5 and 10 lbs., often going up to 50 lbs. When it’s time to go heavier, you just add a plate.

The big difference between these types is how they work:

  • Traditional. These employ a threaded screw collar to hold their plates in place. You’ll have to do a little simple math and not too laborious assembly.
  • Dial. These dumbbells sit in a cradle. You use dials at both ends of the bar to select your lift weight. Both dials need to match for a balanced lift. Once they’re set, you just lift your dumbbell.

The plates that add up to your lift weight stay attached to your dumbbell, the others stay in your tray. To change weights, you just insert the dumbbell back into the tray and dial in a new number.

  • Handle-Twist. These use a cradle system like the dial weights, but you can set both ends by twisting the handle.
  • Slide-pin. Another version of the pick-up/leave-behind model. This time the weight selection is made by pulling and inserting pins into marked weight settings.
  • Other methods: New ideas for adjustable dumbbells keep coming. These include voice-controlled selection and stackable flat dumbbell shapes.

The Need for Speed 

These varied adjustable dumbbell ideas range in price. The difference may be based on materials used (like metal vs. plastic), but most often it boils down to how fast you can change from one weight to another. Why?

With the rising popularity of circuit training, researchers have looked for new ways to optimize its conditioning benefits. One focus has been the amount of time you spend resting between sets. The research shows keeping your heart rate up is essential to peak conditioning, so these breaks should last no more than 30 seconds.

Now imagine trying to change weights in that brief interval. Would you prefer manually changing plates or making a few quick twists of a handle? That extra speed comes at an extra price. Time is money.


Speed isn’t everything.

The above said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you run out and spend your money:

1)   Be aware of trade-offs. Seeming disadvantages may also offer advantages. For instance, the two-dial system may take longer than the handle-twist, but it allows you to offset your weights (one end heavier than the other) for wrist-strengthening exercises. Plus some testers have had no problem spinning both dials in as little as eight seconds.

2)   Muscle endurance is one strength-training goal. If your priority is muscle growth or power training, you can take longer rests between sets.

There are a few other considerations that have to deal with you – specifically. If you don’t mind answering some personal questions, you’ll develop a clearer picture of the adjustable dumbbell for you. 


An Adjustable Dumbbell Buying Decision Self-Survey   

How big are you?

If you’re a smaller person, longer dumbbells can be awkward for certain exercises performed in front of you or close to your sides. Some adjustables add weight on the outside, so the less they weigh, the shorter they are. Some stay their full length at any weight.

 How big are your hands?

No, we’re not insinuating anything. We just want to make sure your adjustable’s handle width doesn’t pinch you. It’s a good reason to get a feel for your dumbbell before you buy it.

 How strong are you?

This question has a follow-up question: How strong do you want to get? We ask both questions because some of us have a head start on muscle mass and some of us can really throw ourselves into our exercise programs. If you fall into one or both of these categories, you might soon outgrow dumbbells that only go up to 50 pounds.

To save yourself buying two weight sets, you might want to look into adjustables with a wider range of increments. You can boost the range of some 50-pound sets with available expansion kits.

 How careful are you?

If you’re a dumbbell dropper, the difference between plastic and metal plates might become apparent very quickly. Even if your dumbbell has metal plates, the mechanism might be damaged. Taking care of your dumbbells can greatly expand their life span, no matter what they’re made of.

 How much space do you have? 

The difference between one adjustable dumbbell and another might come down to an inch or two. That certainly seems slight compared to the giant rack of traditional dumbbells they’re replacing.

However, in some small apartments or storage closets, you might be wishing you had just one less inch to locate. The shape of your dumbbell might also make a difference in terms of tripping hazards. 

 Do you dread sudden changes?

Sometimes moving up to that next increment can feel a little daunting. That’s why some adjustables offer 2.5 lb. increments to make your transition smoother.

 How much will you miss those gym dumbbells?

“Real dumbbell feel” is important to gym users who’ve begun working out at home. If you’re one of them, you’ll probably want plates that interlock tightly. No doubt, you’ll prefer an open handle you can reach from any angle – especially if it has knurling for your grip.

 How much do you like to read?

There’s plenty to learn about adjustable dumbbells on the internet. That’s great because there are so many new adjustable dumbbell ideas coming out, you’ll want to stay on top of them all. As with anything that rapidly gains popularity, some adjustable designs are better than others.

Fortunately, there are plenty of well-researched, scrupulously tested online reviews for you to check out. We’ve referenced a bunch of them in our Bowflex vs. Nuobell head-to-head comparison.

See, feel, and try the adjustable advantage at Flaman Fitness.

Lay your hands on the latest adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells at your nearest Flaman Fitness location. Get a feel for the leading technology of lines like PowerBlock, Bowflex SelectTech line and exciting newcomer Nuobell. Bring your questions to our expert staff and get an excellent idea which dumbbell is right for you.

Category: Fitness News

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