The Best Dumbbells to Buy in 2018

Strengthen your workout game with these options

If you’re building a home gym, putting dumbbells on your to-buy list is a smart move. Training with weights helps to increase strength while adding lean muscle—something that naturally decreases as you age. And unlike a large weights machine or barbell setup, dumbbells can be affordable and take up little space.

One of the top questions people have is: “How much weight should I start with?” Generally, the rule is to choose dumbbells that, by the tenth repetition of your exercise, feel difficult but not impossible to lift. When in doubt, buy a lighter pair of dumbbells than you think you need. After all, you can always add more reps to your workout to tire out (and tone up) your muscles. Here, the best dumbbells to add to your exercise equipment collection.  

1

If you’re new to weightlifting, starting with lighter dumbbells will help you perfect form while avoiding injury. The Tone Fitness 20 lb. Hourglass Dumbbell Set comes with three pairs of dumbbells (two, three and five pounds)—the perfect weights for newbies—and a plastic stand to store them on.

Owners say that the hourglass shape of the dumbbells makes them comfortable and secure to hold, although their smaller size might not make them a great option for people with large hands. But even if you do eventually graduate to heavier dumbbells, you’ll want to keep this set around for exercises that call for lighter weights, such as some Pilates moves. 

2

Neoprene-coated dumbbells are a favorite for a few reasons. First, the rubbery coating makes them comfortable to hold and easy to grip when your palms become sweaty and slippery (hey, it happens). On top of that, the softer exterior helps protect floors from dents and dings if the weights happen to be dropped. Plus, the colorful dumbbells are a fun way to brighten up a home gym.

The AmazonBasics Neoprene Dumbbells come in a variety of weight options, from one- to 20-pounds, giving you the choice of buying one pair or purchasing multiple. We love the fact that the hexagonal shape means that the dumbbells stay in place when you put them on the ground between sets, preventing you from having to chase after runaway weights. 

3

Investing in an adjustable dumbbell is a time- and space-saver. The Bowflex SelectTech 560 compact design adjusts from five 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 that 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 tracked on the accompanying Bowflex Connect app. 

4

Serious exercisers will appreciate having a complete dumbbell set in their home gym. A full range of weights also means that everyone in the house—no matter their fitness level—will find a pair of dumbbells that works for them. The XMark model fits the bill with 10 pairs of weights, ranging from five to 50 pounds. This rack measure 46" long so you'll need some space to fit. 

Reviewers have commended the quality of the dumbbells, which are made from cast iron with a rubber casting and a comfortable, chrome-plated handle. When you’re done, store the weights on the included anti-slip rack, which comes in both grey and white colorways. 

5

Heading out of town often means missing a few days of your workout routine. The solution: Water-filled weights that travel with you, like 1Up Adjustable Dumbbell Travel Hydro Aqua Water Weights. When they’re completely full, the dumbbells are 16 pounds each and can be adjusted to be lighter. But when empty, they weigh in at just 24 ounces and fold flat to fit in your luggage.

Take the dumbbells with you on business trips or vacations to stay fit on the go. Reviews say they are easy to fill and don’t leak, and that the non-slip foam handle makes for a comfortable, firm grip. Bonus: If you drop one of these on your foot, it won’t hurt like an iron dumbbell would!

6

The NuBells Dumbbells certainly aren’t your traditional dumbbells! The ergonomic, circular design evenly distributes weight to help avoid stress or injury when lifting, making them a great option for people who are older or recovering from an injury but still want to strength train. People who own the dumbbells say they like the fact that their NuBells don’t place strain on the wrists or shoulders when exercising, and one user said that they even helped mend a case of tennis elbow.

The NuBells come in a range of different weights. Their slim profile makes them easy to store, and a rubber coating ensures that they won’t damage your flooring.

7

Lifting weights in the water may seem silly, but it’s actually an amazing way to build strength if you follow a water-based exercise or physical therapy program. The problem is that traditional weights sink when you release them, but these TheraBand Aquatic Hand Bar Dumbbell weights are made from buoyant material so that they stay afloat. They’re actually intended to be used under the water, and the water’s resistance is what helps strengthen muscles. Reviewers say that although they were surprised by how lightweight the dumbbells were when they first received them, it takes a quite a bit of effort to push them down under and through the water.

There are a number of pool-based exercises you can try with these dumbbells, including this floating push-up move: Start by floating on your stomach with the weights submerged and held against your chest. Push down to extend your elbows so that the dumbbells are directly below your chest, then return to starting position. 

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