Here is your guide on how to choose a home weight set. With six important selection criteria and a recommendation guide. As a personal trainer, I give you my best advice on what to look for in dumbbells, depending on your situation.
Dumbbells are a very old piece of equipment, probably already used by the Greeks and Indians hundreds of years BC . And today, dumbbells are still in the top three of most used equipment in gyms . No wonder we have so many different options these day.
It is important to pay attention upfront to the type of weights (fixed, adjustable, smart adjustable), the materials, the handle and more.
Because there are hundreds of dumbbell sets offered these days, I found it usefull to provide my clients and you with a helpful guide. How do you choose the best home weight set for you?
In this guide, we will give you six selection criteria, plus our recommendation to decide on the best dumbbells for your home gym. At the end, we also answer frequently asked questions.
But first, we give you an overview of the six selection criteria for different types of dumbbells.
Table of Contents
- Six selection criteria for home weight sets
- How to choose the right home weight set for you
- Frequently Asked Questions about Home Weight Sets
- What to do next
Six selection criteria for home weight sets
First, I give you an overview of the important things to consider when purchasing dumbbells.
#1 – Type of dumbbell set
The most important choice is: what type of weight set to purchase. There are three types of dumbbell sets: 1) fixed, 2) plate-loaded adjustable and 3) smart adjustable. Which one you need depends on your type of workout, budget and storage space.
Fixed home weight set
Fixed weight dumbbells have a fixed weight and no mechanics. These are the ones you see in commercial gyms and also in home gyms. They are the easiest to use. You just pick up the weight you need, and you don’t have to change plates.
In gyms, you often see these weights on racks. They are the most durable, because they have no moving parts.
However, you need different weights for different exercises. This can get expensive, and you also need enough storage space. So, for a home gym, adjustable dumbbells are a good option too.
Also, you have to pay attention to the material, the handle and the shape. See below.
Plate-Loaded Adjustable Dumbbells
Plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells are relatively cheap. You get more weights in the same set. An important thing to consider is the way the plates are locked.
Spin-Lock: These are the cheapest adjustable weights. A disadvantage is that it takes time to unlock the screw and change plates. Also, the lock might come loose during your workout.
Collar-lock: Collar-locks are much easier and quicker to operate than spin-locks. With a simple click, you unlock the collar to change plates.
Quick-Lock or Smart Adjustable Dumbbells
Smart adjustable dumbbells have a mechanism to quickly change weights. Either by clicking buttons, turning a wheel, or using your voice. You can change weights a lot quicker than with the spin-lock or collar-lock. These sets are on average pricier than the other types of weights.
Why is the type of dumbbell you chose important? When you progress your training, you might need heavier weights or more different weights. With fixed dumbbells, you end up with many weights (like I have). This takes up storage space. And when I set up my gym in my living room, I have to put all those weights in place. Looking back, I would be better off with one set of Smart Adjustable Dumbbells.
# 2 – Required weight range
As a beginner, you probably need lighter weights and smaller increments. With regards to adjustable weights, check for your desired range. More and more suppliers have smart adjustable weights with different weight ranges.
The smaller ones typically range from 2.5 lbs to 12.5 lbs per hand.
Middle weights range from 2.5 lbs to 25 lbs per hand.
Heavy sets range from 10 lbs to 45 lbs per hand.
Why is the weight range you chose important? You want to use the weights longer and train your whole body. If you go for fixed weights, at least buy a few different weights. For women, I would recommend: 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5 lbs. For men 10, 15, 20 lbs.
# 3 – Dumbbell material
Dumbbells are made of heavy metal and usually (partially) covered with rubber, neoprene or plastic. Rubber, neoprene and plastic are softer than metal. This makes them better for home use, to protect your floor. Also, they make less noise when you put them on the floor.
Lighter fixed weights with neoprene are good for cardio exercises. I find plastic less ideal, because the handle gets slippery. However, there are plastic covered light dumbbells with a hex shaped handle. These have a good enough grip.
# 4 – Dumbbell shape
Dumbbells have two commonly used shapes for the ends: hex (with flat sides) and rounded. Dumbbells with hexagonal ends are less likely to roll away. The best dumbbell shape depends on how you intend to use them.
If you prefer exercises using dumbbells as platforms (for example for push up or reverse row), then you may prefer the hex shape.
#5 – Handles for grip
Many dumbbells have a knurled, metal handle. This gives a good grip. Others have a hexagonal shaped handle for better grip. Smaller dumbbells sometimes have handles of textured rubber or neoprene, these are great for cardio workouts.
Pay attention to the way the handle is shaped.
#6 – Multi-use
Some dumbbell sets can be adjusted to a mini-barbell, a kettle-bell or an ab-wheel. Especially for a small home gym, this can be beneficial.
How to choose the right home weight set for you
As there are hundreds of weight sets on the market, it is impossible to review them all here. Instead, I decided to give you a handy guide line. This is how I recommend my clients make a choice.
- If it fits your budget, go for a high quality Smart Adjustable Dumbbell Set. For women, I would say up to 25 lbs per hand, for men up to 45 lbs per hand.
These sets are easy to store and move. And you have different weights at your disposal. So that you continue to use the dumbbells as you progress. Supply your home gym with other equipment for a complete workout.
Carefully read customer reviews and pay attention to the material and mechanics for changing the weights. This is obviously the most vulnerable part of the dumbbells.
- If you only need a few dumbbell sets, choose fixed weights. I recommend weights with knurled handles and a hex shape. I am not a fan of the plastic, slippery weights, although I happen to have some in my own collection. The weights with knurled handles have a better grip. And you can use the dumbbells with a hex shape for a reverse row or as a push up bar.
- If you are budget conscious and have limited space, look for plate-loaded dumbbells that can also be used as a barbell. I am not a fan of plate-loaded dumbbells and do not recommend them to my clients. Because it is a hassle to change the weights, especially with a spin-lock. It might prevent you from enjoying your training. However, some people prefer plate-loaded dumbbells. They are usually durable.
Frequently Asked Questions about Home Weight Sets
What weights are good for at home?
Your choice of weights depends on 6 criteria described in this article. Please also read my recommendation above, on how to choose the right set for you. If you still have questions, send me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What size weights should I use for a home workout?
Aim for different weights, because you need different weights for different muscle groups. Also, the weight depends of course on your level of fitness. If possible, buy a Smart Adjustable Dumbbell Set, so you have a range of weights. For women, I would say up to 25 lbs per hand, for men up to 45 lbs per hand.
How much does a full weight set cost?
Prices vary wildly, largely depending on the quality of the weight set.
Fixed weights: the pricing depends on the weight and quality. They start from about $18 for 5 lbs, up to $58 for 40 lbs and higher. A complete rack with weights starts from about $250.
Plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells with a spin-lock are the cheapest. A full set starts at about $100. That would be up to about 40 lbs per hand. Take a careful look at the quality, though, and read customer reviews. The cheaper sets, for example, might have weak plastic parts. You don’t want the plates to come off during your workout.
Smart adjustable dumbbells start at about $150 for lighter weights, all the way up to $700 for heavier weights. For these types of weights, the quality is important, because of the mechanical parts. Also, the cheaper versions tend to have more plastic elements. That makes them vulnerable to damage. Read customer reviews carefully.
Do you have a question about Home weights?
If you have a question about home weights, please leave a comment below. We will answer all questions personally.
What to do next
Be sure to select your home weight set with care, based on the six selection criteria provided. Also check out our guide on home exercise equipment.