Dumbbells

Before the dumbbell there was the haltere, which was used in ancient Greece for lifting weights.

Dumbbells itself originates from referring to equipment simulating the action of a bell rope for the purpose of developing technique for the purpose of practicing bell ringing but without making a noise. When strongmen started making their own equipment they kept the name, even though the shape and form changed.

What to look for when buying a set of dumbbells

Putting aside the cost factor, the most important thing to think about is what you need them for. If you are specifically buying a very heavy set of 40kg or more then you will probably be best getting this as a fixed-weight style dumbbell.

If you are just starting with weight training but want to be able to do a wide variety of exercises, then the adjustable type would be best as you can use the bars and a selection of weight plates to change the weight so it is heavy enough to stress your muscles on different exercises.

Dumbbells are a relatively inexpensive way of performing a variety of exercises even if you only have a short amount of time to workout

If you need a set that doesn’t rely on having possibly a wide range of weight plates, and don’t have the room to store many different fixed weight style dumbbells, then selectorized is probably the best option. This will allow you to use just one set of dumbbells but simply slide the pin out of the weight plate stack to a different level when you want to change the weight. These will also fit in your car easily if travelling a lot and still wanting to perform exercises.

Exercises you can perform

  • Dumbbell flys (Chest)
  • Dumbbell press (Chest)
  • Pullovers (Chest and Back)
  • Dumbbell row (Back)
  • Dumbbell deadlift (Back and Hamstrings)
  • Shrugs (Traps)
  • Shoulder press (Shoulders)
  • Side lateral raises (Shoulders)
  • Front raises (Shoulders)
  • Rear delt fly (Shoulders and Traps)
  • Hammer curl (Biceps)
  • Bicep curl (Biceps)
  • Concentration curls (Bicep)
  • Preacher curls (Bicep
  • Forearm curl (Forearms)
  • Lunges (Glutes, Hamstrings and Quadriceps)
  • Overhead tricep extensions (Triceps)
  • Dumbbell kickbacks (Triceps)
  • While these are the most popular types of exercise you can perform with a set of dumbbells, there are many more variations and less well known exercises that can still be good for isolating muscles. These are just the ones that will grow the most muscle and strength when performed properly.

    Different Types

    Adjustable dumbbells

    These are the type that you will most often see if you look through a gym products catalogue and are usually associated with home use. This is because you can simply buy a range of weight plates and adjust the dumbbells in much smaller increments in as little as 0.5kg, whereas gym dumbbells often go up in 2kg increments. Also this means you can have just one set of dumbbell bars and use weight plates that you would also use for bench pressing or attaching to a barbell if you have one already in your home gym.
    Adjustable dumbbells

    The central bar portion is often engraved with a crosshatch to help improve grip, and the ends of the dumbbell where you attach the weight are usually threaded due to the type of collar. You can then spin the collar down until it is tight against the weight plate to keep it in place.

    Fixed-weight dumbbells

    The most common type of dumbbell found in commercial gyms, fixed-weight dumbbells consist of a short metal bar with a central crosshatched section and a block of weight on either end.

    These will often be stored on a weight rack due to the need to have a wide range for all exercises. For example if you were looking to perform dumbbell kickbacks to work your triceps then 12kg may be enough weight, whereas the same lifter might need a set of 40kg dumbbells for shoulder presses.

    Even with this range you would have 15 sets of dumbbells. This does allow for more people to use the different weights at the same time which is why they are so popular in commercial gyms but not home gyms.

    Usually the weight is covered in rubber or neoprene for comfort and to be less noisy when dropping to the ground, fixed-weight dumbbells also come in the metal weight plate version.

    Fixed-weight dumbbells

    ‘Selectorized’ dumbbells

    Although ‘Selectorized’ is a relatively new design, it is extremely useful for personal trainers, home gyms and anyone looking to save some space but still feel like you have a range of different dumbbell sizes.

    Consisting of a series of weight plates and a pin that you can slide into different weight levels, they save time when switching weights between sets or supersetting and often come with a clear colour coded guide on which pin position relates to which weight. A very similar system to how cable machines operate with the weight pin and weight stack.

    PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Adjustable Dumbbells
    An example of this type of dumbbell is the PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Adjustable Dumbbells.

    Compare Dumbbell Sets

    Together with the weighted barbell, dumbbells are perhaps the most iconic symbol of weightlifting due to the fact they have been around in one form or another since more or less the very beginning of weightlifting.

    The popularity of dumbbells is well founded thanks to the number of exercises you can perform with a variety of dumbbell sets. Whether you need rubber coated, adjustable or fixed weight dumbbell sets, we take a look at some of the best in the Dumbbells product section.

    Dumbbells

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