The demand for at home weight training equipment is higher than ever and whether you have a full home gym or are just starting out, one piece of equipment that is pretty universally accepted as being necessary is a few sets of dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells offer even more benefits for at home use than standard dumbbells thanks to their space saving design. Anyone looking to follow a progressive overload programme will need several weights of dumbbells, and the adjustable dumbbell allows for a wide range of weights and are usually available at a much more affordable price. We will be taking a look at the best adjustable dumbbells in the UK and as part of our comprehensive review we will also be looking at the advantages and any pitfalls that adjustable dumbbells might have over their traditional counterparts.
How Do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?
On the face of it, adjustable dumbbells work in exactly the same way as traditional dumbbells with the exception that they tend to have a longer bar to accommodate extra weight. There are two main types of adjustable dumbbells – selectorised and spin lock. The only real difference is in how the weights are applied to the dumbbell but both do have their own positives and drawbacks.
Essentially, whether you are using spin-lock dumbbells or selectorised dumbbells, they both offer the same benefit of progressive overload and both will offer many advantages over fixed weight dumbbells. They can be expensive as an initial outlay but it is an investment that will repay you many times over in the long run.
Selectorised dumbbells come in two main styles – dial a weight and pin selector. Dial a weight dumbbells are the more expensive option than pin selector models but generally all selectorised weights will be more expensive than the spin-lock models and they tend to have a base that houses all the weights – as you select your appropriate weight and the remaining weights sit in the base.
Dial a weight dumbbells as the name suggests are adjusted via a dial. The dial will usually show the exact weight either in kgs or lbs and is the quickest and easiest of all types of adjustable dumbbells. They are also the most expensive but if you are looking for quick and efficient workouts and think you will be using these for years to come then they are well worth the investment.
Selector pin dumbbells work in much the same way as dial a weight models but use a pin instead of dial to select the weight. The remaining weights are then usually left in the base.
The biggest advantage of selectorised dumbbells other than being time efficient is that they are pretty portable and extremely space efficient. As all of the weights fit on to the bar they can be stored very neatly and do not require any kind of weight plate rack. If you are going away for the weekend and taking the car you could also very easily take these with you without taking up a huge amount of boot space or lugging around cumbersome plates.
Most selectorised dumbbells are made of cast iron or metal and this is a preferred option thanks to the smooth fluid motion they provide when working out. They also offer much more durability than plastic plates and will stand the test of time.
Spin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
Spin-lock dumbbells are the most affordable type of adjustable dumbbell. They generally come supplied with a range of weight plates (either plastic coated or metal/cast iron) and feature a spin lock at each end of the bar. These also tend to be a little more cumbersome to use as the plates tend to take up more space and the bars are longer as they need to accomodate the weight plates.
We prefer the cast iron versions but if you are looking for cheap adjustable dumbbells then plastic spin lock models are perfectly fine and will be the cheapest adjustables you can get hold of.
The biggest downside to using spin-lock dumbbells is that they take up a fair bit more space and they take longer to change weights between sets or exercises. They do have some unique advantages though in that they are cheaper and more versatile in that the weight plates can be used on barbells and multi-gyms.
Top 8 Adjustable Dumbbells
After conducting extensive online research and taking on board some anecdotal evidence we tested 10 different sets of the top rated adjustable dumbbells. We have compiled that in to our top 8 here and have linked each to the cheapest prices we could find. You will pay no more by using our links to buy, but it will allow us to continue testing and bringing you these buying guides as we receive a small commission from each sale.
Bowflex Selecttech 552 Dumbbells
Bowflex have established themselves as a leading player in home gym equipment and their Selecttech range is some of the best we have seen in both the kettlebell and dumbbell categories. The Selecttech 552 come as a pair of dial based adjustable dumbbells and they have an impressive weight range from 2kg right up to 24kg each. The plates are made from metal but have a durable moulding around them which offers the perfect balance between a smooth feel and long lasting durability – this combination of metal and plastic moulding also allows for a quieter workout as you don’t get the metal on metal clanging sounds which can be off-putting for some.
With 15 different weight options in total, this set of adjustable dumbbells effectively replaces 15 pairs of a dumbbells in a single pair. They are neatly stored in their base and when in use they do not feel overly cumbersome making them ideal for all standard dumbbell moves. The plates are relatively small and although there is a slight difference in feel to a standard dumbbell, the weight distribution is pretty bang on. A variety of weight selections can be chosen including 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 23 and 24kg. The increments are perfect and really do allow you to replace a whole rack of dumbbells with just this single pair.
There is a Selecttech App that can be used to provide further tips and exercises to perform with these dumbbells but the reality is anything you can do with a standard dumbbell can be done with the 552s. In terms of cost, they are not at the top end but are certainly not at the bottom end either – we have secured the best price we could find below.
When using our link below you can grab a hefty discount and a 2 year warranty so if your budget allows this is without a doubt our top option.
Athlyt Adjustable Dumbbell
The Athlyt adjustable dumbbell is a great option for anyone who wants a dial a weight dumbbell but doesn’t need a pair. Even if you were to buy two of these it would compare pretty favourably on cost to the Bowflex model that we placed in position one but if you do only need one dumbbell then this is a perfect option. With selectable weights ranging from 2.5kg to 25kg (at 2.5kg increments), the Athlyt dumbbell is a really versatile and well made selectable dumbbell.
The metal weight plates are well made and hexagonal in shape so anyone who is used to using hex dumbbells will find these very familiar. Your motion is smooth when using these dumbbells and they are also incredibly comfortable to hold with a non-slip grip easy to achieve.
The Athlyt dumbbell can be used for pretty much any standard dumbbell exercise and again, in terms of value for money it is hard to beat. If you like the the Bowflex style but don’t want to pay Bowflex prices then this model from Athlyt is a really good option.
Sports Tech Adjustable Dumbbells
If you are on the lookout for a cheaper set of adjustable dumbbells that is a little more budget friendly then this offering from Sports Tech provides just that. With a spin-lock system and iron weights, this sub £100 system is available in a range of maximum weights so you can opt for exactly what you need. The model we tested was the 30kg set which provides a maximum of 2x15kg dumbbells. This weight may not be enough for some but if are happy to work between a range of 2.5kg and 15kg then this could be a good budget option.
These dumbbells come supplied with protective rubber bands to put around the weight plates. This is a great idea as it makes the dumbbells quieter to use and will protect your flooring if you don’t have floor mats in place.
An added feature of the Sports Tech dumbbells is that they can be adjusted in to a single barbell to provide a 30kg weight resistance on a single bar. This is a pretty innovative feature and we can testify that it works well.
When used as dumbbells, there is a good degree of comfort afforded thanks to the bar being cushioned and the weight plates are not too big thanks to being made from iron. This provides a fairly smooth action when working out. The spin-lock works well and as the bars are not overly long it is fairly quick and easy to unlock and re-lock. One thing we did notice and that really impressed us with this model is that the spin-lock uses a star cap which locked really securely in place with no weight plate slippage at all.
The only real downside of the Sports Tech is that you are limited to 15kg per dumbbell but for many people this will be sufficient and for the price it offers excellent value for money.
York Cast Iron Dumbbells
If you don’t need to go big with the dumbbells you are looking for then this option from York Fitness is a great one. York have been making cast iron dumbbells for as long as we can remember as these adjustable dumbbells are up to the usual high quality that we have come to expect from them. Each dumbbell has 10kg of weight plates that can be added to the 1.5kg of each bar so in total you are looking at around 11.5kg per dumbbell. If that’s not enough weight for you then skip to our next option – but if it is then read on.
The first thing to point out with these dumbbells is that they provide a super smooth range of motion thanks to the size, shape and weight of each cast iron plate. The plates look and feel high quality and whilst the same unfortunately can’t be said for the star cap spin locks, they do the job well and keep the plates very securely in place.
These dumbbells are very comfortable to use, very well made and if you can get past the high price then they will provide a good long term investment.
Yaheetech are not the most well known brand when it comes to fitness equipment but we had heard some good things about this cheap set of adjustable dumbbells so we thought we’d give them a chance. The first thing that jumped out at us was the affordability of them and although they are plastic coated they are pretty comfortable to use and appear to be fairly hard wearing.
There is a maximum weight of 15kg per dumbbell so the same limitations apply here as to the Sports Tech models but if for any reason you prefer a plastic moulded finish rather than the iron and rubber protector of the Sports Tech then this is a good option.
The dumbbells are comfortable to grip thanks to the knurled detailing and they feature a star lock cap system (plastic) which held all of the weights in place securely. We found them easy to use and although the weight distribution was a little unwieldy for some movements, on the whole we were able to achieve a decent workout.
When it comes to value for money these are hard to beat.
Power Block Pro 50
The Power Block Pro is one of those training products that you will either love or hate. The general consensus in our office was that we loved them but we can see why they could get a bad press as they look so unlike a traditional dumbbell. The Powerblock Pro 50 offers 20 different weights (all measured in lbs not kgs) and as the name suggests you get up to 50lbs on each dumbbell – that’s just over 22.5kg. They have the biggest range of weights and they are selectable via a selector pin with 2.5lb increments from 2.5lbs up to 50lbs. These small increments make this one of the most versatile pairs of dumbbells on the market.
Despite the square design, these dumbbells are actually incredibly comfortable in use and the handles have some of the best padding we have seen of all the dumbbells we reviewed. They are incredibly quick to select the weight and are really easy to store away in a small gym setup.
The Power Block Pro 50 also comes with a commercial warranty meaning it could easily be used in a commercial setting or thanks to their portable nature it could also be that they are suitable for personal trainers who work in various locations.
Body Revolution 5kg-25kg
Body Revolution offer a range of packages with their spin lock adjustable dumbbells which means you can buy exactly what you need and when it comes to price they offer exceptional value for money. Similar to the Yaheetech dumbbells, these feature vinyl plates that come in a range of plate sizes from 1kg up to 5kg. They have 6 different packages in total that range from 2x5kg dumbbells to 2x25kg dumbbells – all of which can be adjusted by adding different a different amount of weight plates to the bars.
This model also benefits from an attachment that can turn the two bars in to a single barbell which offers greater versatility than some of the other models reviewed here.
We had concerns that the screw caps on these spinlock dumbbells might come loose but when we tested we had no issues and actually they were super tight and secure throughout our workouts. The motion is not quite so smooth with these as some of the other models we tested but these are just about the cheapest adjustable dumbbells you can buy without ending up with something that is unusable – so if you are on a super tight budget this is a great buy.
The Bodymax Selectabell is one of the more premium options when it comes to adjustable dumbbells but this is a premium product so you do get what you pay for. With a dial a weight system, this pair of dumbbells can range between 2kg and a massive 36kg giving enough resistance for most home based weight trainers. Although the price may seem high, when you compare it to buying the 18 different sets of dumbbells that you can select weights for, it is an absolute bargain!
The style of these dumbbells is very similar to the Bowflex Selecttech 552 that we put in position one and if that wasn’t available this could easily have taken the top spot. The main reason we have placed this lower is due to the cost and that many people will not need to make use of the full 36kg weight. For the cost of these dumbbells you could purchase a very decent multi-gym and in terms of value for money it could be argued that that would be money well spent… still, if you are on the lookout for some high weight adjustable dumbbells then the Bodymax Selectabell is a good option.
The Selectabell is very easy to use, the dial system works flawlessly and they are incredibly comfortable in their use. Another great option if funds allow.
How To Choose The Best Adjustable Dumbbells For You
What’s right for you might not necessarily be what’s best for the next person. Although we have listed our best adjustable dumbbells in order of preference, we would recommend reading through all of the options we have provided and to base your decision on your budget, how often and how long you plan to use them, ease of use and the space you have at your disposal.
Regardless of the above, it pays to do your research and so we would suggest reading user reviews as well as our buying guide before you make your final decision.