Start exercising at home with the best dumbbells for strength training, cardio and more
As much as we all dream of a fully fitted home gym, most of us don’t have the space to spare for bulky equipment. Many of us also don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on kit that might only get used a few times a week.
However, finding the best dumbbells can offer the best of both worlds: available in a range of weights and size, they’re a flexible piece of kit that can be bought for a relatively cheap price to boot. Better still, they can be used with or without other gym equipment such as benches and exercise balls.
Dumbbells are especially effective for targeting several muscles at once. Working out your arms, for example, results in the engagement of numerous stabilising muscles in your shoulders and core with each curl or lift. Smaller weights are also perfect for use during cardio training to add a little more resistance to your movements.
How to choose the best dumbbells for you
What shape should I go for?
A traditional-looking dumbbell has completely round weights on either end, but many modern models feature hexagon-shaped plates, which help with balance when doing push-ups and other floor-based exercises. As an added bonus, they’re also much better at staying put when set down on the ground.
What weight is the best?
Many dumbbells allow you to adjust the weight using additional plates that can be fixed to the bar as needed. To enjoy the full range of exercises afforded by dumbbells, you’ll want the option of lighter weights. Whether you’re interested in adjustable or fixed-weight dumbbells, you should take this into consideration. If you’re already a regular user of dumbbells and know the weight you’ll be using most often, fixed weights might prove cheaper.
Are there other features to look out for?
If you’ll be regularly using dumbbells at home, it might be wise to consider weights that have a rubber coating that will protect floors from damage. Similarly, there’s no point buying a set of dumbbells with multiple disparate parts if you don’t feel you’ll use them with any regularity. While additional plates can be brilliant for advanced weightlifters, they also demand more storage space and can be unnecessarily fiddly.
The best dumbbells to buy in 2023
1. JLL Hex Dumbbell Pair: The best fixed-weight dumbbells
Price when reviewed: From £21 | Check price at Amazon
The flat sides of the JLL Hex dumbbells and their ergonomic handles make them one of the best options for those who worry about slipping when doing floor-based exercises. The high price point may put off some people, considering they’re fixed weights, but there’s something to be said for the convenience of not having to constantly add and remove plates.
Materials: Cast iron, chrome and rubber; Weights in set: Two; Maximum weight: 32kg
2. Proiron Neoprene Hand Dumbbells: The best dumbbell starter kit
Price when reviewed: £50 (set of six with stand) | Check price at Amazon
These Proiron Neoprene hand weights are just the thing for those new to weight training, or folk looking for multiple light dumbbells. The lightweight, neoprene-coated iron weights are perfect for rehab exercises and also for use while performing lunges and squats. Although they’re small, their straight edges stop them from rolling around when they’re set down on the floor.
Materials: Cast iron and neoprene rubber; Weights in set: Six; Maximum weight: 3kg
3. Opti Cast Iron Dumbbell 20kg Set: Best dumbbells for adjustable weight
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at Argos
The Opti Cast 20kg is a durable, well-priced set of cast-iron dumbbells and Argos also sells additional plates for them should you want to add more. Indeed, although the weights tip the scales at 10kg each ordinarily, they can carry a maximum of 35kg. Although the bars themselves are made from steel, the handles are covered with PVC for a more secure and comfortable hold.
Materials: Cast iron, steel, PVC; Weights in set: Two; Maximum weight: 10kg
4. Viavito Chrome Dumbbells: Most stylish dumbbells
Price when reviewed: £49 | Check price at Sweatband
A sleek and stylish option, the Viavito Chrome Dumbbells come with four 0.5kg plates, four 1.25kg plates and four 2.5kg plates, along with two chrome-plated bars and four spinlock collars. This adds up to a total of 10kg each at full weight. Appearance might not be the first thing you think about when buying exercise equipment, but the shiny chrome on the Viavito dumbbells is also great for durability. In addition, the knurled handles ensure these dumbbells are comfortable to work with.
Materials: Chrome; Weights in set: Two; Maximum weight: 10kg
5. Corength Hex dumbbell: Best dumbbells for cross-training
Price when reviewed: From £10 | Check price at Decathlon
The hexagonal shape of the Corength dumbbell is what makes it special, providing a sturdy surface while performing press-ups and other exercises that require balance as well as strength. The sides vary in length, so you can pick which works best for you, and the durable rubber that covers the actual weights won’t damage your floors like other models. The dumbbells are available in six weight options – 2.5kg, 5kg, 7.5kg, 10kg, 15kg and 22.5kg – and the handle has been ergonomically designed for a more comfortable experience.
Materials: Iron, steel and rubber; Weights in set: Sold individually; Maximum weight: 22.5kg
6. Deiris Water Filled Dumbbells: Best travel dumbbells
Price when reviewed: £39 | Check price at Amazon
They might seem more of a novelty at first, but inflatable dumbbells are a low-cost alternative to traditional weights with a number of benefits making them worth considering. These dumbbells, which are inflated with water, are cheaper than most metal counterparts and can be only partially inflated if you desire less weight. They’re also easier to store as they can be deflated in between workouts, though having to refill them every time you fancy squeezing in a couple sets sounds like a pain to us.
Materials: Neoprene; Weights in set: Two; Maximum weight: 35kg