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The Best Dumbbells 2021 For Your Home Gym

Free weights are the ideal bit of home kit. These are the ones worth buying

Coach Staff
30 Nov 2021

We all dream of a fully-equipped home gym, complete with several types of cardio machine and more bells – barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells – than a campanologist convention, but for most of us a lack of space makes such an enterprise an impossible fantasy. So it’s best to get real and prioritise, and at the top of your list should be dumbbells – the obvious choice of fitness equipment for home workouts. They’re small, they’re relatively inexpensive, and unless you opt for a fixed set you can adjust the weight on them so they’re appropriate for all kinds of exercises.

Convinced? Of course you are, just like many others – which has led to a dearth of dumbbells since the start of lockdown. Stock is returning slowly, although options are still more limited than usual. We’ve rounded up the best of what’s available below, followed by our dumbbell buyer’s guide.

Bowflex 552i Selectorized

It’s a serious investment, sure, but with a weight range of 2kg to 24kg, it’s one that will set you up for a lifetime of workouts at home. There are 15 weight options, chosen by twisting the handle when the dumbbell is in its base, which locks in different combinations of plates. It’s available in two places in the UK, you can buy it as a single dumbbell from Amazon or as a pair from Fitness Superstore.

Buy from Fitness Superstore | £599 for a pair (currently reduced to £538)

Powerblock Pro 32 Adjustable Dumbbells

They cost a pretty penny, but this pair of adjustable, selectorized dumbbells offer eight levels of weight from 1.8-14.5kg – ideal if you plan on following a full-body dumbbell workout plan, where you’ll want to perform shoulder exercises with a lighter weight than you would use to perform curls. A heavier pair is also available with a weight range of 4.5kg-22.7kg for £599. They’re in stock now, but we don’t expect them to stay that way for long.

Buy from Sweatband | £379.99

JTX Hex Dumbbells

This solid hex dumbbells are great value and are available in pairs from 2kg to 20kg. The contoured grip offers a secure and comfortable hold on the weights, while the rubber coating protects your floor in the case of any inadvertent drops.

Buy from JTX | £64 for 10kg pair

JaxJox DumbbellConnect

These selectorised dumbbells have an extra trick up their sleeve to lure you away from the more established brands above. As well as the eight weight options between 3.6kg and 22.6kg, which are easily selected using the buttons on the stands, these dumbbells link up with the JaxJox app to track your workouts and take guided video classes (if you pay a monthly subscription of £12.99). Be advised that we found the app to be a bit buggy, to put it mildly, and we had trouble even getting it to connect to the dumbbells we were testing.

Fortunately the weights work just fine without any app involvement. While they do get a little large and cumbersome when using all the plates, that’s just the trade-off for the flexibility of an adjustable set, and they certainly save on space compared with picking up a similar range of weights with individual dumbbells.

Buy from JaxJox | Buy from Argos | £499 

BLK BOX Adjustable Dumbbell

The range on this adjustable dumbbell is the most extensive we’ve found anywhere, going up in 2kg increments from 2kg to a massive 32kg. That makes it a highly versatile bit of kit and not the sort of purchase you’re likely to out-train – and it’s certainly better value than buying separate dumbbells to cover that weight range. The robust steel plates are fairly slim so the whole kit, while undoubtedly large, packs away neatly and can be tucked into a corner.

Buy from BLK BOX | £299.99

Eleiko XF

Hexagonal dumbbells are our favourite type of dumbbells, since the rubber ends are floor-friendly and provide a stable base for renegade rows and the like (plus they don’t roll away when you put them down). For casual home training we’d normally recommend a more affordable retailer (like JTX, York, JLL or DTX) than Eleiko, which makes barbells for serious powerlifting and Olympic lifting – but stock in the 10kg-20kg sweet spot has been hollowed out. Eleiko has fared better than most and, even better, it hasn’t got involved in the sort of price gouging you’ll find on Amazon, so you’ll find this brand now outclasses similarly priced models.

Buy from Eleiko | £39 for one 8kg dumbbell

DKN Rubber Hex Dumbbells

These robust rubber weights are decent value and most of the extensive weight range (up to 30kg!) is in stock. That said, given the size of the 12.5kg and 15kg weights we tested, a 30kg dumbbell might end up a little unwieldy due to its girth. You can buy a single weight or a pair, and the prices are reasonable – a hefty 25kg weight is £69.99.

Buy from Sweatband | £37.99 for one 12.5kg dumbbell

Domyos Hex

Speaking of sweet spots, big box sports retailer Decathlon has stock of these 15kg hex dumbbells. While it won’t be as well made as the Eleiko model, good luck finding a 15kg dumbbell anywhere else.

Buy from Decathlon | £49.99 for one 15kg dumbbell

Opti Cast 20kg Dumbbell Set

This durable set of cast-iron weights from the Argos own brand is an absolute bargain at £32.99 – comparable sets are closer to three figures on Amazon. There’s 20kg in total in the set, including the bars, but if 10kg split across two loses its challenge after a while, all the weight plates can be piled on one dumbbell and extra cast-iron plates can be bought separately allowing you to load dumbbell up to a maximum of 20kg. Fair warning: these may not be in stock where you are. Click and enter your postcode to find out. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you.

Buy from Argos | £39.99

UMI by Amazon Neoprene Dumbbell

Amazon’s own-brand dumbbells are often out of stock, but at the time of writing they all seem to be available, with a weight range from 1kg to 10kg. The simple neoprene dumbbells are fine for those who are happy with lighter weights. As with most weights on Amazon they were subject to fairly severe price inflation during the pandemic when there was a shortage of home gym equipment, however prices have returned to almost pre-pandemic levels now.

Jordan Chrome Dumbbells Set

What with the state of single dumbbell stocks and the prospect of long-term social distancing, the idea of spending four figures on a full set of dumbbells doesn’t feel quite as extravagant as it once did. This gorgeous chrome set includes ten pairs ranging from 2kg to 20kg for £1,110. Tempting, even with no rack…

Buy from Best Gym Equipment | £1,110

Dumbbell Buyer’s Guide

A decent set needn’t break the bank – or your floorboards. Here’s what to look for.

Shape: Hexagonal dumbbells are the smart choice. They won’t roll away when you perform moves like the renegade row, or roll under your feet when you’re off-guard.

Features: As with any contraption, the fewer parts it has, the less likely it is to go wrong. Be careful with adjustable sets that can crack if used frequently.

Weight: Less is undeniably more here – both in mass and price. Too heavy and you’ll miss out on a range of worthy exercises, but with a lighter set you can always do more reps. A 12kg set will do the trick.

Material: Rubber-coated ends might not be as eye-catching as shiny metal plates but they’ll buffer any impact with your floor (or feet). Ridged or “knurled” chrome handles offer firm grip and easy cleaning.

Three Types of Dumbbells Explained

Fixed weight: The classic as-seen-in-the-gym dumbbell that’s set at an unchangeable weight. Gym sets typically start at 2kg and go up in 2kg increments, and a single pair of fixed-weight dumbbells is the cheapest option. However, if you opt for these you will be restricted to using the same weight for all your home gym moves. That’s a problem because for some exercises it will be far too light (such as squats or lunges) and for others far too heavy (such as lateral raises and triceps extensions). You could buy an entire set of fixed dumbbells, but that’s pricy and takes up a lot of space.

Adjustable (standard): A far wiser choices for home weight training because you can simply add or subtract weight plates to each dumbbell quickly and easily to change the amount of weight you’re lifting for different exercises. This gives you a much greater range of lifts you can do at home safely, and you can always buy extra weight plates once you get stronger and need more resistance – although there is a limit to just how many weight plates you can stack on each side.

Adjustable (selectorised): The resistance of these higher-tech dumbbells are adjustable through the addition or subtraction of weight plates, followed by the simple turn of a dial when the dumbbell is resting in its stand. This means you can adjust the weight more quickly than with a standard set of dumbbells, and these models can typically reach a much heavier weight, meaning this might be the only set of home dumbbells you ever need to buy. That said, they’re by far the most expensive option – not to mention seriously heavy when moving them from one room to another.