Dumbbell Buying Guide

Dumbbell Buying Guide

The classic weighted dumbbell is a staple piece of resistance and strength training equipment. Dumbbells are often found in commercial, studio, and home gyms for a variety of reasons. Firstly, dumbbells are extremely versatile pieces of equipment as they can be used for circuit training, HIIT workouts, resistance training, and injury rehabilitation exercises. Secondly, they allow athletes to move weights in a more natural movement path and range of motion in comparison to barbells and weight machines. Finally, dumbbells are particularly useful as they can be used to train both sides of the body individually. This is useful because it allows individuals to correct muscular and strength imbalances between both sides of the body.

This dumbbell buying guide has been designed to answer all of your questions and queries in relation to buying dumbbells for your commercial, studio, or home gym. In order to do this, every single type of dumbbell and dumbbell storage option will be described and discussed below.

To begin, there are three main types of dumbbells. Dumbbells are predominantly categorised as fixed, adjustable, and studio dumbbells.

Fixed Dumbbells

Fixed dumbbells are definitely the most common type of dumbbell. They are often found in commercial and small personal training gyms. As fixed dumbbells can range anywhere between 1-100+ kg in weight, they are stored on long multi-tiered, horizontal dumbbell racks. Fixed dumbbell sets that come in weights 1-10kg are usually stored using upright or vertical dumbbell racks.

In relation to the fixed dumbbell set you require to train optimally, the range of dumbbell weight will ultimately depend on the type of facility you are catering for and your clients overall health and fitness goals. Small gyms such as school, personal training, and physiotherapy/rehabilitation gyms usually will only require dumbbells that range between 1-35kg. Larger gyms such as commercial or elite sport training centre gyms will require dumbells that range between 1-60kg. Finally, facilities that strictly focus on powerlifting, bodybuildining, and strength and conditioning training purposes will require dumbbells that range anywhere between 1-100kg.

There are currently a wide variety of fixed dumbbell variations available on the health and fitness market. The most common variations are outlined and discussed below.

Fixed Rubber Dumbbells

Fixed dumbbells are extremely durable and high quality dumbbells thus they are commonly used in commercial gyms and elite home gyms. Fixed rubber dumbbells are popular because  they are capable of withstanding a significant amount of abuse for a prolonged period of time without incurring any damage or reduction in performance. Rubber dumbbells have become very popular over the last 10 years as their durable outer rubber coating, protects the dumbbells themselves, as well as the gym flooring, surrounding equipment, storage rack, and the user themselves. The outer rubber coating also protects against rust and corrosion which significantly prolongs the life of these dumbbells. Rubber dumbbells are also much less susceptible to aesthetic damage such as scratches, chips, and dents, which are common amongst cast iron or chrome dumbbells. Additionally, the protective rubber coating helps to muffle and reduce noise which is beneficial in a busy gym environment in which multiple athletes are using the dumbbells at the same time. Rubber dumbbells are also advantageous to have in busy gym environments as they clearly display their weight denominations and they are also available in a large variety of colours.

Fixed Urethane Dumbbells

Fixed urethane dumbbells can be thought of as a more premium take on the fixed rubber dumbbell. Fixed urethane dumbbells fall under the category of premium commercial or personal training gym equipment. Urethane dumbbells are generally more expensive than rubber dumbbells because there are a number of valuable benefits associated with buying urethane dumbbells over rubber dumbbells.

To begin, urethane dumbbells are significantly more durable and damage resistant in comparison to rubber dumbbells. Rubber dumbbells can often incur aesthetic damage such as marks and scratches from repeated and prolonged use and abuse. However, urethane dumbbells are much less likely to incur aesthetic damage such as scuffs and scratches as the outer layer is much tougher and durable in comparison to rubber dumbbells. Polyurethane is also a non-marking material which is probably the main benefit for most gym owners who do not want their wooden or vinyl floors to be marked and damaged by rubber or cast-iron dumbbells. A common complaint relating to new rubber dumbbells is that they often have quite a bad odour when they are new, however urethane is an odourless material, therefore this problem is negated by purchasing urethane dumbbells.

Fixed Hex Dumbbells

Hex dumbbells have been named after their unique hexagonal shape. Hex dumbbells were designed for training scenarios in which rolling dumbbells would create a dangerous hazard for surrounding gym members. Therefore, hex dumbbells are commonly used for circuit training or exercise classes as the hexagonal shape ensures that the dumbbell will not roll around the class and potentially cause someone to injure themselves. Hex dumbbells are also useful for athletes performing high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts in which they are picking up and putting down weights frequently and rapidly, as the dumbbells will not roll away in between sets. Hex dumbbells can easily be added into conditioning and bodyweight workouts as their unique shape provides support for movements such as push-ups and dumbbell rows. Finally, hex dumbbells are also relatively inexpensive in comparison to rubber and urethane dumbbells which makes them an ideal budget option for gym owners.

Fixed Chrome Dumbbells

Fixed chrome or metal dumbbells are often recognised as the classic bodybuilding dumbbell and they are often found in ‘old school’ or traditional bodybuilding gyms. Cast iron or metal dumbbells are also cheaper than their rubber and urethane counterparts which is why they are still popular worldwide. For those of you who do not care about scratches and other aesthetic damage, chrome or metal dumbbells might be a good option for you as they are still durable and long lasting pieces of equipment. Chrome dumbbells would also be a perfect addition to any home or personal training gym in which they would not experience as much use as a large commercial gym.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable dumbbells are commonly found in small gyms or home gyms in which storage and space is limited. Adjustable dumbbells are extremely useful because they allow the user access to a broad range of dumbbell weight options at a fraction of the cost of a commercial dumbbell rack and range. Adjustable dumbbells range significantly in terms of the technology used in each set. Classic adjustable dumbbells involve dumbbell bars and weight plates that can be taken on and off of the bar manually. However modern takes on the adjustable dumbbells include brands such as Powerblock which do not require the user to take plates on and off of the dumbbell. The weight of a powerblock can be changed by simply turning a dial and pressing a button which makes it a very convenient option for home gym owners. The only drawbacks associated with adjustable dumbbells are that they are quite large which can limit the user’s range of motion and they also take time to adjust, which makes doing multiple exercises in succession difficult and time consuming.

Studio Dumbbells

Studio dumbbells are mainly used for studio classes and light circuit training routines. Studio dumbbells are also cheap and easy to store as they usually come with a vertical dumbbell storage rack. Studio dumbbells are quite unique as they have been designed specifically for large fitness classes. Furthermore, they are usually colour coded by weight which makes them easily identifiable during high intensity exercise classes. This allows gym members to select their weight quickly and efficiently during a class. Studio dumbbells are also entirely covered in neoprene or rubber coating, which allows them to withstand constant use without incurring much damage. This coating also provides additional grip to gym users during intense workouts when their grip is compromised by sweat. Finally, studio dumbbells can useful for performing muscle isolation movements such as side lateral raises and front raises as studio dumbbells are available in very low weights. Studio dumbbells  are typically available in weights 0.5-10kg and they are usually sold in pairs or sets.

Dumbbell Racks And Storage

With the intention of keeping your gym space and floor organized and free from hazards, a dumbbell rack and storage system is essential. The use of  a dumbbell rack will also protect your dumbbell collection as well as protecting your floor and surrounding gym equipment. Dumbbell storage racks are available in both horizontal and vertical arrangements depending on the quantity and weight of the dumbbells that require storage.