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Adjustable Dumbbell Review: Which Set Deserves a Spot in Your Gym?

Dumbbell-like devices have been used since ancient Greece to construct athleticism and muscle. Today, they continue to be an efficient tool in a person’s strength-training arsenal. 

Dumbbells are handy for isolation movements like bicep curls and are easier on the joints than barbells. They may be swapped in for certain barbell lifts if an injury prevents using a barbell for that exercise (e.g., swapping the barbell shoulder press for a dumbbell shoulder press), or they may be one’s preferred equipment for getting a full-body workout.

There’s only one problem with dumbbells: To construct strength, you could have to coach using the principle of progressive overload — adding reps or weight each week — and so as to add weight to dumbbell workouts, you could have to make use of progressively heavier pairs of dumbbells. But that requires access to an enormous set of them, where the primary pair starts at around 10 kilos and every subsequent pair is 5 kilos heavier, on as much as around 100 kilos. That’s almost 20 potential pairs of dumbbells.

That’s advantageous when you belong to a gym, they usually provide that big ol’ range of dumbbells on a giant ol’ rack for patrons. But when you’re understanding at home, a full set of dumbbells can cost you somewhere within the ballpark of $3500 to buy and can take up a heck of plenty of space. It’s a non-starter for the typical guy.

To unravel this dilemma, manufacturers of fitness equipment have created adjustable dumbbells. All you would like is a single pair of them, as each dumbbell may be toggled from lighter to heavier weights. Adjustable dumbbells are so much more cost-effective than getting a full set of the normal variety and take up far less room.

But do adjustable dumbbells really work as advertised, and in that case, which of the varied kinds available are the most effective?

I recently field-tested 4 models, and below I offer my unbiased, non-sponsored tackle each of their pros and cons and which I’d recommend most.

With the power to regulate the burden of every dumbbell from 5 to 50 kilos (as much as 90 kilos when you buy extension kits), these dumbbells pack the utility of as much as 20 traditional dumbbells inside a small footprint. 


Compact design. Certainly one of the standout features of the PowerBlock Elite EXP is its compact design. The dumbbells have a block shape and don’t sit in a special cradle as other adjustable dumbbells do. Out of all of the adjustable dumbbells I attempted, the PowerBlock Elite EXP takes up the smallest amount of space.

Durable. As we’ll see, many adjustable dumbbells are pretty finicky and require you to treat them with kid gloves. After I used the PowerBlock, I felt I might be rougher with them and never worry that they’d break. 

Price. Without delay, you possibly can buy a pair for $430 on Amazon, making it certainly one of the cheaper adjustable dumbbell sets on the market. Nevertheless, the extension kits to extend their weight capability to 70 and 90 kilos cost $125 and $170, respectively. So it’s a great entry-level adjustable dumbbell, but when you think you’ll quickly max out the burden capability and must buy the extensions, then it won’t ultimately be an actual bargain.


Weight adjustment. The load adjustment mechanism on the PowerBlock is sort of annoying. The method involves removing a plastic pin and sliding it into the specified weight slot. Using the pin to regulate the burden will permit you to go up or down by 10 kilos. If you desire to adjust the burden by 2.5 to five kilos, you remove some metal cylinders from the handle. In comparison with other adjustable dumbbells I attempted, the burden adjustment process is pretty clunky. 

Doesn’t feel like a standard dumbbell. The opposite thing I don’t like about PowerBlock dumbbells is that they don’t feel like conventional dumbbells. Resulting from their blocky design, the burden distribution feels off. The handle can be “inside” the burden, which takes some getting used to. I didn’t like using the PowerBlock for exercises like bench press, shoulder press, lat raises, and curls, but I oddly found them great for rolling triceps extensions. 

Bottom line: when you’re seeking to get plenty of weight variations in a less expensive, compact piece of kit, the PowerBlock Elite EXP is an incredible option. But bear in mind that they’ll feel different in comparison with traditional dumbbells.

If you happen to’re on the lookout for an adjustable dumbbell that feels more like an everyday dumbbell, try the MX85 Rapid Change. It means that you can adjust the burden from 12.5 kilos to 85 kilos and accomplish that quickly.


Feels more like a standard dumbbell. The MX85 Rapid Change looks and feels more like a standard dumbbell than the PowerBlock. (Nevertheless, large, oddly-shaped “plates” lend these dumbbells their very own sort of awkwardness — see below.) 

Adjusting weight is a breeze. The MX85 Rapid Change uses a dial system to regulate the burden. You switch a dial on either side of the handle to extend or decrease the burden. So when you desire a dumbbell that weighs 12.5 kilos, you’d set each dials to 1; when you want the dumbbell to weigh 85 kilos, you’d set the dials to 10. Much easier to regulate than the PowerBlock.

Adjustment mechanism is made from metal. The adjustment system within the handle uses metal gears and a metal rod to regulate the burden, making it way more durable than its competitors that use plastic and nylon. 


Weight adjustment increments are weird. While it’s easy to regulate the burden on the MX85 Rapid Change, the burden increments you possibly can adjust to are really dang weird. You may increase from 12.5 kilos to 85 kilos in 8-pound increments. So weight increments seem like this: 

12.5, 21, 29, 37, 45, 53, 61, 69, 77, 85

Never in my training profession have I believed: “Hey, I would like to do a set of 10 at 53 kilos.”

Five-pound jumps, 10-pound jumps, yes.

Eight-pound jumps? Huh?

This might be the largest flaw with the MX85 Rapid Change.

Size. The MX85 Rapid Change is bulky in comparison with the opposite adjustable dumbbell sets I used. While they only take up a little bit floor space, they’re tall. I discovered myself tripping over them. Also, the scale made them awkward to make use of on certain lifts, like flies. 

Can’t drop. Like most adjustable dumbbells, you possibly can’t drop the MX85 Rapid Change. If you happen to do, you risk breaking the adjustment mechanism within the handle. While you possibly can’t drop them, I’ve found the MX85 Rapid Change durable. I haven’t felt like they’re falling apart after just a few months of use.

Price. At $600, the MX85 Rapid Change is costly.

Bottom line: The MX85 Rapid Change is an easy-to-use adjustable dumbbell set that means that you can get heavy. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend them because of their odd shape and size and their weird weight adjustment increments.

A customer review said, “If Apple made an adjustable dumbbell, it might be the NÜOBELL.” And after using all these adjustable dumbbells, I’d must agree. With the power to simply adjust from 5 kilos to 80 kilos, the superior design of the NÜOBELL puts it at the highest of my list.


Easy to regulate the burden. Changing the burden on NÜOBELL is a breeze. Simply rotate the handle and adjust the burden up or down by 5 kilos. 

Speaking of that 5-pound adjustment, this can be a big advantage the NÜOBELL has over the MX85 Rapid Change. You may go from 5 to 80 kilos in nice, standard 5-pound increments (5-10-15-20-25-30-35-40-45-50-55-60-65-70-75-80).

The convenience of adjusting the NÜOBELL has made my workouts super fast. I can quickly change weight from lift to lift in seconds. 

Essentially the most dumbbell-like of the adjustable dumbbells. Out of all of the adjustable dumbbells I’ve tried, the NÜOBELL feels essentially the most like a standard fixed weight dumbbell. The handle has nice metal knurling, and every thing feels balanced. 


Less durable. Like other adjustable dumbbells, you possibly can’t drop the NÜOBELL because it could break the adjustment mechanism. And since the adjustment mechanism on the NÜOBELL is made from plastic, it’s a bit more liable to breaking than the MX85 Rapid Change. 

I experienced the dearth of durability firsthand after I got my NÜOBELL delivered. Certainly one of the boxes I received looked prefer it had been taken out back and beaten with a crowbar. After I opened the box, the handle on that dumbbell was broken. It wouldn’t adjust. 

I ordered my NÜOBELL from Rogue Fitness, so I emailed customer support, they usually quickly sent me a substitute handle. (Thanks, Rogue! Excellent customer support!)

Since then, the NÜOBELL has worked like a champ. I’m careful after I set them down, though. I don’t want them to interrupt.

Price. The NÜOBELL is $600 at Rogue Fitness, so pricey. They cost the identical because the MX85 Rapid Change, but I feel the NÜOBELL provides a greater experience. 

Bottom line: The NÜOBELL is my favorite adjustable dumbbell. The range of weights and the convenience of adjusting weight is phenomenal. The one downside is that I feel like I actually have to treat them with kid gloves. I’d love for them to return out with a more durable version that you may drop. Where’s the Steve Jobs of dumbbell design if you need him?

While technically not an adjustable dumbbell, a loadable dumbbell is an old-school method to get various dumbbell weights with minimal equipment. Loadable dumbbells are mainly mini barbells that permit you to increase their weight using the smaller-sized barbell plates you could have already got. The loadable dumbbells that I actually have are from Rogue. Dubbed the “DB-15,” this dumbbell is a beefy 15 kilos without plates (additionally they offer a 10-pound version, but you possibly can’t load as many plates on it). They appear similar to a miniature version of their famous Rogue Ohio Barbell. 


Compact design. When the dumbbells are unloaded, they occupy hardly any space in my garage gym. I store them right next to my plate holder.

Can go as heavy as you wish. The DB-15 has an extended 6.75″ sleeve that means that you can put plenty of weight on it. I made a 115-pound dumbbell for some rows using two sets of 25-pound plates, and I still had room for more weight.

Super durable. Rogue’s Loadable Dumbbell is incredibly durable. You may drop these with abandon, they usually’ll carry on ticking. If you happen to’re on the lookout for dumbbells that you just don’t must baby, these are it. 

Price. A pair of DB-15s will set you back $300. If you happen to have already got weight plates, buying a set of loadable dumbbells will probably be much more cost effective than purchasing an adjustable set of dumbbells. If you happen to don’t have plates, things can get expensive as you begin buying them.


Hard to regulate the burden. The largest drawback of the loadable dumbbell is that it’s tedious and time consuming to regulate the burden. You’ve gotten to load them similar to a barbell: put weight and a collar on either side of the sleeve. Changing the burden out on the loadable dumbbell slowed down my workout time. 

I can see myself using the loadable dumbbells combined with an adjustable dumbbell in the long run. I’m pretty near maxing out the burden on the NÜOBELL on my dumbbell bench. I’ll probably proceed to make use of the NÜOBELL for my warm-ups on the dumbbell bench because it’s so fast to extend weight, after which use the loadable dumbbells for my heavy working set.

The long sleeve could make lifting uncomfortable. The long sleeve on the DB-15 allows loads of room so as to add weight, however the sleeves were too long for lifts just like the shoulder press and bench press. I discovered myself bumping the sleeves from the 2 dumbbells together at the highest of the lift, which prevented me from getting a full range of motion. I actually have to regulate my grip and take a more neutral grip to avoid that. 

The opposite issue with the long sleeves is which you could’t rest the dumbbells in your knees without pain. Resting a heavy load on top of your knee doesn’t feel good as you get able to hoist the weights onto your shoulders.

Bottom line: If you happen to already own barbell plates and are on the lookout for a more cost-effective method to start with dumbbell training, a pair of Rogue Loadable Dumbbells is the method to go. The largest downside is the trouble of adjusting the burden on them.

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