Dumbbells Adjustable or Fixed, Which is Better?

Dumbbells Adjustable

As I began assembling equipment for my new home gym, one of the first dilemmas I faced was whether to invest in a set of dumbbells adjustable or traditional fixed dumbbells. Both options seemed to have advantages and disadvantages that made the decision difficult. Would the versatility and space saving design of adjustable dumbbells be worth the higher price tag? Or would I be better off sticking with standard plates and bars that have stood the test of time? 

After doing extensive research and talking with experienced lifters, I’ve determined that there is no one size fits all answer. Depending on your budget, workout space, strength goals, and preferences, either adjustable or fixed dumbbells could be the better choice for your home gym. This article examines the key differences between the two styles in depth so you can make an informed decision when purchasing your own set.

What Are Adjustable Dumbbells?

Adjustable dumbbells utilise a specialised barbell handle design that allows weight plates to be added or removed quickly to change the total amount of weight. Most adjustable dumbbell systems consist of a pair of handles and a set of weight plates. By sliding plates onto each end of the handle, you can customise the weight in increments, usually ranging from 5 to 50+ pounds. 

There are several popular adjustable dumbbell systems on the market, each with their own unique handle and plate changing mechanism. Spinlock dumbbells use a threaded lock nut to securely fasten plates. Dial or selectorized models have a rotating dial that allows you to dial into the desired weight. Powerblocks use a pin selector system to add or remove plates. Ironmasters, Bowflex, and Nuobell use a magnetic or latching system to secure weight plates.

In summary, the major benefit of adjustable dumbbells is the ability to have a wide range of weight options in one compact, space saving product. The convenience of changing weights quickly is a major selling point for adjustable systems.

Related: Start Your Fitness Journey With 20 Minute At-Home Workouts

What Are Fixed Dumbbells?

In contrast to adjustable dumbbells, fixed dumbbells have a set weight that cannot be changed. They consist of a solid cast iron or rubber hex handle with the weight permanently affixed on each end. To increase weight, you must purchase individual dumbbells of heavier weights. Most fixed dumbbells range from 1 pound up to 100+ pounds and are sold individually or in pre configured sets. 

While not as convenient for changing weight increments, fixed dumbbells have remained popular for several reasons. Their simple design makes them extremely durable and maintenance free. The fixed weight also allows very heavy dumbbells to be manufactured that adjustable systems cannot accommodate. However, the downside is that each weight requires its own dumbbell, quickly consuming storage space.

Pros & Cons of Dumbbells Adjustable 

Pros of Adjustable DumbbellsCons of Adjustable Dumbbells
Save space by replacing a rack of fixed dumbbellsChanging weight can be slow and cumbersome depending on handle design
Cost-effective, as one product replaces multiple dumbbellsWeight increments and range may be limited by the adjustment mechanism (hard to find handles below 5 lbs or above 50-60 lbs)
Easy to gradually increase weight as you get strongerMore prone to mechanical issues, breakdowns, and maintenance compared to fixed dumbbells
Offer a wide range of weight options in one compact system

Pros & Cons of Fixed Dumbbells

Pros of Fixed DumbbellsCons of Fixed Dumbbells
Extremely durable and long-lastingMust store each weight individually, consuming more storage space
Changing weight is fast and simpleBuying an entire set with small weight increments gets exponentially more expensive
Individual dumbbells are often cheaper for lighter weightsDifficult to increase weight incrementally without purchasing new dumbbells
Can accommodate extremely light and heavy dumbbell weights

Comparison Between Dumbbells Adjustable & Fixed

AspectAdjustable DumbbellsFixed Dumbbells
DescriptionCustomizable weight with plates and handlesFixed weight with cast iron or rubber hex handle
Weight RangeTypically 5 to 50+ pounds, depending on the modelRanges from 1 pound to 100+ pounds, sold individually or in sets
ConvenienceQuick weight changes, various adjustment mechanismsFast and simple to change weight, fixed increments
DurabilityProne to mechanical issues, breakdowns, and maintenanceExtremely durable, minimal maintenance required
CostHigher upfront cost, long-term cost-effectiveCheaper individually, expensive as a full set
Storage SpaceSpace-saving, one set replaces a rack of dumbbellsRequires storage for each individual dumbbell
Weight IncrementAdjustable in smaller incrementsFixed increments, must purchase new dumbbells
Suitable forSpace-limited gyms needing a wide, incremental weight rangeLarge budgets, focused heavy lifting, durability
RecommendationsBeginners: Adjustable set or lighter fixed set (5-25 lbs)Intermediate lifters: Adjustable system with higher capacity
Intermediate lifters: Adjustable system with higher weight capacityAdvanced lifters: Heavy fixed dumbbells (100+ lbs) with adjustable handles
Small spaces: Compact adjustable system

Related: 3/7 Workout Routine: Achieve 80% More Muscle & Strength

Choosing Between Adjustable and Fixed Dumbbells

When deciding between adjustable and fixed dumbbells for your home gym, there are several key factors to consider:

  • Budget: Adjustable systems have higher upfront costs but lower long term costs. Fixed dumbbells are cheaper individually but expensive as a full set.
  • Weight range needed: Adjustable accommodates a wider spectrum; fixed offers extreme light and heavy weights.
  •   Available storage space: Adjustable saves space; fixed requires individual storage spots.
  •   Workout goals: Adjustable offers incremental progress; fixed works for focused heavy lifting.
  •   Convenience: Adjustable quick changes; fixed avoids breakdowns and maintenance.

Verdict:

  • Adjustable dumbbells are ideal for space limited gyms needing a wide, incremental weight range.
  • Fixed dumbbells suit large budgets, focused heavy lifting, and durability.
  • A hybrid approach of adjustable handles for lighter weights and fixed dumbbells for heavy training combines benefits.

Recommendations for Common Goals

Here are my dumbbell recommendations for a few common home gym scenarios:

  • Beginners: Start with an adjustable set or a lighter fixed set of around 5 25 lbs for foundational strength training.
  • Intermediate lifters: Invest in an adjustable system with higher weight plate capacity to progress into heavy training. 
  • Advanced lifters: Utilise heavy fixed dumbbells up to 100+ lbs for intense lifts, plus adjustable handles for auxiliary exercises. 
  • Small spaces: Choose a compact adjustable system that provides a complete weight range without consuming storage room.

5 Cheap Adjustable Dumbbells (25lbs)

Here are 5 recommendations for cheap adjustable dumbbells (25lb):

1. Mangko Adjustable Dumbbells 25LB Single Dumbbell Weights, 5 in 1 Free Weights Dumbbell with Anti Slip Metal Handle, Suitable for Home Gym Exercise Equipment. Usually around $119.99.

2. Keppi Adjustable Dumbbells Set,25lb Dumbbells with Anti Slip Metal Handle for Exercise & Fitness Fast Adjust Weight for Full Body Workout Fitness. Typically under $199.79

3. SAMUP 25/55 lbs Pair Adjustable Dumbbells Set, Adjustable Weights Dumbbells Set for Men and Women with Anti Slip Fast Adjust Weight by Turning Handle,Black Dumbbell with Tray. Often under $149.99 a pair.

4. HYPATA 25/55 lbs Pair Adjustable Dumbbell Set, Adjust Dumbbell Weight for Exercises Pair Dumbbells for Men and Women in Home. Usually around $129.99 for a pair.

5. HARJERY Adjustable Dumbbells 25/55LB pair Dumbbell Weights, 5 in 1 Free Weights Dumbbell with Anti Slip Metal Handle, Suitable for Home Gym Exercise Equipment. Often less than $120 for a set.

A Word From Blogzah

Adjustable and fixed dumbbells both have pros and cons that lend themselves better to different training goals and home gym scenarios. Carefully evaluate your space, budget, and fitness level to determine which style makes the most sense for you. Many experienced lifters recommend trying both adjustable and fixed dumbbells to see which feel and function best for your unique needs. At the end of the day, choosing the dumbbell system that enables you to train consistently and progressively is the key to strength and physique gains.

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