Dumbbell Types - Pros and Cons 

In the world of fitness, there’s a ton of gym equipment on the market. It can be challenging to know where to start. Although trends come and go, certain pieces of fitness equipment remain relevant and effective. That’s why you find so many home and commercial gyms with things like dumbbells, barbells and weight plates. With dumbbells, you have different types to consider, all with their own pros and cons. Let’s dive in. 

In this article: 

  • What are Dumbbells?
  • How Can You Use Dumbbells?
  • 5 Dumbbell Types: Pros and Cons

What are Dumbbells?


 

Dumbbells are a type of free weight that you can use in various exercise and weight training sessions. You can use them individually or in pairs, with a dumbbell in each hand. In terms of weight, they can range from about 2.5kg to 30kg. Benefits of using dumbbells include: 

  • Activate different muscles 
  • Stimulate muscle growth 
  • Improve muscle flexibility 
  • Promote joint and muscle stability 
  • Highly effective at targeting specific muscles 

How Can You Use Dumbbells?


One of the reasons that dumbbells are so popular is that they offer a high training versatility. They are simple to use and can help target muscle groups through specific exercises. You can use dumbbells to work out your arms, chest, shoulders, and back. 

Many people use dumbbells either at home or at the gym. Because they are quite a small type of free weight, they are ideal for free weights training at home. Space isn’t an issue because you can store dumbbells away easily when you’re finished with your workout. Whether you’re a beginner or an avid gym-goer, you can integrate dumbbells into your training with a range of different exercises. Here are some dumbbell exercise ideas to incorporate into your fitness routine: 

  • Lunges 
  • Overhead press
  • Bicep curl 
  • Lateral raise 
  • Goblet squat 
  • Bent over row 

5 Dumbbell Types: Pros and Cons


The two main categories of dumbbells are fixed and adjustable. But, there are also several types of dumbbells that you may come across which are more suitable for specific training sessions. To help narrow down your choice, here are the pros and cons of five dumbbell types to give you an idea of what to expect. 

Fixed Hex Dumbbells 


 

A fixed dumbbell is likely the most common type of dumbbell you will come across at the gym. As the name suggests, these dumbbells are a fixed weight. You usually buy them in pairs at a set weight. For home gyms, a dumbbell set of 2.5 kg-30 kg is a good option. A hex dumbbell has a hexagonal shape so that it doesn’t move during a workout. This is a great choice if you are switching between weights during your workout. 

Adjustable Dumbbells 


 

Adjustable dumbbells are good for those who don’t have the space or budget for a full fixed dumbbell set. You can adjust the weight of the dumbbell, so you essentially have different weights to use within one piece of equipment. The downside of adjustable dumbbells is that they can be quite bulky. It can also slow you down if you need to change weights during a workout. 

Fixed Rubber Dumbbells 


Fixed rubber dumbbells come in a set weight and are usually circular. The rubber is durable and hard-wearing, so it’s ideal for heavy use. You can also get rubber dumbbells in a hexagonal shape as well. One of the main advantages of using rubber over cast iron is that the rubber forms a protective coating. Scratches and scuffs are often easily notable on cast iron weights but much less common on rubber dumbbells. 

Studio Dumbbells 


Studio dumbbells tend to be smaller and fully coated. So, the entire dumbbell is coated in either rubber or neoprene to protect the weight. You most commonly see studio dumbbells in-studio classes to add some light resistance to a workout. They are easy to grip during a training session and don’t roll off when you put them down. Studio dumbbells tend to go up to about 10kg, so they are only suitable for low weight exercises. If you wanted to do some heavy lifting, you would avoid studio dumbbells. 

Spin-Lock Dumbbells 


 

Spin-lock dumbbells are a type of adjustable dumbbell, but they are slightly different. You buy each separate weight denomination, similar to how you would with a standard barbell and weight plates. You can then adjust your dumbbell weight manually throughout your workout. Spin-lock dumbbells are a good option, but the only drawback is that you need to trust the lock mechanism when doing overhead exercises. In this case, it may be more suitable to use a fixed weight dumbbell like a hex dumbbell.


There are pros and cons to each type of dumbbell. While a studio dumbbell may be perfect for one person, someone else may find that a rubber fixed dumbbell helps them meet their fitness goals. When buying gym equipment, you can’t go wrong with a fixed dumbbell to get you through a tough workout and start seeing serious gains.