The best weights 2020: top dumbbells to use at home

Dumbbells for smart people with the best weights for home workouts – fixed and adjustable weights we recommend

best home weights dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best dumbbells – which are the best weights for home use – used to be a great way to save a fortune in gym fees - or at least give you the chance to get more in shape before signing up.

Now, they are THE perfect way to start building your very own workout zone at home (a.k.a. best home gym). They’re notably easier to store than the best barbells, for a start. They can be used for a simple full body workout as well as helping you to get stronger. You might want to try the best dumbbell workout for beginners first, though.

A good set of weights is at the centre of any muscle-building, fat-shredding, sweat-inducing workout and can be used for numerous different exercises to achieve any number of fitness goals, from basic weight loss to fat-shredding High Intensity Interval Training and advanced gun sculpting.

Not all the best dumbbells are super expensive but even so, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday might bring the best Bowflex deals along. In the meantime, here are the best places online where you can buy weights at the moment.

Best dumbbells all sold out?

Yes, that is happening a lot. People are desperate to stay in shape and avoid weight gain at home. These retailers may be able to provide you with what you need. We particularly recommend Fitness Superstore.

What is the best dumbbell?

We found that the latest adjustable weight systems from Nomad Fitness and Bowflex are the easiest to use, as you simply dial in the required weight and the dumbbell cleverly grasps the correct plate/s. 

But they can be mighty expensive, which is why the £120, 25kg units offered by Men's Health are also a great choice. This clever adjustable plate system means it's possible to rapidly swap weights on the fly, ultimately offering the user a 2.5kg-25kg weight spread that aids progression and is suitable for a huge array of exercises. That price is only for one dumbbell, mind, but a pair still comes in cheaper than rivals from Bowflex and Powerblock.

How to buy the best dumbbells

Invest in a top array of weights and you'll be surprised at what you can achieve with some help from a few online workout plans and a dollop of dedication.

As with many things in life, the humble dumbbell comes in a confusing array of shapes, sizes, weights and mechanisms, so choosing the right one for you is important.

Typically, a dumbbell will either be rounded or hexagonal, the latter being the smart choice as it doesn't roll away when you put it down. It's also perfect if you fancy using a dumbbell for press-up variations.

Secondly, the weight is particularly important, especially if you opt for a fixed dumbbell system, which can't be adjusted or added to.

This singular weight will make progression tricky, as it could be too heavy for certain exercises, or too light to effectively build muscle or add enough resistance to raise the heart rate.

Finally, the choice of material should also be a consideration. Matte black metal weight discs might look masculine and cool but they can also wreak havoc with wooden floors and make a racket.

Rubber coated weights tend to make less noise and, generally, less mess. Although as with a tyre on a road, if you drag a weight across a hard floor, you can end up with skid marks. Nobody wants skid marks.

We've got options that are good for everyone from beginners to slightly more challenging sets for when the guns begin to show. 

The best dumbbells you can buy, in order

Best home weights: Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells

1. Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells

The best home weights you can buy, and worth the premium

Weight spread: 2-22.5kg or 4-41kg
Reasons to buy
+Immensely practical+Feel like regular dumbbells
Reasons to avoid
-Very pricey-Overly complex mechanism

Please note that pricing on Bowflex is often per weight – check before purchase. 

Halting a workout to unscrew unwieldy metal spin collars and replacing weight plates can break flow, while those who are really looking to bulk up will need plenty of weight options to choose from, which means a surplus of storage space.

These beasts from Bowflex pack 2-24 or 4-41kg in each dumbbell, depending on the model you go for, with weight selection as easy as spinning a dial. When paired with a simple weights bench, they offer an effective alternative to a gym floor, yet don't require an entire rack to house. 

• Read our Bowflex Selecttech review

Compared to Powerblock, the rival modular weight system (see below), the Bowflex weights look and feel far more like classic dumbbells, although a lack of colour coding does mean you have to pay a little more attention when piling on the kilograms and it's best to avoid launching them across the room.

That said, the spinning dial is easy to navigate and the included plastic stand makes it simpler to guide the weights back into place when you're finished, although with certain configurations, you do have to be quite careful.

Overall, a great solution for those who like to push on with intensive 'drop set' workouts or for those who are tight on space. In fact, our only real reservation is the price, which will make you sweat before you even try to lift them.

Best home weights: York Fitness Cast Iron Dumbbell Spinlock Set

2. York Fitness Cast Iron Dumbbell Spinlock Set

Best old-school dumbbell set

Weight spread: 2-20kg
Reasons to buy
+Cheap as chips+Will last a lifetime
Reasons to avoid
-Serial destroyers of flooring -Noisy buggers, too

These must surely be the most-used weights in the UK, and are a staple of Argos and Amazon's websites. And little wonder.

You just can't beat a good old pair of cast iron weights, and a testament to this is the fact they can be found under the beds of dads and granddads up and down the country. Just don't go looking for them, there's probably stuff under there you really don't want to see.

Get your own and they will last a lifetime and for all of their noisy, palm-chafing downsides (get weight-lifting gloves or pay the price), there is a kind of nostalgic loveliness to the spin collar set-up. Even though at least one weight will nearly always comes loose mid-workout, it's never so much so that you feel endangered. The overtly rough grip and stupidly masculine cast iron finish have a lot of charm and even more longevity.

For less than £40 you get a not-particularly-heavy 10kg per arm maximum that is built to outlast civilisation as we know it. Honestly, a cast iron weight set is a modern day fossil… but a fossil that can keep you fit.

Best home weights: Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell 25kg

3. Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell 25kg

Best affordable Bowflex alternative

Weight spread: 2.5-25kg
Reasons to buy
+Covers a huge weight spread+Takes up little space+Cheaper than individual weights
Reasons to avoid
-Strange shape makes certain movements tough-Can feel unbalanced

Thankfully, the fitness buffs over at Men's Health have noticed the benefits of a modular weights system, and have fashioned their own that nicely undercuts he competition on price but retains the benefits.

You might think £120 for a single dumbbell is expensive, but this Men's Health beauty packs 2.5kg-25kg weights in handy 2.5kg increments, making it one of the most compact and versatile systems money can buy. It's a lot more affordable than the Bowflex system, most importantly.

The overall build quality is great, with thick plastic used for all of the grippy bits, while the spinning weight selection collar is easy to use and neatly clicks into place for added safety and peace of mind.

Alas, there are some downsides to these systems, including the inability to drop them on the floor if gunning for a one-rep max (you'll break the weight selection mechanism if you do that too often), as well as the slightly unbalanced feeling thanks to the wide weight plate area.

But these are factors that are easy to adapt to and seem a small price to pay for such a versatile workout package, which will help gun-shapers and fat-shredders easily progress to the next level thanks to the easy incremental weight system.

• Read our Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell review

Best home weights: Wolverson Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbell

(Image credit: Wolverson Fitness)

4. Wolverson Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbell

Best gym quality dumbbells

Weight spread: 1-10kg
Reasons to buy
+Extremely tough+Contoured handles+Withstand punishment
Reasons to avoid
-Really requires a rack-Takes up space

• Buy dumbbells direct from Wolverson

Composed of a cast interior with a solid black rubber dumbbell body, these ultra-tough bad boys are the sort of thing you'll find in a commercial gym but are just about affordable enough to squeeze into a fancy home set-up.

The weight spread maxes out at 10kg, which might be too low for serious body builders, but these dumbbells are a lot more versatile than they look. A solid rubber outer coating is resistant to cracking and chipping, while the nifty hex shape and shock absorbing outer makes them great for push-ups and more explosive dumbbell workouts.

You'll probably want to invest int he storage rack, though, which means you'll also need a decent amount of floor space at home to use them properly.

Best home weights: Escape Fitness Classic Urethane Dumbbell Set

5. Escape Fitness Classic Urethane Dumbbell Set

Best premium dumbbells

Weight spread: 1-10kg
Reasons to buy
+Solid build+Storage stand included+Gym quality product
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Limited weight range

Escape is a name that regular gym-goers will likely recognise from their local sweatbox, where the brand can be found supplying all manner of weight-related fitness gear.

This ridiculously expensive Urethane upright rack and weight kit perfectly highlights the true cost of investing in a spread of individual dumbbells, which are absolutely brilliant for maintaining perfect form but may require you to take up unlicensed boxing to fund their purchase.

The dumbbells are extremely well put together and will happily survive a lifetime of being dropped from a height and generally punished, but the weight spread is very limited and will only suit those with precision sculpting and cardio work in mind.

Best home weights: Nomad Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells

(Image credit: Nomad Fitness)

6.Nomad Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells

High-tech, heavy dumbbell alternative to Bowflex

Weight spread: 5-32.5kg
Reasons to buy
+Great spread of weight+Relatively compact package
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Clanking metal design

Although pricier than simpler dumbbell systems, these Nomad Fitness numbers combine great design with a solid range of weights, and are cheaper than the comparable Bowflex - because you get a pair, rather than just one. 

These are heavy units too, offering an impressive spread of 5kg to 32.5kg, the only downfall being that they start at 5kg, making some of the more focussed and trickier exercises slightly tougher on the smaller muscle groups. 

Here, you rapidly swap weights simply by twisting a dial (just like the Men's Fitness and Bowflex offerings), but it takes a bit of practice to get the swaps just right, as the remaining weights tend to move in their plastic container slightly.

The bobbled grip and clever design mean these things can be used for a range of exercise movements, from chest pressing to squatting, while the compact proportions equate to the size of two shoeboxes.

Granted, the cost may prove a stumbling block for some, but there's very little else out there that offers so much in such a compact package. 

Best home weights: Bodymax Deluxe 40kg Hammertone Dumbbell Kit

7. Bodymax Deluxe 40kg Hammertone Dumbbell Kit

More old-school dumbbells

Weight spread: 5-20kg
Reasons to buy
+Hardy Hammertone coating+Decent selection of weights
Reasons to avoid
-Fiddly spin collars

Everything about this set harks back to the glory days of bodybuilding, when Arnie was Pumping Iron and Gold's Gym was the place to hang out.

Finished in a robust Hammertone coating, these beefy metal plates resist wear and won't crack when dropped (although they may crack your tiled floor), while the rubber grips provide excellent traction even when hands are sweaty. 

The 20kg per hand weight spread via a variety of 1.25-5kg weight plates is heavy enough to give both arms and legs a good workout, no matter your fitness level. 

However, changing weights requires unscrewing the metal spin collar, which can be more time consuming and fiddly than you really want, mid-workout. 

Best home weights: IronMaster Quick-Lock Set

8. IronMaster Quick-Lock Set

Great compromise between techy, rapid weight change and classic ease of use

Weight spread: 4-68kg
Reasons to buy
+Indestructible+Compact rack stand
Reasons to avoid
-Slower weight changes than Bowflex

Where the bulky units from Bowflex and PowerBlock promise ultra-rapid weight changes, they don't take too kindly to being thrown across the home gym when you've just repped out a super set, and it can be a little fiddly to go from low to high weight settings.

The Quick-Lock system from IronMaster, on the other hand, is basically indestructible, but offers a similar kind of compact weight spread that's perfect for those lacking space.

A unique locking nut system allows the thin and tapered plates to be loaded on and secured with a couple of twists, rather than awkwardly spinning a collar for ages, only for it to then come loose. The entire system stacks in a storage unit that measures just 53cm wide, 38cm deep and 61cm tall, while the dumbbells measure just 36.5cm when fully loaded.

IronMaster's kits can be a bit pricey but the price does includes a stand and with the full set, not only are able to pump each dumbbell up to a substantial 34kg, you can then add a 74kg add-on kit, if you're a  monster. That actually represents great value when you consider the cost of a similar rack set-up.

Best home weights: Body Power 12.5Kg Rubber Hex Dumbbells

9. Body Power 12.5kg Rubber Hex Dumbbells

Best non-adjustable weights

Weight spread: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Cunning hexagonal shape+Reduced noise+Comfortable handles
Reasons to avoid
-Not adjustable at all-Hence expensive

The hexagonal shape and rubber coating mean it is possible to use these dumbbells for more than simply pumping iron.

They can be placed on a flat surface and used for tricky dumbbell press-ups, renegade rows and more, without risk of damaging your floor or, hopefully, face.

Available in a variety of weights, this 12.5kg model seems to be the go-to number for your average fitness fanatic. Since the weight is not adjustable, costs soon mount up if you want more. A four-weight (12.5-20kg) will set you back well over 200 quid, but is arguably worth it, if you have a lot of space.

Best home weights: TNP Accessories Vinyl Dumbbell Set 40KG

10. TNP Accessories Vinyl Dumbbell Set 40kg

Best budget dumbbells

Weight spread: 5-20kg
Reasons to buy
+Vinyl coated for floor protection+Multi-use weight discs
Reasons to avoid
-Feel a bit cheap-Take up space

This affordable weight set might not boast the same neat finish as the more premium products here but the innovative grip handle shape means the weight plates can be used for a number of exercises on or off the provided bar. 

You can either load up the 18-inch, non-slip metal bar for typical dumbbell curls, overhead pressing and weighted squats, or remove the weight plate to assist with ab crunches or weighted squat twists. 

They also boast a floor-friendly plastic covering, which has also been designed to last.

As well as the 30kg set, there are various other maximum weight options from TNP in the same range.