Looking for the best dumbbells available today? To help outfit your home gym, we vetted 25+ contenders before buying and testing the top 9 models side-by-side for several weeks of workouts. Through living room workouts, on-the-go exercise routines, and sore muscles, our team of fitness gurus assessed grip comfort, ease of use, weight accuracy, durability, surface marking, and the footprint of each hand weight thoroughly. Whether you're looking for a compact set of adjustable hand weights, an entire set of dumbbells, or just a few pounds to add difficulty to your workouts, we have something for you.Setting up your home gym doesn't have to be complicated. From hangboards for climbers, to bike trainers for cyclists, to simple staples like exercise balls and the top-rated foam rollers for recovery, our fitness experts have tested the goods to help you reach all of your training goals.
The 4 Best Dumbbells
Our Top Picks
For a fixed weight set, the RBX Push-Up Bars offer nice features not available in other fixed weight pairs, making them more versatile and very user-friendly. The D-shaped weights can be held either by their comfortable foam grip or on the neoprene-coated bar side, giving two options where most weights have one. The foam grip allows the weights to be used for exercises where you are on your hands, like planks and push-ups, allowing your wrist to maintain a more friendly angle than 90º which can help reduce joint strain. With a small footprint, 3.75 x 5 inches, the RBX Bars are easy to store or grab on the go. Their neoprene coating makes them suitable for indoor and outdoor settings as they offer slight protection for the surfaces they are set on. Their weight accuracy, with a difference of only 0.07 pounds on our scale, and their durable, non-marking neoprene material provide a high-quality option for those looking for a little extra versatility in a fixed-weight dumbbell pair. We especially love that this pair created new ways to add difficulty to several exercises that other models can't imitate.
The trade-off for the small footprint is that these weights can be uncomfortable for larger hands. While their grip circumference of 4.5 and 4.75 inches is larger than most other 2 lb weights, the widths, at 3 inches for both grip options, are smaller and limit suitability for bigger hands. The structure of the weights underneath the foam grips are not one continuous piece, posing a possible weak point in the foam grip. With continued use, and as the foam grip compresses over time, it's possible applying downward pressure on the grip from a plank or push-up position may not be as comfortable due to the structural gap underneath. The quality and broader range of usability also mean the RBX Bars are more expensive than other 2-lb hand weight pairs available. The comfortable grip, versatility, durable coating, and user-friendly aspect of the RBX Push-Up Bars make them an excellent introductory pair of hand weights for all levels of users while also providing room to expand and diversify workouts.
Of all hand weights we tested, the Nice C Adjustable weights are our most comfortable grip for all hand sizes as well as provide the most compact storage for an adjustable weight. With a grip width of 5 inches and a grip circumference ranging from 4.9 inches at its narrowest up to 6.5 inches at its widest (thanks to its hourglass shape), the Nice C Adjustable weights provide ample space for all types of hands with a comfortable neoprene grip. We found this to be a rare feature among the small weights we tested, many of which only fit small to medium-sized hands. As an adjustable weight with up to 5 different weighting options, the weights have a relatively small footprint of only 5.75" x 9.5". The unique weight adjusting design allows you to unscrew the ends of each weight and either add or remove metal weight bars, each weighing about 0.55 lbs. Foam inserts included with the set can be used in place of the metal bars to help reduce noise and internal shifting if each weight is only partially loaded. Each metal bar was pleasantly accurate when weighed on our scales as well.
Technically, the Nice C Adjustable weights are a 5-in-1 weight set. However, if you want both ends of each weight to be balanced and weighted evenly, they really are a 3-in-1 weight set with 2.3, 3.4, and 4.5-pound options. The range is limited, with only a 2.2-pound difference between the lightest and the heaviest options. There is also no indicator on the weights themselves or the weight bars to decipher what weight you are currently working with. It also takes about 30 seconds to adjust both weights, which can interrupt the flow of your workout. The hourglass shape allows the weights to roll readily on hard surfaces. The soft neoprene does provide non-marking traction along the weights' outer edges, but the soft material and light grey color show grime easily and attract dirt and sand in outside settings. Overall, these weights are a low-priced introduction to adjustable weights, with the space-saving convenience these designs bring. More versatile than buying a single pair of dumbbells with a fixed weight, the Nice C Adjustable weights are a great introductory weight set with small incremental adjustments suitable for novices and those looking to tone muscle or maintain strength through high repetition exercises.
The two-pound SPRI Vinyl-Coated Dumbbells took the prize as the most accurately weighted pair we tested. Their compact size and 4.75" x 5.5" footprint make them incredibly easy to store or toss into a bag for that workout class. The vinyl coating provides a slip-resistant and durable surface, so you can pick them up and set them down on any indoor surface with little concern for scraping or damaging the weight or the surface you placed them on. The slightly contoured grip is ergonomically friendly, and the hexagonal shape of the weight ends prevents them from rolling around on the floor. For those on a budget, the SPRI Dumbbells Deluxe Vinyl-Coated pair is a great addition to an at-home or on-the-go exercise routine to help build endurance or an added challenge.
These are easy to use, don't mark surfaces, and are indeed very close to their listed 2-lb weight (only off by 0.05lb). Unfortunately, however, the SPRI Dumbbells do not accommodate a wide range of hand sizes. With a grip circumference of 3.75 inches and a grip width of 3.25 inches, there is just enough space for a small hand's palm to hold the weight comfortably. While the vinyl coating provides a non-slip surface for setting the weight down, it can get slippery in hand, especially once you start sweating. The vinyl material off-gasses a very strong smell when brand new; however, the smell subsided after allowing them to air out. The light purple color shows dirt and grime easily, and the vinyl coating can scrape off if taken outside and set on hard pavement surfaces. Overall though, the SPRI Vinyl-Coated Dumbbells are an affordable option for any user with hands on the smaller side looking to spruce up their indoor workouts with a little added weight.
For a reasonably priced set of hand weights to add difficulty to home workouts, check out the J/Fit Dumbbell Set. The set comes with an easy-to-assemble stand that requires a screwdriver to fasten the six screws. The neoprene coating of each pair of weights provides a no-slip, non-marking, durable surface suitable for all indoor surfaces and even outside settings. The stand is easy to pick up by its top rung, and it slides easily on soft and hard surfaces like carpeting, tiled floors, or yoga mats. You can even forgo the stand and still stack and store the weights thanks to their hexagonal shape. They are color-coordinated by weight and labeled clearly, making them easily identifiable. You don't have to worry about these weights rolling away the second you put them down, and the neoprene coating provides a comfortable, non-marking, and durable surface for enduring prolonged use.
Upon measuring each weight in the J/Fit Dumbbell Set, the weight accuracy was slightly off, with the greatest difference being 0.20 pounds off from the designated weight. While the stand is a convenient method for storage and keeping organized, it is 11.5-inches tall, limiting some of the spaces it could be stored in, like shelves or cubbies that are not quite that tall. The grip widths across the 2lb, 3lb, and 5lb weights range from 3.25, 3.5, and 3.75 inches making them suitable for small to medium, but not large, hand sizes. The J/Fit Dumbbell Set is best for those looking to outfit their home gym with the essentials or simply want an easy set of weights to maintain or build strength and endurance.
If portability is what you desire most, look no further than the CAP Barbell Neoprene weights. Taking up very little space, these hand weights are easy to toss into a gym bag or tote as you head out the door. They have a gray cast iron core (ASTM A48 Grade 20 grey iron) and have been triple dipped in a neoprene coating, which is non-marking on all surfaces. The weights are secure in hand and are durable enough to withstand any surface you set them down on. The 3.5-inch grip circumference makes it easy to hold both in one hand if you wanted to double up your weight for a certain exercise. The CAP weights have a weight accuracy within 0.12 pounds, and their darker blue color hides grime and scuffs.
While the CAP Barbell Neoprene weights are a quality product, their overall versatility is relatively low. Because of their low profile, they cannot be utilized for plank or push-up type exercises where you are on your hands. Additionally, their narrow grip width (3.25 inches) make them quite small for medium to large hands. The grip is a straight bar, not contoured, making it less ergonomically friendly. The CAP Barbell Neoprene weights prove to be the most convenient and high-quality option for toting around indoors or out, but only useful to those with smaller hands.
The two-pound Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbells are straightforward, easy-to-use weight with a no-slip grip and durable neoprene coating at an affordable price. Whether it is at home, outside, or at a step class, these weights are easy to tote around in a bag, hold both in one hand, and set down on any surface with little concern for doing damage to the surface or to the weight itself. The hex-shaped ends prevent rolling when set down, permitting carefree ease of use. Like other small weights, these take up little space.
Like many of the lighter weights available, the Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbells are not the most suitable for all hand sizes. With a grip width of 3.38 inches and a grip circumference of 3.75 inches, there just isn't enough space for wide palms. The bright pink color also shows grime more easily than a darker color would, giving a shabby appearance to an otherwise perfectly good weight. The low profile and clearance of these weights prevent them from being used for push-ups or planks. However, they lend themselves nicely to various user-friendly and high repetition exercises, enabling strength building and endurance. The Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbells are an affordable choice for small weights to add to home workouts.
The ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell offers a wide range of weight options built into a single space-saving dumbbell. This 5-in-1 weight starts at 2.5kg (5.5lbs) and goes up to 12.5kb (27.5lbs), a span of 10kg (22lbs) of weight. For its range of weight options, it only takes up an 8" x 13.75" footprint and is 6 inches tall. Its storability is unmatched compared to the amount of space taken up by five separate pairs of weights. The knurled, rubber-coated handle provides a secure and comfortable grip that is wide enough (5 inches wide) and has a small enough circumference (4.25 inches) for a breadth of hand sizes to use it and feel secure. The strong plastic stand houses unused weight plates throughout a workout and makes it easy to pick up and set down the weight. The flat edge along each weighted plate allows the weight to be set down outside of the stand without the risk of it rolling around.
Adjusting between weights on the ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell is not as fluid as we hoped and can be a bit finicky. The push-pull tab design is relatively straightforward in concept, but it tends to work seamlessly one time and then disjointedly another. The stand is rather uncomfortable to move while weighted, with sharp plastic ridges lining the handholds along the stand's edge. The stand also does not push or pull easily across most surfaces, where the grip points along the bottom of the stand work almost too well. Because of its metal plates, the ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell should be placed down with care on most surfaces to prevent damage. The heaviest weight setting at 12.5kg (27.5lbs) measured 0.2 kg (0.44 lbs) off on our scale. While the bulkier size of the ATIVAFIT feels a bit cumbersome while using its lower weight settings, it presents an impressive range of weight options packed into a small unit. It's a suitable option for maximizing space and minimizing gear clutter in a home gym.
The Tone Fitness Hourglass weight set is a compact set of 3 dumbbell pairs that provide a soft, comfortable grip to a wide range of hand sizes. The hourglass shape of each weight maximizes available grip space, presenting 5, 6, and 7.5-inch wide grips, much more space compared to most other 2 lb, 3 lb, and 5 lb weight options. Each weight is color coordinated and clearly labeled for easy identification and usability. The compact stand requires basic assembly using a screwdriver and 10 screws. With a footprint of 7.5" x 9" and only 9" tall, the stand is small enough to store in most cubbies and shelves at home. The neoprene coating proves durable on indoor surfaces and is non-marking.
The most noticeable downside of the Tone Fitness Hourglass weight set is its overpowering industrial smell that lingers for several days after opening. After some airing out and use, the smell improved, but even after several weeks of testing, it never fully disappeared. The hourglass shape allows each weight to roll easily on hard surfaces if it is not placed back on the designated stand. While the compact stand is convenient for storing purposes, moving the stand while weighted requires lifting from the middle or bottom since there is no top rung to hold, which is awkward. The soft neoprene coating has almost a squishy texture to it that makes it less durable in an outdoor setting, where it is more susceptible to scuffing and attracts dirt and sand. As an indoor set, the Tone Fitness 20-Pound Hourglass weights and stand provide an organized set that will provide a comfortable grip for a wide range of users and their varied hand sizes.
If you find yourself unable to make it to the gym but are longing for that commercial gym experience, then the SPRI Rubber-Coated Dumbbells weights will likely take you down memory lane without the membership fees. Between the hex-shaped rubber ends and the contoured and textured chrome grip, these dumbbells are sure to remind you both of the smell and experience of many commercial gyms. These weights provide a wide grip, 4.5 inches wide with a 3.6-inch circumference, making them user-friendly to nearly all hand sizes. The size of the rubber ends not only makes it easy to hold onto if you want to hold the weight by its end, but they also provide enough clearance for planks and push-ups, too, without smashing your knuckles into the floor.
While the SPRI Rubber-Coated weights might fulfill your dreams of going to a fancy gym from the comfort of your home, there are some considerations that might remove your rose-colored glasses. Brand new, these weights out-gas a strong rubber odor that mostly goes away, but not fully after even several weeks. While perhaps durable, the rubber ends mark most surfaces like a tiled floor, a yoga mat, a wood coffee table top, and pavement. They didn't mark our test carpet. Taken outside, the rubber ends scuff easily on pavement and attract dirt. The chrome, textured grip is certainly burly however is not the most comfortable to hold on to and can be a bit abrasive on the skin with prolonged use. Overall, the SPRI weights certainly work for a variety of hand sizes, but they're not one of our top recommendations.
Why You Should Trust Us
Hayley Walker leads our team of testers and reviewers here. From a very young age, Hayley has always identified as an athlete, whether it was growing up dreaming she'd play basketball someday for the WNBA or competing on as many sports teams as she could throughout her high school career (cross country, basketball, softball & volleyball). Throughout her training, she learned the performance and injury preventative benefits of hitting the weight room. While her first meaningful introduction to hand weights was in high school in her "weight training" PE classes, Hayley also frequented weight rooms throughout college as a D-III competitive Cross Country runner and Track & Field mid-long distance athlete. Now more focused on outdoor recreation than team sports, Hayley regularly utilizes hand weights during her at-home strength training sessions and yoga to maintain endurance and fitness. She's also utilized small hand weights for physical therapy and to strengthen her recoveries. Hayley understands that a home gym setup is more likely to be effective if you enjoy using the tools and products, dumbbells included.
With a wide variety of dumbbells (aka free weights or hand weights) available on the market today, we thoroughly researched the various options. Keeping both the novice and the expert user in mind, we narrowed our attention to the top nine products. We flexed our muscles and used each weight in 4 different exercise routines, utilizing a yoga mat, carpet flooring, tiled floor, a wood coffee table top, and outside on pavement. Each weight was given 5 minutes per workout to shine. With 5 minutes per weight across four workouts and nine contenders, that's over three hours of in-hand-use plus additional assessment based on grip comfort, ease of use, weight accuracy, durability, surface marking, and storability and footprint. Throughout our testing process, we logged detailed notes capturing each contender's nuances to better identify the best uses for, and users of, each hand weight.
Analysis and Test Results
Our standards and criteria for assessment keep the comfort and convenience of the end-user in mind. While weights can be a useful tool for improving personal health, fitness, strength, and endurance, one's level of experience and ability should be considered before embarking on any weight routine. Keep in mind that your preferences, health needs, and priorities may differ from the metrics we used below to assess hand weights.
Ease of Use
Working up the momentum to exercise can be challenging. Nothing kills motivation faster than poorly designed equipment that takes time and patience to fiddle with before use. The best way to critique this was to get the weights directly in our hands for a variety of workouts and exercises ranging from bicep curls, front and lateral raises, runners arms, renegade rows, step-ups, and oblique twists, among many others.
We worked out across four days on four different surfaces, including a carpeted floor, a tiled floor, a wooden coffee tabletop, and pavement. We assessed how easily and carefully weights had to be picked up and set down and considered the weight shape and its tendency to roll away. We also noted how easily adjustable weights were and whether or not it was easy to distinguish between and identify the different weights. Within a designated 5-minute window, we assessed how many exercises we could safely and effectively perform with each type of weight in order to understand the easiest and most efficient to use.
The most user-friendly models included the RBX Push-Up Bars. These weights are sturdy, and their non-rolling D-shape makes them versatile to use as hand weights as well as handles during sets of planks, mountain climbers, push-ups, and other floor exercises. We also like the J/Fit Dumbbell Set for its easy-to-move stand that assembles quickly. Its hex-shaped design also stops them from rolling around on the floor and enables stackable storage. No model tested was necessarily difficult to use, but we enjoyed using these models more than others for these reasons.
When lifting weights overhead and over toes, a secure grip is critical for performing exercises safely and confidently. We first noted grip material and design. We measured each handle length and circumference to gauge suitability and comfort for various hand sizes. We also had multiple users of varying hand sizes confirm our handle assessments.
We also assessed if the weights came out of the box coated in slippery grease (an unfortunate reality for some models) or if they were clean and ready for use. We logged grip comfort after utilizing each weight in various workouts across four days, using each weight for 5 minutes per workout for a total of over three hours of in-hand use across all nine contenders.
We like that the Nice C, ATIVAFIT, and Tone Fitness models accommodate a wide range of hand sizes from small to large. If you're sharing your weights with others in your household or have large hands yourself, this is a crucial consideration. Too small hand weights do not work well. We also recommend the Nice C Adjustable weights for their hourglass shape and neoprene grip and the ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell for its ample space for wide palms and knurled, rubber-coated design.
The accuracy of each hand weight might not be your first consideration, but it's also a measure of quality control and attention to detail by a manufacturer. It's also nice to know that your 5-lb weight actually weighs five pounds and that each weight is equally balanced. We physically weighed each weight, and the combination of weight options each presented if it was the adjustable type, to gauge overall weight accuracy. If weight was indicated in pounds, we weighed it in pounds, and if the weight was designated in kilograms, we stuck to weighing it in kilograms to maintain consistency of units.
Surprisingly, no weights we tested measured precisely according to their declared weights. Of the models we tested, the most accurately weighted pair was the SPRI Vinyl-Coated Dumbbells weights with a discrepancy of just 0.05 pounds. They were within 0.01 pounds of one another, making the most balanced pair, too. Weighing only two pounds, we appreciate this attention to accuracy that is more noticeable in the smaller weights than heavier ones.
The RBX Push-Up Bars scored a close second for weighted accuracy with a discrepancy of only 0.07 pounds from their intended 2-pound weight. Fortunately, both weights were off their target by the same measure, making them balanced to one another. A close third for weight accuracy was the Nice C Adjustable weights with a 0.08-pound discrepancy, which is impressive considering it is a 5-in-1 adjustable weight design with several different weight options. The other adjustable weights showed less accuracy in their measured weights.
Durability and Surface Marking
Largely designed for in-home use, we assess the overall durability and surface marking associated with each weight. Workouts with weights don't need to damage the surfaces of your floors. Throughout our use of each weight on a yoga mat, carpet flooring, tiled flooring, wooden tabletop, and on pavement, we noted whether or not each weight left marks on each surface and if they showed any wear.
At the end of testing, we assessed each weight's overall condition and how well it held up, whether or not there were scuff marks, scratches, grime, or chips. The neoprene-coated weights lived up to their claims of being non-marking on all surfaces; however, depending on their color, some showed dirt and marks more easily.
To avoid damaging surfaces like wooden tables or tiled floors, you'll want to set the ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell set down gently. However, this is a testament to its hardness and overall durability due to its strong metal weight plates. It didn't leave any markings on surfaces, and it has the protection of a durable stand. Other top performers included the CAP Neoprene-Coated Barbell pair for their darker color and quality, non-marking neoprene coating, and the J/Fit Dumbbell Set for its tough, non-marking neoprene dipped outer surface and the help of a stand for better storage that promotes weight longevity.
Storability / Footprint
When space is limited at home, or you like the option of taking equipment with you to an exercise class or outside, the amount of space hand weights fill is important to consider. We consider the feasibility of transporting each weight and how much storage each takes up by measuring the footprint of each weight pair or set. We measured the length, width, and height with a measuring tape and tested various storage locations throughout our homes throughout testing.
We also considered the range of weights presented within an adjustable dumbbell and gauged the overall space savings by combining multiple weights into one. There were several top performers based on the type of weight pair or set. For the fixed weights, individual dumbbell pairs, the most storable and portable were the RBX Push-Up Bars for the smallest footprint and the CAP Neoprene Coated Barbells for taking up the smallest volume of space. These are great options for studios and small apartments especially.
The Nice C Adjustable pair maintains a relatively small size with their internal weight bar storage despite having five different weight settings. For sets of individual dumbbell pairs, the Tone Fitness 20-Pound Hourglass set was the most storable for its compact stand size, sitting only 9 inches tall with a footprint of 9" x 7.5".
Our testers use our competitive training experiences, extensive personal use of exercise equipment, and our participation in physical therapy and injury prevention programs to inform our metrics for assessing these products. With all user groups in mind, ranging from the novice to the expert, we didn't hold back in our assessment of the details and performance of each weight's design and specifications. Whether you're looking for a space-saving, adjustable pair of weights, a set to progress your workouts with, or just a cheap pair to motivate you to work out more, we hope our recommendations help you decide which weights will be the best for your exercise and health needs and budget to boot.
— Hayley Walker
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