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Guide to Dumbbells

Daniel Dohman provides a dummies guide to dumbbells - what you should know.

Dumbbells, or also known as free weights, can be one of the most intimidating parts of the gym. Free weights can range from five to hundreds of pounds. The amount you can lift will depend on the strength you have achieved. Dumbbells are a great strength training tool, and we have seen some of the world’s best athletes achieve their optimum best performance through strength training with dumbbells.

There are many dumbbells around, and choosing to do your next workout with dumbbells is one of the best decisions you can ever make. Knowing the exact type of dumbbells when you are going to work out allows you to plan your exercise fitness routine accordingly.

Fixed Dumbbells

Fixed dumbbells are a requirement in most fitness gyms because of their versatility and effectiveness. These dumbbells are easy to spot because they are usually placed on a rack to keep them in place. These dumbbells are used in pairs and have a variety of weight range from a kilogram to a hundred kilograms for each dumbbell.

As mentioned, the weight range you will be using will depend on your strength. Some would go for the lower weight range, and some would go for the higher weight range if they’ve done a lot of strength training.

Styles of Fixed Dumbbells

Fixed Rubber Dumbbells

If you are using weights most of the time, fixed rubber dumbbells are great since they can tolerate a lot of wear and tear. Whether it will be used at home or in a commercial gym, they can handle a lot of abuse. The rubber material also gives it a luxurious feel, so you will feel more motivated to use them.

As the name suggests, fixed rubbers dumbbells have a coating of rubber over the number. The rubber is a protective material that protects the dumbbells’ metal. These rubbers will typically not get any dents or scratches even after years of use.

Fixed Urethane Dumbbells

Urethane is a popular material that is being used in dumbbells. They are not so different from rubber dumbbells, but the difference lies in strength and durability. One of the benefits you can get from urethane dumbbells is the fact that it is much stronger than rubber-coated dumbbells and is even more resistant to damage.

Rubber dumbbells tend to smell after prolonged use, especially after it has been in contact with sweat. You do not get the same issues from urethane. Another great thing about urethane is it does not damage the floors as much as rubber-coated dumbbells when dropped.

Fixed Hex Dumbbells

These dumbbells have been named after the shape, which is a hexagon, and thanks to this unique shape, your dumbbells will not easily roll away. Thus, the hex shape of these dumbbells has a purpose.

During your strength training, you may be switching dumbbells depending on your goals and the muscle group you are training. To make your training more easy and quick, people have designed the hex shape, so you can just lay the dumbbells on the floor near you instead of going to and fro from the rack.

A rounded-shaped dumbbell will be rolling away from you if you have to change to another set altogether. This can be a very annoying thing, especially when you are already focused and concentrated on your workouts. Hexagonal pieces are fixed in place, and you can pick your choice of weights at any time.

Cast Iron Dumbbells

These types of dumbbells have been around for centuries, and many people, especially athletes and fitness professionals, have benefited from using them.

Cast iron dumbbells or metal dumbbells are old-type dumbbells and can still be found in gyms. Metal dumbbells are one of the cheapest types of dumbbells you can find; thus, if you are on a tight budget, they are a good option. You can probably even find cast iron dumbbells in garage sales.

Here are some types of cast iron dumbbells

Fixed Chrome dumbbells

Chrome plate dumbbells are a fixture in many gyms. The dumbbells are made of cast iron then coated with chromium to give a shiny and elegant look. These dumbbells are tough and hard-wearing, and they can go through any abuse. They do not easily fall apart, chip, or rust. Although rubber or urethane dumbbells work, chromium-plated dumbbells have their unique beauty and hardiness, which makes them perfect for home use or commercial gyms.

Adjustable dumbbells

If you do not have much space to spare, adjustable dumbbells are great. They’re also an excellent product for buyers who want various weights but do not have space, storage, and budget for a fixed dumbbell set.

Technology for adjustable dumbbells is fast-paced and has been developing quickly. One of the significant manufacturers of adjustable dumbbells has said that they can replace the need for 34 pairs of dumbbells with just two.

The downside with adjustable dumbbells is they can be bulky because of the way the weights need to be separated. It can also be a hassle when you need to change weights quickly during a workout because you still need to adjust the disc weights and screw them in the bar.

Dumbbell plate sets

Dumbbell plate sets are great for home use because you will be using a bar to attach weight plates of dumbbells. These types of dumbbells are usually made of cast iron. Dumbbell plates usually use a spinlock collar, which keeps the plates on the bar. Many people prefer this method because it’s easy and fast to remove, which makes it easy to switch from one weight to another.

Studio Dumbbells For Classes

Studio classes, such as dance classes, Zumba, and aerobics dance classes, incorporate some strength training in their classes, hence, the name studio dumbbells. The dumbbells used for these classes are very lightweight. These types of dumbbells are cheap to buy and are normally colour-coded, so you will know the type of dumbbell that is right for you based on the colour alone. Since you will be using the studio dumbbell while moving around, it is vital to get a good grip on it. Thus, studio dumbbells are coated in rubber for protection and a comfortable grip.

Studio dumbbells are also great for cardio training so you can hang on to these dumbbells while doing your treadmill run, for example. The very lightweight of a few pounds will do you right and can give you an extra challenge in your cardio sessions. Studio Dumbbells are great since they can be lifted many times to increase the heart rate.

Studio Dumbbells are sold in pairs, and they are the best dumbbells for beginners due to their versatility. It’s also great for people who are undergoing recovery and rehabilitation.

Studio dumbbells are great both for cardio training and strength training because they encourage people to lose weight and exercise muscle groups with ease.

Kettlebells Dumbbells

Kettlebells are a type of dumbbell with a handle at the top for picking up. The rest is a ball of cast iron. These types of dumbbells are generally used for lifting weights above your head or shoulder. Unlike traditional dumbbells, which are balanced from each end, you have to balance the kettlebells with your grip.

However, when it comes to wide-ranging physical movements, such as those needed for powerlifting and cross-fit games, kettlebells are excellent equipment for strength training.

Organizing Your Dumbbells

If you keep your dumbbells on the floor, you might accidentally step on them or hit them with your foot, which can hurt a lot. Thus, after exercising, it is important to properly organize your dumbbells by placing them in one place altogether.

Here are things you need to organize your dumbbells properly:

Dumbbell racks

It would help if you had a dumbbell rack to keep all of your dumbbells organized and in proper order. If you don’t have an appropriate place for them, they will roll to different areas of your house and may cause accidents. Dumbbell racks will keep your weights organized, and you can even plan your workout by taking the weights from the rack and switching weights.

Please take note that buying an entire set of dumbbells will usually come with their rack, so you do not have to buy this equipment separately.

Dumbbell stand

An alternative to dumbbell racks is the dumbbell stand. Dumbbells stand store dumbbells vertically, unlike dumbbell racks, which store them horizontally. Usually, the dumbbells set come with either a dumbbell rack or a dumbbell stand.

The great thing about a dumbbell stand is it is a space saver, and you can tuck it in a corner so you won’t have to bump into it accidentally.

For your convenience and comfort, use these items and store your dumbbells properly away after using them.

Choosing The Best Weight For You

To know the best weight for you, you have to consider how much you can lift as a beginner. If you are starting you may not have a lot of arm strength. Do not buy heavy dumbbells if you know you cannot lift them.

A good exercise for a beginner is the dumbbell curl, but unlike those muscle men in the gym, you have to start with much lighter weights.

You have to consider those different workouts require different weights, which is dependent on your muscle strength. Other muscle groups may require heavier weights because they are easier to do than bicep curls. You also need to challenge yourself with heavier weights since you need to build muscles.

Dumbbells and Accessories

To get the full benefit of your dumbbell, you should also use them along with accessories that can give you the benefit of ease, comfort, and a fuller range of motions. These accessories include:


Gripping dumbbells can cause you to have calluses and blisters. Most dumbbells on the market have a rough texture at the centre for added grip strength. The goal of this texture is friction.

Gloves can help you avoid getting calluses and blisters but also help with grip strength. The cushioning in the pads of workout gloves keeps your hands comfy and strong.


If you plan on using your dumbbells at home, you better protect your floors because there is no faster way to damage a floor than a dropped dumbbell. A workout mat helps absorb the impact of dumbbells when you suddenly release them, and they fall on the floor.

Mats also provide friction so you can stand on them in a very balanced and secure way.


You can do a broader range of motions when you have a bench. You can do a bench press while lying down on a bench. The bench also helps you isolate your upper body from your lower body so you can have more focused exercises for each muscle group.

Final Thoughts:

Dumbbells are a great way to work out and build muscle. Although they do require some space, the place is not as large as you’ll need for full exercise machines. Dumbbells also give you both cardio and strength training, making them versatile for any type of exercise or workout goal.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • DOHMAN, D. (2019) Guide to Dumbbells [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Daniel Dohman works as a sports coach focusing on introducing different sports to kids, teens, and young adults. Aside from teaching his clients how to play and compete in a specific sport, Daniel also incorporates proper nutrition into his clients’ lifestyle. Daniel believes that regularly playing sports and sticking to a healthy diet is essential to living healthily. During his free time, Daniel contributes content to health and sports websites.