How do adjustable dumbbells differ from regular dumbbells?
If you are looking to expand your home gym or begin a weight training routine, you will need some sort of dumbbell. You could buy a range of individual dumbbells, but that takes up a lot of space and can cost quite a bit if you get the highest quality dumbbells. For most people, it’s simply too much to have so many weights lying around in their fitness room. An adjustable dumbbell contains the work-out potential of a room full of weights in one, easy-to-use device. An adjustable dumbbell might also save you money in the long run, rather than buying dumbbells individually.
What are the differences in design?
For the most part, adjustable dumbbells are no different from regular dumbbells. The most difference you will notice is the length of the bar, and, depending on the type of dumbbell you get, the shape. Most adjustable dumbbells are longer than typical dumbbells, because they have to fit more weights on at one time. Most people find this easy to accommodate, and many believe it actually strengthens your core because you have to work on your balance more. The other main difference is the shape; some adjustable dumbbells are the same shape as regular dumbbells, but others, such as many Powerblock models, are more of a square shape. Typically, users who are at first hesitant to use these quad-shaped dumbbells find them easy to get used to, and not a hindrance.
What are these dumbbells made of?
Adjustable dumbbells can be made out of just about any sort of hard metal, but many are made of steel or are chrome-plated. While you want to look for steel weights that will be durable, the construction of the bar is more important. Some dumbbells have metal bars, and some have rubber coating or foam grips. These last two styles can be easier to handle and leave less calluses or blistering on your hands. They are also good if you have arthritis, because your grip will be more comfortable and your wrists won’t slip on them. Foam and rubber handles are also gentler to rest on your thighs in between reps.
What kinds of adjustable dumbbells are there?
Adjustable dumbbells can come in many styles. Some use a dial mechanism, some use selector pins, some use sliding adjustment locks, and some use weights that slide on or off of the main pole. There are other types of adjustable dumbbells, but these are the most common you will find.
How does a dial mechanism work, and what are the benefits?
Dial mechanism dumbbells are by far the speediest and easiest dumbbells you can get. They are common on Bowflex and XMark dumbbells. Essentially, you set the dial for the weight you desire, and the dumbbells release weights to the desired setting. Dial mechanisms are quick, easy to use, and generally very safe, without you needing to worry about the weights shifting or falling off.
How does a selector pin work, and what are the benefits?
Selector pin dumbbells work very much like the large machines you see at most gyms. There is a plastic or metal pin that you set at the weight you want to work out at, and when you lift the dumbbells release the weights you don’t want to use. Powerblock dumbbells often use the selector pin device. Selector pins are fast and easy to use, because you probably already know how to use them from working out at the gym. They are also fairly safe, with little chance of the weights sliding or shaking.
How do sliding adjustment locks work, and what are the benefits?
Sliding adjustment locks have a metal tube that slides in and out of the handle and locks to the amount of weight you desire. Sliding adjustment locks are popular on Bayou Fitness models. In general, sliding adjustment locks are perfectly safe, but they do tend to be more complicated and less user-friendly than dial mechanism and selector pins. They also have a tendency to not lock properly every time, so you may find yourself lifting more weight than you really want to. Sliding adjustment locks are lower-priced than dial mechanisms or selector pin models.
How do sliding weights work, and what are the benefits?
Sliding weights are very similar to dumbbells you find sold individually or at your local gym. You simple slide plates onto the bar to your desired weight, and then use a cap or bolt to lock them in. Sliding weights tend to be the cheapest form of adjustable dumbbells. If not made well, sliding weights can rattle or shake on the bar, which makes for an uncomfortable workout. A well-made, mid-range sliding weight set should not have any safety issues, but very poor quality sets might be of concern.
What weight range should I look for in an adjustable dumbbell set?
How much weight you need on an adjustable dumbbell set depends entirely on how you plan to use them. If you are very serious about weightlifting and bodybuilding, you will want a set that has at least 100 pounds on each side, for a total of 200 pounds. If you are a moderate weightlifter, you can probably do fine with up to 50 pounds of weight per dumbbell. Anyone who is interested in strength training for weight loss rather than building mass would be fine with as little as 10 pounds per dumbbell.
What are intervals?
Intervals are best described as the number of pounds between possible weights on an adjustable dumbbell. For example, you could have 2.5 pound intervals, which means the weights would increase from 5 to 7.5. Or, you could have 5 pound intervals, which means that weights would increase from 5 to 10. Unless you are already able to easily lift the maximum weight on your adjustable dumbbell set, you must make sure not to purchase anything with more than 5 pound intervals. Weightlifting should be a very gradual sport, with slow progress. You do not want to try to lift 20 pounds after lifting 10 pounds; this could lead to serious injury.
What other features should I look for in a set of dumbbells?
An ergonomic design and the inclusion of a stand are really good features to look for. Ergonomic designs make it easy for you to follow a range of motions and open up more exercise possibilities, while a stand can help you from straining your back bending over to pick up the weights time and again. Many adjustable dumbbell sets have stands that you can purchase separately for an additional charge, but a few come with a stand. You might also want to choose a set of dumbbells that comes with a workout guide or instruction manual, so that you can learn which exercises work best with them and how to use them. If you are looking at adjustable dumbbells to reduce clutter in your home, look at their size and make sure they are compact enough to fit in the space you have available.
Is there anything particular I should know about using adjustable dumbbells?
The most important thing to know when using adjustable dumbbells is that you should never, ever throw them on the ground. Unlike regular dumbbells, which can take a fair amount of abuse, adjustable dumbbells are more sensitive due to their locking mechanisms, so always treat them with care.
What kind of exercises can I do using dumbbells?
You can do just about any exercise with an adjustable dumbbell that you can do with regular dumbbells. You can do arm, chest, shoulders, back, ab, and leg exercises. From squats, curls, flies, presses, and raises to rows, lunges, shrugs and crunches, there is almost no limit to the exercises you can do with adjustable dumbbells. Look for new exercises online, or refer to the instructional DVD or booklet that might come with your dumbbells to take full advantage of them in your workout routine.
Can I do P90X training or High Intensity Interval Training using dumbbells?
Yes. You can use adjustable dumbbells in just about any work-out routine, including P90X and HIIT. For both of these, you will want to invest in a set that has a dial mechanism, as it is by far the quickest way to change weights and you only have a few seconds between reps.