Are you in the market for a new set of dumbbells? Maybe you’re looking to build a home gym or want to add more ‘bling’ and variety to your fitness studio or Crossfit box.
With so many options you must be wondering, how many different types of dumbbells are there? And which one should I get?
All-in-all, there are 12 types of dumbbells. They can be categorized into 3 main types and 9 sub-types. Of these, the most common ones are fixed, adjustable, hex, rubber-coated, and iron dumbbells.
The Main Types of Dumbbells
The world of dumbbells is vast with numerous options to choose from. This also means you can pick exactly the type that meets your specific requirements. To make things easier and simpler for you, I’ll start with the main dumbbell types and their sub-types. After that, I’ll get into the details and offer my recommended product within that specific category. This will help you to make an informed decision.
The 3 main dumbbell types and their 9 sub-types are as follows:
- Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells
- Chrome Dumbbells
- Rubber hex Dumbbells
- Urethane Dumbbells
- Neoprene Dumbbells
- Vinyl Dumbbells
- Adjustable Selectorized Dumbbells
- Pin-lock Adjustable Dumbbells
- Loadable Dumbbells
Let’s get into the details of these types of hand weights to see what makes them so different from each other.
Interesting fact: Did you know that dumbbells can be dated back to ancient Greece?! They were called ‘Halteres’ and were carved out of stone.
1. Iron Dumbbells
Iron dumbbells, or cast iron dumbbells, are among the most traditional and oldest weights used for lifting. They’re also one of the most affordable ones.
The majority of iron dumbbells are made as single pieces of varying weights and shapes, also known as fixed weights. This makes them simpler and safer to use as you don’t have to worry about the plates being loose or slipping off the dumbbell rod.
These dumbbells are sturdy and incredibly versatile as they’ll come in handy in all forms of workouts for years and years.
Let’s get into the details of the types of iron dumbbells:
Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells
These cast iron dumbbells are manufactured in a way that the two ends of the weights are shaped like a hexagon. This isn’t just for aesthetics. In fact, the hexagonal shape helps in keeping these dumbbells in place, preventing any rolling and injuries. Cast iron hex dumbbells are affordable as compared to other dumbbell types. Lower costs make them the perfect purchase for home gyms, or commercial gyms looking to fill up their racks without breaking the bank.
Be careful though, because they don’t have any rubber coating, it’s not a good idea to drop them. Dropping can not only damage the floor but also hit someone and cause some serious injury!
Our Recommendation - CAP Barbell Black Cast Iron Hex Dumbbell
Every single dumbbell is manufactured using black cast iron, with the two ends joined together by a solid steel handle.
With dumbbells, it's important that you have a strong grip to perform both lower and upper body movements. I can safely say that because the handles have medium-depth knurling, it allows for a full range of motion without any slippage.
They come in a variety of sizes, from 5lb to 120lb, allowing you to build your strength up from a newbie to a full-blown powerlifter!
Chrome dumbbells are the shiny and beautiful counterparts to cast iron. If iron is the beast then chrome is the beauty! This is why a lot of people prefer these weights for their indoor home gyms.
These dumbbells, at their core, are actually made of cast iron or solid steel. But, they’re coated with chrome to add to aesthetics and, more importantly, to prevent the iron and/or steel from rusting or corroding.
Because of the chrome coating, I won’t recommend chrome dumbbells for lifters who use their weights roughly as the chrome finish will wear off over time. This is also a reason why commercial gyms don’t keep chrome dumbbells.
Our Recommendation - 33 lb Chrome Dumbbell Set
This chrome dumbbell set is ideal for travelers and home users due to its compact size and carrying case.
The solid steel handlebar adjustable plates allow you to perform a wide variety of exercises no matter where you are. Simply adjust the plates to intensify your workouts as the heavy duty star lock collars keep the weights firmly in place.
The best part, once done working out, you can pack everything inside the traveling case and store it away.
2. Rubber-coated Dumbbells
A lot of dumbbells nowadays are manufactured with rubber coating on the weights. With the world going eco-friendly, most of this rubber is recycled, which may have an odor but it goes away after some time. The biggest reason for using rubber-coated dumbbells is that it protects the floor when dropped. This is especially true when dropping heavy weights, which is why commercial gyms mostly equip rubber dumbbells on their racks. Additionally, the rubber coating also protects the core metal from corrosion and rust.
Here are 4 different types of rubber-coated dumbbells:
Rubber Hex Dumbbells
The main purpose of the hex design is to ensure safety by preventing the dumbbells from rolling. They stay where they are which makes them easy and safe to store. Because of the flat edges, you can perform exercises like renegade rows and devil presses by safely and firmly holding the dumbbell on the floor. Make sure that when getting rubber hex dumbbells, the handles should be knurled and chrome coated for a better grip, whereas the heads should be rubber coated.
As long as you don’t store the rubber hex dumbbells somewhere humid, their rubber will not deteriorate.
Our Recommendation - REP’s Rubber Hex Dumbbells
These are the latest edition of REP’s rubber-coated dumbbells as they are made from premium recycled rubber with a low odor.
Even though I personally do not like rubber handles, they have extended the rubber coating onto the handles. However, because of the high quality and textured knurling of the rubber handle, it does not slip and completely eliminates the chances of rust and corrosion. The design upgrade keeps the hexagonal shape while compacting the size, allowing you to store more weights. These dumbbells are sold in increments of 5 lbs, starting from a pair of 5 lbs all the way to 100 lbs.
Even though urethane falls under the rubber coating category, it in fact is a mix of rubber and plastic. This makes it superior to regular rubber in terms of shock absorption, durability, and longevity. Due to the plastic nature of urethane dumbbells, these are perfect for outdoor gyms. They won’t corrode or deteriorate in the sun or even if they get wet.
You won’t smell any of that typical rubber odor and can clean these with disinfectants and cleaners without worrying about damaging the coating. Did I mention they’re safe to drop as well!
The only downsides, they cost more and they come in round-shaped dumbbells.
Our Recommendation - Rogue Urethane Dumbbells
These urethane dumbbells from Rogue Fitness are manufactured with solid steel heads coated with urethane. This gives them an added advantage of durability and safety as they won’t damage the floor when dropped.
The handle is chrome coated with fully textured knurling for a stronger grip to prevent any slipping. From the small 5 lb pair to the huge 150 lb pair, all handles on the Rogue’s Urethane Dumbbells are of the same size of 6 inches. The fine matte black finish on the urethane plating adds to the aesthetics of the Rogue Fitness’s series of urethane dumbbells.
Believe it or not but this is one purchase that will last you for years on end!
Not all workouts need you to lift heavy weights and push massive dumbbells up and down. Sometimes, you can make do with something small and colorful. The dumbbells are made with cast iron and then submerged in a colorful neoprene liquid to give them their shiny look. This is why you won’t see these being used by regular weightlifters. Well, that’s not the only reason as neoprene dumbbells don't weigh more than 15 lbs. They are used for lightweight physiotherapy sessions, senior citizens, or people who are just entering the world of weight training.
For anyone who wants to hold on to a pair of weights when doing HIIT, or going on walks, neoprene dumbbells are a perfect choice.
Our Recommendation - Sunny Health & Fitness Neoprene Dumbbells
One of the most unique little dumbbells, they come in bright and vibrant colors due to the neoprene coating.
Anyone looking to add a bit of extra resistance to their workouts, this is a perfect choice. Available in pairs and multiple weight sets and colors, these dumbbells are ideal for walking, rehab exercises, and aerobic workouts.
Even though vinyl dumbbells are not considered hex dumbbells, they come in a hexagonal shape with bright and shiny colors. The dumbbells are manufactured using cast iron, then covered with a plastic vinyl material of varying colors. Just like their neoprene brother, vinyl dumbbells come in light weights and rarely go above 40 lbs. Their small compact size and the vinyl’s non-slip texture make them perfectly suited for small fitness and CrossFit studios.
The hex shape prevents any rolling, so they’re easy to store as well. Vinyl dumbbells are ideal to add resistance to cardio workouts and rehab exercises.
Our Recommendation - 40 lb, Vinyl Dumbbell Set
You can enhance the overall look of your gym or fitness studio by adding Sunny Health & Fitness 40 lb Vinyl Dumbbell set.
You can feel their high-quality vinyl coating that ensures durability, while the natural arc of the handle design ensures a strong grip.
The only downside is that these are adjustable plates. But, if you’re looking to start your resistance training journey, this set is perfect to start light and go heavy as you progress.
3. Adjustable Dumbbells
Adjustable Selectorized Dumbbells
These adjustable dumbbells are one of the most advanced sets of weights you can get your hands on. No more need to fill a rack full of plates or anything. Simply place this contraption on a flat surface, use the dial or the pin to set the weight, and you’re good to go! How simple was that! All selectorized dumbbells have their own specific stands that house the plates inside. All you have to do is to place the handle on the stand, select your desired weight, lift the handle and the plates will be attached.No more running here and there finding different plates for your dumbbell handles! Now that’s convenient!
Our Recommendation - Powerblock Commercial Series Dumbbells
This is the new and improved version of the selectorized dumbbell offered by PowerBlock. As the name suggests, this is a commercial series set, making it even more sturdy, efficient, and versatile.
With large spaces getting more expensive to rent, this is the perfect solution for small gyms and fitness studios. The PowerBlock dumbbell can serve the same functionality as a dozen dumbbells. The weights can be changed within seconds as all you have to do is move the pin to the weight of your choice, and lift the handle. The selected weight will come up as you move. How easy is that!
Well, because it’s commercial it does cost a lot so it’s perfect for commercial gyms that want to save space.
Pin-lock Adjustable Dumbbells
With pin-lock adjustable dumbbells, you get the advantage of having a single set of dumbbells, but the option to choose between 28 different weights. If that’s not convenient then I don’t know what is! This also shares the same advantage of space-saving, and time-saving too if you consider how easy it is to change weights. It can easily be stored inside a locker or storage room, saving you ample space for other stuff. It might seem expensive but in the long run, you’re saving a lot of money as you don't have to buy different weights and plates every now and then.
These are perfect for beginners and regular lifters, while also handy for anyone doing circuit training and HIIT workouts.
Our Recommendation - Rep Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
These adjustable dumbbells are perfect for anyone who is running low on space, yet needs a versatile set of dumbbells.
The Rep Fitness adjustable dumbbells are made of solid cast iron, with fully knurled handles for a strong and slip-free grip. You also get the option to choose as light as 1.25 lb and go as heavy as 85 lbs per dumbbell!
This allows you to do some serious lifting or some lightweight exercises.
Simply put, loadable dumbbells are just like small barbells. The plates and handles are separate and can be adjusted as per your weight-lifting needs. You can load and unload just like you would a traditional dumbbell. The handles come in varying textures like threaded, or smooth, and you’ll have to use either a star-lock collar or a spring-lock collar to hold the plates. These loadable dumbbells can be used by beginners all the way to professionals!
The advantage here is that you can buy the plates separately. So if you’re just starting out, you can buy small weights and then buy the heavy ones later.
Our Recommendation - Rogue Loadable Dumbbells
These are some of the highest-level dumbbells you can get. Regarded as Olympic-level, this dumbbell set is versatile and compact while offering athletic precision and weight adjustment options.
You can purchase the loadable dumbbells and the plates separately, making it convenient for beginners to start light, while intermediates and professionals can go heavier.
Does The Type of Dumbbell You Use Matter?
Honestly, your muscles don’t know whether you’re lifting 100 lbs of iron or 100 lbs of rubber! As long as you’re doing the right workouts, using the correct form, following safety protocols, and lifting sensibly, you’re good to go!
However, there are certain things you have to keep in mind in terms of space and budget. As an example, for anyone who is low on budget, the best option would be to go for loadable dumbbells. They can purchase a set of plates now, and get more plates in the upcoming months as they progress with their training.
Is 7.5 KG Dumbbell Heavy?
For beginners, yes this 7.5 kg is heavy and should not be used for lifting at that early stage. However, it is perfect for intermediates as it will offer plenty of challenges during workouts.
What Kind of Dumbbells Do Gyms Use?
Gyms use a variety of dumbbells. Depending on the type of gym, the main focus can be to use dumbbells that:
- Save space - Adjustable Selectorized Dumbbells
- Are durable and not prone to wear and tear - Rubber, Steel, and Chrome Dumbbells
- Won’t damage the floor or roll when dropped - Urethane Dumbbells
- Cost-effective - Rubber Hex Dumbbells
Is 10 KG Dumbbell Enough for Beginners?
Hopefully, now you know all there is to know about dumbbells. With 12 different types of dumbbells, you can choose the ones that are right for your needs.
From rugged cast iron dumbbells for old-school users and beginners to sturdy, durable, and safe rubber ones, and finally the variable adjustable dumbbells, I have opened the world of dumbbells for you to explore!
So, which dumbbell do you think works best for you and why? Are you using any of these dumbbell types in your workouts? We’d love to hear your thoughts so let us know in the comments section! Happy lifting!
- Halteres // Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halteres_(ancient_Greece)
- 3 Types of Dumbbells – How Each Can Benefit You // DysFunctionalParrot: https://dysfunctionalparrot.com/health-and-fitness/types-of-dumbbells/
- Adjustable Dumbbells vs Fixed // Torokhtiy: https://torokhtiy.com/blogs/guides/adjustable-dumbbells-vs-fixed
- BENEFITS OF HARD CHROME PLATING // HCSplating: https://hcsplating.com/resources/hard-chrome-plating-guide/
- Form For Fitness: Are You Using Proper Form? // Bodybuilding: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/likness25.htm
My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.
I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competitions.