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Cash or Trash: Adjustable Dumbbells

Next up in my *NEW* Cash or Trash series: Adjustable Dumbbells. I'll break down the pro's and cons of a piece of fitness equipment each week to help you decide if the investment is worth your hard-earned cash! As a primarily home based personal trainer I've bought a lot of things over the years. Some things have been worth their weight in gold and others have been complete trash. If you're just starting out or looking to build out your home gym, this series will help you invest wisely!


  • compact (vs storing pairs of dumbbells of each weight)

  • lots of different weight options depending on the model they can adjust from 5 - 52.5 pounds to 10-90lbs each

  • more cost effective than buying individual sets at equivalent weights

  • less likely to "outgrow" as you build strength


  • some models are bulky & hard to adjust

  • grip can be very large or awkward for small hands

  • difficult to hold for certain exercises due to larger size/shape

  • cost -its a lot of money upfront

  • adjustment pins can be made of plastic & break easily especially if you like to slam down your weights

Brands: Bowflex & Powerblock are the most well-known/most popular. I personally have the Bowflex 552 and love how easy they are to adjust. I've had several clients purchase these 5-25lb ones from Walmart and they are working well. Be advised they are often sold as single dumbbells so you will need to purchase two. If you've been lifting for a while, I'd recommended getting the Bowflex ones as most people will outgrow 25lbs rather quickly.

Cost: The price ranges from $79.99/dumbbell up to 25lbs to 399.99/dumbbell up to 90lbs. When you look at the average cost for pairs of dumbbells at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25lbs etc you will save quite a bit of money. Especially when taking into consideration the space needed to store the dumbbells. I personally have purchased dumbbells from 2lbs -20lbs over the years and now having the bowflex ones wish I would have bought them sooner!

Where to buy: Walmart, Target, Amazon, Local sporting goods stores etc. You may even be able to find some used on ebay, craigslist or Facebook marketplace. If looking at them in person be sure that all connectors are in place and that they easily adjust and are removable at every weight.

Where to try before you buy: SomeTargets carry the Bowflex ones in store, so you may be able to look at them there. You probably won't find these at most big box gyms, but smaller gyms may have them. Or come on over to my house and take a look lol.

Workouts to do with it: Anything you can do with a dumbbell you can do with these! If you have very small hands or are very petite you may find these more difficult to work with than standard dumbbells. I personally have a few petite clients that are not a fan.

Here's a back & biceps workout that requires only a set of dumbbells!

Verdict: Maybe cash...BUT If you're looking at investing in these vs investing in a barbell, I personally would go with a barbell if you have the space. The barbell is more versatile in the long run and will give you a greater variety of exercises. Just know that you will eventually need a rack or cage, weight plates & a bench etc.

Do you have adjustable dumbbells? What are your thoughts on them?

If you have a piece of equipment you're interested in or something you've bought that you've ended up loving drop it in the comments!



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