Does the Dumbbell Shape Make a Difference?

Hex dumbbells won't roll away.
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Dumbbells are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. Although you can perform most any exercise with any shape of dumbbell, certain shapes make performing some exercises uncomfortable or awkward. If you have access to a range of dumbbells, choose the shape that conforms to you and the movement, creating a fluid lifting experience.

Dumbbell Shapes

Pro dumbbells have a short, cylindrical handle and pancake ends, which are circular with a flat edge. Hex dumbbells have the same basic overall shape as pro dumbbells, but the end caps have six flat sides -- the shape of a hexagon. Selectorized dumbbells, which allow you to add or subtract weight, come in different shapes. Some are rectangular blocks, while others mimic the shape of a regular dumbbell with circular or square ends.

Round Versus Flat

The advantage of selectorized and hex dumbbells is that they don't roll. If your workout surface isn't 100 percent level, a pro dumbbell will roll away, which is not only inconvenient, but also a hazard. You can alleviate this problem by always racking pro dumbbells in between sets or placing them in front of a sturdy object so they won't roll away.

Block Dumbbells

Block-shaped selectorized dumbbells can be unwieldy when used for exercises where you hold the weights next to your thighs. Other dumbbells have an hourglass shape -- the handle is thinner than the ends. When you hold these dumbbells at your sides, the handle rests next to your thighs and the end caps sit to the front and back of your thigh. Block dumbbells don't have this indentation formed by the handle. They stick out from your thighs, which means your arms are pushed out at a slight angle away from your sides instead of relaxing against them.


The shape of the dumbbell grip can impact the quality of your workout. Dumbbell handles come in a variety of thicknesses. Some dumbbells have a uniform handle that is the same thickness from one end to the other. Other dumbbells have an ergonomic shape -- the center is slightly thicker than the ends -- that is more comfortable for some lifters. Choose a dumbbell with a comfortable grip that doesn't fatigue your hand before the target muscle.

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