No doubt about it -- if you want to develop total-body strength, dumbbells are great pieces of equipment to have around. They’re easy to use, don’t require a lot of space, and because they aren’t part of a machine, they are highly versatile. When it comes to your workout, though, while the weights may be the same, choosing the best style of dumbbell will be determined by your needs and budget.
As the most popular style of dumbbell, cast-iron dumbbells are commonly found in gyms. They’re highly durable and can take a beating from heavy use. With their textured grip, they can be ideal for you if your palms tend to get sweaty during your workouts. Also one of the most inexpensive options, cast-iron dumbbells can be found in big-box retail stores as well as most sporting goods stores. The only drawback to cast-iron dumbbells is the space they require when compared to adjustable weights and their tendency to chip at the exterior.
Whether you know it or not, you are familiar with neoprene. It’s the substance used to coat iron dumbbells, adding color and a less abrasive exterior. Also highly durable, available and cost-effective, neoprene dumbbells are ideal if you’re only looking for small weights. According to Consumer Search, these are popular choices for women who want to buy weights for power walking or exercise videos. Because they only come in light weights, however, they can be easy to outgrow. If you’re planning to continue increasing your strength beyond 10-pound dumbbells, invest in a set of cast-iron or adjustable dumbbells instead.
Rubber-Coated Cast-Iron Dumbbells
If you have a habit of dropping your dumbbells after a hard set of curls or rows, rubber-coated cast-iron dumbbells can save you from damaging your floors (or the ones at the gym). Similar to standard cast-iron dumbbells, these rubber-coated versions have the same textured grip and are available in heavier weights. If you’re looking to purchase dumbbells for your home, your budget could be the determining factor in whether or not you buy rubber-coated dumbbells, as they are slightly more expensive than their cast-iron counterparts.
While not available in most gyms, adjustable weights can be perfect for your home gym if you want to save space. Most adjustable dumbbells come with plates that must be added and removed, which takes away from their convenience, but there are options that can help you avoid that step. If you really want to make an investment, some weights can be adjusted simply by turning a dial. These sets are considerably more expensive than other dumbbell options, but if time, convenience and space are your main concerns, they may be worth the investment.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.