Adjustable dumbbells have their advantages and disadvantages.
I used manual adjustable dumbells for many years because I just couldn't afford a huge set of hex dumbbells.
Now, hex dumbbells are even more expensive due to the rising cost of pretty much everything.
Even groceries have doubled and even tripled in cost over the past few years. Weight plates have doubled in cost too. Adjustable dumbells will still cost much less than a good set of hex dumbbells.
Dumbbells are great for certain exercises, and you could design a workout routine with only dumbbells if that's the way you wanted to go…
Work Your Entire Body With Only Dumbbells
You could do dumbbell squats, incline dumbbell bench press, dumbbell rows, dumbbell stiff legged deadlifts, dumbbell overhead press, alternate dumbbell curls, close grip dumbbell bench, and pinwheel curls.
Now you've covered every major muscle group with only a set of adjustable dumbbells.
There are some disadvantages to using only dumbbells, though, and I will discuss those later.
A good set of adjustable dumbbells will last you for the rest of your life. You're going to need a good set of dumbbell handles, the best weight fasteners, and the correct type of weight plates. If you have those things, you can make dumbbells anywhere from a few pounds all the way up to 150 pounds or more per dumbbell.
I've also got another good dumbbell option I'll tell you about a little later…
Adjustable Dumbbell Handles
You're going to have to find a good set of dumbbell handles. You do not want to buy cheap dumbbell handles.
Get the best quality handles you can find and get them as long as possible.
I found a decent set around 5 years ago for $30, but I wish I would have found a little better quality handles that were a little longer.
The longer the dumbbell handles, the more weight you can put on them in the future.
I recommend these to anyone because they've lasted me for about 5 years now, but like I said, I wish I could have found a set that was longer in length.
I'm not sure anyone makes a longer set, though.
These handles will easily make over 100 pound dumbbells with 25 pound standard weight plates. I wanted a longer set of dumbbells so I could make large weights with 10 pound weight plates. The set at the link above is the best adjustable dumbbell set that I could find.
If you can't find a good set, do not buy the cheap ones. Take my advice on this one. You'll only end up spending more money in the long run. As you get stronger, which you will, you'll start adding more and more weight to the dumbbells.
Eventually, cheap dumbbell handles are going to bend on you. I've bent 3 or 4 sets of handles along the way until I finally became smart enough to buy a good set. You don't want to be lifting heavy weights with bent handles.
I wouldn't trust that much weight on a cheap pair of handles anyway.
If you choose an Olympic dumbbell handle set, the Olympic fasteners will work just fine.
You're going to have two options here depending on the adjustable dumbbell handle set that you choose.
Some will have the collar type fasteners like you see on Olympic Barbell sets.
These are the type that you squeeze together and then remove.
Then you have the kind of weight fasteners that screw on. I suggest that you get the screw on weight fasteners for your adjustable dumbbell set — if you choose the standard size.
If you choose Olympic sized handles, the collar type fasteners will work fine. Just don't buy anything cheap here.
Safety is key.
The dumbbell handles at the link above will have a good set of fasteners with them. These are also great quality dumbbell handles that I recommend. You can use your olympic weight plates with these handles. I recommend that you get extra 10 pound plates that are thin to go with these handles.
Safety is the number one option here. With the collar type fasteners there could be a chance that one of them becomes lose and the weights fall! You don't want to take a chance with a collar becoming loose because even a small amount of weight could really do some damage to your body.
Just imagine doing bench press with 100 pound dumbbells, and the weight falling on your face.
It's not worth the risk! Get you some screw on weight fasteners. They might take a little more time to screw on and off, but it's worth the extra effort.
If you do choose the olympic dumbbell option as shown above, always ensure the fasteners are not loose. I've had some fasteners that were loose on certain bars and tight on others due to the differences in the bars.
I'm sure the set above will have the correct fasteners, so always ensure you use those. Never change to a different set of fasteners.
You're going to have two options on weight plates depending on the style of dumbbell handles you choose to purchase. You can buy dumbbell handles that hold Olympic sized plates or standard sized plates.
I suggest you get the dumbbell handles that hold standard sized weights because you'll be able to fit more standard sized plates on the bar. In some cases this may not be true depending on the style of plates you purchase.
You want to get the thinnest weights possible so you'll be able to add more weight in the future.
Most of the time, the standard plates are thinner. If you compare the Olympic and standard sizes you're thinking about purchasing, you'll have a better idea of which type you'd like. I've always found that the standard plates work better.
You also don't want the plates to get in the way during specific exercises. For example, smaller plates give you a greater range of motion on incline dumbbell bench press. Larger plates will restrict your motion somewhat.
No matter which choice you make, either standard or olympic, I suggest you get four 25's, eight 10's, four 5's, and four 2.5 pound weight plates to start with. That will give you up to 105 pound dumbbells if you have handles long enough to fit the plates.
If you have shorter handles, you'll want to get some more 10's and some more 25's for future use. You might as well plan ahead because I'm sure the prices are going to continue to rise.
Get yours today. I wish I would have bought more weight plates in the past when they were cheaper. Too late now.
Advantages of Adjustable Dumbbells
The one huge advantage here is the cost! And I mean huge!
A good set of adjustable dumbbells that will last you a lifetime should cost around $200 depending on the style you get and the amount of weight you purchase.
This might sound like a lot to many of you, but try buying a set of the cheapest dumbbells you can find. A set from 5 to 100 pound hex dumbbell will cost you over $3000 dollars.
I don't know about you, but I don't just have $3000 laying around. I've got a family and kids to send to college.
Another advantage is the increased number of exercises you can perform with dumbbells.
You'll also have the extra weight plates you can use on your hip belt or other bars to do other exercises.
I use my standard weight plates to load my triceps bar for use on the hip belt. I use the hip belt for many different exercises.
Disadvantages of Adjustable Dumbbells
Of course, adjustable dumbells have one huge disadvantage. The time it takes to load up your adjustable dumbells can be a huge disadvantage depending on the number of exercises you use that require dumbbells.
If you only use them for one exercise, the time it takes to get the weight ready will be minimal. If you're continuously changing the amount of weight on your dumbbells throughout you're workout, then you're workout time will go up tremendously.
You'll get tired of changing the weight all the time — I've been there myself.
If you're like me, you don't want to make your workout any longer. I like to do as many exercises in the shortest amount of time during my workout.
If I have to keep changing my dumbbells, the time it takes me to do the same amount of exercises can go up way too much.
Plus, changing all those dumbbells requires energy. I like to save all the energy I can for my weight lifting sets.
Summary of Adjustable Dumbbells
So, you might want to look into purchasing a set of adjustable dumbells to save you time. You can usually find some good deals at certain times of the year.
The link above shows you a set of adjustable dumbbells that are safe and quick to use.
They are much cheaper than the hex dumbbell alternative and they save space in your home gym.
Really think about giving these a shot.
If I had to do it over, I would definitely buy a pair at the link above.
You should also pay attention to classifieds and large gyms that are going out of business. You might find a large gym going out of business that wants to get rid of all the dumbbells and equipment in the gym. Sometimes they'll give their weight lifting equipment away. Watch for those kinds of deals.
Or, you might have to live with the adjustable dumbells for a while due to the high cost of sets of dumbbells. I lived with mine for a long time and still use them for the heavier exercises.
The heavier the weight of a dumbbell in a set, the higher the cost. The current cost for a dumbbell is around 60 cents per pound. A 100 pound set of hex dumbbells will cost you at least $120.
Most of the time, a store will charge even more for the heavier dumbbells.
You can't beat the deals given on Amazon for adjustable dumbbells. You'll get free shipping on many of the items. That's tough to beat when you're ordering heavy items like weight plates.
Do not pay expensive prices for shipping. It's not worth it unless you just have extra money to throw around. I know I don't.