1. Health & Fitness
  2. Exercise

The Best Adjustable Dumbbells

By Ingrid Skjong and Amy Roberts
Five sets of adjustable dumbbells we tested for this review.
Photo: Gabrielle Drake

Compared with a full rack of traditional dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells require far less room, making them ideal for smaller spaces. We’ve lifted thousands of pounds of weight for hundreds of reps to find the best set of adjustable dumbbells for at-home use. We think Core Home Fitness’s Adjustable Dumbbell Set—with a lightning-fast adjustment mechanism, a compact footprint, and a 5- to 50-pound load range—is the set that will work best for most exercisers. We continue to recommend the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells, which have been a pick in this guide since 2016.

Adjustable dumbbells (along with other pieces of at-home exercise equipment) were perhaps one of the hottest commodities of pandemic-era workouts. Availability has improved, although prices may still be unsettlingly high on some sets, and delivery times can vary. Can’t find what you’re looking for or not sure you want to make the investment? There are other ways to strength train at home; you can also improvise with items you may already have on hand.

Our pick

Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set

The best adjustable dumbbells

The Core Home Fitness weights, with their speedy adjustments and ergonomic design, are easier to use and more comfortable to hold than the competition.

Each dumbbell in the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set can go from 5 to 50 pounds per dumbbell in a matter of seconds with just a twist of the handles. Even better, at 14½ inches long, the weights are a manageable length when fully loaded, and they get shorter, and therefore more ergonomic to handle, as you reduce the load. Our runner-up dumbbells remain 15¾ inches long no matter how you load them, so they’re potentially unwieldy for smaller-framed folks.

Our complaints about the Core Home Fitness dumbbells are minor: The weight increments on each are 5 pounds (rather than the 2½ pounds of others), which can make an increase feel significant, particularly at lower loads (say, going from 10 to 15 pounds, or from 15 to 20). And like most adjustable dumbbells we tested, these weights require careful alignment for you to re-rack them, and the racks get hung up when you pick up the weights fully loaded. Of the 13 sets of adjustable dumbbells we’ve tested, the Core Home Fitness model offers the best, most approachable experience in its price range, making it a great choice for most home gyms.



Bowflex SelectTech 552

Smaller weight increments

These sturdy dumbbells allow subtler load adjustments and are well-made and easy to use, but they’re not as sleek or quick to adjust as our top pick.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $400.

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells adjust smoothly from 5 to 52½ pounds when you turn dials at either end of each weight. With 2½-pound increments for the first 25 pounds (and 5 pounds thereafter), the Bowflex weights allow for more nuance in training progressions than our top pick, whose increments are 5 pounds. (The PowerBlock USA Elite 5-50 Stage 1 set, which we review here, is also able to adjust in increments of 2½ pounds.) Still, the Bowflex weights have two dials to adjust per dumbbell (lest you accidentally create an uneven load), so they aren’t as quick or elegant to load and unload as our top pick. Also, the 15¾-inch-long bars don’t get shorter as you change the weight, making this set a bit harder to handle, especially for smaller-framed people. If our pick is unavailable, or if the ability to adjust the total weight per dumbbell in smaller increments matters to you, these dumbbells are a solid choice for lifting at home.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set

The best adjustable dumbbells

The Core Home Fitness weights, with their speedy adjustments and ergonomic design, are easier to use and more comfortable to hold than the competition.


Bowflex SelectTech 552

Smaller weight increments

These sturdy dumbbells allow subtler load adjustments and are well-made and easy to use, but they’re not as sleek or quick to adjust as our top pick.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $400.

To learn about the benefits of using adjustable dumbbells in home workouts, we interviewed Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Lehman College and author of The M.A.X. Muscle Plan, and Pete McCall, a San Diego–based certified strength and conditioning specialist, host of the All About Fitness podcast, and a former adviser to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). McCall is a consultant for Core Health and Fitness (not to be confused with Core Home Fitness, an affiliated company that sells our top pick).

Ingrid Skjong, Wirecutter’s senior staff writer for fitness, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)–certified personal trainer who has programmed many strength-training plans using dumbbells and has always enjoyed working out at home. A longtime New York City resident, she has a vested interest in space-saving, versatile exercise equipment.

Amy Roberts is a NASM-certified personal trainer and an ACE-certified group fitness instructor.

For additional testing perspectives, Amy enlisted NASM-certified personal trainer Phil Schiefer, who generously offered his fitness expertise plus gym-floor and home-garage space.

Our tester holding an adjustable dumbbell in an upright row position
Photo: Gabrielle Drake

Lifting weights isn’t some fly-by-night fitness fad or a hobby reserved for bodybuilders. Resistance training confers a host of health benefits, from boosting metabolism to improving bone density. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends (PDF) that American adults complete a minimum of two muscle-strengthening sessions per week, defined as “activities [that] make muscles do more work than they are accustomed to doing.” “That is,” the recommendation continues, “they overload the muscles.”

One way to achieve that muscle overload is to use free weights such as standard dumbbells or kettlebells. (Resistance bands can also do the trick.) But—surprise—having just one or even a couple of sets of dumbbells at home won’t be enough. As you get stronger, you’ll find that you need to add more weight (or resistance) to achieve the maximum benefits. “The only reason the body adapts is because it’s challenged beyond its present capacity,” exercise scientist Brad Schoenfeld told us. “If the weights are too light, you can’t do that.”

If you’re committed to weight training at home, investing in a set of adjustable dumbbells can save you money and space. Rather than buying a full set of traditional dumbbells, which, depending on what you choose, can be prohibitively expensive and require the same amount of storage space as a small bookcase, getting a set of adjustable dumbbells—two handles that each allow you to load them incrementally with weights totalling up to 50 pounds or more—may make more sense.

To some people, up to 50 pounds per dumbbell may seem like a lot of weight. But once they’ve learned proper form, even a novice exerciser is usually capable of deadlifting a load equal to their body weight for at least one rep, so 50 pounds per weight ends up making sense for most people. If you’re an experienced lifter and you would like more than 50 pounds per dumbbell, we have recommendations for you, too.

Five adjustable dumbbell sets we tested for this review.
Five of the sets we tested total about 563 pounds of weight. Most rest in racks, which are essential for holding the unneeded plates when the dumbbells are not fully loaded. Photo: Gabrielle Drake

When selecting which sets of adjustable dumbbells to test, we looked for per-handle loads ranging from 5 or 10 pounds to around 50 pounds, a span that presents enough versatility for most exercisers.

You can find a variety of mechanisms for setting loads on adjustable dumbbells, and we were mechanism-agnostic when deciding which models to test.

Traditional: You manually slide weight plates, held in place by a threaded screw collar, on or off a bar.

Dial: The dumbbells sit in a tray and you turn a dial at one or both ends, engaging or disengaging the plates you need. The ones you don’t want remain in the tray when you pick the dumbbells up.

Handle-twist: You rotate the handle to collect or disengage the weight plates from the center outward, with the unneeded plates remaining in the tray when you pick the weights up.

Slide-pin: You pull up and slide a pin at each end of the dumbbell to add or reduce weight, from the handle out. Any leftover plates remain in the tray.

Other: Some sets have proprietary adjustment mechanisms that differ from the above. Read more in The competition.

Thanks to the work of former guide writer Mark Bixby, we easily nixed nearly a dozen sets of adjustable dumbbells that didn’t perform as well as others during previous panel testing or that we dismissed without testing because of poor owner reviews. For updates to this guide, we checked on the availability of previous picks and looked for new or updated models.

When evaluating these adjustable dumbbells, we prioritized the following:

  • Speed and ease of adjustment: Being able to load or unload weight quickly and smoothly is important for workout timing and flow, and also for safety. Overly complicated or fussy adjustments can prompt mistakes in changing the weights (say, forgetting or improperly adjusting one end), or can lead you to decide not to adjust as often, leaving too little or too much weight on the bars for your exercises.
  • Adjustment increments: The typical load adjustment increment is 5 pounds, but some dumbbells allow increases or decreases of 2½ pounds, while others adjust by increments of 10 pounds.
  • Ergonomics: How the weights feel in your hands and how you can move while holding them is extremely important, especially given the fact that these things are likely to be bulkier, longer, and more unwieldy than standard cast-iron dumbbells of equivalent weights that you’d find on the racks at the gym.
  • Overall construction: More metal (and fewer plastic) components may make for a safer, longer-lasting set.
One of our testers lifting adjustable weights while lunging.
Personal trainer Phil Schiefer demonstrates one way to add weight to a lunge, using the Core Home Fitness dumbbells. Photo: Gabrielle Drake

To test each set, Phil Schiefer, another personal trainer, and Amy worked out with them both in a gym (where there was enough space to try multiple sets) and at home.

We determined the ease and speed of adjusting the weight load, both initially and while transitioning exercises in a circuit format (that is, from one exercise to another with little rest between). Longer transition times mean longer periods of rest, which certified strength and conditioning specialist Pete McCall pointed out can affect the quality of a workout—especially if your goal is to improve conditioning, which requires keeping your heart rate up. In the gym, Schiefer and Amy timed themselves adjusting the weights while completing the same circuits of exercises with each pair. This way they could compare adjustment times across sets and see approximately how much that adjustment time affected a workout for two different people.

These five dumbbells we tested range from 14½ inches to 17 inches in length when fully loaded. From left: Core Home Fitness (the shortest), Bowflex, Yes4All, NordicTrack (the longest), Merax. Photo: Gabrielle Drake

We considered how limits on load-adjustment increments might affect our training, finding that 2½-pound increments were best for working out with lighter total per-dumbbell loads, while 5-pound increments could, depending on the exercise performed, require reducing the number of reps when increasing the per-dumbbell load.

We also considered the ergonomics of using each set, particularly in maneuverability during exercises. We took into account the length of each dumbbell at given loads (a factor that for Amy, a 5-foot-5, narrow-framed woman, quickly became an important parameter). Longer bars mean that for certain exercises people with smaller frames may need to modify their range of motion, or their body positioning, or both. These modifications, while not necessarily harmful, can affect which muscles are engaged and potentially the quality of the workout. Brad Schoenfeld likened it to how the machines at the gym are not one-size-fits-all—they’re designed to fit an “average” person (which most likely doesn’t exist), so outliers on either end can find them biomechanically awkward.

Finally, we looked for any safety or durability concerns. We noted the ratio of plastic to metal components and how secure the weights felt in terms of any rattle or movement of the plates, which all but screw-collar models produce to some degree.

For our latest update, we were finally able to get our hands on adjustable dumbbells again in late 2020 and early 2021. We stuck to the strategy outlined above when it came to choosing new contenders, as well as retesting new versions of previously dismissed dumbbells, and put them through the paces at home in the same type of workouts.

Our pick for best adjustable dumbbell, the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set.
Photo: Gabrielle Drake

Our pick

Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set

The best adjustable dumbbells

The Core Home Fitness weights, with their speedy adjustments and ergonomic design, are easier to use and more comfortable to hold than the competition.

Speedy, uncomplicated loading and unloading set the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set apart from the competition. You can adjust each dumbbell to the desired weight—between 5 and 50 pounds—in just one or two seconds, even simultaneously, with a simple twist of the handles. For the other models we tested, adjustments took anywhere from six to 25 seconds per dumbbell. The ease of this adjustment mechanism lets you focus completely on your workout rather than having to fuss with your tools. What’s more, fully loaded, these dumbbells are a manageable 14½ inches long, shorter than nearly all others we tested (the Nüobell and the PowerBlock USA Elite 5-50 Stage 1 sets are both shorter). In particular, they’re 1¼ inches shorter than our runner-up pick and 2½ inches shorter than the longest dumbbells in our testing group. When the weight is reduced, so is the dumbbell’s overall length. In contrast, most other models, including our runner-up pick, maintain the same bar length no matter how much weight you load them with. Shorter dumbbells mean that smaller-framed people don’t have to modify their range of motion or movement angles with the Core Home Fitness set in order to avoid colliding the weights together in, say, an overhead military press.

Adjusting the Core Home Fitness dumbbells in real time. Video: Gabrielle Drake

The company backs its weights with a two-year, parts-only warranty, common for this category.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The weight increment of the Core Home Fitness dumbbells is a fixed 5 pounds. In the gym, you’ll typically find dumbbells at 2½-pound increments, especially at the lower weights—5, 7½, 10, 12½, and so on, up to 25 pounds. For some people (or certain exercises), a 5-pound jump can be a lot. To manage it, the general rule of thumb is that you increase the weight and reduce the number of reps you can complete with good form. If you need dumbbells that you can adjust in 2½-pound increments, consider our runner-up pick.

Most plated adjustable dumbbells run the risk of unselected plates sticking during load selection and potentially falling (something we ran into while testing an adjustable barbell system). Be sure to pay attention while making adjustments.

When fully loaded, the weights have a tendency to stick in the frames. Using your other hand or a foot on each rack is a good solution. Video: Gabrielle Drake

The other small issues are ones that we encountered with most of the adjustable dumbbell sets we tested: When the dumbbells are fully loaded, the rack frames tend to stick to the outside of the weights as you pick them up. (Keeping a toe on the frame, or picking the dumbbells up one at a time so you can hold the rack with your other hand, solves that problem.) The Core Home Fitness dumbbells, like most other models we tested, also have to be aligned carefully for you to re-rack them—the plates have a V-shaped mold to guide them into place. In our tests, the plates rattled a bit on the bars, but they felt more secure than those on most other sets we tried. As is the case for all the adjustable dumbbells we tested, you can’t drop these as you might do with regular free weights: You must put these down with a bit of care.

Although reviews on the Core Home Fitness site and Amazon remain largely positive, we had noticed complaints of faulty parts and unresponsive customer service from people who purchased the Core Home Fitness set. A public relations representative told us in an email that Core Home Fitness stopped selling its dumbbells through retailers like Amazon from March 2020 to March 2021, and instead sold them only through its own website. During that time, the rep said, the company saw a jump in unauthorized resellers selling used, damaged, or returned Core Home Fitness products on Amazon (or knockoffs). The rep added that the company has restructured internally to improve its customer support, and it is contacting people who purchased its equipment through third-party platforms (including Amazon) to rectify any issues.

Ingrid purchased a pair of the dumbbells directly from Core Home Fitness in late 2020 and has used them regularly (typically at least twice a week) since then with few issues, save for their aforementioned tendency to stick to the frame.

Our runner-up pick for best adjustable dumbbell, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells.
Photo: Gabrielle Drake


Bowflex SelectTech 552

Smaller weight increments

These sturdy dumbbells allow subtler load adjustments and are well-made and easy to use, but they’re not as sleek or quick to adjust as our top pick.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $400.

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells accept adjustments in increments of 2½ pounds for the first 25 pounds (and 5 pounds after that), allowing a smaller progression than our top pick’s static 5-pound increment. With this Bowflex set you can select loads from 5 pounds to 52½ pounds by turning a dial at each end of the dumbbell. Doing so takes only six or seven seconds, but that’s more than twice as much time as on our top pick from Core Home Fitness (which took only a couple of seconds for us to adjust).

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 set is also larger than our pick. Regardless of how much weight you load, the bars that hold it remain nearly 16 inches long, unlike the more-compact Core Home Fitness dumbbells, which get even shorter as you release weight plates. The length of the Bowflex weights was a nonissue for the 6-foot-2, broad-shouldered Phil Schiefer, but for Amy (5-foot-5 and narrow-shouldered), the weights felt unwieldy and even affected her body positioning and ranges of motion in some exercises. For example, in a two-handed biceps curl, she had to externally rotate her shoulders to avoid hitting the weights together.

The dial adjustments on this set generally operate smoothly, but with two per weight, if you miss an end (which can happen with fatigue-addled workout brain), you risk an awkward, uneven load.

As with most adjustable dumbbell sets, the racking tray can stick when you’re lifting a full load, and you need to have the weights aligned carefully to re-rack them.

Some Amazon reviewers express concern about the weights’ plastic components being less durable than the metal of other models (a common concern when it comes to adjustable dumbbells with mixed-material parts). Bowflex itself warns owners not to drop these dumbbells on any surface. Like our pick, these weights come with a two-year, parts-only warranty. The company also offers extended, parts-only policies.

A Wirecutter staff member who used the Bowflex dumbbells for two years on average two to three times per week praised the weights for their ease of use and durability. His only complaints were those we found in our testing—that the bars were too long for some exercises (he has a slim build), and that the weights could stick in the trays sometimes. The only reason he stopped using them regularly: He got strong enough to the point where the max load wasn’t challenging enough, and he joined a gym. Still, he said, “I can’t bring myself to sell them.”

Another Wirecutter colleague, who has owned these dumbbells for about six years and uses them for a variety of upper- and lower-body exercises, also reports that they’ve held up “incredibly well” and gives them high marks for ease of use. “They are still like new,” he said, “despite me accidentally dropping them a bunch.” He finds the length of the bars appropriate for his build—though his wife (who has a smaller frame) struggles with them on some exercises—and says the maximum weight continues to suit his goals. “But if I were actively trying to add weight and get stronger,” he said, “I would have ‘aged out’ of these dumbbells years ago.”

PowerBlock began producing its rectangular-shape adjustable dumbbells in 1993. If you’re familiar with weight training and have confidence in your form and technique, PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells are a solid choice. But their shape may deter some.

Wirecutter previously dismissed a now-discontinued set of PowerBlocks (the U-90 Stage 1). Although we praised the expandability and compactness, we ultimately passed because “the weights’ boxiness was just a bit too weird for most of our testers’ tastes.”

We most recently tested the PowerBlock USA Elite 5-50 Stage 1, which goes from 5 to 50 pounds in increments of 5 pounds, with the ability to increase by 2½ pounds with a pair of supplemental cylindrical “adder” weights. The dumbbells are 12½ inches long when fully loaded (2½ inches shorter than our top pick) and have PowerBlock’s signature boxy shape, which may take some getting used to if you’re new to strength training or prefer a more traditionally oriented dumbbell. (A person new to PowerBlock remarked that reaching into them was like “reaching into a toaster.”)

The USA Elite’s are adjusted with a two-pronged selector pin attached to an elastic cord. Loads are color coded; the corresponding weights are printed on the top of each dumbbell. The process isn’t difficult, but it can be finicky and is a touch more labor intensive and time-consuming than a handle-twist or dial mechanism. Occasionally the pin missed the mark, and we’d need to realign it. That said, the selector-pin design seems open to fewer mechanical malfunctions over time than a dial or rotatable handle.

The aforementioned “adder weights” reside in chambers located inside of each dumbbell and facilitate subtler load changes (17½ pounds, 27½ pounds, and so forth). The setup took us a beat to get used to, but we appreciated having the option for certain exercises.

The recessed handles, which are lightly textured grippy rubber flanked by two padded bumpers, require you to effectively reach into the dumbbell. Depending on wrist size, the fit within the handle could feel tight. It’s also trickier to perform certain exercises like goblet squats because of the dumbbell handle’s inner orientation, though it’s doable.

Two optional extenders, which increase the total weight to 70 pounds or 90 pounds per dumbbell, are sold separately for $190 each. This is a boon if you know 50 pounds won’t challenge you for long and allows for extending not only the maximum weight of each dumbbell, but the life of the set in a strength-training routine.

PowerBlocks are known for their durability and long lifespan. The USA Elite 5-50 Stage 1 set is well made and has a five-year limited warranty—three years longer than those of our top and runner-up picks. (The company makes it clear that its warranty covers only PowerBlock sets purchased from PowerBlock or an authorized retailer.)

If you want a set of dumbbells that weighs more than 100 pounds: The hefty Merax Deluxe 71.5 Pounds Adjustable Dial Dumbbells are a good value for a significant bump in total load: about 20 pounds more weight per dumbbell than either of our picks offers. Although the Merax set was similar in pricing to our top picks at the time of our testing, these dumbbells are more expensive now. The single adjustment dial releases with a press of a trigger button for speedy weight selection that’s faster than on the Bowflex set but slower than on the Core Home Fitness pair. But this set comes with a couple of quirks. First, the weight plates are in kilograms, not pounds, which requires some mental gymnastics (2.2 pounds per kilo) if you’re used to US/imperial measurements. Also, turning the dial counterclockwise selects kilogram loads of 5, 10, 15, and so on, while clockwise gets you 7½, 12½, 17½, and so on. Yet the dials can spin all the way around in either direction, so you need to pay extra attention while adjusting the loads. Like our runner-up pick, the Merax dumbbells remain a static length (in this case, 16¼ inches—a half-inch longer than our runner-up). Still, if you want more weight and don’t mind the learning curve, we found that these dumbbells felt nearly as sturdy in the hand as our picks.

If you’d prefer dumbbells with steel plates and a more minimalist style: You might like the Nüobell 50-pound set, which has the feel of traditional dumbbells—steel plates (with plastic components), knurled (textured) metal handles—and a sleek look. (Some may find the textured handles too rough; our top and runner-up picks both have rubber grips on their handles.) These dumbbells typically cost about $200 more than our top pick from Core Home Fitness. (There are several Nüobell authorized retailers in the United States, including SMRTFT, which we've linked to above. For the same price, you can also purchase them from Rogue Fitness.) Each dumbbell adjusts in 5-pound increments with a twist of the handle, similar to how our top pick operates. They have a pleasing, compact design—fully loaded, they’re an inch shorter than the Core Home Fitness pair. They do not stick in their cradles when fully loaded as our top pick tends to do, and they rattle a bit less while in use. But considering those blips aren’t fundamentally detrimental to most exercises, we think most people won’t need to spend the extra $200. The 50-pound set is not extendable. An 80-pound set is available.

If you don’t mind taking a longer rest between exercises: Consider the Yes4All Adjustable Cast Iron Dumbbells—traditional adjustable dumbbells that use a bar, weight plates, and threaded collars to hold everything together. They do, however, take forever to adjust, since you must remove the collars, load or remove plates, and rescrew the collars, all while doing weight-plate math. (Each dumbbell of the 105-pound set we tested had a 4-pound bar, eight 5-pound plates, two 2½-pound plates, and two 1¼-pound plates.) All told, the fastest we managed a weight change for one dumbbell was about 25 seconds; this means you’re looking at about a minute of rest between exercises, plus resisting the very strong temptation to just do your next move using the same amount of weight, which could mean either not enough challenge or a serious struggle. Another quirk is that these bars and the corresponding holes on the weight plates measure 1.15 inches in diameter, making them incompatible with a more-standard 1-inch bar and plates, so you can’t increase the load by using plates from another set. Still, if more-conventional strength training (which requires longer rest periods) is appealing to you, and the total weight load is adequate for your needs, this set may be a worthwhile budget option.

We plan to test the MX Select MX55 Dumbbell System, which goes from 10 pounds to 55 pounds in 5-pound increments, adjusts with a dial, and comes with an elevated stand.

The Bowflex SelectTech 560 Dumbbells, like our runner-up pick, use a dial-adjustment mechanism, though these have a built-in accelerometer that tracks reps and total weight lifted and beams the data via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. The Amazon reviews are middling, with many suggesting that you should buy the SelectTech 552 set instead. Because the SelectTech 560 set traditionally costs over $100 more, we decided not to test it. Also, Bowflex no longer sells the SelectTech 560 set on its website. We also noted that the going price among third-party sellers on Amazon is more than $1,000—we’re fairly confident this is a markup to avoid.

We also didn’t test the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells, which range from 10 to 90 pounds each, in 5-pound increments. At a whopping 17½ inches long—nearly 2 inches longer than the Bowflex 552 dumbbells—they’d likely affect almost anyone’s range of motion.

The Merax Deluxe 55 Pounds Adjustable Dumbbells (the lighter sibling of the Merax Deluxe 71.5 Pounds Adjustable Dial Dumbbells) adjust similarly to our top pick: by twisting their handles. But the set goes from 15 pounds to 55 pounds in significant 10-pound increments (our top pick progresses by 5-pound jumps), so we decided not to test it.

The MTN Gearsmith Adjustable Dumbbells, with their traditional collar-and-weight-plate design, are highly similar to the Yes4All weights we tested but typically cost more. We chose not to retest them.

You can indeed adjust the NordicTrack iSelect Voice Controlled Dumbbells using voice commands. We connected the iSelect Voice Controlled weights to a third-generation Amazon Echo Dot provided by NordicTrack. Though it was responsive to our commands (“Alexa, change the weight to 35 pounds”), we found that the dumbbells were more quickly and easily adjustable by hand (using their manual dials). And Alexa was periodically befuddled, at times confusing “weight” for “lights.” (Not unusual for Alexa.) Ultimately, these feel high-maintenance compared with simpler, unconnected models that don’t require a power source, a Wi-Fi connection, an Alexa-enabled device, and syncing several apps. The square-shaped dumbbells, which have knurled handles, seemed sturdy enough, but the plates rattled a bit. As with our top pick, the overall length of the dumbbell reduces when the weight does. But fully loaded, the iSelects are about 16½ inches long—lengthier than either of our picks. These regularly cost $30+ more than our top pick. We don’t find the smart features worth the extra spend. The set comes with a 30-day membership to the workout-streaming platform iFit, but you don’t need to use it.

We hit a snag while testing the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Set. One of the dumbbells in the set we received had broken at one end, a potentially dangerous situation in which heavy plates could flop around during use. A company representative was quick to issue a replacement and requested a return of the broken one, which was a result of a manufacturing problem she assured us had been remedied. The replacement set indeed seemed sturdier, but the adjustment mechanism—a sliding pin—wasn’t as smooth as the dial and twist types we tried, or as user-friendly, with the weight increments printed somewhat distant from where the pin sat. These dumbbells were also very plasticky and felt bulky in the hand, especially at their 17-inch fully loaded length. (As with our top pick, the weights get shorter as you reduce the weight and longer as you add it.)

Writer Mark Bixby, who wrote the first version of this guide in 2016, praised the Ironmaster 45-Pound Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells for their all-metal construction, limited lifetime warranty, and ability to expand up to 120 pounds per dumbbell. “If you primarily want dumbbells for bodybuilding and/or stand-alone exercises, these are the better buy because they’re more durable and can be bought in heavier configurations,” he wrote. He conceded, though, that they’re much slower to adjust “and will take you about 15 to 20 seconds to fiddle with the screw-in pin lock.” And although the heavier load offering is notable, this set plus an expansion pack represents a significant investment. We weren’t able to try the Quick-Lock set in 2018, as it was on backorder for the duration of our testing period.

About your guides

Ingrid Skjong

Ingrid Skjong is a supervising editor on the appliance team, focusing on the likes of ranges, refrigerators, dryers, and dishwashers. She previously covered fitness for Wirecutter and has been an editor and writer at various lifestyle magazines. She is an avid runner and lives in New York City.

Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is a certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), a running coach (USATF Level 1), and a regionally competitive runner. She also served as a staff writer for the Good Housekeeping Institute for nearly five years, working closely with the engineers and other scientists to interpret product test results.

Further reading