How heavy should my dumbbells be

Dumbbells purchase guide: read first, then buy

You can get a cheap pair of dumbbells on Amazon and in various online shops for around fifteen euros. However, great caution is required here: The fitness equipment market is flooded with junk goods. Cheap dumbbells from the Far East rust quickly and sometimes have sharp edges that you can cut yourself on. It becomes downright dangerous if the fasteners are not tight enough and you have to be afraid that the discs will slip off the bar with every exercise.

The following article is aimed primarily at beginners who want to get their first pair of dumbbells. We will explain to you in detail what you have to look out for when buying a dumbbell. At the end you will receive a purchase recommendation. We only recommend products that we have bought ourselves, tested extensively and found to be good.

How much weight do you need?

For orientation: In most gyms you will find dumbbells with a maximum weight of 40 or 50 kg per dumbbell. However, the absolute majority of athletes do not reach this limit even after years. If you're new to training and just want to buy your first set of dumbbells, you can stack much deeper.

At the same time, the dumbbells shouldn't be too light either. Because to build muscle effectively, you have to train with heavy, steadily increasing weights. There is no other way.

  • Beginner: If you're just starting out with strength training, two dumbbells weighing 20 kg each are enough. If you need a new challenge after a few months of intensive training, you can easily buy additional weight plates.
  • Advanced: Would you like a little more weight? More experienced athletes are better cared for with 2 x 30 kg. The additional purchase of four 10 kg weight plates enables training with over 40 kg per dumbbell.

Material of the weight plates

The first little pitfall: choosing the right material. You have three options to choose from.

Cast iron - the best choice

We recommend cast iron weight plates, because they are robust, compact and have the best price-performance ratio. If stored dry, they will last a lifetime. Rust is the only thing that can shorten their lifespan.

Sometimes you will also find cast iron discs that have been coated with rubber. This protective layer should protect the iron from rust and help avoid noise when putting down the dumbbells and damage to sensitive floors (e.g. parquet or tiles).

Chrome-plated cast iron - visually more appealing, but more expensive

If you value good looks, then it can be worthwhile chrome-plated cast iron to buy. Chrome-coated dumbbells cost more, but they look nicer. Otherwise they have the same properties that have already been described above for the cast iron weight plates.

Hard plastic dumbbells filled with cement or sand

Especially in the low-price segment you will often find weight plates made of hard plastic that have been filled with cement or sand. (Online shops misleadingly speak of a "compacted filling".) We recommend: Hands off! There are several reasons why such dumbbells are extremely unsuitable for serious training. The most important: Due to the low density of sand and cement, the weight plates filled with them are comparatively voluminous. On the one hand, this means that significantly fewer discs fit on a dumbbell, which means that you can only train with a very limited weight. On the other hand, weight plates that are too large make it difficult to grip the dumbbells properly.

The optimal closure

The locks are designed to prevent the discs from slipping off the barbell. There are three common locking variants for cast iron dumbbells: star lock, locking ring and spring lock. We briefly explain the various advantages and disadvantages.

Spring lock - fast, but not one hundred percent security

The spring locks can be attached and removed in seconds. Therefore, they allow the discs to be changed very quickly. The problem: if the spring locks wear out, they and their weight can slide off the dumbbell. And especially for dumbbells with a 30mm weight holder, high-quality fasteners of this type are rarely found.

Locking ring - bombproof, but impractical

Locking rings are fixed with a screw. Once attached, they are bombproof. The big disadvantage, however, is that screwing and unscrewing takes a long time and sometimes only works with a suitable Allen key. This makes changing weight plates tedious.

Star lock - quick and safe

The Star clasps require a dumbbell bar with a screw thread. Once screwed on tightly, the thread makes it practically impossible for you to slip off the dumbbell during an exercise. At the same time, they allow the weight plates to be changed relatively quickly.

The star locks combine the advantages of locking rings and spring locks, which is why we are one at this point clear buy recommendation want to pronounce.

30 millimeters or 50 millimeters?

A not entirely unimportant question: How big are the holes in the weight plates and how thick are the bars? There are two common diameters: 30 millimeters and 50 millimeters. 30 millimeters is the common standard in home training, but in fitness studios you will almost exclusively find 50 millimeters.

(Don't get confused by the above picture: the handles are each the same diameter, only the outer sides of the bars on which the weight plates are placed are thicker or thinner.)

30 millimeters - the standard diameter

The vast majority of dumbbells that you will find in stores and online stores are 30 millimeters. The matching weight discs have a bore of 31 millimeters.

The main advantage of the 30 millimeter diameter is the lower price. As you will find out, the range of dumbbells and weight plates is also much larger.

50 millimeters - the Olympic dumbbell

The barbells that you see during Olympic weightlifting, for example, all have weight receptacles with a diameter of 50 millimeters. This measure is also the absolute standard in fitness studios. The matching weight discs have a bore of 51 millimeters.

If you own or want to buy such a so-called Olympic barbell and want to use the same weight plates everywhere, then it makes sense to purchase dumbbells with a 50-millimeter diameter. Otherwise, we recommend the cheaper 30-millimeter version.

Important: If you buy weight plates later, of course, you have to pay attention to the correct drill size. There are actually people who forget that.

Entry-level dumbbell set: 2 x 20 kg for less than 80 euros

It should be clear: you need not just one dumbbell, but two for almost all exercises. Also, if you really want to do some serious weight training, you shouldn't be shedding weight. 20 kilograms per dumbbell is the minimum, even for beginners. The weight must be sensibly divided between several weight plates.

We recommend a dumbbell set from Hop-Sport. Contrary to what the somewhat silly name of the manufacturer suggests, you get solid quality at a fair price. For just under eighty euros plus shipping costs you get:

  • 2 dumbbell bars with star locks (weight of the bars each 2.5 kg)
  • 12 weight plates made of cast iron with 31 millimeter bore (4 x 5 kg, 4 x 2.5 kg, 4 x 1.25 kg)

The set corresponds exactly to our recommendations above. The different weight plates allow the training weight to be graded in comfortable 2.5 kg increments. We have this dumbbell set in the training cellar ourselves and are extremely satisfied.

You want more?

If 20 kilograms per dumbbell is not enough for you, Hop-Sport also offers a variant with 2 x 30 kg. If that is not enough, you will have to buy the weight plates individually. The purchase of a dumbbell set with 2 x 30 kg and the additional purchase of weight plates with 4 x 10 kg already enable a workout with over 40 kg per dumbbell - with this you are better equipped than most fitness studios. Attention: When buying, always keep in mind that there is not an unlimited number of plates that can fit on one dumbbell.

The luxury version: adjustable dumbbells

Do you have a big wallet and don't feel like or have no time to constantly change the weight plates on your dumbbells? Then create so-called adjustable dumbbells maybe remedy. The weights are easily set here with a plug-in system. Another advantage of this type of dumbbell is that it is extremely space-saving. It is, so to speak, the luxury version of the classic dumbbell. We recommend the market leader in this segment Power block, of which we also own a pair of dumbbells.

The only problem with the power blocks is the price: a set of 2 x 22.5 kg costs a little more than 300 euros. The weight can later be increased to 42 kg or 59 kg using extension modules.

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