Which One Should You Buy



Maybe you’re not feeling super safe at your gym right now because of worries of the coronavirus. Or maybe you’ve realized that building a home gym will save you money in the long run. As you’re shopping for home gym weightlifting equipment, you’ll eventually get to the part where you need to decide on a dumbbell weight set. Unfortunately, not all dumbbells are created equal. What’s more, you’ll need to make a few decisions beforehand; otherwise, you might end up getting the wrong dumbbell set.


Let’s take a look at the most important factors to consider when buying a new dumbbell weight set. We’ll also discuss which weight range you should buy if you can only afford to buy one set right now.

How Much Space Do You Have?

This is where a lot of people misjudge, which is why this is first on the list.

People “think” they have the space when in reality, they have a small closet that can hold a few dumbbells. Don’t anger your significant other. Get a tape measure and calculate the actual amount of space you can dedicate to a dumbbell weight set.

Dumbbells can range between 8 to 16 inches in length, depending on how heavy the weight is, brand, material, etc.

A general rule of thumb is that the heavier the dumbbell, the larger it will be. So, if you’re a heavy lifter, you need to account for the fact that the dumbbells you want will take up more room than lighter ones.

Also, don’t forget about a rack. You can get away with leaving lighter dumbbells on the ground, but we really suggest a rack for the heavier ones because they can easily do some damage.

What is Your Budget?

Let’s say that you have plenty of room in your home. Now, it’s time to assess how much you’re willing to spend on a dumbbell weight set.

As we discuss in our dumbbell purchasing guide, the average cost for a dumbbell is between $1.50 and $3 per pound. The end price depends on a variety of factors including the material used, brand, shipping, and overall demand.

It’s best to create two price lists, one for lower-priced dumbbells and one for the most expensive dumbbells. Save up for the higher end dumbbells as a precaution but celebrate when you find ones that have a lower price point.

While there are customization options, you’ll have the most luck with finding a bargain when you buy a pre-arranged dumbbell weight set. This is when you buy the “set” and you get several pairs of dumbbells at different weight ranges for one set price.

The most common dumbbell sets for home gyms tend to go from 5 to 20 lb. (5, 7.5, 10, 15 and 20) and 25 to 45 lb. (25, 30, 35, 40 and 45).

How Much Fitness Experience Do You Have?

Next question to consider is how long you’ve been exercising and, in particular, engaging in strength training.

If you’re just starting out, going through rehab, or you’re not physically able to carry too much, then we would suggest the smaller dumbbell set – something a set that goes from 5 to 20 lb. Over time, you can work through this dumbbell set and once you feel comfortable with doing high repetitions with the 20 lb. dumbbells then we’d recommend buying the next set up.

If you have a decent amount of experience in the weight room, you’re in great health, and you are ready to move heavy weight, then go with the heavier dumbbell set.

A good way to tell if you’re ready for the heavier end of the spectrum is to look at your typical warm-up dumbbells. If you’re warming up with 25 lbs., then you’ll obviously need something larger for the working sets.

With that said, even if you buy a heavy dumbbell set, you might set want lighter weights for recovery days or specific fitness goals such as power movements, plyometrics, or fat burning.

Take a look at our dumbbell sets

From $375.00

What Are You Fitness Goals?

Finally, think about what you want to achieve. What are you trying to accomplish with your dumbbell workouts? Do you want to gain muscle, burn fat, or simply maintain what you’ve already built?

What you deem as your ideal physique can influence the dumbbell weight set, if you can only afford one at this time.

Here are some examples of the fitness goals that could benefit from a lighter weight set:

Learning the Basics

As we mentioned above, if you’ve never picked up a 5 lb. dumbbell before, then you’ll want to start with a lighter set. This will ensure you can learn the fundamentals of weightlifting with a safe weight range.


If you’re recovering from an injury or surgery, then you’ll definitely want a lighter dumbbell set. Most physical therapists are going to prescribe exercises that require very light weight, usually a 5-to-10 lb. dumbbell.


Maybe you’ve achieved what you wanted and you don’t want to change a thing. A lighter dumbbell set should be plenty, especially if you’re performing high-repetition sets.

And here are some examples of the fitness goals that will require you to move some extra iron:


The ideal repetition range for muscle building is between 8 to 12. That means the weight you’re using should be heavy enough to where you absolutely cannot get any more than 12 reps. A heavier weight set will be better suited for building muscle.


Powerlifters move seriously heavy weight on the regular, always trying to set a new personal record. It goes without saying that if you’re trying to develop raw power, you’ll need some heavier dumbbells.


Much like powerlifters, guys and girls training for a Strongman competition need more than a 20 lb. dumbbell. While you might also be using some unorthodox fitness equipment, you still want a heavy and high-quality dumbbell set.


In a perfect world, we would all have a kick ass dumbbell weight set that went from 5-pound dumbbells to 100-pound dumbbells. But the reality is that most of us don’t have the space or budget for that.

If you can only afford one of the more common dumbbell sets, make sure you match it to your space, budget, experience, and goals.

If you have plenty of space, a decent budget, plenty of experience, and a goal of muscle growth or strength building, then go heavy.

But if you’re new to fitness, light on cash and space, and want to start out slow in your fitness journey, opt for the lighter option.

Which One Should You Buy is written by Cindy Pelletier for ironbullstrength.com


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