I'm about to buy a set of dumbbells.

I am choosing between Spinlock dumbbells:

enter image description here

Rubberized Hex Dumbbells:

enter image description here

or Cap Barbell Dumbbells.

enter image description here

I can't tell if there are advantages or disadvantages to each type outside of the price.

Could someone give a summary?

  • According to the FAQ, purchase recommendations are off-topic.
    – John C
    Feb 27, 2012 at 12:54
  • 2
    The question is objective enough that it doesn't come off as such, and there is also a great answer posted already. It would help though if there were more description or images provided for these particular brands of dumbbells in case the links disappear or the content changes in the future (hint hint).
    – user241
    Feb 27, 2012 at 13:58
  • @MattChan I did try to add images, but the site uses flash so I couldn't. Should I copy and paste the description for each? Feb 28, 2012 at 0:50
  • @MattBronson That would be a good idea to help describe the different between those listed items. I'm sure you can also find alternate pictures or something similar to the products mentioned.
    – user241
    Feb 28, 2012 at 0:57
  • I'd suggest that the FAQ be modified - knowing what to buy is quite relevant to fitness. The Cap Barbell dumbbells are a specific brand, but spinlock and hex dumbbells aren't ever going away and come from so many different brands, any answer will remain relevant.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jun 26, 2012 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


Pros and cons are pretty obvious, but I'd like to point out that both the York spinlocks and Cap spinlocks you linked to are essentially the same type of dumbbell. You've got two classes of dumbbells:

  • Adjustable
  • Non-adjustable

The pros and cons of non-adjustable dumbbells like the hex dumbbells you linked to are going to be the same whether the weight is rubberized, circular, hex, etc. However, with adjustable dumbbells you have three basic types: spinlocks, tool adjustable, and "dial-a-weight". The pros and cons are more varied between these.

First the pros and cons of adjustable vs. non-adjustable weights:

  • adjustable weights are more easily stored
  • non-adjustable weights are easier to use when you change weights within your workout
  • non-adjustable weights are more robust/solidly built
  • non-adjustable weights are cheaper per pound when comparing one dumbbell to one dumbbell, but you have to buy more of them, so a whole set will be more expensive
  • Hex vs. round weighted ends: the only difference is that hex won't roll on you, but for the majority of dumbbell exercises that really isn't much of a concern.

So, if economy is what you need--either space or overall cost--adjustable dumbbells may be the way to go. They are more cumbersome to use when you have to change weights during your routine, but that can be offset by getting enough handles/weights to support that. However, non-adjustable dumbbells are the most solidly built and the easiest to use. There's no moving parts. They just take up a lot of space, and a whole set will be very expensive.

Between the adjustable dumbbells, the pros and cons are more varied:

  • "dial-a-weight" dumbbells (including bowflex, the "powerblock" and other similar products) are the most expensive per pound
  • "dial-a-weight" dumbbells are the most complexly built dumbbells--which means they will break easier, and in ways you can't really fix.
  • "dial-a-weight" dumbbells are easier to use when switching weights in the middle of your routine--but that can be offset by having more than one set of handles with the other adjustables.
  • spinlock dumbbells are the happy medium between dial-a-weight and tool adjusted. The spinlock is easy to remove and put back on, and doesn't equire any tools, but you have to spin the lock all the way off the handle which is long. They are more solidly built than dial-a-weight, but not as strong as tool adjusted dumbbells.
  • tool adjusted dumbbells can be every bit as strong as and well built as non-adjustable dumbbells.
  • tool adjusted dumbbells are the least convenient to change in the middle of a workout because it requires using a tool--which can be easily lost.
  • you are not likely to find new tool adjusted dumbbells due to the success of the spinlocks.
  • Thanks Berin for your great answer. It may be off topic for a question but I guess in a comment it is oK. Do you think the adjustable set for $50 is good value? Feb 28, 2012 at 0:51
  • When comparing just the handles at $35 to handles and some weights for $50, it seems like a good starter set. Not sure you can get 40lb of weights for $15. Feb 28, 2012 at 12:50

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