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The best dumbbells, recommended by personal trainers

They’re some of the easiest weights to use when working out from home, but dumbbells aren’t all made equally, and if you’re looking for a long-lasting set that will help you master your strength training, which pair should you choose? We spoke to top personal trainers to find out.

The best dumbbells

When you’re setting out to hit your fitness goals, there are some key purchases you can make to help you along the way, and a good pair of dumbbells should be close to the top of your list.

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These pairs of weights are often the best tools to have in your fitness arsenal for a quick and effective workout. Whether you’re looking to tone up your chest and arms, elevate your HIIT workouts, or master function strength training, a good set of dumbbells are key. But with a load of options available online, which dumbbells are the best?

The Recommended spoke to two of the UK’s top personal trainers to help us find the best dumbbells to see you through your fitness journey, with their own recommendations on which dumbbells they use when training their clients.

Jump to the best dumbbells: 

Our personal training experts

Tom House and Louisa Drake
Tom House and Louisa Drake (credit: Oly Barnsley)

Tom House and Louisa Drake are two fitness experts and personal trainers who have helped thousands of people achieve their fitness goals through in-person training, online courses and social media motivation and workout videos.

Tom House trained as a competitive rugby player and cricketer for years prior to starting a career in the City, before reevaluating what makes him happy and making his passion for fitness his career. Through in-person training and online remote classes, Tom has trained thousands of people in various strength and conditioning training workouts, and in the process, he’s seen his clients become happier, fitter and stronger.

Louisa Drake is a fitness pioneer, founder of the Louisa Drake Method, and owner of the LDM Studio in London’s Fitzrovia. The Louisa Drake Method is designed to puts as much emphasis on achieving your health goals as it does to promote a balanced and holistic approach to fitness, drawing upon Louisa’s years of fitness experience and background as a professional dancer and choreographer.

We put three questions to both of them to understand precisely what you need to know when shopping for your new dumbbells and got their expert recommendations of the best dumbbells to buy and why.

What should you look for when buying dumbbells?

“The important things to consider are aesthetics, size and weight, obviously!” says Tom. “Think about how you’re going to use them. Neoprene weights are often colourful and smooth, which makes handling a pleasure. The steel grip weights can be quite abrasive on the hands, so if you’re worried about calluses, then maybe gloves might be something to consider.”

Louisa agrees that grip and comfort should definitely be taken into consideration. “Some dumbbells have a textured and ergonomic grip that allows for ease of use in a variety of exercises. Rubber-coated or neoprene dumbbells are easier on the hands than those with a textured grip and an affordable option.”

Louisa also advises thinking about what exercises you plan to use your new dumbbells for. “If you are performing medium to high repetitions, building muscular endurance, it’s best to have a light weight you can lift without compromising your form and overloading the body. I recommend a mix of light and medium, from 1kg to 3kg sets, to heavy; most women say 4kg set weights are quite heavy to lift, but everyone is different.

Louisa also points out it’s worth bearing in mind that what you need from dumbbells might change as you begin to step up your workouts. “As the body adapts, you will need to either increase the load or amend the repetitions to help keep your workouts challenging and continue to see results.”

What should you avoid when looking for dumbbells?

While they may look like an attractive option, Tom warns against buying adjustable dumbbells, “You are lucky to get ten reps in before having to stop and tighten it again or risk the plates sliding off. No one wants to lose their momentum or end up with weights on their foot.”

Louisa also warns against overestimating your ability when you’re first starting out and making sure you don’t get anything too heavy for the style of exercise you plan to do. “It’s key to have the correct weight for the appropriate training approach. Everything matters; sets, reps, tempo, rest, and exercise selection will all determine what kind of results you get from your weight training.”

Which are the best dumbbells?

“I recommend hexagonal dumbbells as they look smart, stack well and don’t roll,” says Tom. “If you’re doing glute bridges with the weight balanced across your hips, you don’t want it rolling. In my studio, I use ZIVA.”

Louisa’s also a fan of practical hexagonal weights. “I love hex dumbbells as they don’t roll around when you place them on the floor. Mirafit dumbbells are a hex design and can carry a range of resistances from 1kg to 4kg. They’re an affordable option with a good grip.”

Find out more about each of these expert-recommended mascaras and some of our own top picks below.

The best dumbbells

Best hexagonal dumbbells: Xn8 Neoprene Dumbbells

A solid set of weights

xn8 dumbbells

These neoprene coated hexagonal dumbbells are ideal for a range of strength-building workouts, and their design means they won’t end up rolling around as you switch between exercises.

One of the biggest tips our experts had for looking for dumbbells was to find hexagonal designed weights with a neoprene coating, and these weights from Xn8 tick both those boxes. Available in a range of different sizes, they’ll suit all abilities, making for a great set of beginner dumbbells for strength-training newbies.

Best beginner dumbbell set: PROIRON Neoprene Dumbbells

Great for starting out

PROIRON dumbbells

These PROIRON dumbbells may be, regrettably, targeted toward women, but their lighter weights make them a great option for anyone getting into weight training or simply looking for dumbbells for toning exercises.

This set, comprising three sets of dumbbells weight from 1kg to 3kg, is ideal for newcomers to weight exercises or those looking for lighter weights for multiple repetitions to help with toning arms. They come with a handy stand for keeping them organised and out of the way when not in use.

Best basic dumbbells: Umi Neoprene Dumbbell Weights

Ideal for occasional use

Umi dumbbells

If you’re just looking to lift weights occasionally, these basic neoprene coated dumbbells from Umi are a great choice and are available in a range of colours and weights.

These fairly basic dumbbells are ideal for those not looking to invest a huge amount into their weights. They come in a range of weights from 1kg to 10kg, so they should work for most home workout classes requiring light to medium weights.

Best lightweight dumbbells: SONGMICS Hex Dumbbell Set with Dumbbell Stand

Ideal for toning

SONGMICS dumbbells

These lighter weights, ranging from 1kg to 2kg, are perfect for those looking to maximise their repetition to assist in toning and sculpting their arms.

When shopping for dumbbells, you may be tempted to go for heavier weights, but lighter weights, like this set from SONGMICS, are great for toning and shaping arms and make for a much more manageable workout if you’re attempting multiple sets with lots of repetition.

Best dumbbells for grip: DTX Fitness Soft Touch Grey Dumbbells

Ergonomically designed

DTX Fitness dumbbells

These soft-touch weights from DTX Fitness are designed to be easy to handle, making them a great choice for older users of those with poor grip or arthritis.

With their moulded neoprene coating, these dumbbells come in a range of weights, from 1kg to 8kg, and their textured surface and ergonomic design make keeping ahold of them during workouts easy.

Best versatile dumbbells set: Mirafit 10kg Dumbbell Weight Set with Carry Case

A good range of weights

Mirafit dumbbells

This set of weights for Mirafit is comprised of four pairs of dumbbells, ranging from 0.5kg to 2kg, making a total combined weight of 10kg.

The range of sizes in this eight-piece set makes these weights great for a variety of lightweight training workouts. The set also comes with its own carry case, making them great for transporting or storing away when not in use.

Best professional-level dumbells: ZIVA Performance Hex Dumbbell

Durable 5kg weights

ZIVA dumbbells

This pair of study, rubber-coated hexagonal weights is recommended by our fitness expert Tom House, who uses ZIVA weights in his own studio.

ZIVA is one of the biggest names in professional workout equipment. This set of 5kg dumbbells is made from hardwearing rubber and corrosion-resistant chrome, ensuring professional-level performance for your home workouts.

Best overall dumbbells: KG Physio Dumbbells Set

A great set for home workouts

KG Physio dumbbells

This set of dumbbells ticks all of our experts’ boxes: hexagonal design, neoprene coating and a variety of available sizes for different exercises and levels of ability.

These dumbbells are made from cast iron, coated in a non-slip, sweat-resistant neoprene coating, and are available in weights from 1kg to 10kg, covering most requirements for at-home weight workouts. These dumbbells are also accompanied by a handy exercise poster detailing different exercises they can be used for, alongside recommended sets and repetitions.

Best dumbells for floor work: ACTIVE FOREVER Dumbbells Set of 2

Ideal for total body workouts

ACTIVE FOREVER dumbbells

These dumbbells are ideal for more advanced full-body workouts and floor work, thanks to their flat-sided hexagonal design preventing them from rolling around.

These neoprene coated, non-slip dumbbells from ACTIVE FOREVER also tick all of our expert’s boxes when it comes to shopping for dumbbells. With a waterproof, non-slip neoprene coating, you should be able to keep your grip on these weights no matter how sweaty your workout gets.

Best adjustable dumbbells: Northdeer Steel Dumbbells

One set of adjustable weights

Northdeer dumbbells

These adjustable dumbbells from Northdeer feature a unique, patented screw-in system that lets you change the weight of the dumbbells quickly and easily.

While our fitness expert Tom House generally advises against adjustable weights, these Northdeer Steel dumbbells feature a unique “no nut” design, so you won’t have to interrupt your reps to readjust loose screws, making them ideal if you want the versatility of changing weights without needing multiple dumbbell sets.

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Want to read more expert-recommended fitness round-ups? Check out our Fitness page for a full list of recommendations, including The best yoga mats, recommended by expert yoga teachers.