Adjustable Dumbbells vs Fixed Dumbbells: The Ultimate Home Gym Showdown

At Home Gym Supply, the age-old debate of adjustable dumbbells vs fixed dumbbells has always been a hot topic among our fitness enthusiasts.

Both variants have their unique merits, and we've had the privilege of extensively testing each in real-world scenarios.

Are you torn between the adaptability of adjustable weights and the straightforwardness of fixed ones?

To assist you in determining the best fit for your home gym, we'll share our insights from using both sets and delve into the advantages of each.


Understanding Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable dumbbells are versatile fitness equipment designed for space-saving and varied weight training.

Unlike traditional fixed dumbbells, these allow users to change the weight they lift by adjusting plates or using a selector mechanism.

If you would like to see more information in the different options available see our post that goes into more detail about the different types of adjustable dumbbells.

Sold typically in pairs, a single set can replace multiple weights, making them ideal for home gyms with limited space.

By simply adding or removing plates or turning a dial, users can customise their resistance, catering to different strength levels and exercises.

Related: What are the benefits of adjustable dumbbells?

Adjustable Dumbbells

Understanding Fixed Dumbbells

On the other hand, fixed dumbbells are dumbbells with a predetermined weight that cannot be adjusted.

They feature a short bar with weights permanently attached on each end and come in a number of different shapes and protective coatings.

They are typically found in commercial gyms and require users to switch to a different pair of dumbbells if they want a different weight.

This makes them ideal for quick transitions during workouts as you can simply pick up the weight you want.

In addition, their simple design tends to make them more durable with less parts used in making them.

They represent the traditional and straightforward approach to weightlifting.


Fixed Dumbbells


To try and compare the two different type we will look at how the stack up against each other in a number of different areas such as cost, design, durability, weight capacity and space.


Adjustable Dumbbells Vs Fixed: Cost

Let's start at the beginning: budget considerations often steer the decision-making when setting up a home gym.

In comparing costs, it's crucial to compare like-for-like. Let's take our top-rated adjustable dumbbell from BrainGain and stack it up against the popular rubber hex dumbbells often found in home setups.

BrainGain's adjustable option essentially condenses 9 dumbbells into one, offering weights from 2kg to 32kg, priced around £350.

In contrast, purchasing 9 individual pairs of dumbbells with equivalent weight variations (excluding any rack) could set you back about £900.

Clearly, in terms of bang for your buck, adjustable dumbbells take the lead.

Comparing Adjustable and Fixed Dumbbells

Adjustable Dumbbells Vs Fixed: Design and Durability

Fixed dumbbells sport a straightforward design, typically featuring a handle and weights on either end, sometimes encased in protective coatings like rubber or left as plain metal. This simplicity lends itself to easy maintenance during workouts.

Related: Tips for maintaining your adjustable dumbbells

On the other hand, selectorised adjustable dumbbells possess a more intricate design. They incorporate a locking mechanism, a variety of weight plates, a handle, and a storage method that facilitates swift weight adjustments.

This complexity makes adjustable dumbbells more susceptible to potential malfunctions.

Many manufacturers caution against dropping their adjustable weights, emphasising their delicate nature.

In contrast, certain fixed dumbbells, like the hex version, have a reputation for being nearly indestructible and can withstand a drop without significant damage.

Plus, merging these components often means that adjustable dumbbells boast a larger footprint.

For instance, some turn dial-based adjustable models have a consistent length around 40cm, noticeably longer than most of their fixed counterparts.

Benefits of Fixed Dumbbell

Adjustable Dumbbells Vs Fixed: Required Space

Regarding storage space, adjustable dumbbells undoubtedly take the win.

Merging several pairs of dumbbells into a singular unit, adjustable dumbbells are the go-to choice for those with space constraints.

While an expansive rack filled with fixed dumbbells might be ideal for commercial gyms, it often isn't a feasible option for many home fitness enthusiasts.


Adjustable Dumbbells Vs Fixed: Weight Capacity

For those aiming to compete at an elite level or seeking maximum strength gains, the weight limit of your equipment is crucial.

While there are a few adjustable dumbbells out there exceeding 70kg, most models hover between 25kg to 40kg.

On the other hand, fixed dumbbells not only surpass 80kg but can also reach staggering weights of up to 100kg, provided you have both the wallet and muscle for them.

In the realm of weight capacity, fixed dumbbells indisputably reign supreme.


Adjustable Dumbbells Vs Fixed: Workout Versatility

If you favour exercises that incorporate drop sets, where rapid weight shifts help squeeze out extra reps post-fatigue, fixed dumbbells shine.

They offer the advantage of immediate transitions, letting you quickly switch to lighter weights and continue your set without pause.

Adjustable dumbbells, despite some boasting speedy weight-change mechanisms, inevitably introduce a pause as users adjust the weight. This breaks the momentum, especially during high-intensity workouts.

In terms of workout fluidity, fixed dumbbells take the lead.

Fixed vs Adjustable Dumbbell


Rounding up Pros and Cons

Pros of Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Compact, saving space.
  • Cost-effective in comparison to a full set of fixed dumbbells.
  • Enhanced portability, given the singular pair of adjustable weights.
  • Some mechanisms can change the weight very quickly.

Cons of Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Generally less durable than fixed variants.
  • Requires time to adjust weight, especially with plate-loaded types.
  • Not advisable to drop during exercises.
  • Typically do not mimic the look or feel of traditional dumbbells.
  • Lower maximum weights, often capping around 40kg, whereas fixed ones can exceed 70kg.
  • Some models can rattle slightly when being used.

Pros of Fixed Dumbbells

  • Superior durability compared to adjustable dumbbells.
  • Instant weight transitions with no adjustments.
  • Optimal for rapid-paced exercises like supersets.
  • Facilitates shared workouts without the hassle of adjusting weights.
  • Offers higher weight limits than their adjustable counterparts.

Cons of Fixed Dumbbells

  • Pricier than adjustable variants.
  • Requires more storage space.
  • Economy options might lack protective rubber coatings.
  • Portability can be challenging due to weight diversity.


Which Suits You Best?

Deciding between adjustable and fixed dumbbells boils down to individual needs and preferences. Your training objectives, budget, and available space play pivotal roles in this choice.

What suits one individual may not necessarily align with another's requirements.

We advise assessing the factors discussed earlier and prioritising what's most important to you.

If space constraints or budget are pressing concerns, adjustable dumbbells may be the smarter pick.

On the other hand, if you have ample space and a generous budget, fixed dumbbells could be your go-to.

Regardless of your choice, both dumbbell types are invaluable tools in fortifying strength and advancing your fitness journey.

Related: Barbell vs Dumbbells - Pros & Cons

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.