How Do Adjustable Dumbbells Work? Exploring the Different Types

Adjustable dumbbells have revolutionised at-home workouts, offering versatility in a compact design.

But how do they allow for quick weight changes? And with numerous types on the market, which one suits your needs?

Dive in as we unravel the mechanics of adjustable dumbbells and explore the varieties available on the market so you know which type will suit your needs.


The Basics of How Adjustable Dumbbells Work

Adjustable dumbbells consist of a set of weight plates, a bar, and a locking mechanism.

Depending on the type, you can add or remove weight plates to the bar and secure them with the locking system.

This functionality provides a quick way to change the weight, allowing for a wide variety of exercises and customization to individual fitness levels.

They come in various mechanisms, each with unique features catering to different preferences and needs. Here are a few of the most common types:


Handle Twist Dumbbell


Handle Twist

The Handle Twist dumbbells use a twisting mechanism at the handle, allowing you to select the desired weight and then lift it out of the dumbbell holder.

This mechanism is the system used in our top pick for best adjustable dumbbell guide.

Pros: Quick adjustment, easy to use, space-efficient.

Cons: Limited weight range, may wear out over time if not maintained.



Spinlock DumbbellSpinlock dumbbells feature threaded handles and weight plates, secured with spinning collars or nuts. If you are looking for cheap adjustable dumbbells these will likely be your best option.

Pros: Highly customizable, compatibility with various weight plates, affordable.

Cons: Time-consuming to change weights, collars may loosen during workouts if not tightened properly.



These are based on Olympic weightlifting standards, using 2-inch diameter holes in the weight plates and collars.

If you already have a variety of Olympic weight plates and want a budget friendly option, these are a great choice. But we recommend you get a good set of clamp collars instead of spring collars as this will make changing the weights quicker.

Pros: Sturdy construction, broad compatibility with Olympic plates, professional feel.

Cons: Larger in size, possibly more expensive, not as quick to adjust as other types.


Turn Dial

Similar to a dial system, Turn Dial dumbbells enable weight selection by turning a dial to the desired setting and lifting them from their storage tray.

Pros: Rapid weight changes, sleek design, excellent for circuit training.

Cons: Potential limitations in incremental adjustments, usually more costly, can be bulky.

Related: Why are adjustable dumbbells expensive?


Slide Pin

With Slide Pin adjustable dumbbells, a pin is slid into place to select the desired weight. The mechanism usually involves linear grooves or slots to guide the pin. This is type is most commonly found in the PowerBlock dumbbells.

Pros: Quick weight selection, secure locking mechanism, suitable for various fitness levels.

Cons: May become jammed if not aligned properly, limited to predefined weight increments.

 Read Next: Adjustable vs Fixed Dumbbells


Digital dumbbells are integrated with electronic systems, allowing for weight adjustments through a digital interface or app.

Pros: Futuristic design, synchronisation with digital workout routines.

Cons: Dependence on electrical components, potentially higher in price, may require regular software updates.

We haven't yet had the opportunity to test out a pair of digital dumbbells. But the lack of options on the market makes us believe they are more of a gimmick than practical.


In understanding how adjustable dumbbells work, you unlock the door to efficient, space-saving workouts.

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned athlete, there's a type of dumbbell that will suit you.

Embrace the convenience and versatility they offer, and let your fitness journey evolve effortlessly.

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.