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A decent set needn’t break the bank – or your floorboards. Here’s what to look for.
Hexagonal dumbbells are the smart choice. They won’t roll away when you perform moves like the renegade row, or roll under your feet when you’re off-guard.
As with any contraption, the fewer parts it has, the less likely it is to go wrong. Avoid adjustable sets that will crack if used frequently.
Less is undeniably more here – both in mass and price. Too heavy and you’ll miss out on a range of worthy exercises, but with a lighter set you can always do more reps. A 12kg set will do the trick.
Rubber-coated ends might not be as eye-catching as shiny metal plates but they’ll buffer any impact with your floor (or feet). Ridged or “knurled” chrome handles offer firm grip and easy cleaning.
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Fixed weight Made in the classic dumbbell shape and usually from cast iron, so you don’t have to worry about loose parts of fiddling about swapping plates.
Adjustable (standard) You slide plates on and secure them with clips or collars, which means you can use different weights without having to buy a full rack.
Adjustable (selectorised) These dumbbells have plates that can be changed simply by turning a dial or moving a selector when resting in the dumbbell stand.
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There are no frills to this dumbbell set but it is still high-quality and does everything you need without breaking the bank. The spin-lock bars make for fast weight changing, and the 12 iron plates give each dumbbell a range from 0.5kg to 8.5kg. Buy on York Fitness, £55
If you’re concerned that weights won’t fit in with your carefully planned décor, these are for you, with their smart storage tray and classy chrome-plated design. The set comes in two weight ranges, 2-10kg and 4-20kg, and the all-in-one system allows you to select your weight easily with its click-and-slide mechanism. Buy on Fitness Superstore, £99
The Sport 9.0 is a set of multiweight dumbbells, and offers a similar range of weights – 2.5kg-22.5kg – to the SelectTech set below. While they look a lot cheaper, you can buy add-on weight kits, which takes the weight up to a staggering 59kg. If you're looking to go heavy and have limited space, these are definitely what you need. Buy on Amazon, £252
Whoever said you couldn’t recreate the wheel should have a chat with the designer behind these game-changing dumbbells. One easy turn of the numbered dial on the side allows you to change the weight from 2 to 24kg. Then all you have to do is grip the ergo handle and lift. Buy on Amazon, £346
Pricy, true, but your money gets you 18 dumbbells ranging from 1kg up to 30kg. Each one comprises hexagonal rubber weights that won’t chip your floor if dropped, and a comfortable ergo handle that distributes weight nicely across the whole dumbbell. Buy on Fitness Superstore, £729
Another set of traditional bells. There’s nothing performance-wise between these and the Bodypower Rubber Hex (they go from 1-30kg, they've got the same grippy ergonomic handles and the weight is well balanced across each dumbbell), so if you want to go old-school, your choice largely boils down to which ones you think will look best in your living room. Buy on Fitness Superstore, £1,273
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