How Do Adjustable Dumbbells Work & How To Interchange Them Easily

Written by: Noor

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The unique selling point of adjustable dumbbells is the retaining mechanism. On fixed dumbbells, the weights are permanently attached to the handle. But on an adjustable dumbbell, the weights are removable. There might be a knob, a pin, or a dial to switch the weights for resistance training.

The concept of such dumbbells is to give the user as much flexibility as possible for weight training. The package comes with a set of weights that the user can interchange during the workout session. When compared to kettlebells, adjustable dumbbells offer far more flexibility and range of motion for the user. If you’re interested, learn how dumbbells vary to kettlebells.

The Knob

Budget adjustable dumbbells usually come with knobs at the end of the handle. The handle has a prolonged and threaded section. Once the weight plates are on, you take the knob and screw it in to hold the plates in place. It’s the most common and cost-effective option for traditional strength training.

The Pin

a bottle of water and adjustable dumbbells on a yoga mat in the gym

The pin is a little more advanced than the knob variant. These fitness dumbbells mostly come with their own racks. You move a pin to select the weight that you prefer, like a cable crossover machine at the gym. Some of these dumbbells may look very complex and intricate, but they are very simple to use and are effective for a great workout.

The Dial

These are the most advanced kind of adjustable dumbbells. They come with their own weight rack or holder. You dial the weight you want to lift, then lift it by the handle for strength training. The loose weights will remain in their place while the weight of your choice will come up with the handle. These are high-quality adjustable weights, costing more than traditional ones.

A set of adjustable dumbbells allows the user to switch weights instantly using a knob, a pin, or a dial. Using these mechanisms, the user can swap between multiple weights attached to the handle.

Regular visits to the gym are often a luxury for many, but we can do home gym workouts. One crucial element for traditional strength training is a set of adjustable dumbbells, which are becoming more common for convenience factor. But how do adjustable dumbbells work?

In this post, we’ll go through the mechanics of adjustable fitness dumbbells – the materials, the adjustments, and the maintenance. We’ll also cover how they work and what you should look for while buying one. After reading this, you’ll know exactly why you should invest in an adjustable dumbbell and what you should look for before buying one. Check out our adjustable dumbbell reviews to decide which is best for you.

What is an Adjustable Dumbbell?

an adjustable dumbbell next to two weight plates

We all know dumbbells – a piece of equipment with a handle and weights on each side that you can pick up and work different muscle groups. Racks of organized weights are one of the best sights for people who are into fitness exercise. But individual weights take up a lot of space. They’re ideal for commercial gyms, as many people use them for weight loss, and changing out weights for different muscle groups is inefficient.

But for home gym equipment, a set of adjustable dumbbells is perfect. You can switch the weights anytime you want, and they take up the same amount of space as a single set of dumbbells. Dumbbells are very versatile for both full-body workouts and strength training. You can even perform HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) with dumbbells if you know how to.

Adjustable dumbbells look very similar to traditional dumbbells. They have a handle in the middle and weights on the side. The difference would be the weight changing mechanism – adjustable dumbbells allow you to switch weight plates on-the-go for strength and conditioning.

Features You Should Look At

Before purchasing any home gym equipment, it’s a good idea to evaluate your needs and budget. The same goes for a set of adjustable dumbbells. You need to consider the features you want before you decide which one to buy. This is also true for an ez curl bar if you want to take your fitness level further.

Build Quality

Just because it’s a home gym doesn’t mean you have to cheap out on the quality. Home gyms are perfect for a great workout, and you can do a full-body workout with just a pair of dumbbells.

So, build quality is the most important aspect of resistance training equipment. Everything should be seamless in terms of the quality of the metal, the paint, and the convenience of switching the weight. Low-quality dumbbells might not come with accurate weights, leading to uneven muscle growth in the long run.


an adjustable dumbbell on a wooden floor

As they have individual weight plates held in place by a retainer mechanism, going for a high-quality adjustable dumbbell is crucial for your weight loss journey. You don’t want the weights to fall off from either end and land on your feet while strength training. The quality of the locks, the pins, or the dials should be considered when buying an adjustable dumbbell.


The handle on fitness dumbbells is your point of contact. So, the handle must be comfortable and not slippery. Most handles come with a texture to provide a better grip. For example, Diamond knurled handles provide amazing grips. Neoprene padded handles are also great if you’re going for maximum muscle mass.

Weight Options

If you’re getting an entry-level dumbbell with adjustable weights for resistance training, chances are it comes with a knob locking feature. You don’t have to worry too much about the weight range as you can always order more plates. They will attach to the handle, and you can go on with your full-body workout.

It becomes an issue when you can’t add more weight to the dumbbell. Advanced dumbbells with pins or dials will not allow you to add more weight, as they come with a high-quality weight rack. So, pick one that provides the weight range you’re comfortable with. Most adjustable dumbbells max out at 50 lbs per side. If you want more weight for leg workouts, look for alternatives.

Weight Distribution

Tuning the weight is crucial for a great workout. The more flexibility you get, the better it is for you. The weight ranges from 1.5 to 5 lbs in most adjustable dumbbells.

Exercises You Can Do

man exercising with adjustable dumbbells

The range of exercises you can do with an adjustable dumbbell is very dynamic. Anything from bicep curls to increasing cardio strength, dumbbells provide extraordinary support for weight loss. Pairing exercise with healthy eating is very important when it comes to strength and conditioning.

You can target different muscle groups each day to build up your strength. Check out the most effective dumbbell exercises!

Cleaning the Fitness Dumbbells

Like all your belongings, you should clean your adjustable dumbbells regularly to make them last longer. Make it a part of your personal care. Gently wipe the handles and the weights with paper towels to remove any sweat, dirt, or gunk. Traditional dumbbells don’t get as dirty, so these require more care.

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