12 Types of Dumbbells Explained (Differences, Pros, Cons)

12 Types of Dumbbells Explained (Differences, Pros, Cons)

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If you’re looking to add dumbbells to your home gym, there’s a lot you need to think about, including space, storage options, what kind of exercises you’ll use them for, your current strength levels, and your future goals.

In addition, you also have to narrow your choice down from the various types of dumbbells that are available on the market.

The 12 different types of dumbbells are:

  • Rubber hex dumbbells
  • Cast iron hex dumbbells
  • 12-sided dumbbells
  • Urethane dumbbells
  • Pro-style dumbbells
  • Chrome dumbbells
  • Neoprene dumbbells
  • Vinyl dumbbells
  • Pin-lock adjustable dumbbells
  • Loadable dumbbells
  • Dial adjustable dumbbells
  • Circus dumbbells

I’ve broken this list down into fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells, and specialty dumbbells to help you better understand the differences between each type of dumbbell. After reading this article, you’ll be able to make a confident decision about which type of dumbbell is best for your home gym.

Fixed Dumbbells

Fixed dumbbells are dumbbells whose weights cannot be changed. They’re the most common type of dumbbell, especially in commercial gyms, and come in multiple forms.

1. Rubber Hex Dumbbells

rubber hex dumbbells

Rubber hex dumbbells have metal handles, which can either be straight or contoured, with rubberized heads in a hexagon shape. Some hex dumbbells are completely encased in rubber (including the handle), but not many brands make them this way.

Rubber hex dumbbells are typically available in weights from 5-125lbs. You can find them in 2.5lb increments up until 20lbs or 25lbs. Beyond that, they’re available in 5lb increments.

After learning about the different types of dumbbells, check out our article on the 15 Types of Weight Plates

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

The biggest benefit of rubber hex dumbbells is that they don’t roll. Because they stay in place, you have more options to store them. You can leave them on nearly any kind of shelf or on the floor without worrying about them rolling away.

The flat edges also make it possible to do exercises like devil’s presses and renegade rows, which both require you to hold onto dumbbells while you’re either in a plank position or holding onto them as you drop to the floor. They also have knurled handles for better gripability.

Rubber hex dumbbells are also pretty durable. The thick rubber won’t deteriorate easily, and unlike all-metal dumbbells, only the handles have the potential to rust. But you can prevent this by not storing them in humid environments and wiping the sweat and chalk residue off them when you’re done working out.

And while any dumbbell has the potential to break if it’s dropped from high enough, rubber hex dumbbells are a bit safer to drop because the rubber will absorb some of the impact.

If you’re curious about other types of dumbbells that can be dropped, check out my article 7 Best Dumbbells That You Can Drop Without Damaging Them.

Rubber Hex Dumbbell Negatives

The rubber on hex dumbbells can give off an odor when you first get them, which can bother people who are sensitive to smells.

At larger weights, the heads of rubber hex dumbbells can be very large, which means they take up a lot of room. And if you want to add dumbbells of various weights to your home gym, you’ll need room for a large dumbbell storage rack that can hold all of them.

At heavier weights, the edges can also be uncomfortable when resting the dumbbells on your thighs before getting them up to your shoulders for any kind of seated pressing movement.

As well, because of the extra materials required to make them, rubber hex dumbbells are often more expensive than other types of dumbbells.

Who Should Use Rubber Hex Dumbbells?

Nearly anyone can use rubber hex dumbbells, but a few individuals who would benefit from them are:

  • CrossFitters
  • Anyone who has room for a large dumbbell storage rack (if you want multiple pairs)
  • Anyone who wants to be able to drop their dumbbells
  • Anyone who wants dumbbells that go up in weight in small increments
  • Anyone who doesn’t mind spending extra money on dumbbells

Who Should NOT Use Rubber Hex Dumbbells?

If you’re capable of lifting very heavy weights, you may want to avoid rubber hex dumbbells because they can be uncomfortable on your thighs when setting up for seated pressing movements.

They’re also not ideal for anyone who wants dumbbells in multiple weights but doesn’t have a lot of room for ample storage.

Hex Dumbbell Recommendation

Fringe Sport rubber hex dumbbells

The Fringe Sport rubber hex dumbbells are some of the most durable hex dumbbells on the market. They’re made with a unique pin mechanism that helps keep them together even when they’re dropped, so it takes a lot to break them.

Related Article: Cheap vs Expensive Dumbbells: Is There REALLY a Difference?

2. Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells

cast iron hex dumbbells

Cast iron hex dumbbells also have a hexagonal shape, but their heads aren’t encased in rubber. You can find them on websites like Amazon and at sporting goods stores, but other fitness equipment brands like Rogue and Rep Fitness don’t sell them.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Because cast iron dumbbells are made of just one material, they’re cheaper than other dumbbells, which makes them an affordable option. You can also find them in most sporting goods stores, which is beneficial if you don’t want to order dumbbells online and pay for expensive shipping.

Like rubber hex dumbbells, cast iron hex dumbbells also won’t roll, which makes them better to do floor-based exercises with.

Cast iron dumbbells are also good for people who are sensitive to materials like vinyl. They don’t have knurled handles, which is a drawback as I’ll discuss below, but they can prevent calluses from developing on your hands.

Cast Iron Hex Dumbbell Negatives

Cast iron dumbbells have a high tendency to rust, and if they’re finished with enamel, the coating can chip or wear off with heavy use. They can’t be dropped since there is no rubber to absorb the shock.

Many cast iron dumbbells also don’t have knurled handles, and the finishes can make them slippery. They’re not the best if you sweat a lot.

As well, cast iron dumbbells aren’t often available in weights above 80lbs, which can be too light for some people.

Who Should Use Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells?

Cast iron hex dumbbells are suitable for home gym owners who want to save money and casual lifters who likely won’t train intensely enough to have to drop them frequently.

They’re also a good option for anyone who wants to protect their hands from materials like vinyl or prevent calluses from developing from knurled handles.

Who Should NOT Use Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells?

Because they can’t be dropped and the handles can be slippery, they’re not ideal for CrossFitters or anyone who trains to failure and is concerned about not being able to set them down gently at the end of a set.

Cast Iron Hex Dumbbell Recommendation

I recommend the CAP Barbell black cast iron hex dumbbells. Unlike other brands, these cast iron dumbbells have knurled handles, so you can lift without worrying about your hands slipping.

Up until 25lbs, you can buy the dumbbells as a pair or on their own, but it’s more cost-effective to buy them in pairs.

3. 12-sided Dumbbells

As the name implies, 12-sided dumbbells have 12 sides. They’re a combination between hex dumbbells and round dumbbells. 

12-sided dumbbells are more common in commercial gyms, but you can find brands that sell them for home gyms if you’re interested in them.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

12-sided dumbbells have many of the same benefits as hex dumbbells. The flat sides mean they won’t roll, which is beneficial for storage and ground-based exercises. 

Unlike hex dumbbells, the edges on 12-sided dumbbells are soft, so you can rest them on your thighs without any discomfort.

12-sided dumbbells also tend to be made with urethane or PVE, durable rubber or plastic materials that have low odors and are more resistant to breaking.

12-Sided Dumbbell Negatives

12-sided dumbbells aren’t sold by most of the popular fitness equipment suppliers like Rogue. You can find some online, but if you’re interested in buying them, you may have to consult with a commercial gym equipment supplier.

They’re also a lot more expensive than other types of dumbbells and can cost as much as $9 per pound depending on where you buy them from.

As well, they tend to only go up to 100lbs, which is a drawback for bodybuilders, Strongman competitors, or any other athlete who can lift more than that.

Who Should Use 12-Sided Dumbbells?

12-sided dumbbells are ideal for anyone with a large budget who wants durable dumbbells that will likely never have to be replaced.

Because of their durability, they’re also a good option for people who run private personal training businesses or are trying to outfit a commercial gym.

Who Should NOT Use 12-Sided Dumbbells?

If you’re trying to build a home gym on a budget, you should avoid 12-sided dumbbells. There are much more affordable options on the market.

You’ll also want to look at other types of dumbbells if you’re looking for dumbbells heavier than 100lbs.

12-Sided Dumbbell Recommendation

I mentioned earlier that 12-sided dumbbells aren’t easily found outside of commercial gym equipment suppliers. But if you’re interested in adding them to your home gym, you can purchase the ToughFit 12-sided dumbbells from Amazon.

These dumbbells are only available in weights from 15-50lbs (going up in 5lb increments), but they’re made with alloy steel and PVE to boost their sturdiness and provide anti-corrosion properties. 

4. Urethane Dumbbells

Urethane Dumbbells

Urethane dumbbells are round dumbbells whose heads are covered with urethane, a durable, shock-absorbent material that’s stronger than regular rubber.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

The biggest selling point of urethane dumbbells is their durability. You can drop them without worrying about them breaking, and they can be stored outdoors because the urethane won’t wear down if it’s exposed to sunlight or moisture.

Urethane also doesn’t have strong odors like regular rubber dumbbells do. And it can withstand strong cleansers and disinfectants — a beneficial feature if you clean your gym equipment frequently.

You can find urethane dumbbells that are available in heavier weights than other dumbbells. Some brands sell urethane dumbbells that go up to 200lbs.

Even though they can’t be stored flat without rolling, the size of their heads is relatively consistent. As such, they don’t take up too much room on a storage shelf.

Urethane Dumbbell Negatives

The only major con of urethane dumbbells is the price, as they can cost $9 or more per pound.

Urethane dumbbells have round heads, which makes them more difficult to store. They can also roll around and get in your way during your workout if you leave them on the floor.

Who Should Use Urethane Dumbbells?

Urethane dumbbells are best for individuals who store their gym equipment outdoors or anyone who owns a commercial gym or personal training business.

While they’re not 100% indestructible, they are pretty difficult to break, so they can withstand harsh weather and being used multiple times per day.

Because they’re expensive, they’re also best for people who don’t mind spending top dollar on a pair of dumbbells.

Who Should Not Use Urethane Dumbbells?

Urethane dumbbells are not ideal for anyone who does a lot of floor-based exercises like renegade rows or has a strict budget to stick to when buying dumbbells.

Urethane Dumbbell Recommendations

Titan Fitness urethane dumbbells

If you’re looking for the durability of urethane dumbbells but want to save some money, I recommend the Titan Fitness urethane dumbbells.

They’re still pricey but don’t cost quite as much as other brands, and you still get all of the same benefits. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get them on sale and with free shipping, which can help you save even more money.

Curious about the differences between round and hex dumbbells? Check out Hex Dumbbells vs Round Dumbbells: Which Are Better?

5. Pro-Style Dumbbells

pro-style dumbbells

Pro-style dumbbells are most often only found in commercial gyms. They’re round dumbbells that have consistently sized handles and are manufactured by bolting or welding weighted metal discs onto the handles. Some pro-style dumbbells’ heads are encased in virgin rubber.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Pro-style dumbbells are known for their durability. Even though they’re all metal, they’re usually difficult to break because of how they’re constructed. If a pro-style dumbbell did break, you only have to replace the dumbbell heads rather than buy a whole new dumbbell.

While pro-style dumbbells are round and will roll, they don’t take up as much space on storage racks as hex dumbbells because the diameter of the heads is pretty uniform. They also have shorter handles than other dumbbells, which reduces strain on the wrists.

Pro-style dumbbells can be found in weights up to 200lbs, whereas other types of dumbbells may cap out at 120-150lbs.

Pro-Style Dumbbell Negatives

Pro-style dumbbells are made entirely of metal (usually either cast iron or steel), which increases their likelihood of rusting with prolonged exposure to moisture. Some pro-style dumbbells are encased in rubber, but this isn’t the norm.

They’re also not widely available for purchase for home gym use and often can’t be bought individually or as one pair. If you want to buy them, you’ll have to look at commercial fitness equipment suppliers and consider getting multiple pairs at a time.

As well, due to their round shape, pro-style dumbbells aren’t ideal for floor-based exercises and can roll when left on an uneven surface.

Who Should Use Pro-Style Dumbbells?

Pro-style dumbbells are ideal for commercial gym owners where dozens of people will be using them due to their durability.

Because they can be found at weights heavier than 150lbs, they’re also a great option for gyms that cater to powerlifters and bodybuilders.

Who Should NOT use Pro-Style Dumbbells?

If you’re looking for dumbbells for a home gym that you’ll only be using for an hour or so a day a few days a week, pro-style dumbbells aren’t necessary.

I’d also avoid them if you’re a CrossFitter, don’t have a large budget, or do a lot of floor-based exercises like renegade rows.

Pro-Style Dumbbell Recommendation

As I mentioned earlier, pro-style dumbbells aren’t common amongst home gym owners and can only be bought from commercial fitness equipment suppliers. I recommend looking at places like York Barbell or Iron Company if you want to add them to your gym.

6. Chrome Dumbbells

chrome dumbbells

Chrome dumbbells aren’t very popular, but they’re a fine choice for certain groups of people. They’re made entirely out of chrome and have a shiny finish. As such, many people call them “beauty bells.”

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Above all else, chrome dumbbells are very attractive. Their shine gives them a sleek look, which is good for people who want their workout space to look sophisticated.

Chrome Dumbbell Negatives

Chrome dumbbells typically don’t go above 50lbs and aren’t very durable. They can’t be dropped, and they’re prone to rust. They have round heads, which makes them difficult to do floor-based exercises with.

They also don’t cost much less than any other types of dumbbells, so they aren’t worth it unless you just really like the look of them.

Who Should Use Chrome Dumbbells?

Chrome dumbbells are best suited for home gym owners who only do strength training, circuit training, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts with light weights.

Who Should NOT Use Chrome Dumbbells?

I don’t recommend chrome dumbbells for bodybuilders, powerlifters, CrossFitters, or anyone who generally will put their dumbbells through a lot of abuse. These groups of people will also feel limited in their training by the light weights.

Chrome dumbbells are also not ideal for commercial gyms unless you run a small fitness studio with classes that utilize light weights.

Chrome Dumbbell Recommendation

I recommend the CAP Barbell chrome dumbbells for anyone who wants a lightweight, sleek-looking pair of dumbbells. They have contoured handles for extra comfort, and their solid steel core allows the chrome finish to adhere better to prevent chips and cracks.

7. Neoprene Dumbbells

neoprene dumbbells

Neoprene dumbbells have a cast iron core and a neoprene covering, which you’ll usually find in bright colors. They’re only available in light weights and often used in group class settings or for HIIT workouts.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Neoprene dumbbells are comfortable to hold, and you can usually hold them for long periods of time before your grip starts to fatigue.

The neoprene covering also means that the cast iron isn’t exposed to moisture, which prevents rust.

As well, most neoprene dumbbells have hexagonal shapes, so they won’t roll when stored on a flat shelf or left on the ground.

Neoprene Dumbbell Negatives

Even though you’ll see other sites say that you can drop neoprene dumbbells, that’s not always true. If you drop them on a soft surface from a short distance, they’ll probably be fine. But the neoprene alone isn’t enough to protect the dumbbells from damage if they’re dropped from high heights onto hard surfaces.

Neoprene dumbbells are also only available in weights up to 15 or 20 lbs, which is limiting for anyone who’s serious about lifting weights and getting stronger.

Who Should Use Neoprene Dumbbells?

Because they’re only available in light weights, neoprene dumbbells are best for beginners, people who are rehabbing injuries, or anyone who only needs light dumbbells for HIIT or circuit training workouts.

Anyone who wants to hold onto a pair of light weights when walking or doing cardio workouts would also benefit from neoprene dumbbells.

Who Should NOT Use Neoprene Dumbbells?

Powerlifters, CrossFitters, bodybuilders, and even most casual lifters should avoid neoprene dumbbells. They’re just not heavy enough to provide enough of a challenge for serious lifting.

Neoprene Dumbbell Recommendation

I recommend the Portzon neoprene dumbbells. They’re available in weights from 1-15lbs and come at an affordable per-pound price point. They also feature an anti-slip grip design to prevent them from falling out of your hands when you sweat.

8. Vinyl Dumbbells

vinyl dumbbells

Vinyl dumbbells are like neoprene dumbbells except the cast iron core is covered with a shiny, plasticky vinyl material. They also come in bright colors and have a hexagonal shape, even though they’re not considered true hex dumbbells.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Due to the hexagon shape, vinyl dumbbells don’t roll. The vinyl helps protect your floors from scuff marks and scratches, and they don’t take up much space, which makes them easier to store.

The vinyl material is easy to wipe down, so if you own a small fitness studio, you can disinfect them quickly between classes.

Vinyl dumbbells also inherently have a non-slip grip texture, making it possible to maintain your grip even when your hands are sweaty.

Vinyl Dumbbell Negatives

Vinyl dumbbells aren’t available in weights heavier than 15 or 20 lbs, which is a drawback for serious lifters. The vinyl can also crack or rip easily, and you may have to replace them often.

Like neoprene dumbbells, vinyl dumbbells can’t be dropped.

Who Should Use Vinyl Dumbbells?

Vinyl dumbbells are best for beginners, anyone who’s rehabbing an injury, or anyone who wants to add a small amount of resistance to their cardio workouts.

Who Should Not Use Vinyl Dumbbells?

CrossFitters, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and anyone who can lift more than 20lbs shouldn’t use vinyl dumbbells.

Vinyl Dumbbell Recommendation

I recommend the Amazon Basics vinyl dumbbells. They offer a secure, comfortable grip, and range in weights from 2 to 15lbs so you can choose a weight to suit your current fitness levels.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable dumbbells are space-saving solutions that give you access to multiple weights in just a single pair of dumbbells. They enable you to switch from, say, 25lbs to 45lbs with just a quick spin of a dial or with an efficient pin mechanism.

9. Pin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells

Pin-lock adjustable dumbbells are a type of adjustable dumbbell that you adjust by using small adder weights and a pin to get your desired weight. You can get about 28 different weights in just one set of dumbbells.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

The biggest benefit of pin-lock adjustable dumbbells is that they don’t take up a lot of space. A dumbbell stand made for these types of dumbbells can easily fit into a corner of a room so you have more space for a squat rack and/or cardio equipment like a treadmill.

Pin-lock adjustable dumbbells initially seem expensive, but when you look at the price more closely, you’ll realize that you can actually save money in the long run by buying them.

For example, PowerBlock dumbbells that can be adjusted from 5-50lbs can cost nearly half the price of a 5-50lb hex dumbbell set from Rogue.

Even if you had to also purchase a dumbbell stand for them (which I do recommend to make it easier to adjust the weights), the total cost is still cheaper than buying multiple pairs of dumbbells.

It’s also very easy to adjust the weight. It takes a matter of seconds, so you won’t have to waste too much time making them heavier or lighter.

Pin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell Negatives

These types of dumbbells are typically only adjustable from 5-50lbs. You can get expansion kits to increase the weights up to 70 or 90 lbs, but they cost more money (though it is still more cost-effective than buying multiple sets of dumbbells). However, they can get bulky once you get higher than 50lbs.

Pin-lock adjustable dumbbells also can’t be dropped, as they have a lot of small metal and plastic parts that hold them together that are easily breakable.

Who Should Use Pin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells?

Anyone with a small home gym or anyone who can’t afford multiple pairs of dumbbells would benefit from pin-lock adjustable dumbbells.

I’d also recommend them for beginner and intermediate lifters who likely wouldn’t be using high enough weights that would make them too bulky to handle.

As well, they’re great for people who do HIIT and circuit training workouts and may need to quickly adjust their weights for different movements.

Who Should Not Use Pin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells?

I would not recommend these dumbbells to CrossFitters who work out at home. They’re too cumbersome to use for movements like dumbbell snatches and dumbbell cleans.

Pin-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell Recommendation

You can’t go wrong with a set of PowerBlock dumbbells if you’ve decided that this style of adjustable dumbbell is for you. There are several different PowerBlock models, but I recommend the Elite EXP.

On their own, these dumbbells can go up to 50lbs. If you want to use heavier weights, you can get expansion kits to go up to 70lbs and then another one to go up to 90lbs. They come with two 2.5lb chrome adder weight inserts, so you can increase the weight in small increments if you need to.

10. Loadable Dumbbells

loadable dumbbells

Loadable dumbbells are like mini barbells. The handles and plates are separate, and you load the dumbbells up with plates the same way you would a barbell (hence the term loadable dumbbells).

You can find loadable dumbbell handles with a 1” or 2” diameter. The 2” diameter is more versatile because you can use the same plates that you use with your barbell, although you shouldn’t use bumper plates with them because of their large diameter.

Some dumbbell handles have smooth sleeves that you can use spring-lock or snap-lock collars with to secure the plates. Others have threaded sleeves that require a star-lock collar that you essentially screw onto the sleeves to keep the plates in place.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Handles and plates are often sold separately, and while it’s annoying to have to pay for them separately, this means that loadable dumbbells have lower upfront costs than other adjustable dumbbells.

The handles don’t take up much room, and if you have ones with 2” diameter sleeves with which you can use the same plates you use for your barbell, you don’t have to get an entirely new storage rack.

Loadable Dumbbell Negatives

Loadable dumbbells take a long time to adjust, especially if you use ones with star-lock collars. And they can’t be dropped, as it can cause the collars to pop off or the plates to crack.

Some loadable dumbbells also have long sleeves to be able to accommodate multiple plates. This makes it possible for you to load them up with a lot of weight, but it makes the dumbbells cumbersome to handle.

If you buy loadable dumbbells with threaded sleeves, the collars may come loose and cause the plates to shift while you’re lifting.

Who Should Use Loadable Dumbbells?

I recommend loadable for beginners or intermediate lifters who likely won’t be lifting weights heavy enough that the collars can’t keep them secure.

Who Should Not Use Loadable Dumbbells?

I don’t recommend loadable dumbbells for anyone who needs to be able to change weights quickly in the middle of a workout. Some loadable dumbbells can take a long time to unscrew the collars and add or take off plates.

Loadable Dumbbell Recommendation

rogue loadable dumbbells

I recommend the Rogue loadable dumbbells. They’re pricey, but the handles are manufactured similarly to Rogue’s Ohio bar, which is known for its high-quality and durable construction. You should note, though, that you do have to buy plates separately.

You can choose from 10lb or 15lb handles and select either a stainless steel or black zinc shaft. Rogue doesn’t list a weight limit on these dumbbells, but I’ve heard of people loading them with up to 100lbs with no issues. 

11. Dial Adjustable Dumbbells

dial adjustable dumbbells

Dial adjustable dumbbells have dials that turn and latch onto the selected weight. They often have a round or slightly hexagonal shape, but they can be large and cumbersome at heavier weights. They’re typically adjustable up to 90lbs.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

As with any adjustable dumbbells, dial adjustable dumbbells give you access to multiple weight options with just one set of dumbbells. Adjusting them is quick and easy since you only need to turn a dial to get the weight you want.

Dial Adjustable Dumbbell Negatives

These types of dumbbells often can’t be dropped. They have gears and small parts that can crack upon landing, rendering them useless. 

Depending on which brand you get, you may only be able to increase the weights in 5lb increments, which can be a drawback for anyone who may have trouble adding 5lbs to certain lifts.

Who Should Use Dial Adjustable Dumbbells?

Dial adjustable dumbbells are ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of storage space and isn’t planning on dropping their dumbbells. They’re also best for general strength training and beginner to intermediate lifters and bodybuilders.

Who Should Not Use Dial Adjustable Dumbbells?

I don’t recommend these dumbbells for CrossFitters because their size makes them too bulky for dumbbell snatches and cleans. You can’t do devil’s presses with them, either, as the quick movements and pressure from pushing your bodyweight on them can cause them to break.

Depending on how strong you are, you may also want to consider other dumbbells since the 90lb weight capacity may be too limiting.

Dial Adjustable Dumbbell Recommendation

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells are one of the best dial-adjustable dumbbell sets on the market. They can be adjusted in 5lb increments from 10-90lbs and come with storage trays so you don’t have to leave them on the floor. They also have a smooth dial that enables you to change weights in a matter of seconds.

Specialty Dumbbells

Specialty dumbbells are uniquely-shaped dumbbells that are used for one specific sport. They generally aren’t necessary if you don’t compete in that sport, though they can be a fun way to add some variety to your training.

12. Circus Dumbbells

circus dumbbells

Circus dumbbells are large, heavy dumbbells that are primarily used by Strongman/Strongwoman competitors. They typically start at 75lbs and can go all the way up to 250lbs, and their handles have larger diameters than regular dumbbells.

What’s Good About These Dumbbells?

Circus dumbbells provide a unique training stimulus that you can’t find in other dumbbells, even if you use a comparable weight. They’re a great implement for developing pressing strength and upper body muscle mass as well as for challenging the core. The larger diameter also enables you to train your grip strength.

Circus Dumbbell Negatives

Circus dumbbells are very expensive, take up a lot of room, and can’t be used for a lot of exercises. Lifting them is a lot different than pressing a regular dumbbell overhead and requires different technique due to how unwieldy they are.

Who Should Use Circus Dumbbells?

Anyone who is currently competing or plans to compete in Strongman/Strongwoman events would benefit from having a circus dumbbell in their home gym.

I’d also recommend circus dumbbells for competitive CrossFitters, as some CrossFit events feature elements of Strongman training. However, if you wouldn’t be training with them very often, you may be better off trying to drop into a local Strongman gym when you want to use them.

Who Should NOT Use Circus Dumbbells?

There’s really no need for anyone who does not compete in Strongman or Strongwoman (or who is not a high-level CrossFit athlete) to get circus dumbbells.

Circus Dumbbell Recommendation

Rogue Monster Bells

I recommend the Rogue Monster Bells, which can be filled with sand or another filler to get your desired weight. They’re available in 4 different sizes with varying weight capacities from 75lbs to 250lbs.

Like most Rogue products, they’re built to last. Even though you have to pay a premium price for them, it’s very unlikely that they will get damaged. If they do, you may be able to take advantage of Rogue’s warranty to get them replaced.


About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.