How do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?

Ask any person who is far from sports to name one item of athletics that brings him the brightest association with strength sports. What would that be? No, it won’t be a barbell, neither a horizontal bar nor a running track, but an ordinary and very old-fashioned dumbbell. Besides, not a new-fashioned shiny adjustable dumbbell, but a cast, painted black, perhaps even a slightly rusty dumbbell made from two cannon balls with a handle between them. After all, the image of a strong man doing hundreds and thousands of curls with a dumbbell, pumping biceps to unimaginable sizes – this is exactly how any average person imagines that.

But what made dumbbells a symbol of strength and the very concept of sports? Probably, above all, their simplicity. In older times, when sport was not so popular, there were not so many tools and not so much understanding of how one should build his muscles, so that real bodybuilding champions could be counted on the fingers and any attribute of those titans, so different from ordinary mortals, acquired an aura of a certain magic. That is why, a muscular man with a bent elbow and a dumbbell in his hand became the very personification of strength.

What types of dumbbells are there?

You shouldn’t think that cast dumbbell is a primitive tool. No, definitely, dumbbells are far from rocket science, but even they have gone their own way of evolution. Once upon a time, people who came up with an idea that additional muscle burdening was necessary for growing strength, used simple stones and logs and bags with different fillers for those purposes, and could not immediately realize that two cannon balls connected by a handle with standardized gradation of weights was exactly what they needed.

The next step in the evolution of dumbbells was the understanding that storing a whole arsenal of dumbbells that differ only in weight is very inconvenient and expensive. That is why, it was logical to invent adjustable dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells became a kind of breakthrough that allowed any man to get to his dream of a strong muscular body. Then the standard adjustable dumbbells consisted of a handle with a set of discs of certain weight and a lock on both ends. In this form, they have been actively used for decades, right up until recently (and often to this day), when the evolution of dumbbells took a step further and presented us the new type of dumbbells with mechanical dial systems for the quick fixation of weights.

So there are three main types of dumbbells:

  • Fixed weight cast dumbbells
  • Adjustable dumbbells with nut or pin retainers
  • Adjustable dumbbells with dial mechanism

So How do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?

Well, if we are clear with cast dumbbells, let’s see how adjustable dumbbells work. In fact, everything is extremely simple as well. There is a handle, usually a metal rod of standard thickness, similar to that of a barbell. There is a thread at both ends of this handle that allows the discs to be clamped and fixed on the handle. And, of course, there are discs with some weight to them, by changing the number of which you can adjust the weight of the entire tool. This type of dumbbell is considered the most traditional of the modern.

There are also adjustable dumbbells, very similar to the usual ones with a nut, but using a pin as a retainer. Their discs have a special shape with a notch that allows you to quickly change the weight of the dumbbell by resetting just one pin.

Increasingly today there are also more and more newfangled dumbbells with a dial mechanism. They look almost the same as regular ones, but on their sides there is a special mechanism with numbers, where the user himself sets the desired weight (within the weight of the tool). They are equipped with a special platform that holds all the disks assembled. After setting the weight, all the extra discs stay on the platform, and if the dumbbell is put back to the platform, the dumbbell again gets fully assembled, ready for another session.

Adjustable Dumbbells Pros and Cons




Locking nut dumbbells

  • Affordable price
  • Standardized discs
  • Simple design
  • Reliability
  • Weight change takes time

Pin retainer dumbbells

  • Quick weight change
  • A bit more expensive than regular ones
  • Require completeness

Dial Mechanism dumbbells

  • Quick weight change
  • Room saving
  • Pretty expensive
  • Require completeness

So as a summary we can say that the choice of dumbbells is a matter of personal preference, budget and convenience.

People Also Ask

Dumbbells are often used for joint-isolation exercises such as biceps curls, chest flyes or shoulder raises. Using dumbbells for full-body, multiplanar movements, however, can provide a variety of different strength outcomes. It also offers many benefits for cardiorespiratory fitness and flexibility.
But huge weights on big barbell exercises aren't necessary. If you want to gain a lot of lean muscle mass, you can do so it with just dumbbells. And they don't have to be really heavy dumbbells, either.
The rack and run technique is exclusive to dumbbell training. Effective high intensity techniques are pretty much avoided by default with solo barbell training—not so with dumbbells. One of the most effective ways to overload muscles for strength or muscle-building purposes is to increase range of motion.
Dumbbells build muscle; muscle burns calories; you lose weight! When you think of ways to lose weight, hours a day on the treadmill is often what comes to mind. Sure, aerobic exercise like jogging on a treadmill is great for weight loss, but resistance training can also help.

About Jake Rowen

Our workout instructor. Despite the fact that workout as well as calisthenics promotes training in the most accessible form with a minimum of additional equipment, even Jake as one of the most convinced adherents does not refuse standard strength training. He does not cease to say that regular strength exercises not only shape the body, but harden the spirit as well. His classes reveal all the strengths and weaknesses of his clients, allowing them to balance their inner powers and steer them in a positive direction. If you have questions to Jake, just ask your question using the form.

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Weight Lifting Chains
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by John on Weight Lifting Chains
Location (City, State): Cranburry, NJ

Thanks for the article!

by Charles Aulsen on Weight Lifting Chains
Location (City, State): Portland, OR

Dumbbells are classics. Even for a person who has nothing to do with sports, having a couple of rusty dumbbells laying around in the garage is pretty common. My father still has dumbbells in the garage, which he never used in my memory.

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