Whether it’s the current pandemic or the fact that you would rather exercise at home, having dumbbells are one of the most necessary pieces for a home gym. But if you’re new to working out at home (How To Start Working Out For The First Time) you might not know which dumbbells are best for women, or if there’s even a difference between men and women dumbbells.
To answer the above question, the best dumbbells for women are the Amazon Basic dumbbells. They’re the appropriate weight for several different exercises, they’ll be the correct shape (hexagon) so they don’t roll around, and they’ll be durable because weights are constantly getting dropped or placed on the ground.
Just a quick picture of my dumbbells that I use. I’ve been using them for years on a very regular basis and as you can see they are worn out a bit (which I’m proud of) but they are holding up well. Some small cracks, but no chipping and still well worth the money.
So, let’s discuss the need for dumbbells (sometimes called hand weights).
“Exercise” is primarily made up of cardiovascular workouts like walking, running, aerobics, and weight training or resistance training. They are both critical to keeping a healthy body and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. For this post, I’ll explain why having dumbbells at home are critical in performing beneficial resistance training.
On the surface, it seems like it shouldn’t be that difficult in selecting some dumbbells, I mean what’s so hard about buying weights…!? As it turns out, as soon as you research them online, you’ll find that they come in all shapes and sizes…much like other things…like cars and trucks, ladies! Let’s keep this clean.
Kidding aside, dumbbells aren’t all cast iron like they used to be on Venice Beach. They’ve evolved, and this is a good thing because they’re better suited for people other than hard-core bodybuilders and weightlifters. First, is the material they’re made of now.
What’s the best material for dumbbells?
Dumbbells are made of a variety of raw materials and they include neoprene, rubber, iron, and vinyl. They each have their pros and cons, and they’ll each have their price point.
Neoprene Dumbbells – Neoprene is one of the more popular materials for dumbbells, even if it’s just a neoprene coating over iron or steel. Neoprene has a smooth finish that’s easy to grip and feels comfortable on the palms of your hands. Compared to cold iron or steel, women just tend to prefer the feel of neoprene. Neoprene is also a quieter product. What I mean is, when doing dumbbell workouts you’ll be constantly picking up and putting down the weights. Neoprene doesn’t land with the same amount of “thud” as some of the iron dumbbells. This is an important feature for those that live in condos, apartments, above someone, and even duplexes. Nobody wants a neighbor that is constantly producing loud or disturbing noises.
Along with constantly picking up and putting down weights, neoprene is gentler on surfaces. No matter if you’re using them on concrete, carpet, hardwood floors, or laminate flooring, neoprene is significantly less likely to cause any kind of wear and tear on your floors. Nobody likes walking around in their house and feeling bumps or dents in the floor.
Neoprene finishes are also powder-coated, which makes them naturally sweat-resistant. If your hands are sweaty and fatigued from working out, the likelihood that you’ll drop or worse yet, accidentally toss your dumbbell goes up. Having a firm and steady grip on a non-slippery surface ensures a bit of safety and peace of mind. If you’re looking at using your new dumbbells while doing yoga, pilates, HIIT workouts, or in conjunction with a cardio workout, this feature becomes pretty important.
Finally, neoprene hand weights won’t’ cause the callouses that steel or iron grip dumbbells are likely to cause. If you’re concerned about having rough-looking palms, neoprene may be the best material for you.
Rubber Dumbbells– Rubber coated dumbbells offer a lot of the same benefits as neoprene dumbbells. Compared to the classic iron dumbbells, they’ll be quieter, easier on floors, easier on the hands (if the handle itself is rubber), and they’ll be less likely to chip or crack. Also, the rubber coating helps protect the iron from sweat and moisture. The one thing I will say about rubber coated dumbbells is, if they are left out in the sun, they will crack. If the rubber-coated dumbbells are calling you name, make sure your home gym is a mild climate, and be sure to keep them away from and heaters.
Cast Iron Dumbbells – The biggest pro of cast iron dumbbells, is that I find they are more affordable. But when it comes to practicality, the stand-alone, non-coated cast iron dumbbells are starting to fade out. Even in gyms, you don’t see them as much as you did back in the 80s and 90s. And I think this is because weight training and lifting have evolved from a “man” exercise to a type of exercise that is suitable for everyone.
The one thing I do like about cast iron dumbbells is the sound of setting them down. And I think men particularly love this sound. Something is satisfying about hearing the weight you’re lifting making a thud noise. It sounds like you’re working out hard, and that is something to be proud of. I think the men of yesteryears (and still today) would almost intentionally drop the weights because they like the sound of it, and concurrently, they want to show everyone how strong they are.
If you’ve ever worked out at a gym, you’ve most certainly experienced this, when a guy seems to be purposely dropping weights, only to hope that the damsels in the gym will look his way. While at the gym, I find this highly annoying, but if I was at home working out by myself, this satisfying sound of iron being picked up and put down would boost my self-esteem!
Vinyl Dumbbells – The vinyl dumbbells are almost identical when it comes to looks and feel. The biggest difference that I’ve encountered is the vinyl dumbbells are usually really lightweight. While this is can be useful for rehabilitation or those suffering from severe joint pain, the usefulness and features are similar to the neoprene sets.
What types of grips are best for dumbbells?
I’ve been in a ton of different gyms in the last 30+ years, and in my experience, there are really only two significant types of grips. Those are the smooth round grips typically associated with the vinyl and neoprene dumbbells and the textured grips commonly found on the iron handled grips.
That being said, a gym I currently use, has dumbbells with rubber-coated hexagonal end caps, but the handles are a smooth hexagonal shape. I can’t stand them! The corners or the edges of the grips can dig into your palms, and depending on how sensitive or heavy the dumbbell is, it can be very painful.
As you can imagine the textured grips can help prevent the dumbbell from spinning in your hand which is nice, as this can be quite dangerous, especially if you’re holding the dumbbell above your head, At the same time, the textured grips can also cause callouses. Again, if this is a deterrent for you, the non-textured grips might be a better fit.
The round smooth grips tend to feel better on the hands, and they are commonly associated with the lighter dumbbells. Once you get into the heavier dumbbells, they’ll almost all be textured grips.
Adjustable Dumbbells vs Single Pair
There are a ton of options when it comes to dumbbells. There’s the aforementioned material type and grips. But which dumbbell weights are the best? This will come down to what you intend on using the weights for, as well as your current strength.
If you’re new to resistance training the multiple pair sets might be appealing. It allows you to figure out how much you can lift and it allows you the flexibility to move or down.
Buying a single pair may be the most affordable option, but you’re obviously limited to just that weight. For some exercises, a single weight may be all you need. You can increase the number of repetitions you do or decrease the break time between sets, to increase the intensity.
But eventually, if you want to maintain or increase your fitness you may have to purchase another pair of dumbbells. Over time, this can become expensive.
The adjustable dumbbells are the latest feature of dumbbells. The capability of having a variety of weight options with a single set of dumbbells saves on space can keep you going for years and they’re great for being able to work the entire body.
I love the adjustable weights because I feel you need more than 5 or 10 pounds weights to work the leg muscles, and the adjustable weights tend to go heavier.
The one thing I don’t like about the adjustable weights, and I’m surprised that no other blogs or posts speak to this, is the adjustable weights can feel awkward in your hands.
The adjustable weights tend to be pretty long to accommodate, so they can add or subtract weights. And the longer the weight the more forearm strength is required to keep the weight level. So when the weight is compact and close to the palm of your hand, the easier it is to keep the weight level. When the weight is away from your palms, on the outside of the handle, more effort from your forearm is required to keep the level balanced.
For me, at first, I don’t like them, because it does require more forearm strength. But after a bit of using them, I embrace the added forearm exercise. Now I don’t need anybody to help open the jars.
If you’re new to using dumbbells, and you plan on using them frequently, I would probably suggest you get the adjustable weights, so you can work on your grip strength.
Below is a mix of the best dumbbells available on the market.
Best Dumbbells for Women
Amazon Basics (Editor’s Choice)
1) AmazonBasics Neoprene Dumbbell Hand Weights – Add resistance training to your workouts with the AmazonBasics 20-pound dumbbell set. Resistance training not only builds strength, but it can also help burn calories, increase energy levels, protect bone health, improve mood, and more.
The versatile set includes three pairs of dumbbells in 3-pound, 5-pound, and 8-pound sizes, so you can choose the right amount of weight for your routine, preference, and the number of repetitions. The AmazonBasics dumbbell set makes a great choice for both beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts alike.
Features and Benefits
- Multiple weight sets available
- Weight stand to keep them organized and clutter-free
- Neoprene coating making them easy to grip
2) CAP Barbell Coated Hex Dumbbell Weights – The CAP Coated Hex Dumbbell Weights feature hexagonal shaped heads that prevent the dumbbells from rolling, a medium depth knurling on the ergo contoured handle to provide essential grip and security during workouts, and a coating that is extremely durable and will protect floors and equipment from being scratched, scuffed, and dented.
Dumbbells are versatile workout equipment that can be used to target a specific muscle group or attain a full-body workout. Use them for walking, isolations, fully body workouts, functional training, HIIT workouts, and more!
Features and Benefits
- Multiple weight pairs available
- Hex shaped heads prevent rolling
- Textured grip prevents slippage
3) Bowflex SelectTech 552 – With just the turn of a dial you can automatically change your resistance from 5 lbs up to 52. 5 lbs of weight. No more picking up 30 different dumbbells to get the results you want, these adjustable dumbbells replace 15 sets of weights. All you need is this pair of SelectTech 552 Dumbbells to transform your body for good. Compatible with the free Bowflex SelectTech training App for iOS and Android.
Features and Benefits
- Bowflex is a big brand sure to provide a quality product
- Adjusts from 5-52.5 pounds
- Two-year warranty
4) ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbell – If you’re looking to save on space and money, this single adjustable dumbbell might be the perfect fit. It doesn’t have the same brand recognition as Bowflex but provides the same features at a fraction of the cost. Notice this is a single dumbbell, so you would need to add 2 to the cart, so you’ll have a pair. They adjust from 5.5 to 27.5 pounds, making it great for growth over the years of fitness.
Features and Benefits
- Quick and easy weight change so you can complete your workout quicker
- The textured handle is comfortable to the touch
- Equivalent to 4 sets of dumbbells’ so a great space saver
- Available up to 44 pounds
5) Amazon Neoprene Hand Weights – Tone and strengthen your body with this dumbbell set from AmazonBasics. The color-coded dumbbells are a great addition to upper body workouts and strength training. The set includes a pair of 2, 3, and 5-pound dumbbells that are stored in a convenient weight stand. Each dumbbell is wrapped with a non-slip neoprene coating that prevents it from rolling around on the ground or in your hands.
Which dumbbell weight is best for women?
If you’re a beginner and have no clue which weight to get, I would recommend getting a minimum of 3 pairs. A light pair for some of the upper body exercise, and a heavier pair for things like leg exercises.
The medium pair will come in handy as you figure out which weight is best for you, so the workout isn’t too easy or too difficult. A set of 5, 10, and 15-pound weight is a good introductory weight range for someone brand new.
Another thing you need to consider is your goals. If you plan on using the dumbbells to add definition and tone, then a few different pairs or an adjustable set will work best for you. While a single pair will work in the short-term, eventually you’ll have to bump up your weights, even if it’s just a few pounds.
It would be naïve to think that budget doesn’t play a part too. There is a wide variety of dumbbells available on the market. And this is a good thing. The single pair of dumbbells are very affordable, but you’ll be limited to the amount of exercise you can do with them. On the other end of the spectrum is the adjustable dumbbells’. Obviously, a few more bells and whistles, but they come at a higher price point.
How do I start working out with dumbbells at home?
The most important thing you can do is start light and go slow. If you’re new you probably have no idea what your strength level is, nor do you know how much endurance you have. By starting with lighter weights, you can prevent hurting yourself by overexerting.
Additionally, making sure you use proper form is critical. If you don’t use proper form, it can lead to a lack of results, injury, and unnecessary strain. It’s easy to “cheat” when doing exercises, but this only prevents you from achieving the best results.
Is it possible to build a decent body with just dumbbells?
Using dumbbells will provide the resistance you need to achieve muscle mass and muscle tone. There’s a misperception that you need big heavy weights to achieve any kind of tone or muscle mass. If you’re looking to get on stage or compete in bodybuilding competitions, then yes, the heavier weights will be necessary. But if you’re just looking to maintain or build a little bit of muscle, then dumbbells will easily provide that.
By sticking to a consistent workout plan and adjusting the number of sets, repetitions, break times between sets, dumbbells can work the entire body.
How much dumbbell weight is normal for a beginner?
This will depend on several factors, so to list a single dumbbell weight is difficult. If you’re new, I would recommend that women start with 5-10 pound weights. This will allow you to work all the muscles in your body without overexerting. If you find this amount of weight too heavy, you can easily do a fewer number of repetitions and or sets.
If you find it too light, you can either do more sets and repetitions or you can cut your break between sets down 15-20 seconds. So instead of waiting a minute between sets, only wait about 40-45 seconds. This will help fatigue your muscles faster.
A good barometer for figuring out how much weight is appropriate is to do 3 sets of 15-20, with a one minute break between sets. If you find yourself being able to do this, then you can bump up the amount of weight anywhere from 2-5 pounds.
If you find that you can’t do 3 sets of 10, then depending on the exercise, you might want to decrease the amount of weight. As you progress with your workouts, it’s okay to mix up the number of sets, reps, and weight. For example for the first couple of weeks, you do a bit lighter weight, doing a higher number of repetitions (15+). Then after a couple of weeks, you do a bit heavier weight while only doing 10-12 repetitions.
By alternating these reps, sets, and weights, it will continue to work your muscles, and better results will occur.
Conclusion of best dumbbells for women
One of the best things I like about dumbbells is their space-saving quality. A solid pair of dumbbells fit in a closet or corner very well. Resistance training is critical to maintaining or adding a bit of definition or tone to your muscles. If your gym is closed or you’re tired of paying membership fees, a good set of dumbbells is one of the first pieces of equipment you should acquire.
FAQ on best dumbbells for women
Will dumbbells decrease my arm fat?
The amount of body fat you have surrounding your muscles will be a factor in your nutrition. While exercise will help you burn calories, eating nutritious meals will be the best way to reduce your arm fat
How much do dumbbells cost?
You can expect to pay around $1.50 per pound. Since dumbbells come in a variety of material the price can vary. When you buy in sets you can usually get better deals.
Will dumbbells tone my body?
The only way to tone your muscles is to stress them to a point where they need to recruit muscle fibers to handle the load. If you’re using too light of dumbbell weight, then you won’t stress them enough to grow or become tone.