Reviews

Best Dumbbells For 2022: Dozens Of Pairs Tested To Find The Best For CrossFit

May 16, 2022 by
storage rack of dumbbells, weight plates, and kettlebells
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Because CrossFit is a sport where one of the founding principles is constantly varied training, dumbbells are arguably the most versatile piece of equipment that you can use for WODs or at-home pump sessions. 

Not only are they great for intense high-rep weight training, but they can also be used for single-limb isolation movements. And, lest we forget the “do you even lift, bro?” classics such as biceps curls and tricep extensions. 

Also, let’s face it: CrossFit athletes are a special breed when it comes to dumbbells, and no matter what the manufacturers’ warnings may state about dropping them, we all know that there will be times when you drop them from overhead and they crash into the floor of your box or your garage. 

That’s why we put dozens of pairs through a battery of tests to find the best dumbbells for WODs and strength training. 

Not All Dumbbells Are Created Equal

At first glance, dumbbells may appear to be one of the most basic pieces of gym equipment. However, from materials to construction, not all dumbbells are created equal. Many factors, such as the types of workouts you will be using them for, your available space, and of course, your budget, should be considered before deciding what will work best for you. 

We assembled a team of CrossFit Level 1 coaches, CrossFit athletes, and personal trainers to test dozens of dumbbells during WODs at their local boxes and during at-home pump sessions to bring you a comprehensive list of the best dumbbells for CrossFit. 

The Best Dumbbells for CrossFit In 2022

Editor’s Choice: Rogue Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells

A 10-lb Rogue Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbell 
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love these: Like Patrick Vellner after he tumbled from that cargo net at the 2018 CrossFit Games, these dumbbells can absolutely take a beating.

Pros: 

  • Durable steel handles and rubber-coated hex heads
  • Minimal bounce, even when dropped from overhead
  • Designed for high-intensity workouts
  • Tight handle-to-head weld

Cons:

  • Expensive, especially with shipping, starting at $20 for a 2.5-lb pair
  • Grip can get iffy due to partial knurling of handle
  • Handles on lower weights have a smaller diameter

My gym has some Rogue Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells, and some…well, let’s just say not Rogue Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells. There is always a bit of a stampede when dumbbells are part of the WOD because everyone wants to make sure they get their mitts on the Rogue ones. I also use these dumbbells in my home gym. The durability, rock-solid construction, and limited bounce are a few of the many reasons that these dumbbells were our top pick. 

The point where the handle meets the hex is often an area of weakness for dumbbells. If the construction is shoddy, the head and the handle can start to come apart, leaving you with a wobbly and unstable dumbbell—or worse yet, a completely broken one. However, thanks to Rogue’s concentration on construction, the handle-to-head weld is tight and solid so that you can focus on your workout.    

These dumbbells seem expensive at face value, but given the quality of materials and construction, our testers think they’re priced reasonably. However, Rogue’s shipping prices may induce sticker shock, so take that into account when ordering. 

Runner Up: REP Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells

A 50-lb REP Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbell 
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love these: These dumbbells are dripping with hex appeal and you’ll love the barbell-like, fully knurled handle. 

Pros: 

  • Large range of weights (2.5 to 125 lbs in pairs; 5 to 100 lbs in sets)
  • Free shipping on all orders
  • Handles are fully knurled for superior non-slip grip
  • Hexes coated in low-odor rubber
  • Lifetime warranty for residential use

Cons:

  • Long, straight handle may not be ideal for all users
  • We saw a report that the head fell off the handle during use
  • Pricey, starting at more than $1,000 for a 5 to 50-lb set 

Our product testers came to a bit of a stalemate as to if the Rogue Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells or the REP Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells should sit atop the podium. The main reason REP didn’t dethrone Rogue for the best rubber dumbbells is because of the handles. 

Although our tester and CF-L1 coach Amanda Capritto loved the straight, fully knurled handles, we know most CrossFit athletes are used to contoured handles like those on the Rogue hex dumbbells. Some testers also found the handles on the REP dumbbells feel unbalanced, especially at heavier weights. Other than that, we love these tough yet luxurious dumbbells. 

Even during the sweatiest of WODs, the edge-to-edge knurling provides a secure grip so that you don’t have to worry about the barbell slipping out of your hand. REP Fitness uses friction welding to keep the head securely attached to the handle. 

Although they are fairly expensive, all REP Fitness orders come with free shipping. When this is taken into consideration, these dumbbells are comparably priced to many of their competitors. And, garage gym enthusiasts rejoice: REP offers a lifetime warranty for home use. 

Editor’s Note: Many of the REP Fitness dumbbells are sold out at the time of this writing. You can join their waitlist to receive an alert as to when they are back in stock. 

Best Budget Dumbbells for CrossFit: York Barbell Rubber Hex Dumbbells

Why CrossFit athletes will love these: Durability meets affordability with York Barbell Rubber Hex Dumbbells. 

Pros: 

  • Just as durable as more expensive dumbbells
  • Ergonomic, partially-knurled handles
  • Wide weight range
  • Budget-friendly (single 2.5-lb dumbbell listed at about $5)

Cons:

  • Expensive shipping 
  • Heavy rubber odor
  • Some complaints of weights not being accurate

The York Barbell Rubber Hex Dumbbells were made at the intersection of budget and sturdy. In short, they are a good deal, and who doesn’t like a good deal? After all, when CrossFitters save money on equipment it means they have more bread for shoes and booty shorts.

These dumbbells share many of the same characteristics with their more expensive cousins: contoured, partially knurled handles, and rubber hex heads. During WODs where the dumbbell may be dropped or slammed into the floor, the rubber coating protects not only the integrity of the dumbbell, but the floor of your exercise area. 

The knurled, ergonomic handles allow for a comfortable and secure grip. While these provide great bang for the buck, you will want to prepare for the strong rubber odor that emanates from these dumbbells.  

Best Luxury Dumbbells for CrossFit: Eleiko Evo Fixed Dumbbells

Eleiko Evo Dumbbells 
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love these: The handles of these extremely high-quality dumbbells will spin right ‘round, right ‘round like a barbell, baby. 

Pros: 

  • Large weight range (5 pounds to 150 pounds)
  • Knurled handles feel and spin like a barbell
  • Ergonomic handles makes for more comfortable lifting

Cons:

  • Like Whoa! expensive ($244 for a 35-pounder… *gulp*) 
  • Can only purchase in singles
  • Multi-sided, niche head design is not for everyone

OK, let’s quickly address the diamond elephant in the room: These dumbbells are basically for those in that smaller-yacht-inside-a-bigger-yacht tax bracket (one 50-pound dumbbell costs well over $300). However, if your stacks are as high as your box jumps, we highly recommend Eleiko Evo Fixed Dumbbells as they are undoubtedly one of the best dumbbell options money can buy.

The patented fully knurled, rotating handle of these dumbbells mirror the spin of an Olympic barbell. This provides even more versatility than other dumbbells and gives more comfort and stability when you’re performing lifts such as dumbbell snatches and power cleans.   

Although these are some of the most expensive dumbbells on the market, the quality of the design and construction do match their price tag. In fact, there is a video on the Eleiko YouTube channel showing their dumbbells being dropped from various heights and pushed down a flight of metal stairs. And, I think that we can all admit that CrossFit athletes do like to yeet a dumbbell from time to time. 

Best Adjustable Dumbbell Set: Bowflex SelectTech 1090

bowflex adjustable dumbbells
 Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells 
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love these: The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells can adjust from 10 pounds to 90 pounds with a simple click, allowing you to quickly adjust your weight. 

Pros: 

  • Weight adjusts with a quick click
  • Replaces 17 sets of dumbbells
  • 1-year membership to Bowflex’s JRNY app included with purchase
  • Comes with storage trays   

Cons:

  • Can’t drop these
  • Plastic molding not particularly durable
  • Bulky and awkward to use with some exercises
  • Complaints of plates slipping out when in use

We know that not every CrossFit athlete will want a set of adjustable dumbbells. They’re not ideal for WODs because they can’t be dropped (at least, not without voiding the warranty and potentially breaking them). However, if you think adjustable is the way to go, we recommend the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells. 

These quickly and easily adjust from 10 to 90 pounds. This makes changing weights a breeze, which we love when doing supersets or WODs with ascending weight. This is particularly handy for ladder-style WODs. Considering that these adjustable dumbbells replace 17 sets of standard dumbbells, they are also a huge space-saver. If you have limited space in your home gym, these will make a great addition. 

Given the number of standard dumbbells that these replace, they are a great bargain. Additionally, they come with a storage rack, as well as a one-year subscription to the Bowflex fitness app, JRNY.

Best Loadable Dumbbell Set: Titan Fitness Loadable Dumbbell Handles

Loadable dumbbell handles with dumbbell bumpers 
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Why CrossFit athletes will love these: Titan Fitness Loadable Dumbbell Handles are basically miniature barbells, and what’s not to love about that?

Pros: 

  • Fully knurled, chrome-plated handle provides nice grip
  • Can use any brand of Olympic plates with handles
  • Sleeve and shaft diameters are the same as 20-kilogram barbell
  • Impressive 500-pound weight capacity per handle

Cons:

  • No plates are included with the handles
  • Pricey for handles only ($100)
  • Titan doesn’t manufacture specific plates for the handles

The Titan Fitness Loadable Dumbbell Handles are reminiscent of barbells in several ways. Like a 20-kilogram barbell, the sleeve diameter is 50 millimeters and the shaft diameter is 28 millimeters. The handles also meet the same IWF specifications as an Olympic barbell, and you can load them up with any Olympic weight plates. 

It should be pointed out, though, that standard-size bumper plates don’t’ work for all movements. Instead of using regular bumpers, use change plates to better mimic the size and style of traditional dumbbells. If you have more cash to spend, consider dumbbell bumpers, like these from Rogue Fitness, which are essentially bumper plates formed into a cylindrical shape. 

The quality of construction of these dumbbell handles is evident in that they can be loaded up with 500 pounds of weight. Also, Titan offers free shipping on every order and that will always earn some bonus points from me.

Other Dumbbells We Researched And Tested

Although these didn’t quite make the best-of list, here are some additional sets of weights that we tested.

Rogue Fitness Unbranded Rubber Hex Dumbbells

The unbranded version of the Rogue Rubber Hex Dumbbell is like the unpredictable little brother to our Editor’s Choice, the Rogue Fitness Rubber Hex Dumbbells. The unbranded version has a similar look and feel to the branded version, but since they are produced by a variety of manufacturers, they cost a little more and there may be slight differences in the knurling and appearance. 

REP Fitness Rubber Grip Hex Dumbbells 

These dumbbells use low-odor rubber on both the hexes and the handle. This helps reduce the risk of the handle being worn down by the elements while still providing the same kind of grip as their knurled-handle counterparts, but not everyone will appreciate the unique handle. 

Powerblock Elite Series Dumbbells 

Durability and adjustable dumbbells don’t always go hand in hand, but the Powerblock Elite Series has proven to be long-lasting and offer a wide range of quickly changeable weights. However, our product testers find them a bit too clunky for most CrossFit exercises.

Powerblock Elite Series Dumbbells
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

Bowflex SelectTech 552 

The Bowflex Selecttech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are almost identical to our pick for the best adjustable dumbbells, the Bowflex Selecttech 1090. Both sets have selection dials that allow you to increase your weight by either 2.5- or 5-pound increments. The main difference is that the 552s tap out at 52.5 pounds, while the 1090s go up to 90 pounds.

NordicTrack Select-a-Weight

With 15 weight increments, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells give you what essentially equates to a full rack of dumbbells for a little less than $500.00. These make for good indoor home gym equipment, but we want to point out that NordicTrack will not honor your warranty if you store these in your garage.

CAP Barbell Solid Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells

While you can get a quality CrossFit workout with cast iron dumbbells, such as the CAP Barbell Solid Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells, you have to remember that without a rubber coating, they absolutely can’t be dropped from overhead. This is one of the best cast-iron dumbbell sets for the price, and they’re usually readily available at Walmart.

SMRTFT NÜOBELL

If you’re short on time or just obsessed with saving it, the SMRTFT NÜOBELL Adjustable Dumbbells are for you. You can change the weight increments with these quicker than any other adjustable dumbbells that we’ve tested. They also look and feel a lot more like traditional dumbbells than other adjustable sets. 

Trying out the NÜOBELL adjustable dumbbells.
Credit: Nathan Hay/Garage Gym Reviews

How We Chose The Best Dumbbells For CrossFit

When you ask a bunch of CrossFit coaches and all-around CrossFit lovers if they want to test a whole slew of dumbbells, you are met with the same level of enthusiasm that the Buttery Bros have for pancakes.  

Not only did we report our overall impressions when we used these in our daily workouts, we noted specifics about the following specifications: construction, durability, “dropability,” handle diameter, knurling, head shape, storage requirements, coating, and price.  

Additionally, we took smaller nuances into account: Do the hexes/heads rub blisters on your thumbs during high-rep workouts? Does the rubber leave black smudges on your shirt/shoulder when you’re doing cleans? Can you change the weights of adjustable dumbbells with one hand?

These may seem like minor or unimportant issues, but they do contribute to the overall experience of a workout. 

The Importance Of Good Dumbbells

Weighing dumbbells during testing for accuracy
Credit: Garage Gym Reviews

As responsible stewards of fitness, it is our duty to tell you that you shouldn’t drop dumbbells, but as fellow CrossFit enthusiasts, we know that we’re basically screaming into the void when we give you that little piece of advice. 

We recognize that in CrossFit, durability and versatility are king. It’s important that your gym equipment stands up to these values. When it comes to dumbbells specifically, they should be able to withstand repeated dropping and high-volume use. 

How To Choose The Best Dumbbells For Your Home Gym 

If you’re looking to get your own pair of dumbbells for CrossFit workouts, consider these factors before clicking the buy button.

Durability

For CrossFitters, durability is key. This is because we are HARD on dumbbells. We drop ‘em and on occasion may even throw ‘em. This is why we lean towards tough-as-nails rubber hex dumbbells.

Materials and Construction

For a dumbbell to be durable, they must be made with quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Three materials to look for to ensure that you’re getting top-of-the-line equipment are: stainless steel, cast iron, and virgin rubber. You will also want to pay attention to how the handle and heads are welded together.

Bounce

A bouncing dumbbell is a dangerous dumbbell. Even if you avoid the fate of one landing on your foot (or worse yet, someone else’s foot), the last thing you want to do is chase a rogue dumbbell (pun intended) halfway across the gym during your workout. Although most manufacturers will tell you not to drop them at all, we know that is simply not going to be the case for most CrossFit doers. Therefore, we took bounce into consideration when testing dumbbells.

Budget

Unless you’re in a financial position where you can make it rain dumbbells, budget is always a big consideration. After you decide what you can spend, you can figure out how to get the best bang for your buck through either a set of adjustable weights or a full set of traditional dumbbells in a wide range of weights. You may also find that your goals and budget align so that you will be fine with just one pair or even a single dumbbell. 

FAQs About Dumbbells For CrossFit 

Commonly asked questions about using dumbbells for CrossFit are: 

Are dumbbells or kettlebells better?

Dumbbells and kettlebells should be seen as teammates, not opponents, as both are excellent fitness tools to have at your disposal to help build muscle. Although there are some movements more suited to one or the other, kettlebells and dumbbells can often be used interchangeably. The main differences are weight distribution and grip. 

Can you do more with a barbell or dumbbells?

While dumbbells are more versatile and can also be used interchangeably with barbells, they also limit the amount of weight that you can lift. A barbell is best for Olympic and power lifts, especially for heavy sets. Dumbbells can replicate many of the same weightlifting movements as barbells, but are better suited for lower-weight, cardio-intensive workouts. Dumbbells are also great for accessory work and single-limb isolation work. 

(P.S. We have guides to the best barbells and best bumper plates, too.)

Why are dumbbells so expensive right now?

There are several reasons that dumbbells are so expensive right now, but an increase in demand coupled with a decrease in supply is probably at the top of the list. Also, dumbbells are heavy and this drives up shipping costs. We definitely recommend looking for companies that offer free shipping and checking Amazon for Prime deals.

What kind of dumbbells do you need for CrossFit?

Dumbbells with hexagonal rubber-coated heads are typically best for CrossFit. This type of dumbbell will best withstand the high-impact use that happens during CrossFit WODs, such as repeatedly being brought to the floor during high-rep movements or dropping the dumbbell from overhead.

If your budget and space allow, we’d recommend a dumbbell set with a variety of weight options for home workouts. However, if you plan to do CrossFit workouts as prescribed, women should get a pair of dumbbells at 35 pounds, and men should look at getting a couple of 50-pounders as these are the RX weights.

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