T Nation

Equipment Advice Requested



I am a brand new reader of these forums, and also a brand new...well...lifter? Worker-outer? I don't know. Anyways...

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction when it comes to buying a set of adjustable dumbbells...what companies are best, etc...

All opinions and information are greatly, greatly appreciated.

My apologies in advance if this is the wrong area for this topic.

Thank you.


York are OK. Try to get the longer ones. make sure there is no stupid plastic thing in the middle where you grip the dumbell. if you get rubber coated plates they will cost more and smell, but, will be quieter if you workout at weird hours in a house full of sleepers. otherwise go for metal plates.

you can put pvc pipe over the centre of the dumbell and hence make a thicker dumbell IF you buy screw-lock dumbells you can screw the plates tightly onto the pvc pipe. it really is a good idea. a 2" pipe or 3" pipe thick handle dumbell is great.

The 18" long ones are better than 16" because you can load them with a lot of plates as you get stronger.. But the 16" ones are more compact so that can be good too.

Try to buy small diameter plates. Instead of two 5kg plates get four 2.5kg plates of smaller diameter. The larger diameter means the dumbell is further from your body and that can cause some injury or at least it gets in the way.

note with the pvc pipe in the middle you can extend the grip area to allow two handed grip of the dumbell which can be useful for weird old-style exercises, or, when grabbing the dumbell at one side so to create rotational forces.

I've become fond of York brand they are cheap, strong, readily available, the screw locks have rubber on them to keep 'em quieter.

note dumbells can do most things and will last a lifetime.

hope this helps.


Thank you very much. You've given me a place to start doing research... thanks for all the info too. I'll look into York.


ironmind makes a good set of adjustables as well.


Ironmind are too expensive and I don't like the collars. screw collars really can't fail, other ones can. well anything can fail if you shatter them dropping them on concrete. screw collars also allow you to put pvc pipe on as a handle. cheap pipe + hacksaw = adjusting thickness to anything you want.

I've even made a log out of a 5' bar with screw locks, and a 5" diameter pvc pipe, now that was a challenge to lift.


Unless you are planning on putting $1000+ dollars into your own equipment, I'd find a gym with a power rack and a full set of dumbbells. You are on T-Nation for the love of god! Unless you have plenty of space for your own power rack, I'd abandon the idea of buying your own equipment right away.

Do you really have any idea of what you'll need? If you are new like you say, I really doubt it. I can't believe you actually got some recommendations about a brand. Scrap the idea, hit the gym. You'll save money in the end because after lifting with your own mediocre set of weights, you'll likely quickly realize you are very limited in what you can do and how much you can lift with...and then you'll go to a gym anyway.


I couldn't disagree more with this statement. Why would you discourage him from training at home? Sure a commercial gym has more space and equipment. I agree with you on that, but variety is overrated. in the short run all a beginner needs is the basics (rack, plates, bar, bench) and over the long run a good home setup will be way cheaper than years of gym memberships.

Don't knock it. I took the plunge on a home gym a little over a year ago and love it, im more focused, I got all the equipment I need and I don't have worry about hours or travel. I kick myself when I think that I spent over a decade bouncing around commercial gyms.


What did you buy robo?


Squat stands, bench, plates, bumpers, rower, 4 bars, and a bunch of little stuff like wrist rollers, 2 kettlebells, ez bar, etc. I built the platform myself and the boxes I use for squatting and pulling. a lot of stuff like the rower and some of the bars i found used on craigslist.

took me about a year to get everything but I love it. all the gyms near me were pretty much worthless for strength training. only thing I really miss from the gym are the cable stations and calf machines, but I make do. Other than that everything I used to do at the gym I can do at home.


And tell me robo, do you think you would have really had a good idea about buying those particular things when you first started? Would you have been savvy enough to build the platform yourself? Would you have bought the right quality of equipment?

I think it sounds like you have a great setup, and I also could make do with my own equipment, assuming it included most of what you listed. But I would have been clueless as a newbie. And I would have quickly been dead in the water with only some adjustable dumbbells.

Remember, dht2005 used the term "worker-outer." I still think he should start at a gym, but focus on the basic compound lifts (presses, deadlifts, squats, rows, pullups/chinups). Peace.


Was that really necessary?

Anyways, thanks for all the different views guys. I got exactly what I was looking for.


I don't think he meant anything derogatory and he has a point. I train at home and wouldn't have it any other way. You CAN put together a plenty workable setup for less than you think and with fairly limited space, but I agree that dumbbells alone, while better than nothing aren't enough.

My bigger concern for a new guy is not having any experienced guidance at all. Not even anybody else to watch or be there if you were to hurt yourself.


Well put Tiribulus, and I did not have any malicious intentions with that comment. I was simply using it as an example to show that you were VERY new. I welcome you to a glorious new world dht, and a great site to gain a buttload of useful knowledge.

Just trying to save you some money. If I was brand new to lifting, knowing what I know now, I'd want one thing, a lifting partner who would basically babysit me in the gym and with my meals for at least 6 months.


You make a good point. i was a fairly experienced lifter when I bought my stuff, so my perspective may be a lot different. Still, though, unless he has a more serious'' type of gym near him, I'm skeptical that he'll learn more there other than how to use bad form and not put your weights back :wink: