A dumbbell exercise routine is part of many a workout program designed to build muscle, lose fat and improve overall fitness. If you’re looking to purchase your own weights for a home gym, there are many things to consider. It’s a great idea if you’re looking to bring your full-on exercise routine home. It’ll help you stay on top of your fitness, and you’ll never have the excuse to skip leg day. However, buying a proper set of dumbells to push you forward in your muscle gain can set you back a lot of money. But, why are dumbbells expensive?
There’s no denying that dumbbells are expensive. There are 4 main reasons for this:
Like lots of things, dumbbells are priced based on their weight and because they are specifically designed to be heavy -otherwise, what’s the point?
The sheer amount of cast iron contained in a dumbbell is compacted to make the weight fit for purpose. There are many cheaper weights out there that are frequently bought by people who aren’t quite as serious about their weightlifting future.
However, the more affordable versions often have a cheaper labor cost and aren’t as accurate on weight distribution, so you could miss out on your desired effect. Those people who are willing to shell out the higher prices often get a better product with a more accurate weight distribution.
While the dumbbells’ weight and quality boost the price, you may still find some cost-saving opportunities. However, if you’re buying as a serious lifter, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t cheap.
Dumbbells are large. This means they take up a lot of storage space compared to smaller products and paying for that warehouse space is costly for the manufacturer. To offset some of this cost, they pump the prices up a little to pay for the area that your dumbbells were using before being shipped to you.
Transporting such heavy goods costs the seller a lot of money. Because of their weight, specialist services have to be employed to move dumbbells.
It may also take multiple employees, where a single employee may have sufficed for smaller, lighter products. Most companies will add a little to the end cost due to the specialist equipment needed to move a dumbbell and cover the extra staff members’ costs.
The recent boom in weightlifting in the home due to the pandemic has increased the demand for weights. This, in turn, has increased labor costs and allowed companies to capitalize on their weights.
They operate on a supply and demand basis and, as more people aim to set up a home gym while their regular gym is closed, the demand for weights soars. Prices, therefore, climb based on the competition.
The price of your dumbbells will usually depend on the type of dumbbell that you’re looking for. There are three main types of dumbbell:
1) Adjustable Dumbbells
Adjustable dumbbells are typically made out of metal rather than rubber but always come with a rubber grip handle, so they’re easier if grip is something you struggle with.
These are the most old-fashioned of the dumbbell types, with the different weights sliding on and off the end of the bar and being locked in place by a clip.
While they are adjustable and fabulous as you move through the weight classes, they could be potentially dangerous if you don’t clip on the weights properly to the bar, so it’s something that you’d really need to pay attention to.
2) Selectorized Dumbbells
Selectorized dumbbells are usually the smallest of the dumbbells with lighter weights. They consist of a single bar that connects through the metal discs on each end. Each disc is connected to a dial which you can turn to select the ideal weight. When you lift out the bar, the correct weights come out of the selector at each side to give you the weight you requested.
These are a little impractical once you reach a certain weight as the power rack becomes unable to support so much weight in such a small surface area. However, due to the convenience, these are normally the most expensive dumbbells on the market.
3) Fixed Weight Dumbbells
Fixed weight dumbbells are just that – fixed in weight. They’re usually a safe bet if you feel that you’ll drop your dumbbells, as the single piece means that they won’t come apart when dropped. They’re also generally made of rubber, meaning they make less noise and cause more minor damage to the floor.
However, they’re the least convenient concerning changing weight classes, as they come in one size, so you’ll physically need to order the next size up when you’re ready to lift a heavier weight unless you purchased the complete set the begin with.
They’re also quite inconvenient to store, especially if you have a small gym at home, as there’s no way to stack them away together like selectorized dumbbells. Their static nature also makes them more challenging to transport.
This type of dumbbell is declining in popularity, so you may find that it’s the cheapest option out there if you’re looking for a bargain.
WHAT IS A FAIR PRICE FOR WEIGHTS?
The price of weights is generally between $1 and $2 per pound, depending on the demand at the time. So, the heavier your weights are, the more expensive they’ll be. Most casual lifters will find their initial weights relatively cheap, and by the time they’ve gained enough muscle mass to up their weight size, they find that they’ve been priced out.
This is one of the main reasons people don’t tend to stay on a long-term weightlifting journey. A good dumbbell set including the rack and weights can cost anything between $85 and $500 depending on the weights’ brand, size, and style.
You’ll find something that works just fine at the cheaper end of the spectrum, but it’ll perhaps be a little more fragile. Buying the more affordable option may mean that you need to replace it sooner as the rack can become worn easily.
LARGE VS. SMALL DUMBBELL SETS
Weirdly, smaller weight sets will possibly cost more per pound than the larger ones. That’s because of the increased demand for smaller sets, meaning there are increased manufacturing costs. The reason for this is that people will always start small (obviously). Everyone has that good intention of weight training to get their perfect body.
However, most people will lose heart or get bored after just a few months and never move onto a set with heavier weights as they just aren’t able to lift that much. For this reason, the heavier weights aren’t purchased as regularly and therefore will come at less cost per pound of weight.
A small set of weights – just a pair of 5 lb. dumbbells, will cost anywhere between $15 – $20. However, a small set of 5 lb. and 8 lb. weights could cost up to $70 if sold in pairs, which they almost always are to keep your muscle tone even.
Technically, you’re already saving money by purchasing dumbbells for your own home. Sure, it’s a sizeable one-off payment, but think of all the money you’re saving every month on gym memberships. You’re even saving on gas to get to the gym too, and it all adds up. However, if you’re still shocked at the costs of weights, there are a few things you could do to minimize your initial outgoings.
Buy Second Hand
Weights don’t go out of fashion. They might change styles occasionally, but essentially, they’re just a heavy weight at the end of a metal bar. You can’t go wrong. Therefore, buying second-hand, as long as there’s no damage, could save you a fortune.
Many websites, such as eBay or even Facebook marketplace, are teeming with people wanting to sell off barely used weights after their brief stint of weightlifting when they’ve decided it’s not for them. Remember to check the description and ask questions regarding any potential damage to the weights. It would be best to have them in full working order to save yourself from injury or save your home from damage.
Ship from Overseas
Many dumbbell brands are made in China, making them a little cheaper because of the more affordable labor cost in China. However, if you’re shipping to the USA from China, there might be high shipping costs because of the parcel’s weight.
This means that you might think you have a bargain, but the price is twice as much when it comes to check out. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap and double-check the shipping costs before clicking to check out.
CAN I USE ANYTHING IN PLACE OF DUMBBELLS?
If you’re really struggling with cash flow and need a temporary cheap option, you could create makeshift weights to achieve almost the same effect.
Filling up 2 large-drum water bottles (the kind used for water coolers) can be a great option as a temporary dumbbell. The best thing about using water bottles is that you can gradually increase the weight as you get stronger by simply adding more water.
The only problem here is that you’d have to measure the water level precisely in both bottles if you were using one for each arm, otherwise, you’ll end up with one arm bigger than the other. There’s also a limit to how much you can increase the weight – once your bottle’s full, you’ll either need to get a bigger one, or you’re done.
A good selection of heavy books in bags works out really well. You can change the weights as you get stronger by simply adding more to the bag. However, you’ll need to ensure that you have the exact same weight in each bag if you intend to use them simultaneously or for deadlifts.
Canned foods are difficult to grip, but they’re a great source of weight that you can just pull out of your pantry. As long as you have bags or boxes to put them in, you’ll be able to build up your weight gradually. However, make sure that your cans are secure in whatever receptacle you use. You don’t want them to fall out and land on your toes.
Using your own bodyweight is one of the best ways to mimic dumbbells cheaply, and it’ll provide a great workout too. Resistance training can tone up the muscles in just the same way as weight training, and the equipment you can use to do this is much cheaper. Keep in mind though, that these do-it-yourself dumbbells should only be a temporary measure. Making your own weights will never be quite as accurate as buying them.
You won’t have a way to weigh them to be exactly like a professional manufacturer would have, meaning that you’ll possibly end up with very slightly different weights at each end of your dumbbell. As a result, you might end up with different-sized arms, and it could also be dangerous if the heavier end happens to be on your weaker side.
Dumbbells are expensive, and, in some respects, there’s no avoiding this. The truth is, you get what you pay for, and buying cheap often means that you’ll receive a substandard product. ‘Buy cheap, buy twice,’ as they say. However, there are a few ways to cut your costs if you’re particularly money-savvy. If you have long-term fitness goals, you should think of your dumbbells as an investment for your future. Splash out, and treat yourself; you won’t regret it!