How do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?

Dumbbells are one of the most versatile workout equipment you can own. However, storing a whole arsenal of dumbbells that differ only in weight is very inconvenient and expensive. No wonder adjustable dumbbells became a breakthrough that helps many fitness enthusiasts to accomplish their fitness goals. But how do adjustable dumbbells work?

How do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?

Just like traditional dumbbells, most adjustable dumbbells come with a handle and a thread at both ends which allows you to clamp the weight disc and fix them on the handle. 

Man showing how do adjustable dumbbells work by lifting it with his hands

There are other adjustable dumbbells that come with a nut or pin as a retainer. These dumbbells come in special shapes that help you adjust the dumbbell weight quickly by resetting only one pin.

There are also new models that come with a dial mechanism on their side. These are the ones you’re probably wondering how they work. This special mechanism comes with numbers to set the desired weight inside the dumbbell. 

These adjustable dumbbells usually come with a special platform that holds all the weight disks already assembled. Once you set the weight, the discs you won’t need to stay on that platform. After you’re done working out, the dumbbell gets fully assembled and ready for another workout when you put it back to the platform.

How to Train With Adjustable Dumbbells

Begin by setting aside enough time for your dumbbell weight training workouts to target the major muscle groups of your body. As usual, we recommend you rest and avoid training the same muscles on consecutive days. That being said, here are a few exercises you can perform using adjustable dumbbells.

Before you Start

Before you can start using dumbbells to work out, make sure you the following essential elements:

Adjustable Dumbbells Workout


Like any other workout, working out with dumbbells requires you to start with a warm-up. Warming your muscles up enables them to become more flexible and less prone to any tears. It also makes it easier for your body to use the dumbbells better.

For your warm-up, ensure you focus on starting with light movements and gradually increase your intensity. Also, make sure you work on specific parts of the body depending on what you want to work on.

For instance, if your workout is focusing on your upper body, then ensure your warm-up focuses on your upper body. If you plan to work on your lower body muscles, then make sure your warm-up targets your lower body muscles.

Adjusting the Dumbbell

Two different weight options of an adjustable dumbbell

Once you complete your warm-up, the next step is starting your strength workout. When using adjustable dumbbells, you can use the following exercises to work out.

  • Crunches: This exercise works on both your upper and lower abdominal muscles
  • Squats: Dumbbell squats are one of the best exercises you can use to strengthen your thighs. It also works on your hamstring muscles.
  • Dumbbell Calf Raises: If you are looking for a way to make your calf muscles healthy, the dumbbell calf raises is something you should include in your workout routine
  • Dumbbell Curls: This exercise focuses on working your forearm muscles and biceps as well.

Adjustable Dumbbell Workout Routines

If you need more help, here are three adjustable dumbbell workout routines to get you started today. You can do these at your gym as well as in your home.

  1. Circuit One: Chest/Back/Abs
    • Push-Ups: 3 sets x10-12 reps (no rest)
    • One Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets x10-12 reps (no rest)
    • Crunches: 3 sets x25-40 reps (1-minute rest)
  2. Circuit Two: Delts/Biceps/Triceps
    • Dumbbell Upright Rows: 3 sets x10-12 reps (no rest)
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets x10-12 reps (no rest)
    • Overhead Triceps Extensions: 3 sets x10-12 reps (1 min rest)
  3. Circuit Three: Thighs/Hamstrings/Calves
    • Squats: 3 sets x10-12 reps (no rest)
    • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: 3 sets x10-12 reps (no rest)
    • One-Leg Calf Raises: 3 sets x10-12 reps (1 min rest)

Finally, remember to take some time to cool down and do some stretching once you’re done working out.

Why Do Adjustable Dumbbells Work?

Many fitness enthusiasts swear by adjustable dumbbells, mainly because of the exceptional benefits they offer. One of the significant benefits is that it engages multiple muscles during each workout. These dumbbells can work better than weight machines, as they only work a few muscle groups.

Barbells also limit the muscle groups used during every workout, as it distributes all the weight and effort across your arms, shoulders, or quads. Working out with dumbbells enables you to target multiple muscles without injuring your arm muscles. It also helps you focus on improving your grip strength.

Apart from working on multiple muscles, adjustable dumbbells also aid with your flexibility and cardiorespiratory fitness. You no longer have to rely on huge weights like barbells to build muscle. If you want to build lean muscles, you can do it with the help of adjustable dumbbells.

How to Take Care of Your Adjustable Dumbbells

Man showing how an adjustable dumbbell works by lifting it with his hands

Like any other type of gym equipment, adjustable dumbbells need regular and proper maintenance. Apart from maintaining them, it would help if you also stored them in the right place. Make sure you don’t throw this equipment on the floor, as they may end up damaging your floor.

Make sure you don’t purchase cheap adjustable dumbbells either. No amount of care will help you if your dumbbells are just bad. Check verified buyers’ reviews for any dumbbells you’re considering before purchasing them.

While lifting the dumbbells, make sure that all the latches and pins are secure. Failing to secure the pins or plates after you adjust the dumbbells can result in damage. Another thing to help you take care of your adjustable dumbbells is never throwing them on a padded floor, as you might end up injuring yourself.

Tips of Caring and Maintaining for Adjustable Dumbbells

Like any other gym work out equipment, you need to clean your adjustable dumbbells regularly. The best way to clean your adjustable dumbbells is by wiping them down with a cloth. Apart from wiping the metal parts, make sure you also wipe the rubber parts and the grips. This helps keep dust from piling.


Adjustable dumbbells come in different choices, and this makes it even more difficult for buyers to choose the right equipment. Before investing in a particular dumbbell, make sure it suits all your weight and size requirements, as it prevents it from causing damage to your muscle fibers.

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.