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  1. #1
    Home Gym Convert... iportal's Avatar
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    Professional Dumbells

    Hi BB community.

    I thought I would actually make the time to join this site after reading it for the last three years!

    I just wanted to say (before I get onto my topic title) thank you for all of the information on this site. I've managed to find 99% of the information required through the search option, but I have a question reference dumbells.

    Here is a bit of background first.

    I started working out three years ago, I was approximately 23% bodyfat, 5'10" and 196 pounds. I have had various goals, to lose weight, six pack, to bulk, cut again, get fitter for boxing, running, weights... but that has lead me to my current goal, to get stronger...

    I'm still the same height, 24, 15-16% bodyfat currently and 196 pounds, I did get down to 160 pounds and 10% bodyfat (approximately 2 years ago).

    I started out being able to bench press 50kg, dead lift 50kg again and not being able to do a pull up or squat much above my body weight.

    Now I can bench 110kg, squat 100kg, deadlift 140kg and do 4 sets of 10 pull ups (wide grips) with 1minute rest inbetween sets. 4 sets of 10-12 bodyweight dips with 1 minute rest inbetween sets. So my strenght have come on leaps and bounds (I have only been deadlifting and squatting for 3 months since I bought my Powertec power rack.

    I started out at a gym, then decided to buy some dumbells for home, terrible spinlock items and a flat bench.

    I now have a Powertec power rack, 285kg olympic weight plates and 2no bars, lat pull down machine, flat bench,FID bench.
    I still have the original 1" standard weight plates 250kg plus bars.

    So here's my question (sorry for waffling, it's my first post).

    I'm thinking of upgrading all of the standard weight plates and bars to buy some rubber or professional style dumbells.

    I'm thinking of purchasing a 12.5kg pair, 17.5kg pair and a 27.5kg pair (for the minute).

    My only worry with buying the fixed professional / rubber pairs is that the jumps are in 2.5kg steps. I have read that you can buy "plate mates" but I'm concerned I'll eventually out grow the smaller dumbells and they'll eventually become redundant as my strength increases.

    The spinlock dumbells I can increase in 1kg steps, I don't have to worry about changing them inbetween sets as I have multiple dumbell handles currently set to the above weights.

    Sorry for the lenghty post, thanks.
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  2. #2
    Registered User KBKB's Avatar
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    What movements / exercises are you doing with dumbbells?

    Why do you want to switch to pro-style dumbbells?
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  3. #3
    Home Gym Convert... iportal's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KBKB View Post
    What movements / exercises are you doing with dumbbells?

    Why do you want to switch to pro-style dumbbells?
    The dumbell only movements are as follows.

    Dumbell shoulder press for convenience.
    Dumbell alternative curls
    Trap raises
    Dumbell Chest flies

    I'd like to switch to professional style dumbells as the spinlocks tend to work themselves loose every couple of weeks (even if I hammer them reasonably tight).

    I also prefer the slightly larger diameter dumbell handles over the spinlock variants.

    That's it really...
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  4. #4
    Home gym 'til I die. ProtienandIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    Sorry for the lenghty post, thanks.
    Welcome, don't be sorry, that was a better 1st post then most.

    With your use of kilos I'll guess you're from the UK. Dumbbells cost a fortune here unless you buy them second hand, in which case you can't be that picky (you usually have to buy a whole set at once).

    How about just buying a load more dumbbells plates and spin lock bars to make a set like that? I'm planning on doing the same myself when I get the room and funds for it. That way your set can evolve with you while being convenient when training.
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  5. #5
    Home gym 'til I die. ProtienandIron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    I'd like to switch to professional style dumbells as the spinlocks tend to work themselves loose every couple of weeks (even if I hammer them reasonably tight).
    You don't need them to stay tight forever, just give them a quick tighten each set or so. It doesnt matter if they are a little loose so long as you have plenty of thread. If you don't, then you need to buy longer handles for the heavy lifts.

    I also prefer the slightly larger diameter dumbell handles over the spinlock variants.
    There are plenty of ways to widen the handle from cheap to expensive. Personally I would just go for the cheap option and wrap it with grip tape.
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  6. #6
    Home Gym Convert... iportal's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ProtienandIron View Post
    You don't need them to stay tight forever, just give them a quick tighten each set or so. It doesnt matter if they are a little loose so long as you have plenty of thread. If you don't, then you need to buy longer handles for the heavy lifts.



    There are plenty of ways to widen the handle from cheap to expensive. Personally I would just go for the cheap option and wrap it with grip tape.
    That's a good idea, I've looked at fat grips but I thought it might of been better to put the money towards getting individual dumbells.

    I have 5 pairs of dumbells handles and multiple plates which is enough to make up enough pairs of dumbells for my needs.

    It looks like I should just stick with what I have. I won't incur any additional expense that way.

    Yeah I'm from the UK.

    Thank you for the warm reply.
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  7. #7
    Green Mountain Boy Vermonter's Avatar
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    First off, good work, dude!
    That sounds like a great setup, and you are making progress for sure.

    As to the dumbbell question...I'd definitely go for it!
    I managed to piece together a full set of DBs myself, and it is very convenient to just grab and go.
    Having said that, if space is a concern, a set of Iron Masters would be a good investment. They adjust faster than normal spin-tight DBs, and won't rattle like some pro style DBs do. They also have expansion kits and even a kettlebell handle attachment available so are very versatile. They maintain great resale value also (but hopefully you never have a need to sell them anyway).

    If I were you, I'd do what I did and just use what you have until a decent deal comes along allowing you to upgrade.
    Keep checking sales and Ebay, etc..
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  8. #8
    Home Gym Convert... iportal's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Vermonter View Post
    First off, good work, dude!
    That sounds like a great setup, and you are making progress for sure.

    As to the dumbbell question...I'd definitely go for it!
    I managed to piece together a full set of DBs myself, and it is very convenient to just grab and go.
    Having said that, if space is a concern, a set of Iron Masters would be a good investment. They adjust faster than normal spin-tight DBs, and won't rattle like some pro style DBs do. They also have expansion kits and even a kettlebell handle attachment available so are very versatile. They maintain great resale value also (but hopefully you never have a need to sell them anyway).

    If I were you, I'd do what I did and just use what you have until a decent deal comes along allowing you to upgrade.
    Keep checking sales and Ebay, etc..
    Thank you, I've just bought what I can when I can afford it. I'm not looking at selling anything anytime soon as training is a real passion of mine.

    I've looked into powerblocks and ironmasters, the only problem with them is that it takes 10-30 seconds to change them.

    I'm probably a little to inpatient for that...

    Currently I have 5 pairs of dumbell handles and various weights so I have the dumbell configurations I need so there isn't currently a change time inbetween exercises.

    I do like the look of professional dumbells (rubber hex style or plate loaded style with the cap on the end).

    Thanks for all of your help, I'm thinking of the professional style now?

    I could buy one pair of dumbells a month and slowly upgrade what I have, that could be a cost effective way of doing it?

    Pro style dumbells seems to be quite expensive on a cost per kg basis for the lighter sets, but the heavier sets seem very good value...
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  9. #9
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    Congratulations on a great first post -- and especially on your tremendous progress.

    Dumbbells can be expensive. Mine are about 30 years old now. I had pro-style dumbbells welded that many years ago. Mine have steel tubing that allows the weight to spin a bit around the solid stock that holds the weight, with the added benefit of the handles being a bit fatter. Later, I learned to weld, and I made and modified my own dumbbell racks. Recently, I bought a used two-tier rack locally that fits almost all of my dumbbells for $30 from a local university's salvage store. Each dumbbell is cradled on pieces of bent flat stock on the rack.

    If I hadn't spent the money so many years ago to buy a set of dumbbells, I don't know that I'd go to the expense of a full set today. Prices are outrageous here for new; and, as a result, even used sets can be expensive. I'm not a big fan of the cast hex-style dumbbells that are sold regularly at the big sporting goods stores. I think the handles are too narrow. I'd probably stick with several sets of spin-locks to avoid the expense now. As I get older, I get cheaper.

    Anyway, good luck with your new purchase. It'll last a lifetime.
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  10. #10
    Home Gym Convert... iportal's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KeithTheSnake View Post
    Congratulations on a great first post -- and especially on your tremendous progress.

    Dumbbells can be expensive. Mine are about 30 years old now. I had pro-style dumbbells welded that many years ago. Mine have steel tubing that allows the weight to spin a bit around the solid stock that holds the weight, with the added benefit of the handles being a bit fatter. Later, I learned to weld, and I made and modified my own dumbbell racks. Recently, I bought a used two-tier rack locally that fits almost all of my dumbbells for $30 from a local university's salvage store. Each dumbbell is cradled on pieces of bent flat stock on the rack.

    If I hadn't spent the money so many years ago to buy a set of dumbbells, I don't know that I'd go to the expense of a full set today. Prices are outrageous here for new; and, as a result, even used sets can be expensive. I'm not a big fan of the cast hex-style dumbbells that are sold regularly at the big sporting goods stores. I think the handles are too narrow. I'd probably stick with several sets of spin-locks to avoid the expense now. As I get older, I get cheaper.

    Anyway, good luck with your new purchase. It'll last a lifetime.
    Keith,

    Thanks for the compliment, it's nice to receive such a warm welcome, I'm very grateful.

    Yeah I agree the dumbells are expensive, they're ranging from £2.5/kg for the lighter sets (10kg each dumbell) to £1.80/kg for the heavier sets (50kg each dumbell).

    It would be £210-£220 approximately for a 12.5kg pair, 17.5kg pair and 27.5kg pair which would be fine for the minute.

    But in say 3 months I would have to buy the size up so that's an additional £250-£275 for a 15kg pair, 20kg pair and 30kg pair.

    As you can see a full set will eventually get very expensive...

    I bench barbell at the minute, I was benching dumbells (45kg pairs) so if I was to go back to dumbells for benching as well this would become very expensive.

    I think I would go for the same style as yours with the 5kg (approximately 11pounds) per plate with smaller 2.5kg or 1.25kg plates to make the smaller 2.5kg jumps between pairs.

    The common message here seems to be, if it's not broke then to stick with what I currently have.

    As I said in a previous post, I have the possibility of purchasing a pair of dumbells a month and slowly upgrading.

    Reference the welding, I haven't welded since I was an apprentice, so I would more than likely use box steel section and drill and tap / bolt the faces together to make a stand.

    Fitness superstore seems to be the cheapest site in the UK, I've used them a number of times and haven't got any complaints, only praise so I would be purchasing the dumbells from them (unless somewhere else was drastically cheaper).

    Sorry for the waffling... I'm terrible at this lol.
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  11. #11
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    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    As I said in a previous post, I have the possibility of purchasing a pair of dumbells a month and slowly upgrading.
    This is probably obvious, but I'll say it anyway...

    One of the advantages of pro-style dumbbells is their flat ends. This can be very handy in movements where you rest the dumbbells on your knees either before or after a movement.

    Consider purchasing pro-style dumbbell sizes where this attribute is most useful to you at the present time. You still have the option of using preset spinlock pairs for other movements where the flat-end property doesn't matter as much.
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    You want to look on eBay, quite often you see old private gyms being sold off or liquidators selling off bust business assets.


    I was very close myself to buying this way, until I found http://www.valleyfitness.co.uk/ who sell the Ironmaster Dumbbells. Mine are the standard 75lb set but as/when I need I can buy the 120lb add-ons. They delivery but I went to pick mine up as I was up that way that weekend anyway. For ~£600 you have a set from ~5kg-55kg.
    Last edited by Coke_Zero; 11-21-2012 at 09:46 AM.
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    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    I've looked into powerblocks and ironmasters, the only problem with them is that it takes 10-30 seconds to change them.

    I'm probably a little to inpatient for that...
    Have you seen the Powerblocks in person? They're actually 5-10 seconds to change.

    The Ironmasters definitely have more of a 10-30, or 30-60 second change time...
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    Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Have you seen the Powerblocks in person? They're actually 5-10 seconds to change.

    The Ironmasters definitely have more of a 10-30, or 30-60 second change time...
    I've not seen them in person, like you say, changing between sets could be a good idea.

    It's a lot less weight to move also for when I move into a larger house.

    What are they like for size as they seem fairly large when loaded up...
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    Registered User KBKB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    What are they like for size as they seem fairly large when loaded up...
    Not sure if you're asking about Powerblocks or Ironmasters, but here's a photo of the IM dumbbells at 95lbs each:



    That photo is from this thread:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=140687791
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    [QUOTE=KBKB;982572443]Not sure if you're asking about Powerblocks or Ironmasters, but here's a photo of the IM dumbbells at 95lbs each:


    That photo is from this thread:


    Sorry, it was a question reference both styles. The ironmasters look very compact, the powerblocks seem a little more chunky.

    I've looked for the powerblocks with the stage 1 add on kit and the cost of that (41kg pair) is just under £600 UK.

    Ebay is pretty much a no go for me due to hardly anything ever coming up on ebay in my area.

    I'd prefer to buy new...

    Your point reference buying a pair that's likely to rest on my legs is a very valid one.

    Here are the items that I'm looking at, you will have to access fitness superstore . co . uk


    I'm looking at the 'bodypower' pro-style dumbells.
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    I think all the reviews say that once you get up into any appreciable amount of weight (more than 30 pounds?) both the Ironmaster and Powerblock dumbells are noteabley smaller than their full size dumbell equivalents.

    Neither are terribly cheap, but it depends what you compare them to - if you were going to buy an entire set of dumbells to cover their range, I believe both are cheaper than buying the equivalent set of dumbells individually.
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    Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    I think all the reviews say that once you get up into any appreciable amount of weight (more than 30 pounds?) both the Ironmaster and Powerblock dumbells are noteabley smaller than their full size dumbell equivalents.

    Neither are terribly cheap, but it depends what you compare them to - if you were going to buy an entire set of dumbells to cover their range, I believe both are cheaper than buying the equivalent set of dumbells individually.
    Paul,

    Thank you for your reply. That's good to know, I can only base my opinion on having a look at the internet.

    It's good to have some feedback from people who own the items.

    Reference the cost I would say that the adjustable items are approximately half of the cost of a full set. They do have the benefits of taking up much less room than their full size and multiple set counterparts.

    Thanks for the view point.

    I'm still not sure what to do lol...
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    Well...to be clear, I've seen and used the Powerblocks in person. But not the Ironmasters. You can find reviews between the two on youtube, that's where most of my info is from, but it gives you a far better idea than just reading about them.

    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    I'm still not sure what to do lol...
    lol, *tell* me about it...

    I'd read some of the reviews as well. The powerblock drawbacks are mainly that you have to put your hand inside the block, which some people don't like, and that that makes a very small number of exercises not possible with them that you can do with regular dumbells. Like they don't really work for goblet squats (I've personally tried in the store), and I think...overhead tricep extensions? But to be fair I don't do either anyways (I like goblet squats but it's hard to get a high enough weight with a dumbell).

    The Ironmasters - like you said - take a bit of time to change. Again one can reference youtube, but it honestly appears to me to be about the same time as using olympic handles - advantage is smaller storage space and no handle sticking out the side making them longer.

    Yeah...wish I had a 100% easy answer, to...
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    Originally Posted by iportal View Post
    I'm still not sure what to do lol...
    How much space do you have to work with?

    How do you have your dumbbells organized now? I.e. how do you store them when not in use?

    I think that more than a few of us here would like to have a set of fixed weight dumbbells, but lack the space for storing and using them effectively.
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    Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    The Ironmasters - like you said - take a bit of time to change.
    Someone asked me about how long it took to make weight changes with my Ironmaster DBs at some point in the past. I don't recall the exact numbers now, but it was around 30 seconds for changes which didn't involve switching to/from the 22.5lb plates with the longer lock-screws. When doing a change that involved heavier plates and longer screws, the time it took went up to about a minute. But once the heavy plates are on, it still takes about 30 seconds to make changes using smaller plates.

    For example...

    30lbs -> 50lbs: 30 seconds (adding two fives to each side of each DB)
    50lbs -> 75lbs: 60 seconds (removing two fives from each side and adding one 22.5 to each side)
    75lbs -> 95lbs: 30 seconds (adding two fives to each side of each DB)

    This is a real example as I typically use these weights when doing DB bench press and DB bench rows. I don't find it to be a problem because I need at least that much rest between sets anyway.

    When I used to use pro-style dumbbells at a commercial gym, it still took a non-zero amount of time to figure out where the next size up that I wanted was and then pull them off the rack, etc. (Other gym users didn't always put the dumbbells back in the right places when they were done.)
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    Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Have you seen the Powerblocks in person? They're actually 5-10 seconds to change.

    The Ironmasters definitely have more of a 10-30, or 30-60 second change time...
    powerblocks can be that fast only if you are changing in 10 lb increments. 5 lb increments takes away some of their speed advantage. ive also timed 5 lb drops and IM's are faster than PB's and its not even close (using the 2.5 lb plates and 2.5 off set technique)

    PB's also cant hit every 2.5 lb increment...IM's can.

    just sayin.
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    Originally Posted by dskoo65 View Post
    powerblocks can be that fast only if you are changing in 10 lb increments. 5 lb increments takes away some of their speed advantage. ive also timed 5 lb drops and IM's are faster than PB's and its not even close (using the 2.5 lb plates and 2.5 off set technique)

    PB's also cant hit every 2.5 lb increment...IM's can.

    just sayin.
    Technically, yes, but -
    1. "Professional Style" dumbells also usually typically come in 10lb increments. That's what my gym has - doing 5 pound increments just seems to take up to much space.
    2. As noted you have to have a slightly unbalanced dumbell with Ironmaster to do 5lb increments. Not that it's such a big deal at higher weights, just sayin'.
    3. I've read that switching from much heavier weight to much lighter weight takes additional time with the Ironmaster, as you have to use a different screw. Not so with the powerblocks.
    4. If speed is your absolute priority, I imagine you can do the same thing with the Powerblocks as you would do with the regular fixed dumbells - buy 2.5lb magnets (or 1.25lb magnets - though I haven't tried it myself) and slap them on the weight.
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    Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Technically, yes, but -
    1. "Professional Style" dumbells also usually typically come in 10lb increments. That's what my gym has - doing 5 pound increments just seems to take up to much space.
    2. As noted you have to have a slightly unbalanced dumbell with Ironmaster to do 5lb increments. Not that it's such a big deal at higher weights, just sayin'.
    3. I've read that switching from much heavier weight to much lighter weight takes additional time with the Ironmaster, as you have to use a different screw. Not so with the powerblocks.
    4. If speed is your absolute priority, I imagine you can do the same thing with the Powerblocks as you would do with the regular fixed dumbells - buy 2.5lb magnets (or 1.25lb magnets - though I haven't tried it myself) and slap them on the weight.
    My ironmasters adjust in 5 lb. increments without being unbalanced as stated in point #2 above. You can adjust in 2.5lb. increments which are unbalanced.
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    Originally Posted by KBKB View Post
    How much space do you have to work with?

    How do you have your dumbbells organized now? I.e. how do you store them when not in use?

    I think that more than a few of us here would like to have a set of fixed weight dumbbells, but lack the space for storing and using them effectively.
    My training room is 15 feet x 9 feet. It's used just for training and has only training items in there.

    I have the 27.5kg set in the correct position (on the floor) for performing flies on my FID bench.

    The two other pairs I currently have set up are on the floor in the corner where I perform my dumbell exercises.

    I just leave them where I use them as only I use the gym. The rest of the spinlock kit is in a corner behind my power rack).

    If I was to get a fixed weight set (initiailly 3 pairs to work with, probably purchasing one pair a month), I would put them in the current positions.

    When my strength improved and I needed to get the next set up e.g. go from a 17.5kg pair to a 20kg pair, I would have to store them in a rack...

    Thank you to everyone else for your opinions, very helpful.
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    I am one of those people KBKB mentioned who has the space and is really pleased to have a complete set of dumbbells (5-100 lbs on a large rack).
    I am still missing a few pieces in the higher end range, where above 70 lbs. my DBs move up in 10 lb. increments. If you need a smaller incremental increase, you can always do what I do which is strap on a 5 pound (or less) ankle weight. It is quick, and doesn't get in the way if you position them just below the wrist.
    Hypothetically you could do this and get by with "half" a set of Hex (or professional DBs, etc): 5s, 15s, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, etc.
    That both reduces the amount of space required and the $ invested. Unfortunately most sets sold new come in 5 lb. increments, but if you put together your own professional style with handles and plates you can set them up at any sizes you want. I'm a huge fan of buying used whenever possible so if you can piece together matching stuff over time from second hand sources that is ideal.
    The only other expense is a decent rack (if you don't go with IMs/PBs and instead have a variety of fixed sizes).

    I used to work with Spin-tight handles and standard plates myself and I can't tell you how great it is to be able to immediately grab whatever size I want. This is particularly noticeable when doing a circuit which involves smaller weights along with heavier weights (Shoulder raises followed by presses or something). It is also nice when doing a long series of sets on a timed schedule where by the 6th set you just have to decrease the weight (pseudo drop sets).

    It is all personal preference and convenience really, and as you mentioned if you go with adjustables it is that much less than you need to move later if you relocate. That said I'd look into setting up a set of fixed sizes for the various exercises you use in your training and grab some ankle weights or Plate Mates to help bridge the gaps.
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    One last thing to add, just to really mess with your head :P

    If you are forced to buy new, and pick up individual pairs or pieces over time, consider buying some kettlebells!

    There is nothing wrong with having a pair of small DBs (like 10 lbs.), a pair of 5 lb. ankle weights, your adjustable spin-tight dumbbells with standard plates set at whatever sizes you use the most, and a pair of kettlebells at a weight that is optimal for you.
    This would give you a variety of tools, and allow you to warm up with swings, snatches, etc.

    It all depends on your source for equipment and what your goals are. If I were starting from scratch I would definitely consider picking up some bells, though.
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    you can get platemates(?) to make smaller increases.
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    Originally Posted by irongrandpa View Post
    My ironmasters adjust in 5 lb. increments without being unbalanced as stated in point #2 above. You can adjust in 2.5lb. increments which are unbalanced.
    yep. i was talking about drop sets going down in 5 lb increments where a 2.5 lb plate is on the inside and you have a 2.5 lb offset. thus to drop 5 lbs all you have to do is strip a 5 lb plate off one side of each dumbbell....thus 5 lb dropsets can be done with IM's.
    "ive made the most impressive gains when i spent months with the heavy dumbbells and left the power rack cowering in the corner like the b**ch that it is"-anonymous

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    Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Technically, yes, but -
    1. "Professional Style" dumbells also usually typically come in 10lb increments. That's what my gym has - doing 5 pound increments just seems to take up to much space.
    2. As noted you have to have a slightly unbalanced dumbell with Ironmaster to do 5lb increments. Not that it's such a big deal at higher weights, just sayin'.
    3. I've read that switching from much heavier weight to much lighter weight takes additional time with the Ironmaster, as you have to use a different screw. Not so with the powerblocks.
    .
    i actually have yet to belong to a gym that did not have 5 lb increment with their DB's, but i know some gyms skimp in this area.

    other IM owners will attest to the 2.5 lb offset with them is really unnoticeable and feels very balanced with the tiniest of change in hand placement.

    grabbing a different screw doesnt add time (well, beyond physically grabbing the other screw...1 1/2 seconds). you already have to take whatever screws you are using out anyway to make a change.

    i could add that the weight changes beyond 90 lbs with the PB's force one to skip several weight increments, where the IM's will hit every 2.5 lb icrement all the way to 120 lbs.
    Last edited by dskoo65; 11-22-2012 at 09:28 AM.
    "ive made the most impressive gains when i spent months with the heavy dumbbells and left the power rack cowering in the corner like the b**ch that it is"-anonymous

    "sometimes when a mans alone, thats all you got is your dog"

    "he fakes to the left. no. he fakes to the right. he doesnt fake. he thinks about faking. he pretends to fake. i dont know where i am. i cant breathe"
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