The vastness of a large store like Dick’s can often mean that it’s a jack of all trades, a master of nothing. But in the case of dumbbells, they sell at least three that are worth your money
At Dick’s Sporting Goods, the definition of “sporting goods” is stretched very far to keep consumers happy, engaged and ready whenever life calls for the simultaneous purchase of fishing lures and jiu-jitsu gis. Basically, like the Cheesecake Factory, they offer pretty much everything. Which cuts both ways – it’s super convenient, but with so much choice, do they offer excellence in any category?
Let’s say dumbbells for example. Dick’s has them in all shapes, sizes and weights, but are they any good?
They are if you know what you are looking for.
The three qualities you want in dumbbells
1) Adjustability: A superior dumbbell set may be a one-time purchase, but it can only extend its usefulness if it’s loaded with enough weight to handle all of your important lifts. In this case, adjustability becomes a virtual necessity.
2) Resilience: Gizmos and gadgets are nice, and high-tech is an attractive feature even on a dumbbell, but you still need something that will stand up to at least minimal punishment. The words “fragile” and “dumbbell” should never go together unless you’re talking about accidentally dropping a dumbbell on your fragile baby toe.
3) Convenience: Not all dumbbells have an inherent comfort. One-piece dumbbells are beautiful and expected in a commercial gym. However, not everyone can allocate space for 16 sets of dumbbells, even if they can afford them. Because of this, a space-saving capability is vital.
The top three dumbbells at Dick’s Sporting Goods
1) Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells
Why they are better than everyone else: These are the original Spin Select and Dial-a-Weight dumbbells that many fitness fans swear by, including myself. The Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells easily adjust from 5 pounds up to 52.5 pounds in primarily 5 pound increments. Essentially, it allows you to swap out a pair of dumbbells for 11, while still making each dumbbell feel like its own self-contained unit — one in which the plates aren’t loose and can’t rotate about you.
Your absolute best quality: Remember the 11 sets of dumbbells this pair replaces? They could easily cost you more than $1,000, and you’d still have to buy a raised rack to stack them on just to get some clutter control. Or to put it bluntly, the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells will save you big bucks.
The only real complaint: If you’re the type of person who likes to slam your weight on the floor for emphasis after a heavy lift, or toss your weights skyward like medicine balls during ballistic training, the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells aren’t for you. Yes, they save you money over buying individual sets of dumbbells, but that’s a moot point when you’re throwing them around like flapjacks and breaking them apart.
2) Fitness Gear 40-pound adjustable dumbbell set
Why it is better than all others: The Fitness Gear 40-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell Set is a classic offering at a reasonable price. These are the durable, traditional metal dumbbells your grandfather grew up with, and you don’t have to worry too much about dropping them when your workouts get aggressive and reckless. Whether your floor will hold up is another matter entirely…
His absolute best feature: The potential for customization. No matter what your weight preferences are or how your body adapts to resistance, you can easily add to this standard set of dumbbells in a style that is conducive to maximizing your favorite workouts – whether you prefer to measure your improvements in small, measurable increments or in small, measurable increments small steps want to take big leaps.
The only real complaint: Since this is a classic set, it will come with classic problems. So once you get used to dialing in your desired weight with a flick of the wrist, you’ll have to unscrew and then unscrew the collars from your dumbbells to change weights – while you may still have to deal with the sensation of spinning weight plates when lifting – becomes maddening.
3) NordicTrack 50-pound iSelect dumbbells
Why they are better than everyone else: These are dial-a-weight dumbbells with the added problem of additional innovations built in in the form of Alexa and iFit. You can ask Alexa to increase the weight just by asking her, and also access iFit workouts remotely so authentic fitness professionals can walk you through specialized workout routines to help you create the body you’re dreaming of have always dreamed of.
Your absolute best quality: The NordicTrack 50-pound iSelect dumbbells are the epitome of state-of-the-art. Yes, you can still adjust the weight yourself, but it’s nice to feel like you have an assistant at your side who you can always instruct to adjust the weights to suit your needs.
The only real complaint: This iFit service only lasts as long as you’re willing to pay for it, which means these dumbbells lose a fair bit of their appeal once you decide not to renew your subscription. When that happens, you might stare longingly at the tablet holder connected to the weight station, wishing you could remove it lest you have an ever-present reminder of what used to be.
Ian Douglass is a volunteer firefighter, sloppy Concept2 rower, and SkiErger, and is the worst All-American swimming champion of all time. He also helps professional wrestlers get their autobiographies published, helps businessmen write coherent thoughts, and has overrated Michigan and Northwestern degrees.