If you know anything about gym bros, you know that the presence of colorful neoprene coating on a dumbbell is a telltale sign that they won’t want anything to do with it. Whether it’s because most neoprene dumbbells are lightweight or because they’re usually decorated in bright, vibrant colors, some men would rather be caught playing Smash Bros. with Palutena as their “main” than executing shoulder raises with neoprene dumbbells in their hands.
This is a misguided training approach for a couple of reasons. First, not every set of dumbbells is required to leave you with calluses — there’s nothing wrong with owning dumbbells that are pleasant to the touch. Second, there is definite value to performing drop sets and training your muscle groups to failure through high repetitions. Weights ranging from five to 15 pounds are invaluable for rounding out your arm and shoulder workouts even if you’re only using them at the tail end of your training routines.
What Makes a Good Neoprene Dumbbell
Sufficiency: The various colors of neoprene weights are inarguably appealing to look at, supposing that the color scheme of your chosen set gels with your taste. However, of infinitely greater importance is their actual sufficiency to your workout. Having lighter weights within arm’s reach is worthwhile, but there’s no sense in acquiring entire racks full of neoprenes if the two-pound weights at the top rung will go forever ignored.
Attractiveness: Obviously, your weights need to be heavy enough to be of some use. But neoprenes are often prone to accumulate external defects in the forms of dings, dents, peelings and similar issues. Rarely does this interfere with lifts in any consequential sense, but part of the attraction of neoprenes is often their literal aesthetic appeal. Therefore, it makes sense that you’d want a neoprene set that will maintain its shape and color even after prolonged use.
Enough small talk! Let’s nab some neoprenes!
Best Light Neoprene Dumbbells: Fitness Alley Light Neoprene Dumbbells
Why They’re the Light Stuff: When most people think of neoprenes, this dumbbell set is precisely what comes to mind. It’s an eye-catching assortment of brightly colored dumbbells ranging in weights of two pounds to 10 pounds in two-pound increments. Part of the beauty of such a set is that the dumbbells don’t take up much space at all, and they’re easily exchanged for one another as different workouts call for different weights.
Why You Should Pump Something Else: If you’re an exceptionally strong individual, it might be rare for one of your workouts to ever call for weights of fewer than 10 pounds, even when you’re training at your weakest muscle groups.
Best Heavy Neoprene Dumbbells: Fitness Alley Heavy Neoprene Dumbbells
Why You Should Get Heavy With Them: Even if you tend to train at home with a heavy adjustable weight set, it’s worthwhile to have quick access to weights at the lower end of the “heavy” range in order to quickly polish off your shoulders with a set of lateral raises, or enfeeble your biceps to a point of maximum fatigue with one last round of curls.
For others, though, this may be as heavy as your dumbbells will ever need to be — in all my time doing resistance training as a high school swimmer, which mandated plenty of push-ups, dips, pull-ups and bodyweight exercises, I never needed to grasp a set of free weights that was any heavier than 12 pounds.
Why You Should Pump Something Else: This weight set occupies an interesting intermediary range between the very light weights that are 10 pounds or less, and the extremely heavy options that will probably have you starting to think about adjustable alternatives. And if you decide to go the adjustable route, they’ll definitely cover the 10-to-20-pound range. Now, whether or not those weights will ultimately feel as pleasant in your hands is another matter entirely.