At Dick’s Sporting Goods, the definition of “sporting goods” is stretched to great lengths in order to keep consumers happy, engaged and committed to returning whenever life requires the simultaneous purchase of fishing lures and jiu-jitsu gis. Basically, like the Cheesecake Factory, they offer up just about everything. Which cuts both ways — it’s super convenient, but with so much selection, do they provide excellence in any one category?
Say, for instance, dumbbells. Dick’s has them in all shapes, sizes and weights, but are any of them good?
They are if you know what you’re looking for.
The Three Qualities You Want in Dumbbells
1) Adjustability: A superior dumbbells set is potentially a one-and-done purchase, but it can only extend its usefulness if it comes with enough weight to accommodate 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’s going to hold up to at least a minimal level of punishment. The words “fragile” and “dumbbell” should never go together, unless you’re talking about how you accidentally dropped a dumbbell on your fragile baby toe.
3) Convenience: Not all dumbbells possess inherent convenience. One-piece dumbbells are nice, and they’re an outright expectation at a commercial gym. However, not everyone can devote space to 16 sets of dumbbells, even if they can afford them. Because of this, a space-saving capability is key.
The Three Best Dumbbells at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Why They’re Better Than All the Rest: These are the original spin-select, dial-a-weight dumbbells that many fitness diehards swear by, including myself. The Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells are easily adjustable from five pounds all the way up to 52.5 pounds in primarily five-pound increments. In essence, it allows you to substitute one pair of dumbbells for 11, while still enabling each dumbbell to feel like its own self-contained unit — one in which the plates aren’t loose and can’t spin around on you.
Their Absolute Best Feature: Remember those 11 dumbbell sets that this pair is replacing? They could easily cost you more than $1,000, and you’d still need to buy an elevated rack to stack them on just to get your clutter somewhat under control. Or to put it super bluntly, the Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells are gonna save you a lot of cash.
The Only Real Complaint: If you’re the type of person who likes to slam your weight to the ground for emphasis after a heavy lift, or launch your weights into the sky during ballistic training like they’re medicine balls, the Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells aren’t for you. Yes, they’ll save you money over buying individual sets of dumbbells, but that’s a moot point if you toss them around like flapjacks and break them apart.
Why It’s Better Than All the Rest: The Fitness Gear 40-Pound Adjustable Dumbbell Set is a classic offering at a reasonable price. These are the durable, metal, traditional dumbbells that your grandfather grew up training with, and you don’t need to be all that concerned with dropping them if your workouts skew toward the aggressive and somewhat reckless. Now, if your floor holds up is another matter entirely…
Its Absolute Best Feature: The potential for customization. No matter what your weight preferences are, or how your body adapts to the resistance, you can easily add to this standard dumbbell set in a style conducive to maximizing your preferred workouts — whether you prefer to make your improvements in the tiniest measurable increments or in big leaps.
The Only Real Complaint: Because this is a classic set, it’s going to come with classic problems. So if you’ve grown accustomed to dialing up your desired weight with the flick of a wrist, the fact that you’ll need to screw and then unscrew collars from your dumbbells to change the weights — while still potentially having to cope with the feeling of spinning weight plates during your lifts — is going to be maddening.
Why They’re Better Than All the Rest: These are dial-a-weight dumbbells with the added wrinkle of having additional innovation built into them in the form of Alexa and iFit. You can ask Alexa to increase the weight simply by asking her, and also remotely access iFit workouts so that authentic fitness specialists can walk you through specialized training routines to help you create the physique that you’ve always dreamed of.
Their Absolute Best Feature: The NordicTrack 50-Pound iSelect Dumbbells are the epitome of state-of-the-art. Yes, you can still dial-up the weight yourself, but it’s nice to feel like you have an assistant standing by who you can instruct at a moment’s notice to tailor the weights to your needs.
The Only Real Complaint: That iFit service only lasts as long as you’re willing to pay for it, which means that these dumbbells will lose a sizable portion of their attractiveness the instant you decide not to renew your subscription. When that happens, you may find yourself staring longingly at the tablet holder that connects to the dumbbell station and wishing that you could remove it so as not to have an ever-present reminder of what used to be.