Are dumbbells a home gym necessity?

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I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I have a couple goals in mind with my garage gym. The first is to have the right equipment on hand to have effective workouts. The second is to make good use of the space I have. That said, it becomes obvious that free weights are important to my home gym (and, I’d argue, anyone else’s).

So where do dumbbells fit in?

img_0283The short answer: I think they’re essential. Initially, I might’ve been entertaining thoughts of doing only barbell and body-weight exercises, but naturally, over time, imbalances will develop. I think DBs are great for correcting those imbalances, and I also like how much they expand the range of exercises in your arsenal.

As you can tell in the picture above, I haven’t prioritized dumbbells to this point. I have three pairs — 10s, 25s and 40s. (I can go heavier, promise.) The issue with a dumbbell set is cost. It’s not unusual to buy new weights at $1/pound or 50 cents/pound used. Doesn’t sound like a lot, until you start adding the 80s and 100s. Right now, my strategy with collecting dumbbells is to slowly collect pairs in weight ranges I use most frequently.

One piece of equipment I’ve been considering (and may eventually just settle on) is the extremely popular Bowflex Selecttech 552. Of course, not at Bowflex’s price — likely this will be a used purchase for me. I’ve used these before and they’re popular for a reason. You can’t beat them for space efficiency, their weight range is an impressive 15-set range from 5 to 52.5 pounds, and the build is high-quality. That said, you still shouldn’t drop them, ever, which in my eyes is a disadvantage. The weight distribution on them when you use smaller weights feels strange for a dumbbell to me. And there’s always familiarity with regular iron dumbbells that is hard to adjust from.

I’m willing to bet those with their own home gyms — especially if yours is in a guest bedroom, or elsewhere in your house — would prefer an option like the Selecttech to an incomplete set of traditional dumbbells. I think I’m content to slowly add to a collection over time, hitting up Craigslist, garage sales, resellers and the like, but I admit I can’t rule out the Bowflex set as an option.

What would your preference be, and why?

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