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Buying an Adjustable Dumbbell Set - What to Look for

Buying an Adjustable Dumbbell Set - What to Look for

Dumbbells are an excellent piece of equipment to buy for a home gym of any size. As you can probably tell from our large video library of exercise videos, we are big fans of bodyweight exercises. You really don't need a gym in order to get fit, but there are a few very simple and inexpensive tools that infinitely increase the number of exercises you can do and the muscle groups that you can hit.

Dumbbells are definitely one of those essential pieces of equipment. In fact, if you were only going to buy one or two things, dumbbells would be one of 2 (including an exercise mat and maybe a physioball) near necessities that I would recommend purchasing.

One popular option available for this particular fundamental fitness device is the adjustable dumbbell variety. When you buy an adjustable dumbbell set you significantly reduce the amount of necessary storage. This can be especially helpful if you don't have an entire room dedicated to your home gym; these can usually be tucked away or stored in a closet without taking up too much extra space. This version also typically ends up costing you less than buying a full set of individual, fixed weights.

With all the different purchasing options out there, you want to make sure that you get the highest quality adjustable kettlebells that with withstand many years of use. Here are what features to look for in terms of quality, durability, and function when you're shopping around for this product.

Look for an adjustable dumbbell set that has plates that are easy to switch out

Because you won't be able to just grab a weight and jump into an exercise, you want to make sure that the set that you choose is one that allows you to switch plate weights out quickly and without a lot of fuss. You don't want to cut into your workout time or let your heart rate slow and muscles get cold in between sets while you change the mass that you're lifting. Research to ensure that the plates are held on in a method that is durable and not going to wear down after six months of use.

Read the reviews of the particular adjustable dumbbells that you are looking at buying

Look for all of the features you would normally look for in a handweight; durability, a comfortable grip, your desired thickness of the handles, and an enduring, non offensive coating. Make sure that the size and length of the overall apparatus is going to work for the exercises that you most commonly make a part of your routine. It doesn't matter if you save money on this purchase if you don't end up actually utilizing them because they aren't user-friendly!

Buy a set that encompasses the both minimums and maximums that you need for your specific workouts

Make sure that the adjustable dumbbell set you buy covers both the lightest and heaviest weights that you need for your exercise program. It doesn't hurt to even think ahead a bit in terms of strength gains; it would be very disappointing to buy the weights and then quickly outgrow them.

Also pay attention to the increments of the weights. Consider whether you will need half pound increments or not. Contemplate before making any purchase what you will be using them for; heavy lifting, strength gains, light toning, etc. This will help you decipher which end of the lb spectrum you need to be on in terms of the ranges of heaviness.

Make sure that the set has plates that wont slide

If an adjustable dumbbell doesn't have a proper securing mechanism, the plates might end up being lose on either side and this would cause a “clanking” that could end up both pinching you (rare) or being just plain annoying. Make sure that there is a securing agent that holds the weights securely in place, and then that there is also a bumper of some kind or another that goes in between the plates and the fastener to allow for very little wiggle room.

Choose a set that stores away efficiently

This is one of the least important factors to consider while you're shopping around but considering that the saving of space is one of the perks of this type of weight, it's worth considering. Make sure that the adjustable dumbbells come in a case that allows you to quickly and ergonomically store away your mini home gym.

Why the Rowing Machine Deserves Your Attention

Whether you're getting to know the lay of the land in your local gym, or you're considering a new fitness machine for your home, it's time you got to know the indoor rower, also known as the ergometer or rowing machine. While it may look intimidating at first, it's actually more beginner-friendly than you might think—and it provides one hell of a workout. All the deets, here.

What Is the Rowing Machine?

The ergometer is essentially mimicking the rowing of a shell (aka boat), like those you see in the Olympics, according to Evan Tyrrell, owner of F45 Training in La Jolla, CA.

"The rowing machine is like the Swiss Army knife of the gym," says professional rower Michelle Sosa, a Hydrow athlete. "Its multiple purposes include low-impact workouts, high-intensity sprint intervals, low-intensity endurance development, full-body strength training, core training, heart health, and posture control." Swiss Army knife is right—the rower seemingly does it all.

How Do You Use a Rowing Machine?

The motion you use in a rowing exercise is not always intuitive, but it's actually pretty simple once you dial it in. Here's a handy way to remember how to row: legs, core, arms (on the way out) and arms, core, legs (on the way in). Meaning, when you start from the bottom of a stroke (in the catch position), you should extend your legs, hinge your core, then use your arms to row the handle toward your chest. Then you reverse it to go back to the beginning: Extend your arms, let your core hinge forward, then bend your legs. (You can repeat it in your head as a sort of mantra while you're rowing: Legs, core, arms, arms, core, legs.) A lot of the power actually comes from the legs, but you need to keep your core tight while you push back and eventually pull the handles with your hands/arms.

Sosa notes that the biggest misconception about rowing is that it's an upper-body-only exercise. "The bulk of your rowing stroke is accomplished by the legs and core," says Sosa. (See: Rowing Machine Mistakes You're Probably Making)

"Rowing is about 60-percent legs, 30-percent core, and 10-percent arms," says Joseph Illustrisimo, creator of Let's Dryft in San Francisco (a workout that's half on the rower, half strength training—think Barry's with rowers instead of treadmills). "Most of rowing will be working out your hamstrings and booty, but only if you are hinging properly. It should feel like a deadlift. There's also a large amount of core activation. Your core should be engaged the whole time, so you should learn how to dynamically engage those abs and you should feel a burn throughout."

You can ask a trainer at your gym to show you, or opt for an at-home program with instructional videos. Hyrdow is like the Peloton of rowing machines, so if you're in the market for a home gym addition, this would be a useful way to get some live instruction on how to use a rower. "The instruction piece is critical for beginners to ensure you're maximizing your efforts and doing it safely and correctly," says Sosa.

If you want to try a class that incorporates rowing, you ca try CityRow in New York City, Let's Dryft in San Francisco, F45 Training in multiple locations, and Orangetheory Fitness (in certain locations). These all offer workouts that incorporate the rowing machine into their classes. This would give you more IRL intel on how to properly use the rowing machine and how to vary your workouts to keep things interesting.

Rowing Machine Benefits

Let's break down what you actually get out of using the rowing machine. What are some of the benefits of using a rower, and why would you want to hop on one at your gym?

Burn a lot of calories. Because the rower offers a combo of strength and cardio training, Tyrrell says it's a "super-efficient way to burn calories." Depending on your body weight and how vigorously you're rowing, you could burn between 400 and 500 calories an hour on the rowing machine.

Improve your aerobic fitness. Tyrrell noted that rowing for even just 15 minutes is "a serious aerobic workout." Rowing regularly can help increase your stamina and endurance while improving your overall cardiovascular health.

Get a full-body workout. You'll truly get a full-body workout with a rowing machine. Get this—this machine uses 86 percent (!!) of the muscles in your body. (Just smile a lot during your workout and you might use 100?)

Improve lower-body conditioning. Because you use your leg muscles so much in this workout (contrary to how it might seem, they're doing a majoring of the work in rowing), he noted that targeted lower-body conditioning—building strength and endurance—is among the top benefits. Strong stems, here you come.

Work out with less injury risk. You have a lower injury risk on a rower machine because it's low-impact, says Tyrrell. Plus, because it's of this, you can work at a high intensity without as much wear-and-tear on your joints. "Higher-intensity exercises like plyometrics and sprinting can sometimes be hard on the body, but low-impact tools like rowing machines and bicycles are great for the body," says Illustrisimo. "You also have many variables to change in your workouts like resistance, pace, and distance."

Build better posture. "Since the rowing machine primarily uses your legs, core, and back, it has loads of postural benefits, and is a great tool to engage the posterior chain [backside] of the body," says Illustrisimo. Working your posterior chain is super important for balancing our muscle strength, reducing injury risk, and helping correct the bad posture that's common in our sedentary society.

Keep your workout beginner-friendly. One of the additional benefits is that it's easy for beginners to try, says Sosa. "You see and feel results quickly, which is great for beginners," says Sosa. But you have to stick with it for more than just a few minutes to make this happen. "Gym goers tend to hop on and off a rower within five minutes due to boredom or confusion, foregoing those results," she explains. Stick it out for 10 to 20 minutes to see an improvement in your form and work long enough to get your heart pumping.

Folding Benches

Camarillo Wooden Garden Bench

What we like: Beautiful acacia wood construction is strong and stylish

What we don’t like: No seat cushions included

Resistant to both water and UV radiation, this classically styled folding bench makes an ideal addition to your backyard, patio, or pool area. The frame is made from durably constructed acacia wood that lasts for years with regular care.

The seat is slatted, reinforced, with a weight capacity of 705 lb. to comfortably seat two adults. The wide curved armrests complement the slightly sloping backrest. While this bench does require assembly, the process is relatively simple.

The folding mechanism is simple and user-friendly when you need to fold the bench to stow or transport it. No seat cushions are included, but the slatted acacia wood seat evenly distributes your weight, so it is comfortable on its own.

Brookes 12” Rectangular Folding Bench

What we like: Convenient locking mechanism

What we don’t like: Not weather resistant

This rustic-style folding bench is suitable for various applications, from outdoor dining to adorning your home’s foyer, and complements a farmhouse aesthetic beautifully. The benchtop is crafted from solid pine and provides space for two people.

Once you unfold the sturdily built legs, simply push the pins in to lock them in place. Two heavy-gauge black steel brackets support the seat for added stability.

While you can use this bench outdoors, you should avoid leaving it in the rain because it’s not water-resistant. During inclement weather, fold the bench and place it inside the house or garage, or cover it with a nylon or vinyl furniture cover.

When it’s time to fold the bench, simply retract the locking pins, and the legs fold under the seat, locking securely. Convenient to lock and unlock, this is a stylish and versatile folding bench.

How To Buy A Treadmill

Why should you warm up before treadmill shopping? There's two main reasons which spring to mind. Firstly, you want to avoid brain sprain! With a huge array of brands, models and offers on the market, treadmill shopping can be overwhelming. Warming up will help you narrow down your options and give you a clearer idea of what you are looking for. Secondly, companies play price games. If you don't know the rules, you could end up feeling cheated instead of happy with your decision. Learn how to buy a treadmill wisely with these simple tips and tricks.


How much room can you offer a treadmill in your home, and where are you going to put it? To save time before shopping, measure the floor space you plan to put your treadmill on. If you're considering a folding treadmill, also measure any space (L x W x H) you have to spare for storage. Treadmill dimensions are usually published, and keeping this information handy makes you a more efficient shopper. Keep in mind that the required running space, which you can work out via the treadmill belt size, can also impact the overall footprint of the treadmill. We recommend a 22″ wide belt for runners and 20″ for walkers. Although a 20″ belt is sufficient for runners, it just leaves a little less room for error.


Do you envision relaxing walks, intense running or something in between? Answering this question will help you narrow down your treadmill selection by motor power. The heavier the exercise you anticipate, the higher powered motor you will need. We will take a look at motor power in more detail in the second section of this guide.

Your answer to the above question can also help you choose the track size for your workout needs. Walkers can save money by choosing shorter treadmill tracks and runners (especially tall runners) will need more room to stretch out.
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