Hex head, prostyle or adjustable? Picking the right dumbbell set for your homegym

Picking the right dumbbell set for your home gym

It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Picking the right dumbbell set for your needs comes down to the amount of space you have, your budget and what you’re going to be using dumbbells for primarily. If you’re just starting out, especially if you plan to train alone, then the right dumbbell set for you is a simple pair of adjustable dumbbells. As I laid out in the video below, when you’re starting a home gym, you need to focus on bang for the buck, and you’ll get a lot more mileage out of a barbell set and plates than a rack of dumbbells.

If you’re someone who primarily trains with kettlebells, but you’d like a dumbbell set to give you more options, I’d still recommend a simple adjustable set if for no other reason than to save space.

But let’s say you’ve got the basics and you’re looking to expand your home gym

In that case, picking the right dumbbell set means grabbing a set of hex head dumbbells. In my mind, pro style dumbbells are a pain. They seem to always loosen no matter how much Loctite you put on them, and when I worked in a commercial gym, I’d spend a significant part of every shift tightening dumbbells back up. Worse, lifters would often have to re-tighten the dumbbells between sets, which is no bueno when you’re talking about a fifty pounder or above. (picture ten pound plates coming loose and dropping onto your face one after another).

Hex head dumbbells do have their cons

I learned that at the same commercial gym when a 70lb dumbbell came apart during one patron’s set of dumbbell pullovers and half of it smashed him in the face. Granted, he’d made a habit of dropping them despite yours truly constantly asking him not to do that. Didn’t matter, that incident was a major factor in management deciding to switch over to pro style and adding Daily Dumbbell Tightener to my job description.

But the pros of hex head dumbbells: if you’re sensible about how you treat them, and get them from a reputable source, far outweigh the cons in my mind.

  • They don’t roll away – this is a big deal if you train in a garage. Most garages are designed with a slope to guide water away from the house, so having dumbbells that roll would get fairly annoying, especially if you’re doing one of those short interval, Tabata workouts where all you want to do between sets is pray for the Rapture. Having hex head dumbbells eliminates this problem, and for me, makes it easier to set them back on the rack.
  • You can get them rubber coated – this will help if you don’t have mats on your entire gym floor. Having rubber coated dumbbells cuts down on how many you can store on a dumbbell rack but it frees you to take the party out into the driveway if the weather’s nice without worrying about chipping your dumbbells.
  • They’re a good middle of the road pricing option. The best dumbbells I’ve ever used were Iron Grip Urethane dumbbells. They have a solid shaft that’s drilled down into the dumbbell head making it less likely that they’ll come apart but they are pricey. That’s something on my wish list for way down the road, right now my rack of hex heads is doing just fine.


About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on Amazon.com.