3 Tips for Buying Freeweights

By Erik Neilson , last updated January 22, 2012

For those who are newly in the market for free weights, making the right purchase isn’t always as easy as most people would like to think. Indeed, there is a great deal of variation in the market between free weights, as they are not all created equal. Free weights can be highly effective for those who are looking to increase muscle mass, and are widely considered by fitness advocates to be preferable to machines. Understanding what to look for in free weights, however, can dramatically decrease your chances of ending up with a set of weights that aren’t right for you. The following are three tips to help you purchase free weights with confidence, all of which are important to take into consideration before buying anything.

Focus on Style

There are two basic styles of free weights: dumbbells and barbells. Dumbbells are ideal for the beginner in that they are “fixed” in terms of their weight. Barbells, on the other hand, are more likely to appeal to those who are intermediate-advanced lifters, as they allow you to add and remove weight at will. Dumbbells also tend to be the less expensive of the two options, given the need to purchase additional weights in order for barbells to be used effectively. Thus, those who are new to free weights will do best by starting with dumbbells, saving barbells for when they become more acclimated with the world of free weights.

Consider the Material

Dumbbells and other free weights are typically available in a variety of different types of materials, each of which brings their own unique set of pros and cons to the table. Chrome is a popular option because it is heavy, durable, and easy on the eyes. That said, chrome dumbbells typically require more in the way of maintenance than those made out of other materials. Metal dumbbells are almost exclusively lifted with gloves, given the fact that they can cause a number of different skin reactions. Plastic dumbbells tend to be inexpensive, yet crack or break far more frequently than their counterparts. Neoprene-coated dumbbells are considered by many to be the best option, given the comfort and durability that they provide, as well as the fact that they are less expensive than dumbbells constructed from other types of materials.

Don’t Overlook Size

Believe it or not, dumbbells come in a variety of different sizes, regardless of how much they actually weigh. In order for a dumbbell to be a viable option for lifting on a regular basis, you’ll want to ensure that the size of the handle is proportionate to that of your hand. After all, a weight that is too large or small for your hand to grip comfortably will seriously inhibit your ability to lift, and may even be dangerous in the long run. In order to choose the right size, it’s important to try lifting a variety of different types of weights until you find the size that feels correct in your hand. The more comfortable the fit, the more effective the weight will be.

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