Innovative weight selection process eliminates the need to unscrew collars and remove plates, reducing time between sets. Allows for precision weight adjustment in increments that work well for both smaller and larger muscle groups. Space-saving design. Includes a handy instructional DVD.
No option to add additional weight, but the existing 52.5 pounds is more than enough for beginners to intermediates.
Solid cast-iron weights are durable and feature grips for easy carrying. 3-piece Olympic bar is easy to assemble and remains secure even under intensive use. Includes spring collars to prevent the weights from shifting. Combined weight of 110 pounds.
At 30 pounds, the bar itself weighs a bit less than traditional Olympic barbells but is still considerably heavier than standard varieties.
Well balanced with excellent grip, this barbell set already boasts a combined weight of 300 pounds, but can accommodate up to 600 pounds. Solid cast-iron weight plates are enamel-coated for rust prevention. Spring collars effectively secure weights.
If you're accustomed to training with a standard barbell, the 7-inch Olympic bar may take a bit of getting used to.
Cast-iron construction is encased in rubber, resulting in better grip and floor protection, while the hexagonal shape prevents dumbbells from rolling. Pairs range from 5 to 25 pounds, making it ideal for multiple users or different strength-training requirements. Includes stand for easy storage.
Takes up considerably more space than adjustable dumbbells, but increasing and decreasing weight is effortless.
Highly affordable starter kit, and with 100 pounds, there's plenty of opportunity for mass gain. Easy to assemble and the standard barbell size doesn't take up much space. Textured bar for improved grip.
Not as durable as our other contenders. Can only accommodate the included weights.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Strength training improves fitness and helps to rev up your body’s metabolism. Getting stronger doesn’t just burn more calories, however. A stronger body makes it easier to get through the day without dealing with constant aches and pains. Working those muscles makes it easier to lift, squat, and carry bulky items like grocery bags filled to the brim. You can equip a home gym with a set of weights so you can start a strength training routine and maximize your workout time.
The BestReviews team wants you to build muscle the right way, so we’ve compiled this shopping guide to help you choose the best set of weights for your circumstances.
Once you’ve read through our guide, scroll to the top of the page to see our top weight set picks.
Using a weight set in a strength training routine has many benefits. Repeated movements using machines at the gym can help you build muscle, but free weights are much more versatile. You can perform a much wider range of exercises with weights like dumbbells. Incorporating strengthening exercises into your fitness schedule has the following advantages:
Builds functional strength
Boosts metabolism (burn more calories)
Works multiple muscle groups at once
Lift heavy with this set from USA Sports by Troy. Fourteen ultra-durable, cast-iron weight plates with collars enable you to customize the difficulty of your workout. The Olympic bar has a weight limit of 600 pounds, which means you can add to the set as you improve.
There are a number of different weight sets available. The set you choose depends on the amount of space you have available and the strength routine you intend to follow.
Barbells are straight bars that can be used alone or with added weights. You slide on the weighted plates and fix them in place with collars or clips. Some barbells with permanent plates are sold as fixed weights. Barbells can handle a substantial load, but lifting very heavy will require that you also purchase a rack or bench.
There are a few different types of plates available for use with barbell sets.
Metal: With this type of plate, the bigger the diameter, the heavier the weight. These are not the best choice for a home gym unless your floor is well protected.
Rubberized: These plates are easier on floors. Regardless of weight, each plate has the same diameter but varies in thickness. The rubber coating makes these plates less noisy to use than metal plates, but the rubber has a strong odor.
Urethane coated: These plates are incredibly durable, and unlike rubberized plates, don’t have a very strong odor.
These easy-to-use free weights are suitable for a variety of workouts and exercises. Dumbbells are an excellent option for beginners. There are many dumbbell models available to outfit your home gym. You can find a wide range of weights, from one pound to over 100 pounds. There are two main types of dumbbells.
Adjustable: These space savers are typically cheaper than buying a complete set of fixed dumbbells. Users add or remove weight on each bar using a dial, clamp, or pin and lock the load in place with clips or collars. Some adjustable models entail a bit of a learning curve. The compact design is convenient, but some adjustable sets are cumbersome to handle. Switching between different weights isn’t as effortless as with fixed dumbbells.
Fixed: A set of these dumbbells will take up more room than an adjustable set, but these can be purchased one pair at a time as you get stronger. Unless you’re lifting very heavy, fixed dumbbells tend to be more maneuverable than adjustable models. There are a few different fixed dumbbell designs:
Metal: This is the cheapest type of dumbbell. It’s very durable, but the surface scratches and dents easily. Dumbbells made of metal also aren’t very forgiving on hardwood or tile floors.
Rubber: You've likely spotted these dumbbells at the gym or in a fitness studio. The rubber dampens noise and protects the dumbbell and your floor from damage (although some rubberized dumbbells may create marks on hardwood). Some dumbbells of this type feature a full-rubber coating for total protection. These are available in an array of attractive colors, too.
Urethane: This coating is tougher than rubber, it won’t mark the floor, and it doesn’t give off an odor. Dumbbells made of this material are more expensive than rubber models.
Hex: The hexagonal shape prevents the dumbbells from rolling, making them useful for circuit routines requiring frequent weight changes. The stable form also works well as a base for specific exercises, such as plank rows.
Sometimes sold in sets, these cannonball-shaped weights have a handle for gripping. Kettlebells can be a bit more challenging to use than dumbbells.
Stay safe! Never use a barbell with plates unless you've secured the plates on the bar with clips or collars.
Dropping heavy weights can dent or mark your floor. A floor mat offers protection and keeps noise to a minimum.
Don’t lift weights in a cluttered area, and make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear. Accidents happen, but you can minimize your risk of injury by being cautious.
If you’re looking to accessorize your basement gym with a new set of weights, here are a few things to think about as you shop.
What kinds of exercises do you perform regularly? Some weight sets are better suited to certain activities. Dumbbells are great for performing circuit-type workouts. Looking to bulk up? You’ll need a set with heavier weights. A barbell set is an excellent choice for those who want the flexibility of adding more weight as they improve and get stronger.
Do you already have a rack that can hold a set of dumbbells? Is your workout space big enough to accommodate a full set of barbell plates, or should you opt for something more compact like adjustable dumbbells?
If you don’t already have a storage solution for your weights, you’ll need to invest in a stand or rack. Most weight sets do not come with one. Available storage options include weight trees and horizontal and vertical racks. Having a place to keep your weights off the floor and out of the way helps keep your gym space tidy. Storing the weights properly also keeps them from getting damaged.
Number of weights
The number of different weights you need depends on your current ability level and your goals. If you want to add muscle, opt for a barbell set that can grow with you. If you want to add strengthening exercises to your workout regimen, choose a set with a minimum weight that tires you out after ten repetitions. If lifting the heaviest weight in the set feels too easy, look for something else. Consider that you might need a lighter weight for things like arm and shoulder exercises. The same weight that feels challenging for the upper body might feel featherlight when performing goblet squats and lunges.
If you’re just starting out, look for sets that go up in increments of five pounds or less. More advanced users can likely handle larger jumps in weight, but some exercises, such as shoulder flys, may require smaller increases.
Ease of grip
Make sure the weight set you choose has comfortable grips. Some users may prefer a fully rubberized dumbbell over a metal one to help with grip. If you don’t like the feel of a metal barbell, or you want to protect your hands from blisters and calluses, buy a pair of weightlifting gloves.
Quality on a budget
We love this weight set from a noted brand for its durability and attractive price. Great for beginners, the 110-pound set features a seven-foot bar and three pairs of sturdy cast-iron plates in 5, 10, and 25 pounds so you can customize your squats, deadlifts, and curls.
In general, beginner weight sets are less expensive than sets that include heavier weights. Depending on the type, you can expect to pay from less than $100 to over $250 for a weight set.
Inexpensive: You can find a variety of good-quality dumbbell sets for less than $100.
Mid-range: For between $100 and $250, you’ll find barbell sets with plates, though the cost will vary depending on the total weight of the set. Also available at this price point are adjustable dumbbell sets.
Expensive: If you’re serious about lifting, you’ll need to invest in a power rack or an adjustable weight bench. Some premium models of adjustable dumbbells and heavy barbell sets cost $250 and up.
Q. I’m a beginner, so which type of weight set is best for me?
A. A dumbbell set is ideal for beginners. You can start with light weights and easily find heavier individual dumbbells as you get stronger and need to add on. There are also plenty of sets that include lighter weights in small increments, which are perfect for those entirely new to strength training.
Q. What is an Olympic bar?
A. An Olympic bar is a type of barbell with a standardized width of 7.2 feet and a weight of about 45 pounds.
Q. Do I need a spotter when lifting weights in my home gym?
A. If you want to lift heavy, you’ll need a good-quality power rack or weight bench with safety features like pins that catch the weight if you let go suddenly. But these safety mechanisms aren’t foolproof. You need to decide what level of risk you’re willing to take, and it’s up to you to be cautious and careful when using this type of equipment. Having a spotter can help make sure you don’t accidentally push yourself to failure and end up with a barbell on your chest. If you’re worried, it's better to be safe than sorry. Ask a friend to join you for your workouts. Working out in pairs is an excellent way to stay motivated, too. Your buddy can keep an eye out for you, and you can hold each other accountable.
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