The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set is a good fit for beginners looking to take their home training to the next level. More affordable than many adjustable dumbbells on the market, each one boasts 10 weight options (ranging from 5lb to 50lb) but still only takes up the space of a single dumbbell – ideal for a weights at home workout (opens in new tab). So, with this sterling CV in mind, we decided to add a pair to our at-home exercise set-up and see how they could improve our gym-free fitness routine.
During our tests, we were impressed by the neat, efficient method of changing weight: twist the handle to increase or decrease the load in 5lb jumps. Their compact shape and sporty aesthetic made them a stylish (and space-efficient) addition to our home gym, and the range of weights proved more than enough for most bodybuilding movements – from walking lunges to bicep curls to bench press. These factors combined made them a contender for the title of best adjustable dumbbells.
We encountered a few issues removing and re-racking the dumbbells, with the tightly packed plates needing a powerful pull to lift them from the holding dock, slowing down the process of changing the weight. However, they performed almost flawlessly when used for any exercise; the compact shape, comfortable rubber handle and securely connected plates make them a joy to lift with.
It’s for this reason that – for those new to adjustable dumbbells who want a wallet-friendly option that offers a range of weights and top performance – the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells come highly commended.
Price and release date
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set retails on the Core Home Fitness website for $399 in the US , and can be bought in the UK from Braingain.fit for an RRP of £239.99.
This is cheaper than many competitors, including the Bowflex SelectTech 552 and the JaxJox DumbbellConnect. And, while they fall narrowly short of their counterparts’ smooth performance, you still get a selection of 10 weight options covering 5-50lb with the Core pair, making them a great budget option.
Set up and ease of use
- Simple set-up
- Super fast weight-changing mechanism
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells arrive in two boxes, each containing 12 pieces that comprise a single dumbbell. This is made up of 10 plates, one handle and a holding dock.
Setting them up is straightforward, starting with loading the plates into the holding dock from the outside in. Each plate has a raised, angled shape on the outside and the same shape as an indent on the inside, so they can slide together and connect like pieces of a jigsaw.
The order you insert the plates into the holding dock doesn’t matter for the most part, though two smaller plates must be added last and nearest the center as they act as a socket for the handle. After this, the only thing left to do is lower the handle into place.
One of the most impressive elements of the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set is the way we were able to change the weight with just a twist of our wrist. By turning the handle one way or the other, you can increase or decrease the weight in 5lb increments.
A small window next to the grip (pictured below) displays the weight setting you are on, so you always know what you’re lifting. And, when you lift the dumbbells out of their holding dock, the handle automatically locks into place so there’s no risk of the plates disconnecting mid-set.
- Compact, storable design
- Smaller holding dock occasionally got ‘stuck’
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells have a compact design that makes them easy to store and comfortable to use.
At just 16.1in by 9in, they will easily fit around larger bits of fitness kit, such as the best rowing machines (opens in new tab) or treadmills, in a home gym. Alternatively, if you don’t have a dedicated at-home workout space, they can be stashed in a cupboard or the corner of your living room without dominating the space.
We found the size of the dumbbells hit a Goldilocks-esque optimum when being used too, with the circumference and thickness of the plates proving just right. Neither dimension felt excessive, so the weights never snagged on our torso or forearms during lifts like bicep curls, bent-over rows or deadlifts.
However, the smaller holding dock did have a drawback. It fits so tightly around the plates that they couldn’t be removed without a forceful tug and, especially at higher weights, the need to put a foot on top of the dock to keep it from lifting up alongside the dumbbell (something that can be seen in the image below).
We were big fans of the weight-changing mechanism. The twist-and-go set-up of the handle made adjusting the load a simple procedure, and the fact you only had to change one setting rather than dials on either end (as with the Bowflex SelectTech 552s and Ativafit 55lb Adjustable Dumbbells) sped up the process. We did notice that the window was labeled incorrectly, so twisting the handle towards the plus symbol actually decreased the weight, and vice versa. This didn’t impact the performance, but it did tarnish our perception of the dumbbells as a polished product.
This mistake was more than made up for with the Core Home Fitness set’s design. We think these weights are one of the best-looking adjustable dumbbell products on the market. The dark-gray plates and metallic, mixed brush finish of the holding dock give them a robust, steely aesthetic that looked smart as part of our home gym set-up.
Features and functionality
- 10 weight options from 5lb to 50lb
- Twisting handle system
With 10 weight options from 5lb to 50lb, the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells go toe to toe with most adjustable dumbbells we tested when it comes to functionality.
The twisting handle system for changing the weight is a masterstroke that we haven’t seen mimicked by many of its competitors, and their modest dimensions mean they can slip seamlessly into most households. The rubber handle offers good grip and the compact plates never felt cumbersome during workouts.
We found the thick ends of the handles, where the weight is displayed, could make the dumbbells uncomfortable to hold in a goblet position – often used to lift a single dumbbell for squats and lunges. It was too narrow to grip on its own, but got in the way when we tried to hold onto the plates themselves.
When loading and unloading the dumbbells into the holding dock, we hit another slight speed bump. The space where the plates sit fits so tightly around them that a fair bit of force is needed to dislodge them when picking the dumbbell up. And we found, when lifting the dumbbell, the rack would rise with it if we selected a weight of 30lb or more, forcing us to use our feet to keep the dock on the ground.
However, once the weights had been removed from the rack, we were impressed with their performance. Their sturdy, easy to maneuver design won’t let you down if you have a home resistance training session ahead or want to add resistance to a HIIT workout.
- Smooth weight changing mechanism
- Tricky to remove weights from holder
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells delivered an altogether impressive performance that was let down by a couple of small snags.
The 10 weight options (from 5lb to 50lb, with 5lb gaps between them) provide a wide range for most lifters, particularly those looking to perform bodybuilding or accessory movements. Beginners may favor an adjustable dumbbell with smaller weight increments, like the Bowflex SelectTech 552, as these will allow them to increase the weight they lift more gradually as their strength increases.
The dumbbells proved comfortable to use, easy to wield and the plates felt secure with minimal movement or noise, whatever exercise we were performing. The package as a whole is sturdy, and the compact nature of the product is brilliant for anyone short on space whose at-home fitness routine relies on having access to a variety of free weights.
Twisting the handle to change the weight worked well, allowing us to add or drop 5lbs to our dumbbell with smoothness in less than a second.
However, the sticky fit of the plates in the holding dock meant the time saved by this intuitive system could then be lost trying to lift the weights from the tray, wasting valuable seconds (not to mention effort) when performing time-sensitive supersets or dropsets. We even had to hold the dock down with our foot when selecting weights of 30lb or above, although you can buy an adjustable dumbbell stand (opens in new tab) for these weights from Core Home Fitness, which may help with this.
Value for money
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are among some of the cheapest sets we tested, and they have everything you need to enjoy a well-rounded at-home workout capable of increasing your strength, boosting your fitness and burning calories.
The clunky procedure of loading them in and out of the holding docks means they lack the polished performance of pricier models but, aside from this criticism, we found they offer a good all-round performance. This, twinned with their comparably affordable price point ($399.99 or £239.99), makes them a solid-and-savvy option for prospective adjustable dumbbell purchasers.
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are a comprehensive and cost-effective home workout tool for anyone looking to improve their fitness levels outside of the gym, or supplement their efforts in the gym with accessory work. Despite taking up just 16.1in x 9in of floorspace, they offer a generous 10 weight options, increasing from 5lb to 50lb in 5lb increments.
They are sturdy, the plates feel secure and we loved the clever weight-changing mechanism in the handle. However, they were marginally let down by the fact they could stick in the holding dock when being removed.
Still, as the cheapest adjustable dumbbells we’ve tried, these are a fantastic option for beginner and intermediate lifters on a budget.
If this isn’t for you
If you’re after a polished performance and stylish aesthetic, we’d point you towards the JaxJox DumbbellConnect adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab), shown above. They earned the coveted position as our top-rated pair on test courtesy of their innovative features (including digital weight-changing and app connectivity), sleek design and secure feel.
On the other hand, if you think the words digital and dumbbell should be kept at arm’s length from one another but still want a premium product, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) could be for you. Without the metallic rattling and shaking plates experienced with other adjustable dumbbells we tried, they offer a smooth, solid performance. They’re also a good pick for beginners, offering smaller 2.5lb jumps between most weight options.