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How are Dumbbells Weighed?

Learning how to log your dumbbell weight properly is tricky because there are many variables involved. 

For starters, you must consider the type of dumbbell. Some may have plates with a specific weight written on them that represent the total weight of the dumbbell, while others just have labels for the weight of each plate. 

If you lift a dumbbell with 20lbs written on each side, does that mean that you’re actually lifting 40lbs or just 20lbs? How are dumbbells weighed, really? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more in this article. 

So, strap on, and let’s get you ready to hit the gym!

How Dumbbell Weight Is Calculated?

Here’s how you calculate the weight of a dumbbell depending on its type.

Fixed Weight Dumbbells

This type of dumbbell is the most commonly found in commercial gyms. These dumbbells come in pairs, and the average weight varies between 1kg to 100kg per dumbbell. 

  • Small gyms offer 2.5kg to 30kg fixed dumbbell sets.
  • Larger gyms often use between 2.5kg and 50kg dumbbell sets.
  • High-end dumbbells of heavier weights (50kg-100kg) are mostly for professional weight lifting and bodybuilders.

Fixed weight dumbbells come in different styles, but the most common are hexagonal. These dumbbells have the overall weight stamped on each end. This label refers to the weight of the entire unit, including the dumbbell bars, weight plates, casing, etc. As a result, if you lift a 10kg dumbbell with one hand, it’ll only be 10kg. Carrying one on each hand would mean you’re working with 20kg.

Adjustable Dumbbells 

An adjustable dumbbell is a versatile and convenient piece of gym equipment. It allows you to work out different weight settings while using the same handle or bar. You can change the weight by using different mechanisms like levers, dials, or pins. As a result, you can swap the weight plates and the overall weight.

The weight of an adjustable dumbbell varies significantly between brands. PowerBlock is popular for offering sets that go from 10 to 90 pounds in increments of 10 pounds, but these are pricey. Other brands like Bowflex offer 50 pounds dumbbells for a more affordable cost.

When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, the structure of the unit has a huge role in how the weighing works. For example, the weight of a dumbbell featuring a short bar capable of fitting barbell plates is the total on each plate.

In other cases, like the power-lock dumbbells, the system works differently. These often have a bar that you put into plates with color codes. For these adjustable dumbbells, each end would represent half the weight of what the color code says.

Adjustable dumbbells may also have removable plates with the weight labeled in them representing the weight of each plate. In this case, you have to consider the weight of both plates plus the adjustable dumbbell handles. 

Recommended brands: PowerBlock, FLYBIRD, Yes4All

What About Cheaper Dumbbells, Are They Accurate?

Cheap dumbbells are alright, but they’re not ideal if you want to be serious about working out. For one, low-quality dumbbells may not be entirely accurate in their weight. You’d have to get them from popular brands to guarantee an effective set of equipment. Plus, cheap dumbbells can also be dangerous. 

Do I Count Both Dumbbells’ Weight?

You count both dumbbells’ weight if you’re curling or lifting both of your arms at the same time. Imagine you’re working with a 15lb dumbbell. If you have one 15lb dumbbell in each hand and you exercise both arms simultaneously, it would count as 30lb. Instead, curling with your left arm and then changing to the right one would count as 15lb.  

However, each person has their own preference on how to log the weight lifted. These are some comments about this topic.

“I do it as simple as possible, so I just count one dumbbell,” says one gym-goer. “So, if I’m shoulder pressing 85’s, I just write down 85 and not 170. Don’t really feel like doing division to figure out my weight for the next session.”

“I use the weight of each dumbbell personally. It’s just easier, no math required” says another person. “It doesn’t really matter though, as long as you’re consistent.”

“I can’t see how it matters as long as it allows you to track what you’re doing,” another person claims. “Log the dumbbell weight which seems to make sense since that’s what is written on the dumbbell.”

All of these comments have something in common, which is that people use the method that most suits them. Going back to the first comment, you should only worry about being consistent. Keep notes of the weight lifted and use them for future reference in your next workout.

How Does Dumbbell Weight Transfer to Barbell or Machine Weight?

If you’re wondering how to convert dumbbell bench press weight to a barbell bench press weight, the truth is that there’s no cut-and-dried answer. There’s no precise calculation that would give you the equivalent of a dumbbell bench press weight to barbell bench chest press weight. The reason is that there’s a lot of variables involved, and they depend on the individual.

However, most people might lift more weight on a barbell than they would with dumbbells. For example, if you’re working with 75lbs dumbbells totaling 150lbs on a dumbbell bench, then chances are you’ll lift more than 150lbs on a barbell.

How Can I Weigh Dumbbells at Planet Fitness?

Unfortunately, Planet Fitness scales availability does not include the weighing of dumbbells. These scales are specifically designed for measuring body weight and are not suitable for weighing individual gym equipment. To accurately determine the weight of dumbbells, consider utilizing a standard weight scale or consulting with a fitness professional at the gym.

Why are Some People Weaker on Fixed Weight Barbells?

If you can lift more weight in a barbell than in a dumbbell, your workout range of motion may have something to do with it. 

While exercising with dumbbells, it’s easy to do a partial range of motion. This movement brings the dumbbells down to the elbows instead of the chest, as you would do with a barbell bench. 

This movement gives you a false sense of strength, and it means you’d have to learn proper technique.

When you bring the dumbbells down to chest level in a proper form, then you should gain stronger chest muscles. As a result, you’d lift more weight in a barbell.

Finishing Words

How are dumbbells weighed is a common question people regularly have. It can be confusing at first, especially if you’re using two dumbbells. Still, creating your own method to register weight is the most efficient way to work out with consistency.

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About Ben Adler

I'm Ben, a passionate fitness enthusiast on a mission to help you achieve your fitness goals. With a love for lifting and building a well-rounded physique, I founded Swole Class to provide beginners with the guidance and knowledge they need to navigate the gym and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Join me on this journey as we unlock our potential and inspire greatness together. Learn more about me