If you’re serious about home workouts, you’ll have likely given some thought to investing in an adjustable dumbbell system. They take up far less space than a rack of fixed weights and are much, much quicker to change than basic plate and collar models. Core Home Fitness has entered the adjustable dumbbell market with a dumbbell set that boasts some attractive features at a very competitive price.
Core’s Twist Lock technology is the real star here: its one-handed twist system is far and away the most efficient system we’ve encountered in an adjustable dumbbell set, allowing you to quickly and smoothly change the weight of each dumbbell with just one hand.
This does come at a slight cost though: the Core Adjustable Dumbbells tend to stick in their cradles far more than other models, which can be somewhat frustrating. While you could easily solve this by securing the cradles to a surface or by purchasing the additional home dumbbell stand, it remains as the one significant performance issue in an otherwise flawless experience.
Price and availability
At the time of writing, the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set (opens in new tab) is available for $359.99 (about £280 / AU$480) via the company’s website (opens in new tab). At that price, the set makes for a very attractive proposition, costing the same or less than many competing adjustable dumbbells. When you consider that several of their features are undoubtedly the best in class, Core’s dumbbells are a leading contender that should definitely be on your radar.
Also worth considering is the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Stand (opens in new tab). Presently retailing for $159.99 (about £120 / AU$210), the adjustable stand allows you to fix the cradles at a height that works for you. The added bonus here is that this also fixes the cradles into place; if Core’s system has a flaw, it’s that the weights can stick in the cradle if it remains unsecured. The adjustable stand is a simple way to fix this issue, while also making your home gym look the part, but it is an extra cost to consider.
Core’s dumbbells sit largely within the range of most adjustable dumbbell systems, offering a weight range that scales from 5lb up to 50lb. Plates can be adjusted in 5lb increments which is broadly in line with its competitors.
Although they aren’t quite as adjustable as the Bowflex SelecTech 522 model which offers increments of 2.5lb, Core’s dumbbells more than make up for that with the sleekness and ease of their design. However, if smaller increments are of particular importance to you, it’s worth weighing up this factor.
Design and features
The innovative nature of Core’s design means that this is really where this adjustable dumbbell set comes into its own. The Twist Lock system allows for single-hand changes, meaning you can adjust both dumbbells at the same time, a crucial feature if you’re looking to quickly change weights during a frenzied back-to-back superset.
Furthermore, the dumbbells shift size depending on how much weight you have loaded. This isn’t the case with other models we’ve tested, meaning that at their lowest weight, the dumbbells measure 9in, making them almost 10in smaller than other adjustable models bearing the same weight. Even at their heaviest, Core’s product are just 14.5in long, which is still several inches shorter than rival dumbbells.
It goes without saying that having a much leaner profile across the weight range makes it easier to maintain form during sets; clunky dumbbells often get in the way when you’re working through the negative movement of those all-important bicep curls, to give just one example.
The weight feels well-distributed across the dumbbell, no matter how many plates you have attached, while the locking system feels secure and doesn’t shift as you manoeuvre them. The rubber handles are chunkily ergonomic and definitely offer a better grip than rival models.
While the rather dull matte plastic plates don’t possess the most attractive finish, they are slightly flattened at the bottom meaning you have a slightly more stable base for dumbbell push-ups or renegade rows. Plus, the cradles that the weights sit in are constructed with an eye-catching aluminum frame and help to offset the uninspiring flat color of the weights.
Buy it if
You’re looking for a truly quick-shifting adjustable dumbbell system
Core’s adjustable dumbbells offer the simplest and most satisfying way to adjust dumbbell weight on the fly. If speed or simplicity are of particular importance to you, you won’t be disappointed.
You don’t mind investing in the adjustable stand
If we have one criticism of Core’s adjustable dumbbells, it’s their frustrating tendency to stick to the cradle as you try to lift them. Not only is the adjustable stand the most aesthetically elegant way to solve that problem, it also protects your lower back by fixing the cradles to a higher point so you aren’t loading your back each time you shift weights. Still, it’s an extra cost to consider.
You struggle with bulky dumbbells
The lean profile of Core’s dumbbells, plus their ability to slim down further as you reduce the weight makes them a must-have, especially if you tend to find that bulky dumbbells can impede your form.
Don't buy it if
Fine-tuning is important to you
If you really need to move up or down in increments that are smaller than 5lb, then you may want to consider an alternative. For most users though, this shouldn’t be an issue.
You’re after something cheap
If you’re just starting out with dumbbells, you might be better off trying out a much cheaper plate and collar system for a little while first. Then, if you get the bug for dumbbell workouts, consider investing in Core’s adjustable set when you know you’ll get your money’s worth.