Best dumbbells for women: the top workout tools for toning up at home

In our round-up of the best dumbbells for women, there are options to suit every fitness goal and financial budget

three of the best dumbbells for women in white circles, against a hot pink background
(Image credit: Future)

Having some of the best dumbbells for women is important if you're looking to elevate your home workouts, and because of the way they work so many of your muscles, they're vital to use if you decide you don't want to sign up for a gym membership.

Like the best resistance bands for women, you can use handheld dumbbell weights to work every part of your body. Want to sculpt a strong upper body? Get going with some bicep curls and shoulder presses to get those Michelle Obama-worthy arms. Looking to tone up your back and core? Have a go at an overhead tricep dip using one heavy dumbbell. If you want your glutes, hamstrings, and quads to be the envy of all, a good old Romanian deadlift or Bulgarian split squat is for you. (Pro tip: plant your feet on one of the best yoga mats while performing these moves, to soften the ground for your joints.) 

As you can see, dumbbells are an important part of any workout routine where you're looking to tone your muscles, so choosing the right pair (or set) for your needs is essential. So our experts, Miranda Larbi and Rebecca Fontana, have chosen the very best options on the market for every budget and home set-up, such as weights for those who are totally beginners, those who can afford to splurge, and those who need a smaller set for a smaller space. 

The best dumbbells for women as reviewed by fitness experts

AmazonBasics Neoprene Workout Dumbbell

(Image credit: Future/Amazon)

1. AmazonBasics Neoprene Workout Dumbbell

The best all-around dumbbells for women

Specifications

RRP: From $42.81 / £94.17
Weight range: 2lb-25lb
Color options: Multiple

Reasons to buy

+
Great grip from neoprene material
+
Attractive colors

Reasons to avoid

-
Weight stand is of flimsy quality

Not only are these anti-roll, hexagon dumbbells visually attractive, but they feel really solid and easy to grip. If you’re working out on wood or tiled flooring, you don’t have to worry about leaving scuffs or marks from dragging the weights either, as the neoprene covering protects both the weights and their surroundings! While the weight stand that comes with the bigger sets feels a little flimsy, it's certainly handy to have and is essential if you're buying multiple weights.

Price-wise, these AmazonBasics dumbbells are fairly middle of the road, and aren't too expensive. The also go up to 25lbs, so there are options for customers at any level of fitness. These weights are now only available in limited sizes, sets and colors though, so you'll need to act fast if you want them.

Eleiko XF Dumbbell

(Image credit: Future/Eleiko)

2. Eleiko XF Dumbbells

The best premium dumbbells for women

Specifications

RRP: $26 / £23 (for 5kg)
Weight range: 1kg-40kg
Color range: Black/silver combination only

Reasons to buy

+
Great range of weights
+
Easy grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite pricey, even for lighter weights 

Eleiko XF dumbbells are the closest you’re going to get to premium gym-standard equipment at home. These weights range from 1kg-40kg, meaning that you can find one that's right for your fitness level, and move up a size when you feel you're ready to progress. 40kg is a pretty serious weight though, so you'll want to make sure you have the appropriate support and training behind you before lifting anything too heavy like this.

Again, the ends of these dumbbells are hexagonal, which stops them from rolling away. Having these sorts of ends also means that you can use these weights as handles for various exercises, such as renegade rows.

Again, rubber ends mean that you can throw them down without making too much of a racket or doing any damage (though we'd be careful with the metal grip in the middle), while the handles are slightly curved and engraved to help you get a proper grip. These are serious weights for a serious workout—both in price (which is fairly high, even for the smaller weights), and in the amount of exertion that'll force you to face.

Opti dumbbell tree set

(Image credit: Future/Opti)

3. Opti Dumbbell Tree Set

The best dumbbells for women on a budget

Specifications

RRP: £30 (UK only)
Weight range: 1.1kg—4.5kg
Color range: Gray only

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap and accessible
+
Rack for easy storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Light weight selection
-
Slippery surface material

If you’re new to training and want a few pairs of light dumbbells, this Opti tree set from Argos (this option is UK only, unfortunately) is a steal. It holds three pairs weighing 2.4lb, 5lb, and 10lb, which can be neatly stored away after use in the weight rack that comes with your purchase.

The vinyl design makes these weights softer and easier to hold, so you won’t feel as though you’re lugging around big blocks of iron—although they may be liable to roll away if you’re training on uncarpeted flooring. Because of these, we'd also advise being careful when you put them down, and gently place them rather than throw them down after a tricky workout.

While these probably won’t cut the mustard for anyone looking for a heavy workout, they’re great for beginners, and for anyone who wants to tone smaller muscles without breaking the bank.

PowerBlock Sport 24 Pair dumbbells

(Image credit: Future/PowerBlock)

4. PowerBlock Sport 24

The best space-saving dumbbells for women

Specifications

RRP: $199 / £249
Weight range: Adjustable: 8 1.25 kg vinyl plates
Color range: Black with multi-colored handles only

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple weights in one package
+
Easy to progress

Reasons to avoid

-
Less comfortable to lift
-
Takes longer to swap between weights

If you'd rather not have umpteen pairs of weights littering your home, why not get yourself just one pair of adjustable weights instead? This PowerBlock Sports 24 set replaces 216 pounds of free weights, or eight pairs of dumbbells. All you have to do is change weight quickly with the patented selector pin and away you go. 

You might find that adjustable weights are a bit of a fuss as we did during testing—you can’t move between exercises quickly without changing the ends—but we found that they are convenient in terms of having a lot of kit in one space-saving package (especially if you’re storing your fitness equipment in a smaller apartment or studio). Much like the best resistance bands for women, this set is also easier to take with you on the go.

Origin Fitness UD2 Urethane Dumbbells

(Image credit: Future/Origin Fitness)

5. Origin Fitness UD2 Urethane dumbbells

The best dumbbells for women who don’t mind a splurge

Specifications

RRP: £19.80-£1,439.16 (for a pair—UK only)
Weight range: 1kg-40kg
Color range: Black only

Reasons to buy

+
Durable quality
+
Sleek design

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive—especially as weights go up

Origin Fitness’ dumbbells go up to 70kg, so they are a good option if you're looking to lift seriously heavy. They are definitely expensive, but they’re worth the investment if budget isn't a concern and if you are serious about using dumbbells to tone and sculpt your physique. 

The thick urethane end coverings are shock-resistant, impact-resistant, and ultra-durable, while the knurled handle improves grip (even when your hands are mega-sweaty!) Speaking of sweat, if you're feeling worried about sweaty, smelly weights stinking up your workout space, don’t be—these are made with odorless material which is a pro we haven't seen in any of the other dumbbells we tested. 

Again, these are gym-standard weights that are also available for home fitness, so they’re aimed at people who are serious about getting strong. While they are a fantastic option, we'd only advise these for those with the funds and the commitment. It's helpful to know too that all of the Origin Fitness UD2 Urethane dumbbells are covered by a 36-month warranty against manufacturer defects, excluding your normal wear and tear.

Gaiam Neoprene Hand Weight

(Image credit: Future/Gaiam)

6. Gaiam Neoprene Hand Weight

The best versatile dumbbells for women

Specifications

RRP: From $11.99 / From £10.66
Weight range: 1.36kg-6.8kg
Color range: Six color options (each weight amount is a different color)

Reasons to buy

+
Several weight options  
+
Affordable price 
+
They look good!

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't choose colors yourself

The Gaiam Neoprene Hand Weights would look right at home in any stylish workout space or apartment—of all the the best dumbbells for women on our list, we'd argue that these are the most attractive. The Gaiam dumbbells come in six weights ranging from 3lb to 15lb, and they're color-coded by weight (3lb is purple, 5lb is orange, and so on). We like that this means you'll end up with a colorful assortment, but the downside is that you don't actually get to choose the colors you prefer yourself.

They're made of cast iron-covered in neoprene, making them comfortable to hold and safe for use on wooden floors, plus their flattened sides mean they won't roll away from you every time you put them, down like their rounded counterparts. However, we found that during test, they could be a little big for small hands, so a heads up there if you sometimes struggle with that sort of thing when it comes to gym equipment. 

Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell

(Image credit: Future/Ativafit)

7. Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbells

The best adjustable dumbbells for women

Specifications

RRP: $259.99 / £149.99
Weight range: 2.5kg-12.5kg
Color range: Black only

Reasons to buy

+
Easy setup  
+
Space-saving
+
One-year warranty 

Reasons to avoid

-
No lower weight ranges 
-
Expensive—pricier than other options

The Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell is the dumbbell for fitness pros who want a lot of weight in a small space, and want to be able to adjust their weights to suit their needs. Each dumbbell comes with a 5lb handle and eight plates that can be adjusted to increase the load up from 11lb to 27.5lb, in increments of 5.5lb. (Note that the dumbbells are marked with the weight in kilograms, not pounds, so you may need to do some mental math if using them in the U.S.)

The weights require zero set up and sit in a tray that makes shifting sizes a cinch. It also makes them a serious space saver. The weights can't be shifted without the tray, though, and during testing we found that the weight plates can rattle a bit during use, but those are minor annoyances for a great set of dumbbells.

Bala Bars in pink

(Image credit: Future/Bala)

8. Bala Bars

The best dumbbells for women who are beginners

Specifications

RRP: $68 / £64.95
Weight range: 1.36kg
Color range: Black, pink, sage, white, glitter or blue

Reasons to buy

+
Good variety of colors 
+
Easy to hold
+
Sleek and subtle for easy storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one weight size 

If you don't want dumbbells that are intimidating or clunky (and that look good), these are the ones for you. Bala Bars are smooth, soft hand weights made of recycled stainless steel covered in silicone. They come in six colors, including a white glitter option (fun!) The unobtrusive weights could easily be added to aerobic or rehabilitation exercises; they're weights that won't steal the focus of your workout—if you're doing the 12-3-30 workout for example, these would be a very easy addition for an extra challenge, if you feel up to it.

Bala Bars only come in a 3lb size though, so if you want a heavier option, look elsewhere. The brand itself offers Bala Bangles wrist and ankle weights in half-pound, 1lb, and 2lb varieties, as well as weighted rings, all of which are good options for supplementing different workouts, such as walking workouts, with weights.

How to choose the best dumbbells for women

If you're looking at purchasing some of the best dumbbells for women, it's important to make a few considerations before diving in. In an ideal world, we'd suggest owning a few sets—a lighter pair for smaller muscles, something heavy for the lower body, and a medium set that you can use for endurance or progression. The great thing about home workouts is that you can progress at your own pace, and exercise in your own way (as long as you're being safe).

When buying dumbbells, you also want to make sure that the brand you choose has the kind of weights that you’re looking to lift. For example, some might prefer kettlebells over fixed rubber dumbbells for example—so it's important to think about which type you want before making a final call. Then, it’s a case of landing on the materials and size you're after. Some dumbbells can be slippery or too wide in the middle, which can make it hard to get a proper hold, especially for people with less experience strength training. Women don’t need different weights from men, but some of us might (genetically) have smaller hands, so you want something that’s easy to handle and lift without compromising on heaviness. We've detailed lots of options that are like this above, if you're struggling to choose.

Young Woman Exercising In Gym

(Image credit: Getty)

Then of course, you'll need to think about your budget. Dumbbells can vary wildly in price, so set your price limit and stick to it. If you are super serious about your workout routine and have the cash to spare, buy the best there is. But if you're more of a beginner, it's a sensible move to start with a more affordable option, so you can workout which type of dumbbells you're comfortable with too.

What size dumbbells should I use?

This is a tricky question to answer, as it all depends on your personal level of fitness and you previous experience with lifting weights.

If you are a complete beginner, don't be afraid to start small, and option for a 1, 2 or 3kg weight. You can always move up as these start to feel easier to use. 

If you are confident lifting weights though, feel free to start higher and see how a heavier weight might feel. Really, it's a case of trail and error when it comes to finding the weight right for you. The most important thing is that you can continue your workout with good form (this is absolutely vital), without feeling like you need to stop all the time, whilst still feeling like you are being challenged and working all the relevant muscle groups. 

Remember, the results of your dumbbell workout will come from correct form, carefully planned regimes, and perseverance. To some degree, it doesn’t really matter what your weights look like, so long as you’re using them correctly. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get a few sleek pairs to suit you and your home!