Credit: Diana Poisson

My favorite type of workout is an at-home, strength training workout.  I love working out at home because I don’t have to get up 30 minutes earlier each morning to drive to the gym and rather than paying a monthly gym fee, I can invest that same amount on purchasing my own fitness equipment.  I love strength training because in addition to making me feel great, I benefit from gaining greater muscular strength, improved muscle tone and appearance, increased endurance and enhanced bone density[1].

I have been working out over 20 years and I have accumulated a lot of home exercise equipment.  When I first started weight-training, I purchased a pair of Heavyhand weights that adjusts from 1 to 4 pounds.  As I became stronger, I added in 8, 10 and 15-pound dumbbells. These dumbbells met my needs until I purchased ChaLEAN Extreme, an at-home DVD workout program in which the focus is to lift heavier weights slowly with low repetitions. 

To benefit from this program, I needed to get heavier weights.  I did my research and decided to purchase the PowerBlock SportBlock 24 Adjustable 3 to 24-Pounds Dumbbell Set.  It was in my price range and I could switch between 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 pounds.  I liked the fact that the weight changes were in 3-pound increments.  Believe me,  jumping up in weight by 5 pounds is sometimes too much, especially when doing some arm and shoulder exercises.

As a frequent user of both types of dumbbells, I find that there are noticeable differences between the two.

SPRI Deluxe Vinyl Dumbbells (Black, 8-Pound ,set of 2)
Amazon Price: $28.98 $28.01 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)
These dumbbells are very easy to hold.
PowerBlock SportBlock 2.4 Adjustable 3 to 24-Pounds per Dumbbell Set
Amazon Price: $184.00 $159.99 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)
These are a great set of dumbbells that go from light to heavy.

Ease of Use  
The regular dumbbells are easier to use.  There are not any adjustments needed when changing between weights.  When I need to switch from my 8-pound weights to my 1o-pound weights, I just put the 8-pound set down and pick up the 10-pound set.  I have some exercise DVDs where the instructor changes from lighter to heavier weights fairly quickly and with the dumbbells, I can keep up with them.

The adjustable set is also easy to use, but it does take a little extra time to change to a different weight selection.  The weight plates of each dumbbell are stacked up on top of each other with the 3-pound handle sitting in the middle.  To change to a different weight, you move the weight selector pin to a different slot.  The slots are color-coded so that it is easy to tell which slot corresponds to each weight.  When you pick up the handle, you will pick up all of the weights that are sitting above the weight selector pin. 

I did find that holding the SportBlock dumbbells was a little awkward at first.  They are shaped differently than regular dumbbells so it took me some time to get used to holding a big rectangular unit.  However, once you get used to them, they do work well when you are holding a dumbbell in each hand.  But for exercises such as overhead triceps extensions where you hold one dumbbell in two hands, I prefer using regular dumbbells.  As the handle for the adjustable dumbbell is surrounded by weight plates, I am unable to comfortably fit both of my hands around the handle.

I do recommend keeping the adjustable weights on a hard surface that is within easy reach.  If they are on the carpet, you have to reach all the down to the floor to change to a different weight.  Also, the dumbbells shift slightly on softer surfaces so a few times I didn't get my weight selector pin to align into the correct slot. 

I  store my weights on top of a 14-inch exercise bench in the corner of the living room.  I don't have to bend down very far to move the pin and I can see what I am doing.  This works for me, but if you don't have a good place to store the weights, you can purchase a stand.

PowerBlock SportBlock Dumbbell Stand (Silver)
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(price as of Sep 15, 2015)
Keeping your dumbbells on a hard surface and within easy reach can prevent injuries.

Space Efficiency & Storage
No question, the SportBlock takes up less space than multiple sets of regular dumbbells.  With 8 weight selections, you basically have 8 sets of dumbbells within one unit.  For those with little storage space, this keeps the workout area a little more organized.  If you are taking a road trip and don't want to miss your strength training session, these shouldn't take up too much room in the car.

The average cost for regular dumbbells is $1.00 for each pound of weight.  Therefore, purchasing 8 pairs of regular dumbbells with weights of 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24-pounds may cost $216.00.   I paid about $175 for my SportBlock dumbbells and I believe that today's price is lower than that.

Which is Better?
I use both my regular dumbbells and my adjustable dumbbells equally.  I usually use the regular dumbbells when I am doing an exercise DVD that moves from exercise to exercise with little rest time in between.  With the adjustable weights, I would have to hit pause while I change the weight selections.

I typically use the SportBlock dumbbells when I am doing ChaLEAN Extreme or other DVDs that concentrate on lifting heavier weights with fewer reps.  I find that in these DVDs, the instructor gives you plenty of time in between exercises to rest.  This gives you the extra few seconds needed to switch to a different weight.

My recommendation is that if you are new to strength training, to buy a few sets of lighter weights.  This way you aren't paying out a large amount of money right away.  Since the SportBlock weights are 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 pounds, I would start with dumbbells that are 2, 5 and 7 pounds.  This way as your strength increases and you do decide to purchase the SportBlock, then you aren't duplicating the same pounds. 

I am lucky that between my regular and adjustable dumbbells, I can choose between 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 pounds.  I can usually find the right weight that I need that challenges me but isn't too difficult.

For me, the regular dumbbells handles better, but the adjustable dumbbells gave me a cost-effective and space-efficient way to get the heavier weights that I needed.

ChaLEAN Extreme DVD Workout
Amazon Price: $109.80 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 15, 2015)
Chalene Johnson's weightlifting program focuses on lifting heavier weights with fewer reps.