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A pair of dumbbells with weights that can be changed. This dumbbell has 2 kg plates.

The dumbbell, a type of free weight, is a piece of equipment used in weight training. Somebody using dumbbells will usually be using one or two at a time. One dumbbell is held in each hand if they are being used in pairs.

History[change | change source]

Dumbbells (halteres) used in athletic games in ancient Greece. These dumbbells are at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
A woman is shown exercising with dumbbells on this Roman mosaic, c. 286–305 AD.

Before dumbbells, halteres were used in ancient Greece as lifting weights[1][2] and also as weights in the ancient Greek version of the long jump.[3] Another kind of dumbbell was also used in India for more than a millennium. It was shaped like a club so it was named the Indian club.[4][5] Another design, "Nal", was shaped like a barbell and a dumbbell. It was usually used in pairs and workouts by wrestlers, bodybuilders, athletes, and others trying to increase strength and muscle size.

Types[change | change source]

Selectorized dumbbells
A set of fixed-weight dumbbells

By the early 17th century, the regular shape of the dumbbell, with two equal weights attached to a handle, had appeared.[6] There are currently three main types of dumbbell:

  • Fixed-weight dumbbells are weights created in a dumbbell shape. They're usually made with cast iron and sometimes coated with rubber or neoprene for comfort. Some cheaper versions are made with a plastic shell that is filled with concrete.
  • Adjustable dumbbells are made of a metal bar with a center part often engraved with a crossing pattern (knurling) to improve grip. Weight plates are slid onto the dumbbell and secured with clips or collars. A dumbbell may have smooth ends with plates being secured by a sprung collar.
    • Plate-loaded (adjustable) dumbbells (loadable dumbbells)
      • Spin-lock
      • Spring collar clips
      • Compression ring collar
      • Ironmaster quick-lock
    • "Selectorized" (adjustable) dumbbells are adjustable dumbbells that allow you to change the weight or number of plates when the dumbbells are resting on the dumbbell stand. This makes it very easy to change the weight of the dumbbell between exercises, and the stand can be used to store extra weights that aren't needed for a certain exercise. There are different types of mechanisms:
      • Block type
      • Dial type
      • Glide type
      • Twist type
    • 2-in-1 dumbbell/barbell

Named dumbbells[change | change source]

  • Thomas Inch dumbbell, also known as "172" (2.38 inches (60 mm) handle, weighs 172 pounds (78 kg))[7]
  • Millennium dumbbell (2.38 inches (60 mm) handle, weighs 228 pounds (103 kg))
  • Circus dumbbells: historically used in traveling circus acts, these dumbbells have exaggerated ends and wider handles, and just like normal dumbbells, come in various weights and sizes.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Gardiner, E. Norman (2002). Athletics in the Ancient World. Courier Corporation. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-486-42486-6.
  2. Pearl, Bill (2005). Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Sports. Shelter Publications, Inc. p. 388. ISBN 978-0-936070-38-4.
  3. Miller, Stephen Gaylord (2004). Ancient Greek Athletics. Yale University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-300-11529-1. halteres halter.
  5. Heffernan, Conor (2016-07-05). Indian club swinging in nineteenth and twentieth-century India and England (Thesis thesis). Faculty of History, University of Cambridge.
  6. Hedrick, Allen (18 Jan 2014). Dumbbell training. Human Kinetics. p. xii.
  7. "INCH 101: Mark Henry's Successful Lift With Inch Dumbbell!". bodybuilding.com. 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2020-04-14.

Other websites[change | change source]

  • Media related to Dumbbells at Wikimedia Commons