Do Dumbbells Break? The Risks Of Dropping Dumbbells
Walk into any gym, commercial or otherwise, and 99.99% of the time you’ll find a set of dumbbells there.
Dumbbells are synonymous with gyms and with fitness in general, and when you consider just how versatile and effective they are, it’s easy to understand exactly why that is.
Dumbbells are great because they allow you to perform a wide range of different exercises of varying levels of difficulty, regardless of what your training goals may be.
Whether you’re trying to bulk up and build muscle, or simply burn fat and tone up, dumbbells are a must.
During lockdowns, when the world ground to a halt and commercial gyms were forced to close for months on end, dumbbells proved to be crucial for many.
People were forced to build home gyms and work out in garages and backyards, often with nothing more than a set of dumbbells, and possibly a bench if they were lucky.
While owning dumbbells is fantastic, looking after them is essential.
But do dumbbells break, and if so, what can you do to avoid this?
- 1 What Are Dumbbells?
- 2 Do Dumbbells Break?
- 3 The Risks Of Dropping Dumbbells
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions:
What Are Dumbbells?
Dumbbells are a type of gym equipment, in the form of free weights. Sold in pairs, dumbbells are basically short metal handles with weights on either side.
We see dumbbells usually sold as sets and vary in weight, usually beginning at 2.5kg, and going all the way up to as much as 150kg, or even more. Usually, the weight increases in increments of 2.5kg.
The use of dumbbells, like many other types of fitness equipment, can be traced way back to ancient Greece (1). Back then, during long jump contests, the Greeks would use what is known as halteres (2).
Similar in principle to dumbbells, these contraptions were crescent-shaped with a handle that the jumper would grab onto before beginning the jump.
Many experts agree, however, that because the Greeks were so adaptive, they would improvise and use these devices, like we use dumbbells now, in order to build strength.
In the Middle East, a device called a Nal was used to build strength. This club-shaped device was like a cross between a barbell and a dumbbell.
By the 1800s, dumbbells, like we see today, were used in gymnasiums, though they were canisters filled with rocks, or sand, to add weight.
Obviously, if you wanted to add more weight, filling up a can with sand or rocks was a pain in the butt, which is why removable plates were invented.
As the years ticked by, humans became more technologically advanced, and dumbbell designs changed to the ones we know and love today.
What’s great about dumbbells, especially, is the fact that they haven’t changed a great deal in decades, which in this day and age is indeed rare.
Do Dumbbells Break?
Okay, so we’ve looked at what dumbbells are, but now we need to look at whether or not they can break. Well, to cut straight to the chase, yes, dumbbells can break if you don’t treat them with the respect they deserve.
Dumbbells are very durable and hardwearing, and they are built to withstand a lot of punishment, but general wear and tear, and mistreatment, can sometimes take their toll on them.
To ensure your dumbbells remain intact and in full working order, here’s a look at several ways in which a set of dumbbells could find themselves broken.
When Being Slammed
We’ve all seen the videos on Instagram of the big meatheads in the gym, “pressing” ridiculous amounts of weight with terrible form, screaming the place down, then slamming the weights down onto the floor to celebrate their big lift. Sure, this kind of behavior might get them a few likes online, but it’s also a great way to break a set of dumbbells.
No matter how durable the weights are, and whether they’re rubber coated or not, there is always the risk of the dumbbells breaking when being slammed down hard onto the ground, especially if the floor is especially hard or if the mats are thin.
Slamming dumbbells onto hard surfaces can cause tiny cracks or chips that may not be noticeable at first. After several months, though, this damage may begin to show itself. Furthermore, as soon as one crack or chip appears, the next time they’re slammed, the damage will be even greater, until eventually they break entirely.
When Dropped On Hard Surfaces
One of the main reasons gyms have rubber mats on the floor is to protect the free weights being abused by gymgoers. We have all seen a guy who grunts too loud and lets their weights smash on the floor.
Again, no matter how hard a dumbbell is, if you drop it onto a hard surface such as concrete, it is going to do some damage.
In all honesty, the dumbbell will likely damage the concrete floor more than it winds up damaging itself, but the more you do it, the more damage the dumbbell will sustain.
It is very unlikely that you will see a commercial gym with a concrete floor, especially in the free weight section, but if you are using a set of dumbbells at home, perhaps in your garage, either invest in a set of mats or place the dumbbells down very carefully when you’re finished.
If you can perform the exercise with the dumbbells, there’s no reason why you can’t set the dumbbells down on the ground carefully when you’ve finished.
When Dropped From A Great Height
Metal dumbbells are not designed to be dropped.
I have found rubber-coated dumbbells, however, can withstand more punishment, and they can be dropped (provided you’re careful).
When you finish your set, lower the weights down to arm’s length before you drop them, don’t drop them from a great height.
Say, for example, you’re performing dumbbell shoulder presses. Before setting the dumbbells down, don’t drop them from high above your head, instead, make sure you set them down on your thighs, and then carefully drop them from there.
When Stored In Poor Conditions
I have seen dumbbells break when stored in poor conditions, although it can take decades until the damage becomes bad enough to cause some real issues.
In my experience, if the dumbbells are stored in poor conditions, i.e., a damp environment, rust could attack the weights and eat away at them, eventually causing them to become brittle and break.
For most rusty dumbbells, however, the rust is nothing more than surface rust that can easily be sanded away, and after a lick of paint, the dumbbells will look brand new again.
Ideally, however, your dumbbells should be stored somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight if they’re rubber-coated, as the sunlight could cause the rubber to perish.
The Risks Of Dropping Dumbbells
Broken Bones And Personal Injury
As far as dumbbells breaking, it isn’t just dumbbells that break after being dropped; they may also break human bones.
Many a gym rat has been caught out by dropping a heavy dumbbell on his or her foot by accident, only to discover just how heavy these dumbbells really are and how brittle human bones are in comparison (3). This has happened to me and probably to most gymgoers, although I was fortunately left unscathed.
A great way of guaranteeing that your nice new hardwood floor in your home gym becomes cracked and broken is to go ahead and drop a nice heavy dumbbell on it.
Dumbbells are heavy, even the lighter sets, and dropping heavy objects onto nice flooring is never recommended.
Dumbbells will destroy hardwood and vinyl floors, though even harder floors such as concrete will be damaged, with the added bonus of your dumbbells being damaged as well, making it a lose-lose situation.
Damaged Walls And Mirrors
I find that when dropped on rubber flooring, dumbbells tend to bounce, especially the rubber-coated ones. The problem with a bouncing 50-pound object is the fact that you don’t know where it’s going to go or what it’s going to hit.
I have seen several commercial gyms’ walls damaged and their mirrors smashed thanks to erratically bouncing dumbbells.
So, do dumbbells break? Yes, they do, and they also damage gym walls and/or mirrors. The best way to avoid damage to any of the above is to simply set down your dumbbells carefully.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are Adjustable Dumbbells Safe?
I have also seen them cause some serious injuries. While adjustable dumbbells are designed to make working out easier, they still pose some risks, in my experience. One of the biggest dangers associated with them is that they can easily slip from your hands. If you don’t keep a firm grip on them, then you could end up dropping them on your feet or, even worse, hurting yourself. Another danger is that they can cause injuries if you drop them on your head. When you are lifting them, you should always keep your eyes open and look down at the floor.
Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It?
Yes, they have been very beneficial, specifically in my training. Adjustable dumbbells are a great addition to any home gym, as they allow you to change the weight easily without having to purchase a whole new set of weights. You can use them at home, work, school, or anywhere else. They are versatile and can be used for many different exercises.
Adjustable Dumbbells vs. Fixed Dumbbells
Adjustable dumbbells allow you to change the weight of each dumbbell without having to buy a whole new set. You simply need to purchase some weights and attach them to the bar using adjustable clamps. I have found these types of dumbbells to be great if you want to work out at home and don’t have access to a gym.
Fixed dumbbells are the traditional type of dumbbells that you find in any fitness center. They are designed to hold a certain amount of weight and cannot be adjusted. If you’re looking for something that’s going to last forever, then these are probably what you should go with.