Every lifter would love to have a full set of dumbbells in their garage. Regardless of what you consider a full set to be, workouts are simply smoother, faster and more efficient when you can pull
the exact weight dumbbell right off a rack. As an equipment supplier and dealer I have seen every type of dumbbell you can imagine at every price range.
You are one of two types of individual if you are still reading this Bomb Proof Bulletin.
Back Weighted Dumbbells: You might be the guy who wants to make up dumbbells that really can't be found in the configuration you want. Maybe you want to make pro-style dumbbells that are “Back Weighted” or otherwise built with some other strange configuration, like with 25 Pound Plates. There aren't any manufacturers who will do that for you, but you can build them yourself with a set of Pro-Style or SDH handles.
Dumbbell Category: http://atomicathletic.com/store/index.php/dumbbells.html
The Money Guy: Let's face it, if you are putting together a “set” of dumbbells, it will require
hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of weight. Heck, a pair of 100s adds up to 200 pounds. Cast iron is generally not free. So, until money starts growing on trees or you cash in that winning lottery ticket, this set of dumbbells is going to represent some greenbacks.
Building your own set of dumbbells can be a labor of love, but a good way to start is by turning your Standard Size Plates into Pro-Style Dumbbells. To do that, you need to pick up SDH Dumbbell Handles. They come in a variety of styles, but the ones we sell at Atomic Athletic are fully lathe turned in Canada. That means they start off with a single solid chunk of steel and end up with a dumbbell handle. To my knowledge, all the ones you find from China have “press fit” inside collars. That's not good. While you don't ever want to drop your dumbbells, it can happen. A press fit collar will slide.
We also do our sets with a chromed steel counter-sunk end cap, instead of the washer you typically see on the end of many dumbbells. This is much nicer if you want to set your dumbbells on your thighs. You won't have that bolt protruding into your leg. I do not recommend rubberized end caps. The rubberized ones are basically the same size as our steel ones (different manufacturers vary somewhat), the issue most people don't think about is that the rubber surface is not structural, so your hard inner part is very small. That inner part is also frequently made of cast iron, instead of steel. That small piece of cast iron inside the rubber is thin and brittle.
Basically, a lot of my customers have a variety of standard size (plates that fit a 1 inch diameter bar) plates sitting in the corner rusting away. Use those plates. Turn them into a dumbbell set. Some guys will also buy up plates at garage sales and used sporting goods stores. Believe me, I would like to sell you plates, but there is a cost to ship weight, in addition to the cost of the plates themselves. Don't forget that there are different size SDH Dumbbell Handles. Each size will hold a different number of plates, for example an SDH-1 goes from 5-20 pounds with the York Pro-Style Plates, while the SDH-2 holds from 25-40 pounds and so on. They only go up to SDH-8 size.
These are just some ideas. Enjoy building your dumbbell set!
All the best,
“Today is a good day to lift.”