These types of dumbbells are the most common for home and commercial gyms. This guide will help you navigate among the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Hex dumbbells are made with chromed solid steel handles and welded-on cast iron heads with a painted finish. They're typically found in home gyms and in some smaller fitness establishments.
Rubber hex dumbbells are the same as the above, with steel handles and iron heads, but with a rubber coating instead of paint. So while they are really just rubber coated, we call them rubber dumbbells for simplicity.
Pro style dumbbells are found in most commercial gyms. They're made using solid steel handles and standard "pancake" style weight plates. They differ from standard adjustable dumbbells in that the handle ends are a precise length to fit an exact number of plates, it's bolted together so as to be semi-permanent, and they usually have end caps to further smoothen out the edges.
Rubber pro style dumbbells are the above with rubber coating on the attached weight plates instead of paint. Again, for short we call them rubber rather than rubber coated. Keep in mind that regular pro style dumbbells can also be made with only rubber end caps.
All types above can have contoured handles rather than straight. Contoured handles are thicker in the center than the edges, making for a wider and more ergonomic grip.
The relative difference in cost varies widely depending on weight, because pro style dumbbells start at a higher price but the price does not increase as much as the weight increases. Hex and rubber hex dumbbells are generally just priced per pound, although the smallest and larger sizes may be price-adjusted for minimum retail margins or to factor in skewed shipping costs.
# 1: Hex
# 2: Rubber Hex – 1.5 to 2 times the price of hex dumbbells.
# 3: Pro Style – Anywhere from 1.5 to 8 times the price of hex dumbbells.
# 4: Rubber Pro Style – Anywhere from 1.5 to 11 times the price of hex dumbbells.
PROTECTING THE FLOOR
Rubber dumbbells are softer and won't scratch your floor. The winner here is rubber pro-style because of the smooth edges of the heads. Even rubber can be kind of hard, and the comparably sharper edges of rubber hex dumbbells can conceivably stab into a sensitive floor if you aren't careful. But that may be reaching because the edges are really not very sharp. Painted iron is the biggest threat to a sensitive floor, so hex dumbbells with their sharper edges and rougher surface score last.
# 1: Rubber Pro Style
# 2: Rubber Hex
# 3: Pro Style
# 4: Hex
Even the high-quality baked-on finish on modern iron hex dumbbells will eventually chip when the dumbbells are banged around a lot. Rubber dumbbells are made to be banged around. However, rubber exposed to the hot sun will expand as it heats, and repeated exposure can cause the rubber to start cracking …