Paper or plastic, original or extra crispy -- the world is full of choices and so is the world of fitness. One choice you can make is how to spend your money. When it comes to dumbbells and hand weights, you can spend a little or a lot on rubber or on urethane.Both kinds of dumbbells have pros and cons you should consider before you open your wallet. Rubber or urethane, hand weights are versatile, compact and portable pieces of exercise equipment.
What to Look for in a Dumbbell
Regardless of the material they are made from, dumbbells help provide weight resistance while you perform strength-training exercises at home or at the gym or studio. In addition to being portable, dumbbells are comfortable and easy to hold on to, which is great as you don't want them slipping out of your hands in the middle of a class or exercise. You want some variety of weights so you can increase the resistance as you progress and become stronger.
Consider Rubber to Protect Your Floor and Wallet
Chet Groskreutz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ivanko Barbell company, describes hardness as the key difference between rubber and urethane dumbbells, and his company manufacturers both. Rubber weights are the softer material and are less likely to damage your floor if you drop them. Rubber is a natural material -- biodegradable and a greener alternative to synthetic urethane. Rubber is also more affordable, at about half the cost of weights made from urethane.
Consider Urethane for Durability
Urethane makes dumbbells especially durable. They are smooth, absorb shock well and are impact resistant. If you drop a urethane dumbbell, you will be more concerned about your floor than the hand weight. A man-made, synthetic material, urethane is hard to abrade or tear, does not degrade and stands up well to heat. Urethane is latex free, making it the obvious choice for those with an allergy to the substance found in rubber.
Flip a Coin or Save Some
Before you spend a dime, be sure to physically examine both kinds of dumbbells. The two materials feel very different in your hands. A popular brand of rubber dumbbell comes in weights of 2.5 pounds up to 15 pounds and every 2.5-pound weight in between. Hard chrome, urethane-encased dumbbells come in nine weights, from two pounds all the way up to 25. At publication, a pair of 15-pound urethane weights would cost more than $90; a comparable pair of 15-pound rubber dumbbells would cost about half that at $46.