Rewritten in 2022 with new suggestions and to separate the barbell microloading solutions to a new article.

The Problem

Non-adjustable dumbbells in 5lb size increments force you to jump 10 lbs for every exercise involving two hands. This works okay sometimes, or for a while. Eventually you’ll be hurting for a way to go up in smaller jumps as you push your limit.

Some dumbbells come in 2.5lb increments. That’s one way of partly addressing the issue, if you want to shell out the money for a whole extra set of in-between sized dumbbells and you have space to store them. Even with that, it results in big 5lb jumps when you’re using two dumbbells. You want to be able to add micro weights.

Adding on weights to these kinds of dumbbells isn’t straightforward, because there isn’t much to attach something to. Fortunately there are several products available that offer solutions.

Rogue Rubber Add-On Weights

how to add weight to dumbbells

Rogue dumbbell add-on weights fit on the inside of the dumbbell, around the handle. Most dumbbells have enough room to spare on the handle for these, with an average user’s hand size. Check your dumbbell fit to make sure.

Twist the flexible part of the plate and you can get it pretty easily around the handle.

They are available in 0.5, 1, and 1.5lb sizes.

Keep in mind it’s okay to just add a single plate like this for each dumbbell, if you either can’t fit your hand in or you want to microload a smaller amount. Just do it the same on the other dumbbell. In this way it’s not like loading a barbell unevenly. So you could go up by as small as 0.5 lb increments per hand.

Micro Gainz Fractional Dumbbell Plates

dumbbell add on weights

These USA-made steel add-on weights by Micro Gainz are not rubber coated, making them thinner than the Rogue plates, with less potential to take up vital hand room. They secure in a different way too, by means of a spring that opens the two pieces enough to get it around the handle and then tension them into place.

They are sold in 1lb, and 1.25lb, and 2.5lb sizes.

PlateMate Magnetic Add-On Weights

magnetic fractional plates

PlateMates have been around for many years as a go-to solution to add weights to dumbbells. They come in 1.25lb and 2.5lb sizes.

They are iron weights with magnets in them so you can attach them to any reasonably flat iron surface. The magnets are strong and hold on well.

The hex shape can attach to the heads of hex dumbbells. The donut shape has a hole a bit over 1″ and is overall less useful but works good on pro style dumbbells.

They won’t work on rubber or urethane coated dumbbells. Even these strong magnets are not strong enough to reach through those materials effectively.

Adjustable Wrist Weights

micro weights for dumbbells

Weight lifters often overlook aerobic style wrist weights. These are adjustable from 1.1 to 3.5 lbs per hand. Having a pound or so on your wrist is very similar to adding to the weight you’re holding in your hand. With most dumbbells they don’t get in the way.

DIY Chain Loops

microloading dumbbells

You can get several lengths of chain and use carabiners to make some micro weight loops and slip them onto dumbbell handles. The weight all depends on the size of the chain you can find. Thin chain can easily be less than a pound per loop of the type shown above.