TL;DR – Weights are expensive for the following three reasons:
- Shipping costs – Most weights are manufactured overseas. Due to their size and weight shipping they are expensive to ship.
- Production & Design Costs – Weights must be durable, high-quality, precision goods. Therefore, high costs go into developing and testing models.
- Material Costs – Good quality weights are made from iron, which is a high value raw material.
Although, they can be expensive they are a good long-term investment for any home gym. Before we breakdown what to look for let’s first explain the price.
Why Professional Weights Are Expensive
As the name suggests, professional weights are-well, professional, which means they are manufactured by experts of the field and are put through rigorous testing before being marketed.
They are not only made with top of the line materials but also designed on preset standards.
For example, professional weights have the same dimensions and volume for each category. For instance, if a 5kg dumbbell has specific dimensions, all 5kg models will have the exact measurements and density.
Another factor is the consumer base. Since professional weights are mostly marketed for high-level athletes and fitness experts, they are retailed at higher prices.
Lastly, dumbbells are physical implements that do not have digital components, unlike other fitness machines such as treadmills or ellipticals, which means they have a longer life-cycle and do not become obsolete when a new model is launched.
However, the breakdown of the cost can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some may charge more for the material than production, while others may need to charge more for shipping.
To give you a fair idea about how companies decide on the amount of a particular cost, we will go over each header in detail.
The shipping cost of any item primarily depends on two factors; the item’s distance and weight.
Typically professional weights are manufactured overseas, mainly in China, and then shipped to the consumer. So, naturally, a product coming from around the world is going to be more expensive than the one coming from a neighboring country.
Similarly, the heavier a package, the more its transportation is going to cost.
Aside from these essential components that make up the shipping cost of weights, custom duty, and taxes also play a role in setting the price tag.
Some countries impose high tax duties on imported products, especially ones that have more weight. Therefore, shipping can be one of the largest components of the cost passed on to the buyer.
Weights have different production costs based on the volume of material used.
For instance, a cheap pair of dumbbells may cost between 2-3 dollars per pound. And that’s for the inexpensive models; pricier ones can cost quite a bit based on the weight.
It goes without saying that the material used in making a weight significantly affects the price. Although all metals used are pricey, some are more than others.
For example, cast iron is relatively cheaper than stainless steel, so shoddy weights mostly use the former while elite models the latter.
However, cheap weights can have inclusions, meaning they might contain iron with other elements that lower the volume of iron. Hence, the price may be reduced.
What Are The Differences Between Cheap And Expensive Weights?
The first and foremost difference between an expensive and cheap set of dumbbells is the quality.
Since the two use different materials, they offer different finishes, grips, heaviness-in short the overall quality.
The elite ones are generally manufactured using dense metals such as stainless steel with a urethane coating for superior grip; whereas, the shoddy sets are made of cast iron, which is also dense but not durable as high-caliber steel.
The use of different quality metals in expensive and cheap weights doesn’t not only create a gap in price but also functionality and durability of the implements.
Handle and Knurling
Knurling-the cross-hatch design visible on the handle-on a weight makes or breaks the grip.
In cheaper models, it is either too slippery to maintain a firm hold over the tool or so coarse that holding the implement may seem impossible.
Expensive weights have just the right amount of cross-hatching on them that makes ideal knurling.
Some pricey models may even have tapered handles that facilitate equal weight distribution over an implement, reducing strain on tendons.
Expensive weights are well-designed and built to last, unlike the less expensive models.
However, some cheap ones may also last a while, but they do not offer the same comfort as their pricier counterparts.
Since investing in a pair (or more) of dumbbells or barbells is done once in two-three years, so it’s best to spend a few more bucks for superior comfort, functionality, and longevity.
How to Balance Quality and Price When Buying Weights
Since weights do not go out of date, you can buy a fairly expensive set by a reputed brand because they will last you a while.
For those building their home gym on a budget look for second hand (read: slightly used) pieces on online forums. They cost a fraction of the price of brand new weights and remain functional for years to come.
Whenever looking to buy weights or any gym equipment, first be sure of what your fitness goals are and what you want to achieve by lifting weights.
Once you are clear on that, only then decide on the model. But we’d recommend you to keep quality a priority before making a purchase decision.
Also, if you are new to buying weights, don’t fall victim to the mindset that you need to own all the sets.
Many times, beginners spend hundreds of dollars acquiring the entire range of dumbbells, thinking they’ll need all of those.
But that’s not true. For newbie trainers, three sets are sufficient to get the job done. A pair of light, heavy and extra heavy weights will last you for many years.
And once you have fully transitioned into an expert, you can look into buying more heavyweights if you want, but the set you already own would be enough too.
Weights are expensive due to shipping, production, and material costs. However, a quality set of weights is a long-term investment for any home gym or fitness enthusiast.