How to Make Dumbbells on a Budget

This guide explains how to make concrete dumbbells for under $10. Absolutely no DIY skill is necessary. Anyone can do this.

You will need;

  • Bag of cement
  • Builders sand
  • Rubber tubing
  • A thick metal pole, preferably with threading
  • Some bolts to screw round the pole
  • PVA glue
  • Some plastic sheeting
  • Insulation tape
  • 6 litre water bottle (or as big as you can find)

Dumbbells are expensive, and I wanted a DIY job to complete.  This is why I decided to visit my local hardware store to see what items I could buy to make some dumbbells on a budget.  There is no good advice on the internet other than lifting paint cans so I decided to make the real thing.

Please note: I had absolutely no experience of DIY and have learnt on the job. Anyone can make these.

Step One

I found a long metal rod that wouldn’t bend, and had threading on it. Because of the threading, I was able to use standard bolts as a way of keeping the weights in place.  Next I went to the hose pipe section and found some black tubing which fit snugly over the metal rod.  This acts as a hand grip, but also to add thickness to make it easier to hold.  

We cut this rod in half using a handheld hacksaw.

Step Two

From 7/eleven I bought a few 6L bottles of water.  I drank these and cut them in half.  The bottom half was then filled with concrete.

To make the concrete I added a bunch of sand to a bunch of cement powder, added some PVA for good measure, then added water and stirred in a bucket.  To test the consistency, find a cup, pack it with concrete, and make a sandcastle. Remove the cup and it should slump to half the height of the cup.

Next, insert the metal rod, sheathed, in rubber tubing, into the centre of the wet cement and find a way to secure it in place.  I used a stool that had a hole In the centre for this. 

Once dry, you should be able to remove the metal rod from the middle, leaving just the rubber tubing behind. 

Cut this tube down, flush with the concrete.

(optional- make a PVA/water paste and pour this all over the top of the weight and allow some to drip into the centre of the hole.  This acts to seals the concrete. Allow to dry)  

 Next you want to make some circular disc from plastic.  We used some cheap corrugated? plastic that you can find in any arts and crafts shop. Cut a hole in the middle for the rod.

Stick the disk over the exposed bit of concrete with some PVA glue.  Then you can wrap the weight in insulation tape to make it look cool and add protection.

Double this process for the second weight, then inset the metal rod into the two weights, with a piece of left over rubber tube for the hand grip.

Screw the bolts on, and you’re ready to go.

We’ve made two sets, one of ~9kg, and one of ~12kg.  Our next project is to make a barbell using 6L bottles on each end. 

We’re still refining the process, but for a first attempt, they look pretty good.


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Published in: Do-It-Yourself


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