You're feeling good. You just did a great dumbbell workout of biceps curls, overhead presses, bent-over rows, pec flies and triceps extensions to a rousing medley of Village People hits. Then you crunch your big toe on a 10-pound iron weight plate lying in the middle of the floor. Dumbbells do a body good, but since you need different weights for different exercises, you often end up with plates, collars and random bells scattered about. Solution? The dumbbell briefcase, a form-fitted, plastic box with a built-in handle that houses all the component parts. Convenient and inexpensive, these products provide a good variety of weights for the average person and make organizing, storing and traveling with your cumbersome weights a snap. And they keep your toes pretty happy too.
-- Roy M. Wallack
A quiet touch
Body Champ 32-pound adjustable rubber-coated dumbbell set: Two 3.5-pound rubber-grip handles with eight 2.5-pound weights and four 1.25-pound weights that fit in a 13-by-19-inch case.
Likes: The rubber coating on the plates feels good to the touch (not too cold), won't scratch a wood floor and stays quiet and clang-free as you rack the plates and work out. The easy-grasp, three-hole design makes the weights feel safe and easy to use for bar-free exercises.
Price: $69.99. Available only at Big 5 Sporting Goods stores, www.big5sportinggoods.com.
Packs an all-over workout
HeavyHands 1- to 5-pound MegaPac in an aluminum case: High-end model of a dumbbell system specifically designed for an "all-body" walking-running workout. Features four pairs of 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-pound screw-on weights and a strap to secure the weight to your hand.
Likes: Improves your aerobic workout by raising your heart rate and calories burned without interrupting your stride. Much easier to use during walking and running than any of the regular dumbbells reviewed here. Also, fine for regular strengthening work. Sturdy, classy-looking aluminum case. Optional add-on weights go as high as 10 pounds.
Price: $129.99 (on sale now for $99.99). (877) 244-5466; www.heavyhandsfitness.com.
Easy on, easy off
Marcy cast-iron 40-pound adjustable dumbbell set: 20-by-13-inch case that includes four 7.5-pound plates and four 2.5-pound plates.
Likes: Burly, attractive plastic case with comfortable handles. An outer rubber buffer on each plate protects hardwood floors. Spin-lock collars secure weight plates and make adding or removing weights simple, quick and easy. Enough weight for average exercisers.
Dislikes: Would have preferred all of the 2.5-pound plates to be housed inside the box, although they seem to stay firmly in place.
Price: $79.99. (626) 961-8686; www.impex-fitness.com.
Who you callin' lightweight?
Exercera 20-pound neoprene dumbbell set: 12-by-15-inch plastic case includes three pairs of one-piece, non-adjustable, color-keyed dumbbells (2 pounds, 3 pounds and 5 pounds).
Likes: Comfortable to the touch. No weight plates or collars to mess with. Useful for weighted aerobics and walking. Good starter dumbbell set for new exercisers or the elderly.
Dislikes: Too light for many exercisers. You can't add additional weight plates, as with the Marcy and Body Champ models.
Price: $39.99. (800) 763-1521; exercera.com.