Few things in fitness have become the standard quicker than the rubber hex dumbbell. While dumbbells have been around since ancient Greece, rubber hex dumbbells were first introduced into the fitness market as recently as 1999. Since that point, their popularity has grown to an unprecedented level, with rubber hex dumbbell sets now dominating the dumbbell market. There is nothing else even close. Unfortunately, the consensus view is that a "rubber hex DB is a rubber hex DB," and price is the only purchase criteria. With this in mind, most rubber hex manufacturers have worked on lowering their manufacturing cost in order to compete.

The Birth of the Rubber Hex Dumbbell

Hampton Fitness was the original inventor of the hex shaped dumbbell having a rubber coating back in the 1990's. They named it the "Dura-Bell". Their approach was to be much more than simply putting a rubber coating on a cast iron hex dumbbell. Cheap cast iron hex dumbbell sets already had a reputation for the heads coming loose from hard use and being repeatedly dropped. Hampton's goal was to manufacture a product with structural integrity from the inside out that would withstand the rigors of commercial use. This resulted in a patented system where the hex heads were attached to the handle shaft by a two-step process. First, the handle was threaded into the hex head and then a 1/4" steel heat-tempered pin was pressed through the end of the handle. As a result, there was no way for the head and handle to separate. Notice the difference in construction of a Hampton rubber hex and another brand. Hampton is still the only manufacturer using this extensive two-step patented system.

More Innovation

The next phase of development was the heads. Unlike most manufacturers that cast a hex shaped iron head, Hampton cast and machined round heads. Then the rubber casing was applied to create the Hexagonal shape, and the rubber thickness at 6 hex points was slightly over 1/2" thick for maximum impact protection. Extensive testing had shown that using only rubber encasing over the cast hex points created a potential for the rubber to split from the inside out. Machining the hex heads to a round shape enabled the encasing to dissipate the concussion and shock over an even surface.

Hampton Fitness Round Cast Iron Head for Rubber Hex and Urethane Hex Dumbbell Sets

The next step put the competition in the rear view mirror for good. Hampton took the coating process from rubber to polyurethane. The price differential was minimal while the benefit was exponential. Urethane Hex Dumbbells have extraordinary longevity as compared to Rubber Hex Dumbbells. Urethane is a polymer that is injection-molded during the manufacturing process. The protection is incredible because the urethane will not break down. This is the same process used to manufacture highly durable skateboard wheels.

The competition is still using rubber encasing over hex shaped heads. Rubber is a breathing compound that will suffer from oxidation. The oxidation results in the rubber drying and losing elasticity, which will eventually lead to cracking. Another noteworthy fact about rubber encased dumbbells, especially when buying cheap no-name versions, is the risk of a foul smelling product that has left many unassuming customers having to resort to putting their dumbbells outside to attempt to "air out". Nothing like the smell of rotten eggs in your home gym in the morning!

Urethane Hex Dumbbell Handles

Many additional components in the Hampton Urethane Hex are not readily apparent. Everyone has the ergo grip, but only the Hampton Urethane Hex uses a hard chrome (grade #1045) handle. This is an alloy steel and not merely a chrome-plated finish. The knurling is a 500-point-per-square-inch pattern that provides a firm but not aggressive grip. Handle diameters from 12 lbs. up are a massive 35mm. This not only looks and feels substantial but it's a design enhancement that ensures the dumbbell handles don't bend under extreme use.

Urethane Hex Dumbbell Quality

Warranty says a lot about quality, and Hampton Urethane Hex Dumbbells have a lot to say:

  • Who else can advertise a 5-year commercial warranty?
  • Who else can advertise their dumbbells as truly maintenance free?
  • Who else can advertise an exclusive dedicated factory to manufacturing?

Urethane Hex Dumbbell Rack Compatibility

A big advantage a hex shaped dumbbell has over round head dumbbells is that they don't roll. This is a big reason why the US Coast Guard and US Navy are such big fans of rubber and urethane hex dumbbells. That being said, racking solutions do not require rubber dumbbell saddles as do round dumbbells to keep them from rolling around. Compatible horizontal dumbbell racks include multi-level dumbbell racks with angle iron and multi-tier shelf racks with solid steel trays. For maximum space savings, consider a vertical dumbbell rack with either two or four sides.

When you're ready to purchase heavy-duty commercial urethane-coated hex dumbbells, reach out to Ironcompany.com.

Contact John Sisk at 888-758-7527 ext. 720 or by email john@ironcompany.com for assistance or with questions. And check us out at www.ironcompany.com

About the Author

John Sisk is a former US Marine and is passionate about helping others achieve success in the arena of fitness. As a fitness industry veteran of over 40-years, John has the experience, product knowledge, and perspective that are second to none. John was founder and president of Legend Fitness for 29 years before teaming up with IRON COMPANY in 2006. With over 147 manufacturing partners, John has the right tools, experience, and expertise to ensure you get the best products for your fitness application, whether it is for military, commercial, or personal use. This is more than a job; it is a lifetime commitment to helping people. When not at IRON COMPANY, John can be found leading a Bible Study in the inner city or hiking the Appalachian Trail. Contact John here.