DIY Dumbbells | Make Your Own Weights in 5 Minutes

Working out at home is becoming more of an alternative for those that have space. Going to the gym is still great, but it can be expensive, and on some days you just don’t feel like leaving the house. 

Of course, if you’re working out at home on the regular, you’ll want to eventually start getting some equipment, so you can go all professional and get the full workout to the same level as the gym.

Weights are one of the easiest and most versatile pieces of equipment to get, as they can be incredibly useful for full body workouts. Especially dumbbells

The problem…dumbbells can get pricey. And if you’re just starting out with your at-home fitness, you might not want to spend that much.

The solution…make your own! Making DIY dumbbells is easier than you think, and a lot cheaper than buying them. 

Plus, you can make different types by using different methods! Let’s jump right into it!

What are Dumbbells and what are they good for?

A dumbbell is a type of free weight, used for exercises that utilize weight lifting. 

A traditional dumbbell, like the ones found in the gym, is usually a metal rod, with two round weights, one on each side.


So it’s essentially two blocks of weight, one on each side for balance, with a handle in the middle where you place your hand to lift it. 

The current design that dumbbells have is quite modern, but the concept of dumbbells has been around since way before Ancient Greece, so they’re a time-proven effective piece of equipment when it comes to fitness and workout routines! 

But what are dumbbells good for? 

Well, the main thing they do is allow you to lift the weight, and work the muscles out. Because they’re…well…weights! 

But the thing about dumbbells is that they’re excellent for being incorporated into resistance exercises, and aerobic exercises, so they can be incredibly versatile and can basically provide you with an enhanced full body workout. 

In fact, the American Heart Association (the AHA), recommends the use of dumbbells to maximize workout routines and to reap all the health benefits that they can provide. 

Some of the main benefits of incorporating dumbbells are:

  • Increasing the strength of your muscles and bones
  • Boosting your metabolic rate, and burning way more calories than plain cardio
  • Strengthening your body against injury, so that you’re overall stronger and healthier

We’ll look at some more reasons why dumbbells are amazing down below, but basically, they’re good for improving your fitness. And as they are super convenient and easy to use, they are the perfect addition to your home workouts. 

Reasons why you should use dumbbells for your home workout: 

If you’re still debating whether you should make your own dumbbells or not, let us convince you. 

They are incredibly useful and versatile, and the perfect at-home weight lifting equipment to provide you with a full body workout, with plenty of diverse exercises. 

Here are some other main reasons why dumbbells are great for home workouts: 

Can be better than cardio

Cardio exercises tend to be the go-to for overall fitness workout routines, especially if the aim is to lose some weight. But using dumbbells can be a lot more effective than plain cardio!

Mixing weight lifting with aerobic exercises, avoiding long pauses in between, works the muscles and the cardiovascular system at the same time, and can pay off a lot more. (And it will also be better for weight loss).

Plus, weight lifting has a few more health benefits, such as improving blood sugar levels and decreasing the risk of diabetes. 

Easy and convenient

Dumbbells are a super convenient piece of equipment, and they are perfect for at-home workouts. 

They’re small and compact, making them super easy to store away when not in use. 

And they are also extremely versatile and can add weight lifting to a huge number of different aerobic exercises. 

Not to mention that having your own dumbbells at home means you no longer have to leave the house to work out, ideal for those that struggle with getting out or going to the gym! 

Man training with dumbbells

Get a full-body workout

A lot of people have the misconception that dumbbells are only good for working out your arms, by weight lifting them repetitively. 

In truth, dumbbells can be used with an incredible number of different aerobic and weight lifting exercises, and they can provide a full body workout that works every last muscle! 

Highly effective building strength and mass

You might think that it’s better to just get one of those full body workout at-home machines, as they look a lot more professional. 

But here’s the thing, dumbbells are a lot easier to use, and they are also more effective at building strength and mass.

This is because the machines tend to focus and specialize in each exercise, while the dumbbells will work for several muscle groups at once! 

Increase bone density

Dumbbells are great for improving your muscles, that’s pretty obvious as they’re weights. But did you know that they’re also good for your bones? 

Yup, that’s right. Lifting weights increases bone density, which then reduces the risk of breaking your bones or developing osteoporosis. 

So they’re pretty good for your health overall! 

They add variety to the routine

You don’t necessarily need equipment in order to work out at home. 

There are plenty of exercises that require nothing more than you, your time and effort, and maybe a mat on the floor. 

But unless you massively enjoy working out, you’ll find that those types of exercises can get quite repetitive and boring, meaning they might lessen your motivation. 

Dumbbells can be used in many different ways, and there are different types as well. So they can add a touch of variety to your workout routine, and they open up plenty of extra exercising possibilities! 

We could go on and on, listing plenty of other advantages of using dumbbells within your at-home workout routine, but you get the idea.

Instead, let’s move on to the main section of this article: how to make your own dumbbells! 

5 different methods of making your own dumbbells

DIY dumbbells are super easy to make, and can often be done in 5 minutes or under. 

Not to mention that you can usually make them with materials lying around the house, so it’s a lot cheaper than buying them elsewhere! 

There are many different ways and methods to go about making your own dumbbells for weight lifting, but we’ve included the top five most popular and effective methods so that they’re easy and simple. 

Let’s get right into it! 

1. Water bottle dumbbells

Water bottle dumbbells are one of the easiest to make, and they can be super versatile in their use.

DIY Dumbbells | Make Your Own Weights in 5 Minutes

On average, a water bottle dumbbell will weigh around 3 to 5 pounds. 

But depending on the size of the bottle you use, you could get it to weigh up to around 30lbs or so! 

They’re fast and easy to make and can be done with materials that you will likely have around the house. 

You will need:

  • 8 water bottles (you can use less or more, depending on how heavy and big you want the dumbbells to be!)
  • Heavy duty tape 
  • A tube or pipe, needs to be sturdy 
  • Water! 

Step by step guide:

  1. Start out by filling each bottle with water. You can fill them all the way, or partially, depending on how much weight you want the dumbbells to have. Make sure to close the water bottles once they have the water, so it doesn’t spill or leak out! 
  2. Next, take four of the bottles, and tie them together by using heavy duty tape. Wrap them up in the tape tightly, so that they form a single block of water bottles. Then, do the same for the other four bottles. (You can adapt the number of water bottles used depending on how big or small you want the dumbbells to be!) 
  3. Take the tube or pipe, and insert it through the block of water bottles, from the bottom upward. Then put it through the other block of water bottles. This way, you will have one block of water bottles on each end of the stick. (The bigger and heavier the bottles of water are, the sturdier and stronger the stick will need to be, so take this into account!) 
  4. Use more tape to secure the stick in place with the water bottles, so that everything is sturdy and secure. This is now a dumbbell!
  5. You can repeat the process again to make a second dumbbell, and keep going until you have as many as you want! 

2. Milk and water jug dumbbells

This type of DIY dumbbell is perfect if you’re looking to lift a lighter amount of weight, and they’re really easy to make. (Can definitely get this one done in 5 minutes!) 

They also use very common and cheap materials, so it’s the perfect go-to low-cost and low-effort option. Let’s get to it! 

You will need:

  • Two empty milk or water jugs. (Made out of sturdy plastic. They can also be juice jugs or similar!) 
  • Something to fill the jugs with, and add weight. This could be sand, rice, pebbles, water, or similar! 

Step by step guide:

  1. Take the empty jugs, of whichever size and type you have chosen, and fill them with the material you have at hand. Take into account that different things will add a different amount of weight. Also, you can fill them up completely, or fill them up partially, to make them less or more heavy. 
  2. Close the lid of the jug back up so that it’s secure…and that’s it. Yeah, this one is a very simple and straightforward method! Now you can lift the jugs and be a pro with your at-home workout! 

3. Sand dumbbells

Sand dumbbells take a little more time to make (maybe around 30 minutes or so), and they require a few more tools and a bit more effort. 

But they’re also very easy to make, and they’re one of the nicest DIY dumbbell options, as they are super comfortable to use and they also look really good. 

Let’s run you through the instructions!

You will need:

  • Two plastic bottles (you can choose whichever size you want, bigger will hold more weight, and smaller will hold less)
  • Sand, as much or as little as needed to fill the bottles with weight
  • A wooden dowel, we recommend one that is around 8 inches long (but you can alter the size accordingly) 
  • 4 screws
  • Paper 
  • Foam wrap (optional, but recommended)
  • Measuring tape and marker
  • A wooden saw
  • A utility knife 

Step by step guide:

  1. First of all, find a wooden dowel that will fit tightly into the neck of the bottles you are using. A tighter fit will be more secure than a looser one. 
  2. Take the bottles, and mark them. Then cut them so that the upper part comes apart, and then further cut the bottom. Get rid of the middle part, and you will join the two pieces you have together, resulting in a shorter water bottle that is better for becoming a dumbbell. (Secure the parts together with strong tape).
  3. Use the wood saw to cut the wooden dowel in half, so that you have two equally long sticks, for each of the dumbbells. 
  4. Next, fill the bottles with sand, as much or as little as needed, depending on how much you want them to weigh. 
  5. Now, place the wooden dowel into the bottle, one edge in. Take a screw, and screw it into the bottleneck, from the side, so that it also goes through the edge of the dowel, securing it into place. Then do the same with the second bottle, so that there’s a bottle on each side of the dowel, secured with screws. 
  6. As a final and optional step, you can then wrap foam or similar around the dowel, so that it becomes a more comfortable handle when using the dumbbell. 
  7. And that’s it! With everything secure, you can now use your sand dumbbells with your at-home workout routine! 

4. Backpack weights

The backpack weight is perhaps one of the more unconventional DIY dumbbells…especially because it isn’t technically a dumbbell, but it can act as one! 

It’s also the absolute easiest to make and can be undone just as easily, so it doesn’t even have to be a piece of permanent workout equipment! 

Let’s get right into it. 

You will need:

  • A backpack (You can choose whichever backpack works best, in whichever size you prefer!) 
  • Items to fill the backpack with, adding weight to it. (These can be magazines, books, or any other items that can fit inside the backpack and make it weigh more!) 

Step by step guide:

  1. Start by choosing the right backpack for the job. You can use any old backpack that you have lying around the house, or you can pick and try out different backpacks according to their size or design. You should also take into account what kind of dumbbell exercises you’re going to perform. You could lift the backpack with your hands, or could even wear it on your back for certain exercises! 
  2. Next, fill the backpack up with items, so that it becomes as heavy as you need it to be! Books and thick magazines tend to be the easiest items to go for, as they will quickly add weight, and can be stacked into the backpack neatly. But you can use anything you have around the house! 
  3. That’s it! Make sure you close the backpack, and if you’re using two then make sure the weight is as even as possible amongst the two. Now you can use them as “dumbbell” weight lifts! Super simple and easy. 

5. Concrete weights

If you’re looking for seriously heavy dumbbells, for some more advanced weight lifting, you can try out concrete weights.

These are made out of cement, and they will therefore be a lot heavier, and a lot more permanent than the other DIY dumbbells listed. 

However, take into account that these DIY dumbbells aren’t as easy to make, and they definitely will not be done in under 5 minutes.

In fact, it will usually take around a week. But hey, by the end of it you’ll have some robust and highly advanced dumbbells for the advanced weight lifting exercises! 

You will need:

  • A small bucket filled with sand
  • A small bucket with cement
  • A bucket of water
  • Two empty small buckets
  • A wooden dowel (you can vary the length as needed, but we recommend having a 12-inch long one!) 
  • A screwdriver and 20 screws
  • A paintbrush (medium size will work best for the job) 
  • White glue
  • Measuring tape and a marker
  • A utility knife  
  • Sandpaper

Step by step guide:

  1. Start by preparing the wooden dowel! If you’re making two dumbbells, you will need two 12-inch wooden dowels. Alternatively, you could get a longer dowel and cut it in half. And you can also adjust the length depending on the size you want the dumbbells to be. 
  2. Next, screw the screws into the wooden dowel, half and half. So 10 screws on one end of the dowel, and 10 on the other. There’s no specific pattern you need to follow, just screw them around and along the edge. However, make sure you are leaving them so that they stick out about an inch or an inch and a half outwards. (So they’re secure, but they’re not screwed in all the way). 
  3. Take one of the two empty buckets and fill it with 2 parts sand and 1 part cement. Mix this together properly.
  4. Then, mix together 2 cups of water with a tablespoon of white glue. Stir, then add it to the bucket (the one you’ve now filled with sand and cement). 
  5. Mix everything some more! In the end, it should turn into a creamy mixture. You might need to add a bit of extra water to get it right. 
  6. Place one end of the wooden dowel into the bucket with the mixture. Make sure you place it right bang in the center, and so that it is completely straight and not tilted. Then leave it somewhere safe and out of the way, and leave it to dry for around 2 or 3 days, until it’s completely solid. 
  7. Next, repeat the process with the second bucket, and place the other end of the dowel into it. (yes, the other side will have the already dry bucket you did first.) 
  8. After another 2 or 3 days, you will now have both buckets dry and ready. So remove the buckets, and you’ll be left with bucket-shaped blocks of cement at both ends of the dowel. (Use the utility knife to remove the buckets, as they’ll be properly stuck to the cement!) 
  9. Now you can use the sandpaper to smooth both blocks that form the dumbbell. 
  10. Mix white glue with water, and use the paintbrush to apply it onto the blocks. As if you’re painting them! This will help solidify them and stop the cement from cracking!
  11. As a final step (which is also optional, but highly recommended), you can add a layer of foam or rubber to the wooden dowel, so that it’s easier and more comfortable to grip when using it. You could also cover the blocks of cement with something softer, to protect yourself and the surrounding area.

In conclusion

Dumbbells are the perfect piece of equipment to improve your at-home workouts, and they’re incredibly versatile and convenient. 

Instead of buying your own, which could get pricey, you can very easily make your own DIY dumbbells, fast, easy, and cheap. 

Whether you’re using the water bottle method, the milk or water jug method, the sand method, the concrete method, or even the backpack method…there’s something to suit everyone!  

Homemade dumbbells

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Article by:

Daniel DeMoss

I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.