The dumbbell has a long history dating back to ancient Greece, where similar handheld weights called "halteres" were used for fitness and strength training. The design of these early weights was simple, consisting of stone or metal discs attached to a handle.
In the late 18th century, the modern-day dumbbell was invented in England. It was designed as a short bar with adjustable weights on either end, making it easier to increase or decrease the weight as needed. These early dumbbells were made of cast iron and were used primarily by strongmen and circus performers. The invention of the modern dumbbell is not credited to a specific person, but rather to an evolving fitness industry that was iterating and improving.
Over the years, dumbbells have evolved to become an essential piece of fitness equipment. The weights have been filled with different materials from water and sand to concrete and steel. In the early 20th century, rubber and plastic-coated weights were introduced to reduce noise and protect floors. In the late 20th century, adjustable dumbbells became popular, allowing for quick and easy weight changes without having to switch out individual weights.
Today, dumbbells come in a wide variety of materials, including rubber, neoprene, cast iron, and more. As well as shapes, including hexagon, circular, even round with flat bottoms to prevent rolling. They are widely used for strength training and come in a range of sizes and weights, making them suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
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*The heaviest dumbbell in the world weighed in at 420lbs, made by a Canadian company in 2017.