These days, more and more people are taking their health and fitness seriously. Gym memberships are increasing while organic and whole foods are rapidly gaining popularity. With an increasing interest in exercise comes a need to know what exactly the best products for weight training really are. Bowflex dumbbells are the industry leader in home gym equipment, and today we will take an in-depth look at this product as well as compare it in detail to some available alternatives to determine which product offers the best overall value in the market.
What Are Bowflex Dumbbells?
Bowflex dumbbells are the most popular adjustable dumbbells available today. They have a 96% positive review rating on Amazon, with over 2400 total reviews. They come in three different models: the Bowflex SelectTech 552, which can be adjusted from 5 to 52.5 lbs; the Bowflex SelectTech 1090, which can be adjusted from 10 lbs up to 90 lbs; and the Bowflex SelectTech 560, which incorporates smart technology to keep track of reps and sets. For the purpose of this review, we will focus on the most commonly used model: the Bowflex SelectTech 552.
There is no doubt that the feature which makes Bowflex dumbbells the most popular in the market today is the easy and convenient dial-a-weight technology for quick weight changes without interrupting the rhythm of your workout. Most adjustable dumbbells use a pin or screw that must be removed and then replaced in another slot, or others even require manually adding or removing weights, thus slowing down your workout and costing you valuable time. Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells have a dial on the top and bottom of each dumbbell that can be quickly adjusted to the desired weight, perfect for high-paced sessions.
You would probably think that being the most popular, user-friendly, and best-designed dumbbell set on the market would also mean being the most expensive, but this is not the case with the Bowflex SelecTech Dumbbells. Despite being the industry leader in adjustable hand weights, they are still very reasonably priced. We found several products with inferior designs and features that were more expensive. Bowflex dumbbells can be purchased for around $230, and are available on Amazon, Bowflex.com, and numerous fitness equipment websites and physical stores.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- Use the Bowflex SelectTech App to journal your strength training
- Space efficient - say goodbye to 15 sets of dumbbells
- Select the weight you want with a turn of a dial
- Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52 lbs
- Durable molding around metal plates provides for a smooth lift-off and quieter workouts
Ease of Use 5 Stars
Bowflex dumbbells are without a doubt the easiest and quickest to use of all adjustable dumbbell sets. With a simple click of the dial, the weights are locked into, or released from the dumbbell and you are on to your next set.
Durability 4 Stars
Bowflex has a strong reputation in the industry for offering quality products with a great design. The SelecTech Dumbbells are no different. The core, handle, and brackets are all made with high strength metal, and the weight plates are covered with a hard, thick plastic to avoid breaking or cracks. It should be noted, however, that they are not designed to be thrown around or dropped regularly as the core brackets that secure the weights may become damaged.
Weight 4 Stars
Bowflex SelecTech 552 Dumbbells start at 5 lbs and go up to 52.5 lbs. They are adjustable by 2.5 lb increments up to 25 lbs, and by 5 lb increments after that. Although the maximum setting is more than enough for about 90% of users, those who are ready to move up to the next level in their workouts and use more weight, would have to buy a whole new set of dumbbells (Bowflex SelecTech 1090 Dumbbells), as there are currently no upgrade or extension packages available.
Warranty 5 Stars
Bowflex dumbbells put their money where their mouth is when it comes to offering a guarantee on their product. They offer a two-year warranty which not only covers parts but also labor, should there be any issues with their dumbbells requiring extensive repair. Most comparable products only cover parts under their warranties. In addition to that, Bowflex also offers a six-week Fitness Results Guarantee on every purchase. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with their dumbbells, you can return them for a full refund within that six-week period.
Neoprene dumbbells are very popular among people just getting started in fitness, as well as younger people and seniors, as they generally come in lower weights and increase in smaller increments such as 1.5 or 2lbs. They are also popular in aerobic and fitness classes that incorporate resistance training with the cardiovascular activity. The neoprene coating helps to prevent dings and dents when hitting the floor, and coupled with their lighter weight, can also reduce the risk of injury when dropped on a foot or toe, as opposed to their metal counterparts.
Ease of Use 5 Stars
The neoprene coating offers a good gripping surface, making gloves unnecessary. And the smaller size makes them easier to rack close together, allowing for an easier and quicker exchange when increasing or decreasing weight between sets.
Durability 5 Stars
Neoprene dumbbells really can take a beating. It is nearly impossible to damage these weights through the regular wear and tear that comes with typical resistance training.
Weight 1 Star
Unlike Bowflex dumbbells, which are adjustable up to 52.5 lbs, and standard dumbbells, which can go up to 100 lbs or more, AmazonBasics Neoprene Dumbbells only go up to 20 lbs, which probably isn’t enough for even the most moderate weightlifters.
Warranty 1 Star
These neoprene dumbbells have only one year of limited coverage from AmazonBasics. Be sure to check the warranty details on Amazon for further details before purchasing.
“Forget the gimmicks of sissy infomercials and start training with intensity!” This is the pitch offered for XMark’s 500 lb Premium Hex Dumbbell Set. While we wouldn’t call adjustable dumbbells “gimmicks,” there certainly is an old-school gym feel to hoisting big dumbbells off of the rack and pumping out a few reps. Each weight is one-piece cast iron covered with a hard rubber casting made from virgin and recycled rubber. The handles are knurled and chrome-plated for a firm, no-slip grip. They are as sturdy and durable as the rack they rest on, a 46-inch triple row design with enough space to prevent overcrowding.
One major drawback is that you basically need a room dedicated solely to exercise and working out. While such a variety of dumbbells can certainly offer a wide array of exercises to provide a full-body workout, you need a bench to accompany it. It’s not just something you can put in the closet or slip under the bed when you are finished using it.
Ease of Use 4 Stars
While the weight rack keeps the dumbbells organized and easy to access, the constant racking and re-racking different sized weights during the workout is a bit time-consuming. Additionally, proper bending and lifting techniques need to be used when lifting the heaviest weights off of the bottom rack to avoid back injuries.
Durability 5 Stars
Undoubtedly, the best feature of the XMark Premium Dumbbell Set is their strength and durability. Being made of cast iron with a hard rubber coating on the exterior, these weights can be dropped and tossed around after a hard set and they will hardly show the wear. They can definitely take good, old-fashioned gym-style beatings.
Weight 4 Stars
Much like the Bowflex dumbbells, 50 lbs is usually enough for the average person just looking to exercise to stay healthy and keep in shape. But when a person invests nearly $1000 in exercise equipment, many times they are serious weightlifters and will easily surpass the 50 lb limit for chest and shoulder exercises. One problem with the rack is that there is no extra room to add 55 lb or 60 lb dumbbells. This means that to add additional dumbbells, you have to either purchase a bigger weight rack or just keep them on the floor.
Warranty 1 Star
No warranty information was available either on Amazon or on the manufacturer’s website. We even downloaded the owner’s manual which stated warranty information was on page 7, only to find a blank page. When a company makes it that hard to find warranty details, we can only assume it’s because it isn’t a very good warranty.
- Pair of adjustable dumbbell weights for efficient, cost-effective strength training
- Adjusts from 3 to 24 pounds in 3-pound increments (3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, and 24 pounds)
- Selector pin lets you change weights easily, just like with weight stack at the gym
- More compact and balanced than traditional dumbbells; padded handle for wrist protection
- Offers maximum weight of 24 pounds per hand; limited 10-year warranty
It has padded handles to offer extra wrist protection. It is also more compact than traditional dumbbells, allowing for better balance which, in turn, allows for better form, and more efficient and effective resistance training. A significant drawback, however, is that each dumbbell only goes up to 24 lbs, less than half the weight of the Bowflex dumbbells.
Ease of Use 4 Stars
While quicker and easier to use than standard dumbbells, the pin insertion system falls short of the dial-a-weight system incorporated in the Bowflex dumbbells.
Durability 3 Stars
By no means is the SpeedBlock a fragile or flimsy product, but with more pieces made of plastic than the Bowflex dumbbells, it does have to be treated a little more carefully and cannot stand up to being dropped very often after those tough sets.
Weight 2 Stars
This is probably the biggest limitation of the SpeedBlock, only going up to 24 lbs per dumbbell. Even casual exercise enthusiasts will need more weight for a thorough upper-body workout.
Warranty 5 Stars
This is without a doubt the most impressive feature about the Power Block SpeedBlock Dumbbell. The company offers a 10-year limited warranty! This is understandable considering one trainer we came across has been using the same set of dumbbells for 20 years. They believe in their product and they back it up.
Finally, all of these products offer different and unique features, and each could certainly help you get and stay in shape. However, we feel that the Bowflex dumbbells offer the overall best value. They take up minimal space (unlike the XMark, which basically needs its own dedicated room). They are easy to travel with (unlike neoprene dumbbells, which require you have multiple pairs) and offer 30 lbs in additional weight. The dial-a-weight system is also quicker and more efficient to use than Power Block’s pin insertion, while still offering more than double the weight. We give Bowflex dumbbells a final rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars