If you are like me then you have a chaotic house and barely enough space to swing a kettlebell. With work, kids and everything else it can be hard to find time to get to the gym. I prefer to use free weights rather than machines when I am training especially a dumbbell set. So recently I decided to try out adjustable dumbbells to see what they were like. I have always been a fan of solid dumbbells but have a full dumbbell set in the house is just not practical.
Adjustable dumbbells as a concept
The idea of adjustable dumbbells is pretty simple. Instead of having 20 individual dumbbell sets with a huge dumbbell rack you just have two fairly compact dumbbells. You can store them in the corner or under your bed but you get all the benefits of having access to the wider weight range they offer.
There is also a significant cost saving. You could spend well over $1000 to get a reasonable dumbbell set. That’s usually before you buy a rack or figure out where you’re actually going to put them. The adjustable set solves this problem on both counts.
Sounds like a win-win right? The only real downside to adjustable dumbbells versus regular dumbbells is speed. If you have say three sets of regular dumbbells you can just grab the set you need and perform the exercise you want to. With the Adjustable option, you will need to select the weight you want and then adjust accordingly. Personally, I think this is a very small downside given the options the adjustable set gives you. It will come down to personal choice as some people may find this annoying.
So with all that said I have taken a look at some of the best adjustable dumbbell sets available and broken them down to help you make a decision on which set will work for you.
Let’s dive in:
Bowflex selecttech 552 adjustable dumbbells
If you mainly workout at home you have probably heard of the brand bowflex. They make all kinds of fitness equipment generally for home use including the famous bowflex weights. The bowflex 552 dumbbell set is one of the most popular dumbbell sets for home based training.
The main feature of the bowflex selecttech 552 set is the dial based locking system. First up it looks pretty cool. A little like something you might see on the space station. But joking aside it works really well and does exactly what it needs to do.
They have a wide weight range starting at 5 pounds at the bottom end and increasing all the way to 52.5 pounds. This is a great range and is more than enough for most people to get a great workout across all kinds of exercises.
A nifty feature is the increments you can adjust the dumbbells in. At the lower end of the range between 5 and 25 pounds, you can increase or decrease in blocks of 2.5 pounds. This is a great adjustment level which allows anyone trying to progress to gradually increase weight. Having such as particular control over the weight levels can really help out, especially for beginners so this is very important.
At the higher end of the scale from 25 pounds up the adjustment changes to blocks of 5 pounds. This is pretty common and is less of an issue with exercises like rows and presses. Overall it’s a lot of adjustment and scope to get exactly what you need all in one set.
Bowflex selecttech 552 quick video guide[content_container max_width=’500′ align=’center’] [/content_container]
If you are like me and a little short on time then stopping every two minutes to adjust the dumbbells is not an option. This was my main concern about using any adjustable dumbbell set. The Bowflex 552 set delivers this rapid change really well. The quick adjustment and release system means I can carry out my first exercise, quickly adjust the weight and move on fast. Very little downtime. I really like this feature.
While 52.5 pounds is a good upper weight limit if your planning on becoming a power lifter or really ramping up your strength training then they may not be heavy enough. Unlike regular dumbbells which are usually pretty tough, they are also not really designed to be dropped on a regular basis.
It’s not mandatory but I would advise spending a little extra and getting the set with the stand to keep them safe. The stand is also a great help during the workouts as it allows faster weight changes when you are in a hurry.
They are backed by a two-year warranty on the parts. So if you take care of them you shouldn’t have any issues.[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2pcSJh7′ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’full’]Check the best pricing for Bowflex dumbbells[/thrive_link]
Bowflex selecttech 1090
For this second option, I am again looking at a Bowflex selecttech dumbbell. The key difference with the bowflex selecttech 1090 is that it is a single dumbbell. It’s important to note this as the bowflex 552 set we looked at already is just that, a set! So if you absolutely want a set of dumbbells then you need to keep this in mind.
It features the same locking and dialing system as the 552 set. The biggest difference is the weight range. It has almost twice the range of a single 552 dumbbell with an upper limit of 90 pounds. You can increase or decrease in blocks of 5 pounds all the way from 10 pounds at its lightest all the way to the 90-pound max limit.
Some people find the grip of the handle with this model to be a little rough. They do have a slightly unusual shape but I found them fine. A quick fix would be to wear some weight lifting gloves or even use some tape on the handles.
Similarities to the Bowflex 552 set
Just like the 552 set the quick release and adjust system works really well and means you can get on with your workout fast. Similarly, I recommend buying the stand like with the previous set to make it easier to use and store.
Without repeating myself too much they come with the same warranty length and they should not be dropped.
The big difference from the first set is the weight difference. If you plan to really progress your strength training and have the higher budget go for this 1090 option and make sure you buy two. That gives you a total of 180 pounds of weight.
With that amount of weight, you will be very well setup for the long haul. So while it’s more expensive at first you won’t need to upgrade anytime soon.[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2pd5WXb’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’full’]Check the best pricing for Bowflex 1090[/thrive_link]
The ironmaster adjustable dumbbells are a little less well known but don’t let that put you off. You may have seen square shaped dumbbells in some commercial gyms. This is designed to stop them from rolling on the floor when you put them down. This is a distinctive feature of the Ironmaster adjustable dumbbell set.
Unlike the Bowflex dumbbell sets the Ironmaster comes with a stand. Like I said in the Bowflex reviews I highly recommend you use a stand to get the maximum benefit out of a dumbbell set so that’s a great feature to have included.
Another important difference is the built quality. Unlike the Bowflex the Ironmaster set is made with Iron. So not easily breakable like a plastic set. This is great if you need to drop the weights during a workout, although I do still think using the stand is best. Because of this high level of build quality, they come with a lifetime warranty. You can;t really beat that.
Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells quick video guide[content_container max_width=’500′ align=’center’] [/content_container]
The Ironlock weight range is pretty great too. You can go from 5 pounds at the bottom end all the way to 75 pounds at the max limit. It also has the added bonus of being able to increase the weight increments in blocks of 2.5 pounds. Unlike the Bowflex they are not quick release so you do have to manually increase and decrease the weights which is a little slower.
In my opinion, the durability and build quality of the set is worth it taking the downside of a little extra time to adjust the weights during a workout.
If you have read my adjustable kettlebell review you will know how much the rattling and movement of weights annoys me. This is usually down to a poor locking system. The Ironmaster set does not move or rattle at all once you set the weights in place. So you can drop them just like regular solid dumbbells. This is both a convenient feature and sometimes a safety issue.
Overall I really like the Ironmaster set. They are probably the closest thing to real dumbbells but with all the advantages of the adjustability and space saving. They are my top recommendation.[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2pHnhL9′ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’full’]Check out the best pricing for Ironmaster[/thrive_link]
So there you have it. Plenty of options to choose from and while they all deliver results and good value each person will have their own preference. My top pick is definitely the Ironmaster set. However the Bowflex sets both deliver excellent value too. Happy lifting!