Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells review

 

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells adjustable dumbbells are without a doubt the most popular home dumbbells set on the market, and I love them. (Note: the SelectTech 1090’s have a wider weight range than the 552’s).

The 552%u2019s have the highest user rating out of any other set, and have built a seriously impressive reputation throughout the fitness industry. Bowflex reportedly sells thousands of these things every month. But besides the attractive design and the popular Bowflex name, the feature that really sets the SelectTech%u2019s apart from the crowd is their unique dial-a-weight adjustment system. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a pair of these and workout with them for a few weeks, so I put together a detailed review for anyone thinking about buying the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells.

Like all top-notch products, it%u2019s not about who does it first, it%u2019s about who does it best. And I think Bowflex had that in mind when creating the SelectTech series. The concept of adjustable dumbbells has been around for years now, tracing all the way back to PowerBlock in the early 1990%u2019s, so it%u2019s not like Bowflex introduced this totally new idea to the world. Instead, they took this existing concept and figured out a way to make things faster, easier, and more desirable to the average home athlete.

When they finally released the SelectTech 552, their innovative design was not only a total game-changer to the home dumbbells category, but also to the home gym equipment industry as a whole.

The main reason for this was the introduction of Bowflex%u2019s unique new SelectTech dial adjustment system. It was an industry-shock to say the least. Prior to the Bowflex dumbbells, the only way to change weight settings on an adjustable dumbbell was using some type of pin or screw and manually adding or removing the weight plates yourself. With the SelectTech%u2019s, there was now a numbered dial on the end of each dumbbell, and all you had to do to change weight was simply twist the dial and go.

It was straightforward, easy to use, and most of all: lightning-fast. Naturally, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 flew off the charts and eventually became what we know it as today: the best-selling adjustable dumbbells set of all time. It%u2019s the hottest set on the market and is still to this day the fastest and easiest system to use by far.

Details

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells offer a fairly wide weight range to work with, from as little as 5 lbs to as much as 52.5 lbs (per dumbbell). There are 15 different weight settings to choose from, and what%u2019s really nice about the SelectTech 552%u2019s is that you have the ability to adjust weight in 2.5 lb increments for the first 25 lbs (once you get to 25 lbs, it moves up in 5 lb increments). Small, precise weight increments like these are crucial if you want the most versatility out of your adjustable dumbbells. Most other sets only offer the ability to adjust in 5 lb or 10 lb increments, so I liked that Bowflex gives you the extra micro-increments to get the most precise weight settings.

For most people, trying to increase weight in bigger increments (like 5 or 10 lbs at a time) is too difficult for your muscles to do, so you struggle with keeping good form and can%u2019t complete your reps, which means you don%u2019t build strength as well. Fortunately, because the SelectTech 552%u2019s can adjust in such small increments, you have the ability to increase weight at a more steady pace which allows you to keep perfect form, get your full rep range, and gain strength faster and easier.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair) and Stand Bundle
  • Bundle includes Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair) and Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell...
  • Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds; adjusts in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25...
  • Stand features a large media rack with Teflon grip material to ensure your Smart device or tablet...
  • Items may ship in more than one box and may arrive separately

Last update on 2019-12-10 / Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The only downside for stronger or more advanced weightlifters is that the weight range is not expandable, so if you ever needed more weight than the 52.5 lbs they offer, you%u2019d have to buy an entirely new set of adjustable dumbbells that had a higher weight range.

Bowflex%u2019s patented SelectTech dial-a-weight adjustment system is hands-down the best feature about the Bowflex 552%u2019s. This is the very reason that the Bowflex set is the most popular adjustable dumbbells set on the market, so let%u2019s talk about how it works. On each end of the dumbbell, there is a numbered dial that you twist to select different weight settings. Weight plates attach to the dumbbell using brackets inside each handle, so when you turn the dial and select a weight setting, these brackets are essentially “grabbing” the appropriate weight plates to match the dial%u2019s weight setting.

Any weight plates that aren%u2019t grabbed will be left behind in the dumbbell%u2019s base cradle. The base cradle is basically a tray fitted to the shape of the dumbbell that holds all of the weight plates in an upright position so that you can easily slide the dumbbell in and out when changing weight settings.

The video above shows the adjustment system in action, but let%u2019s give another example. So let%u2019s say you want to select a 25 lb weight setting. Simply turn both dials to the 25 lb indicator, pull the dumbbell out of the tray, and now you%u2019ve got a 25 lb dumbbell. The brackets will have grabbed the necessary weight plates to make the dumbbell 25 lbs, and left the remaining weight plates sitting in the cradle.

It%u2019s really that easy. Changing weights takes literally two or three seconds, making these by far the fastest and easiest dumbbells to adjust. And because of this quick adjustability, the SelectTech 552%u2019s are great for fast-paced routines like P90X, Body Beast, or any workouts that requires quickly switching between different dumbbells.

Bowflex is a premium brand that%u2019s known for its high-quality products, so I expected nothing less of the SelectTech 552%u2019s when I first received them. Something I like about Bowflex in general is that they always put a lot of effort into development and design so that when their products come out, they are among the best in their category. And the SelectTech 552%u2019s have proved that yet again. The 552%u2019s are the best-selling AND the highest-rated set of adjustable dumbbells on the market (and that%u2019s statistically proven, not just my opinion).

They currently have over 2,400 reviews on Amazon, of which a massive 96% are positive, with many people calling these “the best adjustable dumbbells ever made.” To me, that speaks volumes. In my personal experience with them, the SelectTech 552%u2019s have been nothing short of the perfect adjustable dumbbell. Over the past several weeks, I%u2019ve put them to the test with a good mix of both fast-paced and rough workouts, and the SelectTech%u2019s have held up incredibly well. Everything works smoothly as it should, and they%u2019re actually quite durable despite the dial system%u2019s intricate design. The handle, core, and brackets are all made with high-strength metal for a secure fit with no rattling weights, and the weight plates have a thick hard plastic coating to withstand any regular gym use.

However, there is one thing to note about the durability of the SelectTech 552%u2019s. Because the dial adjustment system uses brackets to attach the weights to each handle, the SelectTech%u2019s aren%u2019t made to handle being dropped frequently. Lifting weights can normally be a little rough, so you just have to be careful that you%u2019re not dropping these a lot as it may damage the core brackets that are used to secure the weight plates. I don%u2019t really see this being a major issue though, as long as you%u2019re not dropping these after every set, you should be fine.

Bowflex offers a 2-year warranty on the SelectTech 552%u2019s that covers both parts and labor (if you have to send them back to fix an issue), which I thought was cool because most companies only cover parts on their products. However, some people are also more worried about at sooner problem: what if you get your dumbbells and you don%u2019t like them? Well, Bowflex has a solution for that as well, offering a 6-week Fitness Results Guarantee on every purchase. They%u2019re so confident you%u2019ll love your SelectTech%u2019s that they%u2019ll completely refund you if you%u2019re not absolutely happy with them.

The rubber handles are a little larger than traditional dumbbells which provides a much more comfortable grip, and I liked that Bowflex kept a rounded weight design because it helps make the dumbbell feel more natural as you lift it. However, I did have a slight issue with the length. Each dumbbell is nearly 16 inches long, and because of Bowflex%u2019s bracket-style weight design, the overall length of the dumbbell doesn%u2019t change with the amount of weight you have attached. This means that no matter what weight you have selected, whether it%u2019s 10 lbs or 50 lbs, the dumbbell will always be 16 inches long. It doesn%u2019t prevent you from doing any exercises or anything like that, but it just feels a little awkward from time to time.

It%u2019s something you have to get used to. I did actually notice one benefit to this longer design, though! The long design requires you to use your stabilizer muscles more to combat the wider weight, which in turn gives you a more challenging workout because you%u2019re engaging more types of muscles at once.

The main consideration is the fact that the weight is not expandable. The weight range of 5-52.5 lbs is honestly going to be more than enough for the majority of people, but you should always plan for the long term. If one of your fitness goals is to get a lot stronger, then you may want to consider taking a look at Bowflex%u2019s higher-weight model, the SelectTech 1090. It%u2019s essentially the same exact dumbbell, just with a higher weight range (10-90 lbs).

I%u2019m only telling you to consider the weight range issue now because if you buy the SelectTech 552%u2019s and eventually need more weight down the road, your only option will be to buy an entirely new set of dumbbells (which can be costly).

The second consideration would be the size, which I discussed in detail above in the How Do They Feel? The overall size of the SelectTech%u2019s are significantly longer than other models which can feel a little funky or awkward to those that are used to a more traditional dumbbell size. I personally don%u2019t think it%u2019s a big deal, it just takes a little getting used to.

Since I didn%u2019t really have anything bad to say about the SelectTech 552%u2019s, I decided to read through all of the critical reviews on Amazon to see how other people%u2019s experiences have been. Funny enough, most of the reviews mentioned the long size like I did. Nearly all of them came to the same conclusion as me though, that the size was just something to get accustomed to and wasn%u2019t a deal-breaker. I%u2019m glad I wasn%u2019t the only one who thought that.

Overall, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells are one of the best sets of adjustable dumbbells I%u2019ve ever used. What impressed me the most about the 552%u2019s was that they excelled in nearly every category you can look at when comparing different models. They have a great weight range to work with, small and precise weight settings, nice design, but most of all, they are incredibly easy to use thanks to the SelectTech dial adjustment system. In fact, my brother and I were so impressed with them that we awarded the 552%u2019s with “Best Adjustable Dumbbells Overall” in our adjustable dumbbells buying guide where we compared the top 6 models against each other.

After testing out each model, the SelectTech%u2019s really are the best all-around set, and it%u2019s no wonder they%u2019re the highest-rated set in the industry. If you want an amazing set of adjustable dumbbells at a great price, the Bowflex SelectTech 552%u2019s are for you.

Built for optimal workout versatility, the 5.1S features 6 different adjustment angles and a 600-pound load capacity. This heavy-duty, commercial quality, steel design was engineered to be stored vertically, reducing its footprint by more than 50% when not in use. Designed with both premium construction and incredible space saving in mind, the 5.1S Bowflex Stowable Bench is our finest bench yet.

Your workout just got smarter. The Bowflex® SelectTech Stand with Media Rack provides one convenient place for weights AND technology, making it the perfect combination of form meets function. Designed with safety in mind, you’ll never have to bend down to pick up weight %u2013 ever again. With easy access to programs, training videos and more, you can focus on goals and leave the guesswork behind.

Once you go rack, you’ll never go back. Compatible with Bowflex® SelectTech® 552, 560 and 1090 dumbbells.

Define your workout area with a professional grade Bowflex® Workout Mat. Work out hard and train vigorously without worrying about your floors. Made of thick, non-skid rubber, this mat is ideally sized for the SelectTech 4.1 and 5.1S benches. L x 3’1″ W (198 L x 94 W cm).

Superabsorbent, microfiber towel is essential for every cool down.

Stay hydrated during your workout. Spill-proof bottle with CamelBak Big Bite Valve is easy to carry, use and clean. Not recommended for carbonated beverages or for children under 5. Bottle is BPA free and has a capacity of 20 fl oz.

The Bowflex® SelectTech® 552 Dumbbells bring you powerful results with the turn of a dial. This strength training system replaces 15 sets of weights and allows you to adjust them between 5 to 52.5 lbs as you gradually increase your strength. Features easy to use selection dials for weight adjustment with a patent pending locking mechanism that locks only the weight you select.

More Details about Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells

Question 1: Are there different kinds of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells?

Answer: Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells: Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells allow you to alter the amount of weight you use with the turn of a dial. They provide 15 weight settings, and 30-plus exercises are possible.Bowflex SelectTech560 Dumbbells: The 560 dumbbells are designed with a more squared-off shape. The 560 dumbbells give you 16 weight settings that go up to a maximum of 60 pounds. Plus, they provide you with Integrated Bluetooth Smart Technology that records your workouts for future analysis.

Question 2: How do you use Bowflex adjustable dumbbells?

Answer: With Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, you can choose the desired amount of resistance by just turning a selection dial. The weights that you need will be locked into place on the dumbbell bar for your use, and the rest of them will be left in a resting position until they’re needed.

Question 3: What accessories are available for SelectTech adjustable dumbbells?

Answer: Bowflex provides you with a range of accessories.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair) and Stand Bundle
  • Bundle includes Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair) and Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell...
  • Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds; adjusts in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25...
  • Stand features a large media rack with Teflon grip material to ensure your Smart device or tablet...
  • Items may ship in more than one box and may arrive separately

Last update on 2019-12-10 / Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

User Reviews

Review 1

A Wirecutter staff member who used the Bowflex dumbbells for two years on average two to three times per week praised the weights for their ease of use and durability. His only complaints were those we found in our testing%u2014that the bars were too long for some exercises (he has a slim build), and that the weights could stick in the trays sometimes. The only reason he stopped using them regularly: He got strong enough to the point where the max load wasn%u2019t challenging enough, and he joined a gym. Still, he said, “I can%u2019t bring myself to sell them.”

Review 2

Writer Mark Bixby, who did the first version of this guide, praised the Ironmaster 45-Pound Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells for their all-metal construction, limited lifetime warranty, and ability to expand up to 120 pounds per dumbbell. “If you primarily want dumbbells for bodybuilding and/or stand-alone exercises, these are the better buy because they%u2019re more durable and can be bought in heavier configurations,” he wrote. He conceded, though, that they%u2019re much slower to adjust “and will take you about 15 to 20 seconds to fiddle with the screw-in pin lock.” And although the heavier load offering is notable, this set plus an expansion pack represents a significant investment. We weren%u2019t able to try the Ironmaster set this time around, as it was on backorder for the duration of our testing period.

PowerBlock weights, which have been around since 1993 and are easily the most established line in this category, have a unique square design that allows for a massive range of 5 to 130 pounds per dumbbell. Mark Bixby and panelists previously tested the PowerBlock U-90 (Stage 1 set).

Bixby and panelists also tested the Bayou Fitness 50-Pound Adjustable Dumbbells, which give you a metal sliding pin, similar to the NordicTrack set%u2019s plastic-and-metal setup, to make weight adjustments in 10-pound increments. He “struggled with the process, especially when fatigued,” he wrote. “Not only does the pin require some tugging, but once you%u2019ve got it lifted and ready to slide, it%u2019s really hard to control the slide to get the pin in the weight option you want.”

The MTN Gearsmith Adjustable Dumbbells, with their traditional collar-and-weight-plate design, are highly similar to the Yes4All weights we tested but cost more. We chose not to retest them.

The Bowflex SelectTech 560 Dumbbells, like our runner-up pick, use a dial adjustment mechanism, though these have a built-in accelerometer that tracks reps and total weight lifted and beams the data via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. The Amazon reviews are middling, with many suggesting that you should buy the SelectTech 552 set (our runner-up pick) instead. As the SelectTech 560 set costs over $100 more currently, we decided not to test this model.

We also didn%u2019t test the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells, which operate similarly to the Merax weights but range from 10 to 90 pounds each, in 5-pound increments. At a whopping 17½ inches long%u2014nearly 2 inches longer than the Bowflex 552 dumbbells%u2014they%u2019d likely affect almost anyone%u2019s range of motion. If you want more weight per dumbbell, the Merax weights are probably more manageable and more affordable.

Review 3

I%u2019ve been using the SelectTech 552 home gym set for a long time now, and while it took a few workouts to get used to their size and shape, I can%u2019t deny the flexibility of these things!

I was a little skeptical about ordering them since I had heard some people talking about the hard plastic molding and dial system giving them trouble, but I haven%u2019t had any problems and the 2-year warranty would cover the repair or replacement for free if something does happen.

Review 4

I have had Power Blocks in the past and liked them but my wife hated having her hand inside the block and she was going to use this set of adjustable dumbbells as well. I ended up getting these and the stand and so far they work great but i have a few concerns. Essentially it is a mostly plastic design. We are very good to our home gym equipment, no dropping weights or throwing around but they feel like they are going to have a limited lifespan. I may be wrong but there are a fair number of reviews that stated they had problems. In addition, the other thing i don’t particularly like is the wobbly nature of the plates on the dumbbells while you are working out. They do move a fair amount. Its not a big deal but definitely different then a solid dumbbell.For the good, the grip is very comfortable and you can change them very rapidly if you are doing circuits that require you to change the weights frequently. During the month that i owned the 552’s it also became clear that i needed to be able to go to at least 75 lbs. I bought the Ironmasters and they are an entirely different level of product (but they come at a different level of price as well). The Ironmasters come with a lifetime warranty and when you adjust them tightly they feel like a solid dumbbell. There is no comparison. Where they fall behind the 552’s is in the ease of adjusting the weight. Now that i have had them for a bit i can change two dumbbells in about 45 seconds but the same adjustment on the 552’s takes about 5 seconds. That’s the only negative on the Ironmasters. I know those are a lifetime purchase. We are keeping both for now and it has worked out well. We tend to use the Ironmasters for heavier sets or if we are not doing circuits that require quick changes and use the 552’s for lighter sets or circuits. My wife and i work out together very frequently and do a lot of circuits so two sets of dumbbells actually makes sense.What i think it really comes down to is what you are looking for in terms of price point and longevity. I have been working out at a gym consistently for 30 years now and just decided to build a home gym. I am 52 and wanted equipment that is gonna stay with me until i just cant do it anymore.

Other useful information

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells adjust smoothly from 5 to 52½ pounds when you turn dials at either end of each weight. With 2½-pound increments for the first 25 pounds (and 5 pounds thereafter), the Bowflex weights allow for more nuance in training progressions than our top pick, whose increments are 5 pounds. Still, the Bowflex weights have two dials to adjust per dumbbell (lest you accidentally create an uneven load), so they aren%u2019t as quick or elegant to load and unload as our top pick. Also, the 15¾-inch-long bars don%u2019t get shorter as you change the weight, making this set a bit harder to handle, especially for smaller-framed people.

Traditional: You manually slide weight plates, held in place by a threaded screw collar, on or off a bar.

Dial: The dumbbells sit in a tray and you turn a dial at one or both ends, engaging or disengaging the plates you need. The ones you don%u2019t want remain in the tray when you pick the dumbbells up.

Handle-twist: You rotate the handle to collect or disengage the weight plates from the center outward, with the unneeded plates remaining in the tray when you pick the weights up.

Slide-pin: You pull up and slide a pin at each end of the dumbbell to add or reduce weight, from the handle out. Any leftover plates remain in the tray.

Other: Some sets have proprietary adjustment mechanisms that differ from the above. Read more in The competition.

Thanks to the work of former guide writer Mark Bixby, we easily nixed nearly a dozen sets of adjustable dumbbells that didn%u2019t perform as well as others during previous panel testing or that we dismissed without testing because of poor owner reviews. In updating this guide, we checked on the availability of previous picks and looked for new or updated models that had come out since our last round of testing in 2016.

We chose to test five sets in total, including a mix of newly released models and former picks.

Speed and ease of adjustment: Being able to load or unload weight quickly and smoothly is important for workout timing and flow, and also for safety. Overly complicated or annoying adjustments can prompt mistakes in changing the weights (say, forgetting or improperly adjusting one end), or can lead you to decide not to adjust as often, leaving too little or too much weight on the bars for your exercises. Adjustment increments: The typical load adjustment increment is 5 pounds, but some dumbbells allow increases or decreases of 2½ pounds, while others adjust by increments of 10 pounds. Overall construction: More metal (and fewer plastic) components may make for a safer, longer-lasting set.

Personal trainer Phil Schiefer of Cosmic Fit Club demonstrates one way to add weight to a lunge, using the Core Home Fitness dumbbells.

To test each set, Phil Schiefer, another personal trainer, and I worked out with them both in a gym (where we had enough space to try multiple sets) and at home.

We determined the ease and speed of adjusting the weight load, both initially and while transitioning exercises in a circuit format (that is, from one exercise to another with little rest between). Longer transition times mean longer periods of rest, which certified strength and conditioning specialist Pete McCall pointed out can affect the quality of a workout%u2014especially if your goal is to improve conditioning, which requires keeping your heart rate up. In the gym, Schiefer and I timed ourselves adjusting the weights while completing the same circuits of exercises with each pair. This way we could compare adjustment times across sets and see approximately how much that adjustment time affected a workout for two different people.

The five dumbbells we tested range from 14½ inches to 17 inches in length when fully loaded.

Some adjustable dumbbells get shorter when you reduce the weight. All the models shown here (in the same order as the last photo) are adjusted to 15 pounds.

We considered how limits on load-adjustment increments might affect our training, finding that 2½-pound increments were best for working out with lighter total per-dumbbell loads, while 5-pound increments could require reducing the number of reps when increasing the per-dumbbell load.

We also considered the ergonomics of using each set, particularly in maneuverability during exercises. We took into account the length of each dumbbell at given loads, which for me, as a 5-foot-5, narrow-framed woman, quickly became an important parameter. Longer bars meant that for certain exercises I had to modify my range of motion or my body positioning, or both. These modifications, while not necessarily harmful, can affect which muscles are engaged and potentially the quality of the workout.

Brad Schoenfeld likened it to how the machines at the gym are not one-size-fits-all%u2014they%u2019re designed to fit an “average” person, so outliers on either end can find them biomechanically awkward.

Finally, we looked for any safety or durability concerns. We noted the ratio of plastic to metal components and how secure the weights felt in terms of any rattle or movement of the plates, which all but screw-collar models produce to some degree.

Conclusion

If you are new to working out or setting up a home gym and are not sure you are going to stick with an exercise program its probably hard to justify double the money for the Ironmasters and the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells would be a great place to start. Just go easy on them and hopefully they will last. I would also strongly consider Power Blocks. They are solid and fast to change.

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