Bowflex 552 vs 1090 – Which is Better? A Comparison

bowflex selecttech dumbbells

Bowflex Dumbbells: Which Is Better? 552 vs 1090

Owned by Nautilus Inc 1which also owns Nautilus and Schwinn brands, Bowflex has been producing quality fitness equipment for over 35 years. The brand targets the home gym market, and they have a ever-growing variety of exercise equipment line.

By no means the original inventor of the adjustable dumbbells, they are best known for the refinement of thems. Specifically, they have popularized adjustable dumbbells by using a quick, easy-to-adjust dial system which is marketing under the name of SelectTech.

A quick turn of the dial and – voila! – you’re able to change the weight setting to the desired weight.  Prior dumbbells, such as the PowerBlock 2first released in 1993, used a pin or other locking system.

Today, BowFlex has a 4-product SelectTech lineup including 2 dumbbells, 1 barbell, and 1 kettlebell. I have owned both BowFlex dumbbells – the SelectTech 552 dumbbells and the heavier SelectTech 1090 dumbbells – for a number of years now.

 As a pretty consistent user of both sets, here’s an overview and comparison of the two:

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Overview 

The base model for the Bowflex SelectTech range, the 552 starts at 5 lbs and goes by 2.5 lbs increments until 25 lbs. 

After 25 lbs, the increments are in 5 pound increments until 52.5 lbs. The 552 replaces around 15 sets of dumbbells. (2

The 552’s come with a handy (and necessary) molded storage tray. The tray will hold the unused weights when you select your desired weight and also serve as a handy storage mechanism. 

While you typically buy two dumbbells, you can buy just 1 if needed. This is great if you need a replacement or if you just need one as a supplement to your existing equipment. 

Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Overview

The Bowflex Selecttech 1090 model starts at 10 lbs, and it goes up to 90 lbs in 5 pound increments, a better choice if you are stronger and can handle the bigger weight jump. The 1090 has more weights, a wider range, and replaces 17 sets of dumbbells. (3

Like the 552’s, the 1090’s also have handy (and more heavy-duty) storage trays – one for each dumbbell – to hold the dumbbell itself. They also hold the unused weight plates once you have dialed to the desired setting. 

Quick Comparison: Bowflex 552 vs 1090



  • Durable molding around the plates.
  • The locking mechanism is plastic
  • Metal holding tabs
  • Small parts not durable, dial and bracket can break if dropped.
  • Replaces 15 sets


  • Durable molding around the plates. 
  • The locking mechanism is metal.
  • The tabs on the plates are molded plastic
  • Small parts not durable, dial and bracket can break if dropped.
  • Replaces 17 sets




  • Both items share a state-of-the-art dial system. Each also comes with a plastic storage trays (but no stand) to store both dumbbells and weights. 
  • The handle on the 552 is rubberized while the handle on the 1090 is metal
  • Both sets utilize plastic (not metal) plates



  •  Rubber padded grip.
  • Overall the grip is very comfortable and beats most adjustable dumbbells.


  • All metal grip with knurling.
  • The metal grip can feel a bit uncomfortable at heavier weights. 



  • 15.75” X 8” X 9”
  • The size is not much smaller than their bigger brethren but they are more comfortable and natural to hold.


  • 17.5” x 10” X 10”
  • They’re pretty large but for the weights you get, I don’t see how they could be much smaller.

Weight Range


  • Weight range is 5 to 52.5 lbs for each dumbbell.
  • Can adjust in 2.5 lb increments until 25 lbs, then 5 lb increments thereafter.


  • Weight range is 10 to 90 lbs for each dumbbell.
  • Can adjust in 5 lb increments.



  • 2 years.


  • 3 years.

Other Features


  • BowFlex dumbbell  comes with a free training app to help you choose exercises


User reviews

choosing a dumbbell


Bowflex 552

The Bowflex 552 has a high rating on Amazon with a cumulative 4.8 stars as of this update (11/30/21). 

Although it has been highly appreciated by many, some people are generally not happy with the weights falling off and not working. 

Other reviewers did comment on that Bowflex has to be handled with care to avoid the plastic bits breaking. The newer model has metal clips. Users did comment on the bulky size and having to adjust close-grip exercises.

Bowflex 1090

Also pretty well reviewed (with a 4.4 star rating), there are few more issues mentioned by users. 

For example, some common complains are that the tabs break (read below for my experience) and the handles are uncomfortable. 

YouTube Review

MY personal opinion


I have no real complaints with this set. It’s quick and easy to change the weight settings, it’s relatively comfortable to hold, and is a pretty good value. 

On the downside, it’s mainly plastic so it’s not super durable…but as long as you take care they should last a long time

If you’re pretty hard on your exercise equipment, you should go a different route. After all, you’re paying for the adjustability, ease-of-use, and space savings and not the durability. 


Most users (me included, with one exception noted below) have no big issues with the 1090 and like the fact that they are versatile. You do need occasionally move the dial around so it “sticks” correctly but that’s a very minor inconvenience.

On the negative side, the knurling, or handles, can be a bit uncomfortable especially at heavier weights. Additionally, the weights themselves are a bit big and blocky.  

Because of their size, certain exercises may need to be adjusted slightly in order to get the range-of-motion. For example, you may have to turn your hands in (palms facing each) when doing chest presses. 

There is one other pretty big caveat with the SelectTech 1090’s. Namely, in both sets, the selected weights are held in by “tabs.” The tabs on the 552’s weights are reinforced with metal while the tabs on the 1090 are molded plastic. That means, over time, the tabs on the 1090 weights can wear down.

If that happens, the weight set won’t be able to hold on to the selected weights. In fact, that has happened to me — I cannot use the 30 lb. weight on one of my dumbbells (at least without some trouble). This is after years of use so I’m okay with it (and I can work around it) but please be aware of the issue before you buy.

So Which Is Better?

The answer as to which is better is…it depends! I know, really helpful right?

If you’re okay with a maximum weight 52.5 lbs per dumbbell then by all means go with the BowFlex 552’s. Not only are they cheaper and more compact but they’re pretty durable as well, as long as you’re decently careful with them.

Speaking of, as a general rule, you always want to be careful with adjustable dumbbells. Do not slam them, use them to support your bodyweight (as in a push-up to row), or otherwise stress them unnecessarily. If you are going to abuse them, you’re better off buying a regular dumbbell set that can take the abuse.

If you need heavier weights and don’t mind the additional cost and size, the SelectTech 1090’s are a good value with the caveat I mentioned above kept in mind.


What Are Adjustable Dumbbells?

In a gym, you will normally see fixed dumbbells and barbells in racks. Fixed dumbbells are great in a gym because you can grab the ones you need for your workout. But when you are setting up a gym at home, those fixed dumbbells will take up a lot of space. 

If you are staying in an apartment or a small home, space is a luxury and hence you will need adjustable dumbbells. As the name implies, you can adjust the weights on these dumbbells according to your needs. 


Adjustable Dumbbells benefits


When you compare the prices of fixed weights to adjustable dumbbells, you will notice that it is cheaper to get a good set of adjustable weights. 

Fixed weights are great when you start, but as you get stronger, you will have more strength and can carry heavier weights. Hence, adjustable dumbbells are a good initial investment because they last a lot longer in terms of usability. 

Another benefit using BowFlex dumbbells is the convenience: all you need is one set of dumbbells, and you are good to go. Fancy a pyramid set of chest press? You will not need five pairs of dumbbells on the floor next to you if you have the adjustable ones. 

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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.