For every home gym lover out there, adjustable dumbbells have been and will always be a good fit.
They don’t cost as much as 30 individual fixed dumbbells and only take up a space of one. What’s not to like?
The headache lies in choosing the right pair of adjustable dumbbells for ourselves.
For this matter, Bowflex has always been one of the leading faces since they released their quick, smart, and convenient dial lock.
But is Bowflex SelectTech the best choice? And even if it is, are there any good alternatives worth trying out?
Admittedly, there are bound to be other, more affordable brands that can serve us just as well.
In this article, we’ll cover 5 alternatives for Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells. Make sure to keep reading, as you may find some of these to be quite what you’ve been looking for.
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Briefly About the Bowflex SelectTech?
We shall start off with Bowflex SelectTech, so those who are unfamiliar with it can get the main idea.
The Bowflex SelectTech has a round plate design. The 560 model, however, has a square shape.
The plates are made of metal with plastic molding. They are held onto the handles by a series of polyurethane discs.
Although these are very sturdy and durable discs, dropping the fitness equipment may seriously damage them.
This is the reason why we would recommend against doing dumbbell push-ups with the Bowflex.
To adjust the weight, simply turn the dial on each end of the dumbbell to your desired level. You can select different weights on each end for uneven distribution.
The smallest aka the 552 model’s measurement is 15.75″ L- 8″ W- 9″ H. The 1090 can crank up to 17.5″ L- 10″ W- 10″ H.
For the 552 and the 560, increments are 2.5 pounds from 5 to 25 pounds. Then it will be 5-pound increments all the way up to 50 for the former and 60 for the latter.
The 552 has an extra level of 52.5 pounds, hence the name. The SelectTech 1090 ranges from 10 to 90 pounds and all the increments are 5-pound each.
- Weights can be adjusted quickly and easily.
- The round shape with one flat side prevents the dumbbell from rolling.
- Uneven weight distribution is possible.
- The length and bulkiness limit the range of motion, making it hard to do specific exercises, including Upright Rows, DB Bench Press, etc.
- You need to shell out more money for this equipment. The Bowflex SelectTech is relatively more expensive than its competitors.
- The dumbbell can get stuck on the base, nothing too severe, though.
- The 1090’s grip is all metal and a bit blocky, which is rough on the hand.
- You must not drop it. It’s not durable enough for that.
With the dial lock, you can select your target weight with just a quick turn.
The durable plastic molding smoothens impacts. Thanks to this, you can enjoy a quiet workout with no metal clanging sound.
Upon purchasing the SelectTech, you also get access to the SelectTech app available on both iOS and Android.
This app is basically a workout guide with exercises and full-body programs by trainers from their website.
The SelectTech 560 also gets us excited about its built-in Bluetooth Technology. You can sync it with your phone and keep track of your sets, reps, and weight in your home gym.
What Do People Say?
Mostly receiving positive feedback, the Bowflex dumbbell is a favored home gym fitness equipment for its compactivity and money-saver.
As mentioned, excessive size is also a factor of unsatisfactory.
Some complain that the dumbbell has to be lined up when being placed back. Others dislike how fragile it is.
The app that was supposed to attract us does not really live up to its name. Users find it frustrating.
Apart from the plastic clip, an uncomfortable handle is also a reason why people prefer the 552 over 1090.
Alternatives to Bowflex - The 5 Best Options
The 75-pound dumbbell only comes with the stand. If you want a 75-pound separately, you’ll have to buy a 45-pound dumbbell and a 75-pound expansion.
The Ironmaster dumbbell is expandable. To upgrade it to 75 lbs, you’ll have to pay extra. It’s also possible to purchase the 120 and 165 lbs add-on kits.
The Ironmaster Quick-Lock dumbbell has square heavy-duty metal plates. The handles are chrome-plated steel with knurled grips.
There is absolutely no plastic or fragile part, so you can drop it all you want (unless you don’t want to dent your floor).
The locking system employs a screwing pin, not to be confused with the screwing lock.
Each plate covers 6.7 inches square, and the whole thing stretches out to 14.5 inches long at the 75-pound size. When fully loaded to 165 lbs, it’s 23.5 inches long.
The handle alone weighs 5 lbs, and each plate adds 2.5 lbs.
- Natural look & feel: The Ironmaster dumbbell looks and feels just like a traditional dumbbell, giving a sense of familiarity.
- Expandable to 165 lbs: This way passes Bowflex’s 90-pound maximum weight.
- Heavy-duty durability
- Secure weights
- Accessories available: The system offers many accessory attachments to expand your training options.
- Included dumbbell rack/stand: You get one when you buy a 75-pound dumbbell
- Knurled steel on handles & knobs
- Customizable load distribution
- Plates compatible with any standard bar
- Money-back guarantee & lifetime warranty
- Longer adjustment time: If you’re used to Bowflex, PowerBlock, or anything like that, the Ironmaster will take some time to get used to.
- Some organizations required: Unless you wanna be drowned in stacks of plates, it is advisable to keep them organized.
- Dumbbells/plates slightly lighter than stated
- Change weights on any flat surface.
- Dumbbells lock tightly. You won’t hear any rattling.
- They feel just like fixed dumbbells, and you can grip them any way you would with the traditional ones.
- Heavy Duty – go ahead and drop them. No plastic or fragile parts!
- Lifetime warranty!
- The weight plates are labeled in both LBS and KGS.
Apparently, users found it to be one of the best alternatives because it’s more durable than both the PowerBlock and Bowflex.
The locking style takes some time to get used to.
Some prefer having 10 or 20-pound plates to reduce stacking time.
PS! See this article for a full comparison between Bowflex and Ironmaster.
The weight plates are square. Each of them is made of welded steel with a coat of powder.
The system utilizes magnetic selector pins. You can add or remove 2.5 to 5 pounds using the dial lock.
Even at the maximum weight of 90 pounds, the PowerBlock classic only stretches to 16 inches.
- Selector pin: You can change weights just like how you do with gym weight stack
- Dial-Lock: Remove the adder weights to adjust in 2.5 lbs increment
- Side rails: Color-coded
Being one of the suggested alternatives, most users like it for its compactivity. However, even its biggest fan can get frustrated if the pin gets stuck.
Some report incidents where the pin slides out, especially with exercises requiring wrist-flipping.
Click the link for a more in-depth comparison between the Powerblock vs Bowflex dumbbells.
3. XMark Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell
For the time being, you can find it at Walmart.
The XMark Fitness dumbbell has a circular design with heavy-duty chrome-plated steel plates.
All you need to do is slide the lock in the place for the weight you want.
The dumbbell is 15.75″ long. You’ll find that the shape closely resembles Bowflex’s.
The handle alone is 10 pounds. You can increase it to 50 pounds, with each plate bearing 10 pounds.
- Easy to adjust the weight settings for strength training
- High-quality handles for a firm grip
- Convenient storage tray similar to Bowflex
- Weight plates are secured when lifting
- Quick weight change to squeeze more exercises into your workout time, or for other workout programs such as the P90x
- A pair often cheaper than many 50 lbs. weight limiting sets
- Some found the weight plates stuck to the base at first. This can be fixed by applying a thin layer of WD40 with a piece of cloth for the first time using.
- Long handles
- No expansion packs available
Users find it hard to move the selector.
The biggest problem with this equipment seems to be how hard it is to put the weight back to the base.
4. Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell
The Bayou Fitness Dumbbell can be found at Walmart.
These come in both round and square with heavy chrome plates. The sliding pin mechanism is similar to XMark Fitness’.
The size comes to 18- 13- 11 inches. A plate carries 10 pounds, so it’s similar to the XMark Fitness’.
- Very Durable, can last many years.
- It’s affordable even with the stand.
- No extra space between plates meaning no clanging sound.
- Portable because of the storage tray.
- Adjusting weights takes some time which can be inconvenient during a workout
- Chrome plates can get rusty.
- The length and bulkiness limit the range of motion.
- Can buy in single or pair.
- Sets are provided in a storage tray. With molded grids makes it easy to slide and handle.
- Chrome plating gives a shiny and elegant look.
- The handle provides desirable friction for a firm grip.
- The grids built on handles keep the user’s form during workouts.
- It comes with a limited one-year warranty.
- Bayou Dumbbells need to have extensively cared for because the warranty isn’t enough.
- These dumbbells are durable because of heavy chrome plated construction.
Most are positive reviews on how sturdy and easy to store it is.
It’s hard to adjust quickly, and the pin breaks after a little over 2 years.
5. StairMaster TwistLock
You can find it on Groupon.
The StairMaster TwistLock is round with steel plates encased in a durable plastic composite shell to prevent rust.
The highlight is on the adjustment. No know, pin, or level needed. You can just dock it in the cradle and twist the handle. This is by far the easiest to change weight.
Size: 20- 11- 10 inches
The weight ranges from 5 to 50 pounds with 5-pound increments.
- Versatile: You don’t even have to let go of the handle great for a workout like P90X for example
- Sturdy. Compact construction, safety lock system
- Weight plates don’t rattle
- Sleek and motivational design
- Rubberized grip for easy twist and comfortable grip
- Storage/adjustment cradles included;
- Training guide included
- Plastic internal parts. Even though it’s heavy-duty plastic, dropping the dumbbells will damage interior elements;
- You can’t have uneven weight like the Bowflex
- May be too light for advanced users.
- You can change the weight without releasing the handle.
- The weight selection window shows your selected weight.
- Only when the dumbbell is in its cradle can you change the weight. This is for safety.
- Soft rubber handles and aluminum cradle.
People like how slick it is. The weight change mechanism is a strong point as well, as it saves so much time.
The Bottom Line…
So those are the Bowflex SelectTech and its 5 alternatives. The rest is up to you.
In our opinion, The StairMaster TwistLock ranks first in changing time. The Ironmaster, however, is the most durable. But if you want to save money, the StairMaster is one of the best to buy
If you like this article, make sure to follow and check out our other gym equipment reviews. You wouldn’t want to miss all these tips on working out and staying fit.
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.
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