man doing pushups with dumbbells

BowFlex Dumbbells Review

I am going to be incredibly honest here; when it comes to adjustable dumbbells, you are not going to get better than BowFlex.

Sure, I have reviewed multiple adjustable dumbbells on this site, and most of them are amazing.

However, they are not a patch on what BowFlex brings to the table. Want me to tell you a little bit about them?

#1 What Are Adjustable Dumbbells?

I know you probably have a rough idea about what adjustable dumbbells are, but I figured we could kick off with a quick overview, just in case.

Adjustable dumbbells do exactly what they say on the tin. There is a little knob on the dumbbells which allows you to adjust the weight. How this works specifically will be dependent on the set of weights that you pick up.

The idea is that all of the dumbbells that you need are included in a single unit. This save space in your home, and maybe a little bit of money too. 

Obviously, adjustable dumbbells do have their downsides (and despite BowFlex being amazing, they are not immune to these downsides), but for the most part, people who have a home gym are going to be seeing a lot of benefit from adjustable dumbbells.

#2 Why Adjustable Dumbbells?

As I said; adjustable dumbbells are designed to save space. Dependent on the adjustable dumbbell that you buy, it can replace roughly 25+ individual dumbbells.

This is fantastic for a home gym environment as it means that you do not need to dedicate half your room to dumbbells. You just pick up a set of adjustable dumbbells and they all store neatly in the same case.

Obviously, since you do not need to buy a plethora of different dumbbells, you will also be able to save a little bit of money too.

One of the reasons why I love adjustable dumbbells is down to the fact that they are so simple to use.

The BowFlex ones are some of the easiest to adjust the weight on. If you use a standard set of dumbbells, you will be forever running around trying to get the next weight for your sets. Not with the BowFlex.

Just bend over, just put your dumbbell in the little stand (if you buy it separately, which you should), or on the floor and adjust the dial and you have the next weight available to you.

Quick and easy.

#3 Who are BowFlex?

Bowflex are a company that have been kicking around since 1986, roughly the same time that gyms started to become popular. 

Unlike some of the other companies that started up in the 1980s, though, BowFlex were never so much for creating huge, fancy equipment for the commercial gyms. 

They are a company that have designed for the home gym first and foremost. Sure, a lot of the products that they sell have popped up in some of those commercial gyms around the world. This is because what they make is so well-designed that it makes sense. 

However, their products have always been designed for those in home gyms. This means that the price can be a bit lower than the commercial equipment.

This is a company that is always striving to innovate. While I would never normally recommend a product from a company where that product is an absolute tiny part of the business, it is easy to do so with BowFlex. 

They innovate so much with their products, and they spend so long designing absolutely everything in their range, that no matter what product you pick up from them, you know that it is going to be amazing.

#4 The Main Products From BowFlex

What I really love about BowFlex is the fact that their range of products is not convoluted at all. 

I have seen a couple of brands out there who have three or four different types of adjustable dumbbell. In those types, they are further split down into more weights. 

I am not saying that these dumbbells are not good. I am just saying that it gets complicated.

BowFlex have made stuff really easy. They have two different dumbbell sets:

  • BowFlex SelectTech 1090i
  • BowFlex SelectTect 552i

They are both different enough from one another that it makes it easy to choose which one of them is right for you too.

If you are more of a serious lifter, then you are going to want to go down the route of the BowFlex 1090i.  You are able to adjust each of the weights in the set from 10lbs (4kg) all the way up to 90lbs (41kg) in 5lb increments.

This means that in a single dumbbell, you have replaced 17 different weights (see how awesome adjustable dumbbells actually are?).

If you are a newcomer to the world of lifting, or maybe dumbbells never form the central part of your workout, then you may want to opt for the 552i instead. These can be adjusted from 5 to 52.5lbs (2kg to 24kg) which is a replacement for 15 different dumbbells in your home.

Both of these feel real different in your hands too. In my opinion, the 552i has a slightly better handle than the 1090i. It is a more rubberized grip which means that your hands are going to get tired far less quickly.

In my opinion, the handle of the 1090i is a little bit too rough on the hands. If you are wearing gloves while you are working out, I can’t imagine that this is going to be that much of a major issue, but I do wish that they had included the same handle on both of them.

Although, I am sure that there is a valid reason for this. I just write about fitness equipment. I am not an expert in the design of fitness equipment, sadly.

One issue I had with the BowFlex over other adjustable dumbbells on the market is that that the adjustment does have an impact on the way the adjustable dumbbell feels in your hand.

Yes, it is one of the best dumbbells on the market if you are looking for something which is easy to adjust. It takes seconds, and the system is never going to fail on you. Believe me on that one.

However, the whole system results in your dumbbells being a little bit longer than you may expect them to be. This can cause issues, particularly if you are picking up the 1090i. For example; it can feel like the weight distribution is a little bit on the uneven side.

It is probably something which you are going to be able to get used to after a couple of sessions, but if you have regularly been lifting normal dumbbells and then hop on over to these, then you may find it a little uncomfortable at first.

Back to the positive, though! These are some seriously good-looking adjustable dumbbells. I have seen them repeatedly described as ‘elegant’. They are going to look wonderful in your home gym.

To make things a little bit easier for you, I suggest that you pick up the stand that goes with the dumbbells. It makes it easier for you to adjust the weight and lift them up. Makes great storage too.

Don’t worry about these dumbbells faltering on you. They won’t. These are some of the best products I have ever seen.

If you do run into an issue, then you can be sure that the team at BowFlex have your back too. They have tremendous customer support, and since they are based in the United States, you won’t be jumping through hoops in order to get in touch with them.

Stellar Amazon Reviews

Whenever I am reviewing a new product, I always try it out myself.

However, I can’t always guarantee that I am going to be able to spot all issues with the product. This is because we all use our fitness equipment in slightly different ways.

This is why you will often catch me kicking around on the Amazon website to find out what other people have said about the product. I must say that the reviews here are overwhelmingly positive.

Sure, a couple of issues are highlighted (and I have talked about them here), but for the most part, Bowflex products have 100% positive ratings and there are very few adjustable dumbbells on the market that you can say that about.

#6 Are They Recommended?

You bet! Sure, BowFlex dumbbells are going to be a little bit more expensive than other products on the market.

However, when you buy these, you know that you are going to be picking up something which has been ‘built to last’.

These are made for the serious home fitness enthusiasts, although if a beginner can pick up a set of these weights, they are going to be pretty much set for life too.

While I have written a lot about different brands of adjustable dumbbell on this site, if I had to choose one brand which is a cut above the rest, it would be BowFlex.

#7 What are the Main Benefits of Bowflex Dumbbells?

Premium Quality

The dumbbells are made of metallic parts that are paired with protection made of rubber. They feel solid and handle the workout level of even the craziest gym sharks.

bowflex adjustable dumbbells on a stand

Weight Range

Both of the sets offer such a wide range of weights with the Bowflex 552 ranging from 5 to 52.5lbs and the Bowflex 1090 ranging from 10 to 90lbs. No need to worry that your strength will outgrow the weight of your newly bought dumbbells.

They Save You a Ton of Space

Now if you look at the previous reason you understand that these dumbbells will replace you a bunch of regular dumbbells that you would otherwise have laying around your place.

The Bowflex 552 replaces 15 individual dumbbells while the Bowflex 1090 replaces a whopping 17 individual dumbbells.

Complete Workout

These dumbbells are really functional as they basically give you the option of doing your whole body workout starting from your arms until your calves with just a pair of dumbbells.woman sitting on a weight bench working out with bowflex 1090 adjustable dumbbells

You Can Travel with Your Gym

In case you have to travel for work or you want to include exercise in your holiday plans (you should) then the Bowflex dumbbells are a great option as you can easily pack them with you. No more excuses for skipping workouts.

Unique Dial System for Adjustment

The smart weight adjustment system on the Bowflex dumbbells is something incredible.

The way it works is that you choose the weight you want to work with by clicking that number on the dial. What happens then is that the bracket will grab the plates corresponding to this exact number of weights and will leave the other plates on the block.

This system is not only great because it is easy to use but also because the weight distribution is extremely accurate. And as a bonus, using this system makes sure your exercise space is all neat and tidy.

#8 Pros and Cons of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells

Pros

  • They are made of premium quality materials making them a solid and durable option
  • The weight range is wide with both options (Bowflex 552 starts from 5lbs and reaches 52.5lbs and  Bowflex 1090 starts from 10lbs and goes until 90lbs)
  • The process of adjusting the weight is made quite simple with the smart dial system
  • They offer the possibility to distribute the weight on each side of the dumbbell unevenly which is an advantage on performing certain exercises like bicep curls and forearm curls
  • They just look fantastic!

Cons

  • They can feel a bit too long in the hand for some people
  • They save room as they replace a set of 15 dumbbells, however if you consider them as individual weights they feel more bulky than regular dumbbells
  • They’re a bit of an investment for someone tight on a budget

#9 Quality and Durability of the Product

As mentioned before, the dumbbells are made of metal. The plates are covered with hard plastic which is amazing for avoiding all the clanks and noise that the regular metal dumbbells make while exercising.

bowflex adjustable dumbbells

The handle of the dumbbells is made of rubber which gives a comfortable touch on the grip, especially when you’re wearing a good pair of workout gloves.

Although using plastic and rubber improves the overall user experience, you should understand that they may be less durable than the old school metal dumbbells. It’s not a great idea to be dropping them around after finishing your exercise.

Another thing to have in mind is that these dumbbells feature an innovative and incredibly quick weight adjustment system and it works perfectly if you use it the way it’s meant to be used.

Some people have been complaining that the dial system starts failing after some time, however I haven’t had any trouble in all these years of quite an intense use.

Overall, the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells do offer premium quality, however you have to consider that you do have to take good care of them as they’re not just a plain set of dumbbells.

If you do run into any problems with the dumbbells you can feel quite safe as they come with a 2-year warranty.

#10 Do They Come with a Warranty?

Yes, both Bowflex 552 and Bowflex 1090 come with a 2-year warranty on all parts and 1-year warranty on labor. Not so many companies out there offer such a long warranty period on their products which is a great proof that they are quite happy with their product quality.

Bear in mind that you do have to use them according to how they suggest in their user manual for being covered by the warranty.

a man exercising with bowflex 552

#11 What Products are Their Main Competitors?

The Bowflex are mainly competing with the adjustable dumbbells offered by the companies PowerBlock and Ironmaster. A runner up in this category is Merax with their Merax Deluxe adjustable dumbbells.

Of course you can find more adjustable dumbbells on the market but as in the case of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells we are talking about an innovative premium quality product then we have also chosen competitors offering similar quality products.

If you are interested in a cheaper alternative then I will talk about these options later on.

#12 Powerblock vs Bowflex Dumbbells - Which should you choose?

These two are actually really competitive in my eyes and I wouldn’t say that there is one winner. While I really love my Bowflex dumbbells, I must admit that the PowerBlock have some advantages compared to Bowflex.

The PowerBlock dumbbells actually offer a wider range of weights per dumbbell and in addition you can ‘upgrade’ them by getting an expansion kit of extra weights. I would get one of their Elite sets that offers that sort of ‘upgrade’. 

PowerBlock elite dumbbells

The Bowflex doesn’t offer any expansion option, you either get their 552 version or 1090 version and that’s it.

They PowerBlock also offer a longer warranty which is 10 years in case you use them at home which you’re most probably after. The warranty of Bowflex in comparison is 2 years on the parts and 1 year on labor.

Another thing that makes them really differ from each other is the weight adjustment system. While the Bowflex Dumbbells use a smart dial system, the PowerBlock use a pin adjustment system which basically means that for choosing your weight you have to insert a steel pin through the handle.

I personally prefer the one from Bowflex as it is a bit quicker and more comfortable to use while exercising.

Powerblock dumbbells have a kind of futuristic look while the Bowflex look more like modern version of conventional dumbbells.

So as I said, it is really hard to say if you should get PowerBlock or Bowflex, it all comes down to your personal preference given the facts that I have just shared with you. My subjective choice is Bowflex.

#13 Ironmaster vs Bowflex Dumbbells - Which are better?

While the adjustable dumbbells by Ironmaster offer the most traditional feel, my top pick remains to be the Bowflex adjustable dumbbellsIronMaster Adjustable DumbbellsThe Ironmaster advertise their dumbbells as the most durable option literally allowing you to drop them as there’s no fragile parts that you could break. The dumbbells are made of welded steel and the handles are chrome plated.

Sounds like a good deal for someone who likes to be throwing their dumbbells around.

However, if you are looking for a convenient and compact solution, then the Ironmaster are quite far behind from the Bowflex. The Ironmaster claim that their quick-lock weight adjustment takes a couple of seconds but in reality it will take you at least around 15 seconds if you’re really quick.

If you compare this to the smart dial system by Bowflex it really makes a difference if you count all the times you change the weight for each exercises during your workout.

Another disadvantage of the Ironmaster dumbbells compared to the Bowflex dumbbells is that there is no way to store the extra plates at the weight tree. You have to get a shelf for storing them while the Bowflex adjustment system just leaves the extra plates on the block.

So considering all this I would definitely prefer the Bowflex dumbbells if I had to choose.

#14 How Much do Bowflex Dumbbells cost?

A set of Bowflex 552 will cost you around $325 and a set of Bowflex 1090 will be double so it will cost you around $660. The good news is that if you order them from Amazon you’ll get free shipping.

#15 Are there any cheaper alternatives? If so, would we recommend them?

As you might guess, the answer to this questions is yes. Whenever someone comes up with a genius product there will be always someone offering something similar at a lower price.

A relatively cheaper option for adjustable dumbbells is Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells. You can choose between a wide variety of weights, starting from 40lbs up to a whopping 200lbs and you can get them for a third of the price of Bowflex.

However you have to consider that you get what you pay for. When it comes to the weight adjustment you have to go back in time and literally add the desired weights on the bar and then secure them with the collars. And remember you have two dumbbells and each of them has two sides for the weights.

I would not really recommend these even for starting as you end up losing a ton of time while exercising. My honest advice is to save a bit to opt for the more modern version of adjustable dumbbells like the ones from Bowflex.

#16 Where to Buy Bowflex Dumbbells?

The most comfortable option is buying them online (for not having to carry them home). Amazon for example offers free shipping on both Bowflex 552 as well Bowflex 1090.

amazon logo

If you’re one of those old school folks that wants to hold the product in the hand before buying then you can also find them in some sports stores like Play It Again Sports and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

When it comes to buying used dumbbells, then I would also recommend checking Amazon, they often have used option available.

#17 Bench for Bowflex Dumbbells

The bench that I could swear by is the Bowflex 3.1 Adjustable Bench. As a bonus it also comes from the same company so even the design matches.

Bowflex 3.1 Adjustable Benches

The Bowflex 3.1 Adjustable bench is a great option because it offers 4 different positions to choose from while many other benches only offer 3 positions. It comes with a sturdy and stable frame but at the same time it’s lightweight enough to be moved around and can be folded as well.

This makes it a great option if you are tight on space or if you’re the kind of person that once in a while likes to pack your bench in the car trunk and take it for a trip. I love to pair it with my Bowflex dumbbells which are also very portable as you might have understood after reading the review.

Actually I am really happy there are companies like Bowflex that have come up with products like these that enable people level up their lifestyle and build home gyms even in the tightest of spaces.

#18 What other reviewers have said?

youtube logoVegastarnm have reviewed the Bowflex SelectTech 552 model and are generally happy with the dumbbells. They like the fact that the adjustment process is made so quick and easy. The reviewer also liked the fact that the weight can be adjusted by small increments at a time.

They brought out that the dumbbells can feel a bit longer in the hand, especially when doing exercises that involve using both dumbbells at the same time. However, they confirm that this is something that you get used to after a short while.

Their advice on feeling more comfortable was to simply adjust the grip when performing those exercises.

They advised not to drop and throw the dumbbells around and take extra care of the product for a long lasting experience. They also advised not to do pushups or other exercises that involve placing all your body weight on the dumbbells as this might hurt the delicate dial system.

The overall opinion about the dumbbells was that they are a great purchase.

A fitness coach Dan Vukmirovich also reviewed the Bowflex 552. He generally liked the fact that they are very compact and easy to store and at the same time replace a whole set of (15) individual dumbbells.

He also brought out a couple of downsides of the product out of which the first one was the length and shape of the dumbbells. He mentioned that it can feel a bit awkward do perform some exercises, especially presses when you have to hold the dumbbells side by side as they clash a little bit in the center. The advised to rotate your arms a bit to avoid this from happening.

Another downside was the price of the dumbbells, however he confirmed that if you find the money, the investment will be worth it.

Justin Bravo reviewed the Bowflex 1090 dumbbells. He made a test of using the dumbbells for 60 days and found that the dumbbells met all his exercising needs + saved him a ton of space at home.

He loved the fact that with such a variety of weights he actually felt he can grow stronger every week which was not the case before when he only had a couple of dumbbells at his home gym due to space issues.

He added that the dial for changing the weights works perfectly and this makes the overall experience using these dumbbells just tremendous. He also advised to get the dumbbell stand for extra comfort.

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Jay D from Jay’s Home Gym reviewed the Bowflex 552 dumbbells and seems to have become a fan of the product. The reasons were quite similar to the other reviewers, the quick adjustment process, and the wide variety of weights replacing a ton of regular dumbbells.

Quite like the others he also brought out the fact that he handle of the dumbbells is a bit long and may feel awkward in the beginning, however he claimed that it’s just the matter of time until you get used to it.

T3 reviewed Bowflex 1090 and recommends them as a perfect addition to someone building a home gym tight on space. The shortcomings were the awkward feeling of a longer than regular dumbbell and the fact that it cannot be dropped or thrown around.

His advice was to consider this if you’re a really serious lifter that wants to perform that last testing rep with a weight that would normally make you drop the dumbbells.

You shouldn’t be doing this with the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells because the delicate dial system can break when being dropped and even the 2-year warranty won’t help you here as you are not supposed to drop them.

The MMA Life reviewed Bowflex 552 and have approved the product. They liked the design and dial system for weight adjustment. On the negative, they found that the weight plates tend to move a bit when you exercise, however they said that it actually doesn’t affect your workout that much.

They also mentioned that they have experienced occasional dial system jams due to the weight plates and the handle not being aligned. That was something I had not experienced myself and had not heard of someone else experiencing either.

Overall, they recommended buying the Bowflex 552 dumbbells to folks that are beginner – intermediate level weight lifters. To more experienced and stronger lifters they recommended getting a set of the Bowflex 1090 which is something I totally agree to just because of the weight options.

Picture of DAniel

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.  

Get in touch: [email protected]