I recently had an epiphany. Since this started as a dumbbell site, well, maybe I should actually review some dumbbells. To that end, I purchased – yes, I actually buy and use the stuff I review – a Proform adjustable dumbbell. Specifically, the Proform Space Saver 25 adjustable dumbbell (with storage tray!) and I’ve spent the last week using it.
A quick note before I get started: most “reviews” you find are just general overviews by people that have never used the product/s. Or, if they have, they were sponsored by the company to do so. If that happens here, I’ll make sure to post a disclaimer so you know up front. Anyways, back to my review…
Let’s find out more about the Proform fusion space saver adjustable dumbbells including some basic facts, my likes and dislikes, how it compares to some other adjustable dumbbells, and whether or not this set belongs in your home gym.
If you just want the highlights and to skip the rest, see the table of contents right below.
Before I jump into a general overview and then the actual testing and details, here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of the Proform fusion space saver dumbbells upon initial glance:
- Compact Design
- Tray included
- Nice (mostly) metal look
- Kind of hard to read the text (to know the selected weight) on the tray
- Handle looks too thick for some
Adjustable dumbbells – as you may well know – allows you to quickly adjust the weight of your dumbbell. Pretty crazy, I know. As such, they are ideal for a home gym as you get a wide variety of weights in a compact form. Not only that, they tend to provide more value as you don’t have to purchase multiple different dumbbell sets.
In some dumbbells, you’re able to quickly modify the weight of the dumbbell by using a “rapid weight selector.” In BowFlex dumbbells, that’s a simple dial you turn. In PowerBlocks, it’s via a pin mechanism. Well, in the Proform it’s done via an slide-pin mechanism where you pull up a pin and then slide it to add or remove weight.
More on that later, but suffice it say it works quickly and easily to select a weight, which you can do in 5 lb. increments. Anyways, the compact design of the 25 lb. adjustable dumbbell allows you to replace 5 different fixed weight dumbbells.
While it doesn’t have a stand, like most other adjustable dumbbells, the Proform does include a molded storage tray. The tray not only provides storage for when you’re not using the dumbbell, it holds any unused weight, and allows you to quickly and safely select the weight you want.
Speaking of the weight plates, those are made of metal which is a nice feature as many – many – dumbbells use cheap plastic. While weight is weight, plastic is not as durable as steel and well, not as pretty. And while the long-term durability of the select a weight mechanism is yet to be seen, it’s nice to see metal weight plates.
While I wouldn’t call the dumbbells “sexy”, they do have a pretty sleek finish and look nicer than some other sets 1 lookin’ at you, PowerBlocks.
Now that you know the general facts about this adjustable dumbbell, here’s the testing criteria I used when I evaluated it:
- 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.
- Adjustment increments: The typical load adjustment increment generally depends on how heavy the adjustable dumbbell is. Lighter dumbbells – such as these – sometimes allow increases or decreases of 2½ pounds, while others adjust by increments of 5 pounds.
- Ergonomics: How the weights feel and move in your hands is very important. Adjustable dumbbells tend to be larger and a bit unwieldy when compared to fixed dumbbells which can affect your ability to use them.
- Overall construction: More metal (and fewer plastic) components generally make for a better experience.
In evaluating the Proforms, I used these dumbbells like I would use any adjustable dumbbell set. Namely, I put them thru their paces in a few different workouts and with a variety of exercises such as lunges, Bulgarian split squat, overhead presses, bench presses, rows, and some deadlift variations.
Speed and ease of adjustment
Like I mentioned, the Fusion Space Savers use a slide-pin mechanism to adjust the weight on the dumbbell. To use, you simply pull up and slide a pin at each end of the dumbbell to add or reduce weight. The closer the pin is to the handle, the lighter the weight. Any leftover plates remain in the tray when using the dumbbell.
In terms of the weight, you have to make adjustments in 5 pound increments, starting at no additional weight and going up to 25 lbs. total. Smaller increments – like 2.5 lbs. – might be better but the trade-off is that it wouldn’t be nearly as compact as you’d need more plates to select from.
So how does the rapid weight selector work? Overall, it works, well, okay. It’s easy to pull the pin up and just slide it to the plate or weight you want the dumbbell set at. It’s quick – just a few seconds – and efficient and I didn’t have any real problems with the mechanism so long as I actually pulled the pin up sufficiently.
The pin is actually metal although there is a black, hard plastic surrounding the pin. While long-term durability remains to be seen, it seems like it’ll work well for a long time.
I have a few minor complaints, though. First, sometimes I couldn’t get the pin set immediately in place when changing weight. It only took a second to fix so it doesn’t really impact anything but it’s annoying.
Second, occasionally I had trouble removing (or replacing) the weight out of the included storage tray. I had to just jostle it a bit so the weight would come out smoothly. Same thing when adding them back in: I had to wiggle it a bit so it would slide down back into the try.
And, lastly, sometimes it’s a bit difficult to immediately select the weight you want. Say I want to select 20 lbs. via the pin selector. Well, it’s easy to accidentally select 25 lbs. or 15 lbs. instead. Again, it’s not a big deal and it’s easily updated but it’s still annoying.
Overall, I still prefer a dial mechanism – like in the CAP adjustable dumbbell – as it’s easier and more foolproof when selecting weights.
Lastly, because of the metal weight plate, using the ProForm adjustable dumbbells is a bit noisier than similar, plastic based sets. It’s not loud by any means, but it is louder. It’s minimal but something I wanted to mention in case quiet is a bit concern.
Selection Mechanism Rating – 6.5
Obviously, ergonomics is big consideration with adjustable dumbbells. After all, it’s hard to use something consistently if it’s just plain uncomfortable. Luckily, I didn’t experience any discomfort when using them although they are some (potential) drawbacks.
First, the good: the set itself is very compact. You can see how it compares to a comparable BowFlex set in this pic:
Being more compact, it’s easier to use for most folks. I also rather like the metal handle with a knurled grip. The knurling is not aggressive and is very slight and provides a bit of extra grip. I know not everyone likes knurling but, if anything, I wish it was more pronounced. If you prefer a rubber handle, well, you’re out of luck.
Now, the potential bad: the handle is pretty thick. My similar Bowflex has a handle that’s maybe just 2/3 as thick. And while that doesn’t sound like a big difference, it can be if you have smaller hands or are you using this with younger athletes.
Now, for me, I actually prefer a thicker handle as I have larger hands. I find it’s easier to grip and the extra width works your grip more, similar (but not nearly as thick) how using Fat Gripz or something similar is great for your grip strength.
Ergonomic Rating – 9
This is a tough one to judge after such a short time period as durability will only reveal itself over time. I’ll update this review at a later date with more on that.
With that said, construction appears very good. The plates are metal. The slide-pin adjustment mechanism is metal. The storage tray is a solid, hard plastic which will last a lifetime. The outside – or cap – of the adjustable dumbbells is also a solid plastic that should last forever.
My main concern is that the top rail of the dumbbell – when you slide the pin, it allows the weight to be selected – is just hard plastic. And the tabs which help secure the weight could get worn down over time.
In fact, a couple are a little scuffed up (see pic below) already. I don’t think it will affect anything long-term but the proof is in the pudding 2the earliest known written reference to the phrase comes from English antiquarian William Camden’s 1623 volume Remains Concerning Britain and only time will tell.
As a quick PSA 3public service announcement, I always try to be more careful with my adjustable dumbbells or fixed weight dumbbells. By their very nature of having moving parts, you don’t want to drop them or unduly stress them by doing, say, plank rows on them. Now back to the score…
As of now, I’m going to give this a little bit of a benefit of a doubt and score it a 7.5, rounding up to an 8. If the rail becomes an issue, rest assured that score will drop.
You’ve probably heard “price is what you pay, value is what you get” before. If not, now you have. Anyways, at the time of this writing, the price for the dumbbell set is around $140 or $70 each. And, yes, you can buy just one at a time.
If you’re comparing that to some of the top end adjustable dumbbells such as PowerBlock or Core, that’s a really reasonable price. Even some of the off-brand, Chinese knock-offs are going cost as much or more. And, yes, the Pro-Forms are made in China although I think they’re more reputable than some of the fly-by-night brands you see pop-up anymore.
Anyways, an equivalent fixed weight dumbbell set with five individual sets – a 5 lb., 10 lb., 15 lb., 20 lb., and 25 lb. – will be much more expensive and take up a ton more space.
Overall, for adjustable dumbbells, as of now I’m giving this an 8. The price is right, the size is right, and while the long-term durability remains to be seen so far so good.
Other good adjustable dumbbells
Anymore there’s a lot of good adjustable dumbbells on the market. It’s just a matter of finding one that works for you: the right weight, the right price, and right for your fitness needs.
Throughout this review, I’ve compared the Proform adjustable dumbbells to a similar BowFlex model, as that’s probably the most popular adjustable dumbbell on the market. I own both. While the Pro-form has its good points, overall, I still prefer the BowFlex even if it comes at a much higher cost.
Here are a some other good adjustable dumbbell sets:
The Proform adjustable dumbbells deliver a good experience – it’s quick and easy to select the weight plates, it’s fairly comfortable to use, looks nice, includes a storage tray, and has a durable steel construction. Long-term viability remains to be seen but so far so good.
While I still slightly prefer a couple other adjustable dumbbells with a rapid weight selector – such as BowFlex 552 – those come at a much higher cost. And, let’s face it, there’s no such thing as the perfect adjustable dumbbell – they’re all going to have some sort of trade-offs.
So if you’re looking at building out or expanding your home gym, want to add some variety to your fitness and exercise routine, or just have some money to burn they’re definitely worth a try. Happy training!