Last updated: November 6, 2020

One of the biggest issues for most people who want to do dumbbell exercises at home is the cost of getting a wide enough range of weights.

Adjustable dumbbells may be the solution to this, but for a long time, they lacked in quality and were difficult to adjust.

One of the products that a few of my clients were buying for their home fitness gyms is the Bowflex SelectTech range, so I decided I needed to take a closer look.

And I found some pretty interesting surprises.

What Are Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells?

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Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells are adjustable dumbbells that take advantage of a unique dial system to adjust the weight settings.

The reason I believe these dumbbells have become so popular in online reviews is that the adjustment is easy and fast.

You can have both dumbbells adjusted in about 5 seconds, which could be important for anyone who needs to maintain certain heart rates in between sets.

More on the mechanism in the next section.

The weight range is from 5 to 52.5 pounds, which for most people, will be enough to cover everything from squats to biceps curls and bench presses. What might be more important, though, is the weight increments.


From 5 to 25 pounds, you’re able to adjust in 2.5 lbs increments, and from 25 to 52.5, it’s 5 lbs increments. That should give you enough flexibility for each set of exercises in your workout routine.


How Do They Work?

We also compared BlowFlex dumbbells against PowerBlocks, another popular product on the market.

How Do They Work?

Bowflex SelectTech adjustable dumbbells work by rotating a dial system at each end of the dumbbell. There is a number printed for each dial turn that should make it fast and easy to make the switch in between each exercise set.

As you turn the dial, the different available weight plates are either engaged or disengaged. When you then pick up the dumbbell in your home gym, some of the plates remain in the stands.

At the end of each of your exercise sets, you then place the dumbbells back in the stand, ready to turn the dial for your next workout.

The speed with which you may be able to set the weights is particularly important if you’re doing a lot of high-intensity interval training. This is where you wouldn’t want your heart rate to drop below a certain level [1].

But there are more benefits to this product.

Benefits Of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells

While it ended up in a typical team discussion about the order of these benefits, at least we were able to agree that all these seven should make training with weights at home that much more feasible. 

1 - Space Saving Design

Even if you’re lucky enough to be able to use a part of your garage or a spare room, space is going to be an issue for home gyms.

You might have a rower or treadmill, a barbell rack, and a bench already taking up a fair bit of space. 

One thing often highlighted in the online reviews is that the SelectTech product range is space-saving and pretty easy to store.

2 - Good Option For Increment Flexibility

Depending on how you structure your workouts, you may have some very precise requirements for the amount of weight you lift.

When you’re at your local gym, that’s not a problem as there are probably more than a hundred different dumbbells available.

Having a smaller increment option, especially at the lower weight range, is particularly important. And it is one of the main features of the Bowflex range. 

3 - Looks And Feels Like A Regular Dumbbell

Guy holding weight with both hands

When it comes to my fitness and gym equipment, I’m a bit of a traditional kind of guy.

I like things made of steel, and in a style, I’m familiar with.

That might make me old-fashioned, but I don't think I’m the only one.

With the Bowflex dumbbells, you’ll get that typical round shape, that should feel rather familiar.

4 - Quality Hard-Wearing Design

I was initially a bit skeptical about seeing some of the parts made of plastic. My experience with plastic fitness equipment has been pretty poor.

But I have to say that after months of use, I don’t think that the plastic parts are wearing. They also don’t seem to be under constant strain and look like they might actually be helping to protect the mechanism that engages the adjustable plates.

5 - Fast Weight Adjustment

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This is a big plus and one we’ve already mentioned.

The weight plates take less than 5 seconds to adjust, and we actually had a few entertaining competitions here at the office.

As you’re going through your exercises, there are two things you don’t want to have happen.

Firstly, you don’t want to spend a load of time adjusting weights and bringing your heart rate down [2].

Secondly, you don’t want to waste a short moment to catch your breath on struggling with the weight plates.

6 - Suitable For All Types of Dumbbell Exercises

We already mentioned that they have a space-saving design, but the fact that they are compact also has the bonus of not getting in your way.

We have encountered some similar products that might be too bulky for things like a shoulder press or upright rowers.

And the last thing you want is to adjust your workouts for a set where the dumbbells just get in your way.

7 - Affordable For Home Gym Equipment

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This is probably another deciding factor for people setting up home gyms.

While price shouldn't stop you from committing to a workout routine, having to buy 20 or 30 dumbbells is quite an expense.

And with the Bowflex products, you could end up saving a small fortune.

8 - You Won’t Need A Load Of Storage Space

If you’ve ever ended up in a heated discussion with your significant other about another piece of training equipment taking up space, then PowerBlocks could be a great peacemaker.

Even on the standard stand, they should only take up about 2 square feet of floor space, allowing you to keep them out of the way. This means less tripping over them and fewer arguments.

Is There Something We Don’t Like?

dumbell lifting very thin guy

Overall, I believe that the Bowflex SelectTech option is one of the best on the market, but there are two minor things that I would highlight.

These are by no means game-changers, but I believe that this wouldn’t be an honest exercise equipment review if I didn’t highlight them.

Minor Materials Issue

Yes, I have to get back to the plastic parts. Unlike other similar dumbbells, these aren’t part of the core adjustment mechanism. But they are still used as a way to engage the different selections.

Now, I haven't had an issue so far, but I would be interested to see how these parts look like after a few years of regular workout routines.

Plastic is just not the ideal material for an otherwise great quality set.

Overall Length

What I mean here is that if you go to the lowest setting and then the highest setting, the overall length of the dumbbell stays the same. Personally, I’m used to lifting heavy and bulky weights in my fitness routines.

But some people who tend to use lower weights for just a small amount of resistance, this could feel a bit bulky.

Do You Need Any Accessories?

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The Bowflex SelectTech adjustable dumbbell set on its own is a good investment for your home gym, but I have found a couple of accessories that might help to improve your workout just a bit more.

Full Height Stand

The official Bowflex stand is well designed, where each weight is just the right distance apart.

This might make it just a bit easier to get your body in the right position to lift them without causing unnecessary strain on your back [3].

Back pain may be caused by poor posture or technique. If your back is rounded, your hips are put at a high angle that stresses the ligaments. When you lift weights, it adds additional stress that can lead to strain.
- Michelle Wishart, Fitness Writer

Bowflex Bench

If you have the space at home for a bench, then make sure you get one. You’ll gain a lot more flexibility in both compound and isolation exercises [4].

There’s a very good reason why you see plenty of them in gyms.

The Bowflex bench options seem to be as good as they get, and I’ve read many positive reviews about the quality and comfort.

We also reviewed the best dumbbell racks out on the market.

Are Bowflex Dumbbells Worth The Investment?

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Yes, I have come to the conclusion that Bowflex SelectTech adjustable dumbbells are indeed worth the investment for a home gym.

I have yet to find other models where weight plates are so easily adjusted, while not compromising on space and durability.

Even as a professional fitness coach with plenty of gym equipment at home, I have found that I use these a lot more than the traditional set that I have built up over many years.

Another popular dumbbell on the market is PowerBlock Dumbbells if you're not feeling Bowflex. We compared PowerBlock vs IronMaster, another great adjustable dumbbell option.

Bowflex 552 vs 1090 Differences

The most popular Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells are the 552 model. Before I compare it to other available options, let me explain what the numbers actually mean.

In this entry-level case, you’re able to change the weights from 5 lbs to 52 lbs, and that’s where the 552 description comes from.

This should help you review the other two options.
If you need a higher weight range, then the Bowflex SelectTech 560 would give you 5 lbs to 60 lbs of a weight range, while the SelectTech 1090 model is the real heavyweight.
This one starts at 10 lbs and goes all the way up to 90 lbs. You’d have to be in some serious shape to require that kind of weights in your regular training routine.

For the average home gym, though, I believe that the 552 model should be more than enough. But if you do have some bulking and strength training plans, then maybe it’s best to go to the next size up.

The reason I say this is because you cannot increase the weight range at a later time through extra add-on weights.


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Are Bowflex dumbbells any good?

Yes, Bowflex dumbbells are good for strength and fitness training. They have one of the most unique mechanisms for changing weights that may be best suitable for people who need to avoid cooling down too much in between sets.

Are Bowflex dumbbells suitable for muscle building?

Yes, Bowflex dumbbells are suitable for muscle building. Many bodybuilders have switched to using them in their home gym because they don’t take up too much space.

Because of the shape, they also feel just like a normal dumbbell. That way, you should be able to focus on your workout, rather than having to adjust your exercises.

Should You Buy Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells?

If you want to have the flexibility of a large range of dumbbells without the huge price tag of a full set, then Bowflex is most likely the best answer.

Whether you’re aiming for progressive overload or just want to do some high-intensity interval training for weight loss, you won’t be struggling with variety.

The design is compact, and based on all the review comments I have read, it’s likely the easiest one to use.

I even work with professional bodybuilders, who find these the best solution to keep their equipment less cluttered.

Make sure you let us know on social media how they work out for you.

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Our #1 Recommendation

  • Space Saving Design
  • Good Option For Increment Flexibility
  • Looks And Feels Like A Regular Dumbbell
  • Quality Hard-Wearing Design
  • Fast Weight Adjustment
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