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Powerblock Review: Should You Buy This Dumbbell?

Last updated: September 19, 2021

For a long time, the adjustable dumbbells market was plagued with crappy products. You just had the option of either easy to adjust or long-lasting.

You couldn’t seem to get both. But here comes PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells, a dumbbell innovation that claims to resolve both concerns.

I took a deep dive into this PowerBlock craze and there were a few surprises in store that might be useful to help you buy the perfect pair of adjustable dumbbells.

Let’s get on to this PowerBlock dumbbells review.

What Are PowerBlock Dumbbells?

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PowerBlock dumbbells are adjustable dumbbells that claim to have one of the fastest mechanisms for changing the weight plates.

They are available in 3 models that are designed for different levels of fitness training. More on the different sets shortly.

The entire goal of these adjustable dumbbells is to allow people to take advantage of workout routines that would otherwise require 10 or 20 pairs of dumbbells..

Not only would those take up a load of space and get you in trouble with your significant other. But it could also end up to be quite expensive for a home gym.

Another one of the unique things highlighted in a lot of online reviews is that each of the models is expandable. So, you shouldn’t end up in a situation where you have a fixed range of weight settings.

As you bulk up and gain strength, you could order more compatible weight plates.

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How Do Powerblock Weights Work?

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PowerBlock weights work by using a pin system and color-coding to make the required weight adjustments.

When you look at it closely, the mechanism functions in a similar way to what you see at the gym with machines that use a cable pulley system.

As you move the pin, it’s going to set and engage a different number of plates.

During some competitive testing here at the office, Connor was actually able to get the fastest time for changing the weight plates on both adjustable dumbbells in under 3 seconds.

Once you have the right settings, you simply grab the handle and gently lift it out of the base. Some of the plates will stay in place, and the plates you don't need will be left behind. You’ll then be ready to start your training with the PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells.

To set the right weight for your exercise, you check the color chart on the side and then place the pin accordingly.

What are the Benefits?

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I mentioned above that adjustable dumbbells used to have very limited uses, and they often started falling apart during training.

It only takes one weight plate to drop on your foot to never want to use one again (Yes, that’s experience talking).

But when used properly, adjustable dumbbells are one of the most valuable equipment for a home gym.

After some extensive testing, we have identified a few benefits that may help you decide on whether this PowerBlock adjustable dumbbell set is worth trying out.

1 - Way Cheaper Than A Set Of Dumbbells

A standard set of dumbbells could run into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars, depending on how heavy you need them to be.

When you then consider that the smallest set of PowerBlocks Elite could replace 16 pairs of dumbbells, then you start to see how much savings there could be.

Once you get to the PowerBlock Pro Series adjustable dumbbell set, you could be saving on 28 pairs, which for a quality brand would likely cost you thousands of dollars (and a ton of space!) [1].

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

Speaking of 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 or any other brand of adjustable dumbbells could be a great peacemaker.

If you choose to get the largest set, you are saving so much space with having to store around 28 pairs of fixed weight dumbbells (that's more than 2,500 pounds in total!).

But 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.

3 - Easy To Use Weight Settings

The ability to change weights quickly is one of the best features of adjustable dumbbells, which can be beneficial when performing fast-paced workout routines.

The only thing you need to get used to in PowerBlocks is the color coding for the weight settings. It’s printed on the side, and within a few seconds, you should be able to pull out the pin and place it in the right slot.

On our experience, the time it takes to increase or decrease weights depends on the how large or small the change you need to make.

Let's say you want to increase your weights from 20 lbs to 30 lbs. This will be quite easy and quick since it only involves moving the selector pin down one level.

It gets tricky when you only need to add 2.5 lbs because you need to manually place the adder weights on the core, which could potentially slow down your workout.

However, when compared to traditional fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells are still easier and faster to use.

Many online reviews say that it’s easy to get used to, but still best to practice a few times before your first training session.

4 - Expandable For Higher Weight Range

For most adjustable dumbbells, you have to buy the certain model that provides the weight range you plan to use. Once you buy a set, that’s it; you won’t be able to extend the range on them.

However, PowerBlocks have made it possible for you to start with a smaller weight set, and then possibly invest in more weights for the same series.

That’s one of the great features that we often saw in reviews.

5 - Good Choice Of Weight Increments

There are a mix of weight increments, which is a little confusing at first, but they are 2.5 and 5 lbs increments: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10,15, 17.5, 20 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 37.5, 40, 45, 47.5, and 50 lbs.

This may not give you full flexibility of 2.5 lbs increments, but for a home gym setup, that’s still a great range of choices [2].

Use the "2 for 2" rule when deciding if it's time to increase the amount of weight you're lifting: When you can do two more reps with a given weight than you started out with for two consecutive workouts, increase the weight.
- Bill Geiger, Senior Content Editor bodybuilding.com

As mentioned, it's pretty easy to add more weight plates if you need a higher range of weights. You can purchase a suitable expansion kit for your model, and you're good to go for heavier workouts.

6 - Quality Materials For Durability

The PowerBlocks Elite adjustable dumbbells have a welded steel design that seems to be robust and durable. Even when you shake them a bit, you’re not going to get that loose or clanky feel that used to be so common in other products

According to the company, the pins are made of quality polypropylene, which has been rated up to 500 lbs weight.

Based on online reviews, consistent use of these adjustable dumbbells lasted for years without breaking or needing a repair. I often see second hand PowerBlocks being sold online that are still in very good condition.

Some users even drop their PowerBlocks from time to time, but it didn't cause any major problems. But just like with any other adjustable dumbbells, it's definitely not advisable to drop them as some parts may break or crack easily than traditional dumbbells.

7 - Suitable For Majority Of Exercises

One of the really important things about adjustable dumbbells is that they have to feel like normal ones. You don’t want to adjust your exercise routine and risk injury, just because your weights are bulky and possibly get in the way [3].

Our testing so far has only found 1 or 2 exercises where the shape of the PowerBlock Elite may limit the use a bit due to its closed handle design. All other PowerBlock models in production have been improved to have an open handle which gives more space for your hands, especially for those who have bigger hands or wrists.

What We Didn't Like

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While our entire team believes that PowerBlocks is one of the best adjustable dumbbell, we did find some minor issues. But to make this PowerBlock dumbbells review an honest one, we decided that they should be highlighted.

1 - The Pins Are Plastic

Even on the pro version of the PowerBlocks, it comes with the pins that are made of a plastic material. According to the company, this plastic has been tested up to 500 lbs of weight.

That certainly does make it durable, but we still think that combined with the next issue, there could be a possibility for it to break.

2 - The Forks Of The Pins Could End Up Misaligned

To change the weight setting on the adjustable dumbbell, you pull out a fork-like pin. If you do this too quickly, there’s a good chance that the forks are in the wrong slots.

While we think that the plastic pin is durable enough, it is also flexible enough that if you're not focused on inserting the pin, it can end up crooked or even separated and stretched, which could cause them to break off.

The good news is the pin quickly returns to its original shape once you insert it correctly. Now, we haven't experienced this issue so far, but we think this could be better fixed with metal pins.

3 - Dumbbell Design Feels Different

Because the handle is surrounded by a system of bars that hold the plates together, the PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells do have a different feel to them.

The first thing that you probably noticed is the pillars surrounding the handle which creates a cubic shape. There are mixed opinions on this aspect, but we found it unusual in a good way.

For some, the square design can be a bit annoying to handle, but other users appreciate how it helps to make the adjustable dumbbells stable on a flat surface.

There does seem to be plenty of space for your wrists and lower arms too, but I could see this getting in the way for some lower arm exercises.

PowerBlock Elite vs Other Models

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The Powerblock dumbbell comes in 3 different models that claim to have been created for specific needs of certain fitness levels of athletes.

Each of the models comes as a pair of adjustable dumbbells, but they mainly differ in the weight ranges.

  • The PowerBlock Sport is the entry-level design, and it’s great for people who might need less flexibility when buying for their home gym. It has a maximum weight of 24 lbs, with 3-lb increments down to the minimum weight of 3 lbs. It's absolutely perfect for anyone who are starting out with their fitness journey.
  • The PowerBlock Elite is the most popular pair as there is a wide range of weights for more flexible exercise sets. Also called the Classic Series, the Elite Series is available in three weight ranges: Elite 50 (5 to 50 lbs), Elite 70 (5 to 70 lbs), and Elite 90 (5 to 90 lbs). You can purchase an expansion kit for Elite 50 and 70 for heavier weights.
  • The PowerBlock Pro Series adds more flexibility for increments and comes with higher maximum weight options. You can choose from the Pro 50 and Pro EXP models, where the former cannot be expanded. The Pro Series claims to be best suitable for professional athletes who are aiming for some toned muscle growth.

 

One thing you have to keep in mind when comparing the sets is that the expansion system for each model is unique. This means that you won’t be able to use an Elite series expansion set on the Pro Series, for example.

If you’re uncertain which model to choose, then you could stay on the safe side with the Elite adjustable dumbbell pair.

Most of us here at Total Shape think they are going to give you more room for improvement in the future.

See our other PowerBlock comparisons:

How Do You Use PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells?

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You use PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells the same way as standard dumbbells. The only difference really is that you’re not picking a fixed weight for each set, but rather make a quick setting change on the adjustable dumbbell.

The PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells offer possibly the best range of weights available, meaning that you could plan for lifting up to 90 lbs with each hand.

Additional Accessories

I know that some of you might get in trouble if you get a delivery of more gym equipment, but there are a couple of things that you may want to consider.

And if you have enough space at home, then here’s what you should consider

1 - Dumbbell Stand

What we like about the PowerBlock stands is that they are set at a good height. This means you don’t need to bend down as much to pick them up, which could result in back injuries [4].

There are a few different ones to choose from, and the price ranges from $99 to $239. Personally, I think the column stand offers the best design. You can either buy the small or large size depending on the PowerBlocks model you use.

The large column stand is compatible with Sport EXP, Pro EXP, PowerBlock EXP, Pro 50, and Elite 50, while the small one is suited for Sport 24, Sport 50, PowerBlock 50 and Pro 32.

2 - Expansion Sets

Each of the series has its own Powerblock expansion stage. This is going to give you more flexibility with your initial purchase, not requiring the most expensive pair.

You could order the extra weights when your strength has improved enough. All the expansion kits are sold as pairs to add 20 lbs to each dumbbell.

3 - PowerBlock Bench

For more flexibility in your training routines, you're going to need a Powerblock Sport bench. Fortunately, there are some foldable products available that wouldn’t be too bulky in your home.

You may choose from two models:

  • Sport Bench: a full-sized, 5-position adjustable bench with adjustable seat with optional dip station and chin-up bar
  • Travel Bench: a portable, compact, and foldable travel-sized bench with a durable powder-coated finish

Both available products are sturdy and well-padded with a 550-lb weight capacity , and based on many comments, they are of better quality than most standard benches.

You can also check out these dumbbell rack sets.

4 - PowerBlock EZ Curl Bar & Straight Bar

The Straight Bar is best for squats, lunges, bench and shoulder presses, and deadlifts, while the EZ Curl Bar is works well for variations of bicep curls and triceps extension.

Unfortunately, these bars are only compatible with the certain models, including Pro EXP, Pro 50, and the Urethane Series.

PowerBlocks User Reviews

After a constant year-long use of PowerBlock dumbbells, our team and clients who have tried different models had positive experience with these adjustable dumbbells.

We found the ease and speed of changing weights to be the main advantage of this brand compared to other adjustable dumbbells.

Many users online consider PowerBlocks as the best adjustable dumbbells on the market today due to its durability. We've spent hours reading through what people are saying online, and we've chosen to feature a few below:

"I am a personal trainer so I don't have time to replace broken equipment all the time. The solid metal construction and overall good build quality of PowerBlocks lead me to believe that these won't break like the last pair of adjustable dumbbells I had."

- Zachary K., Personal Trainer

"I purchased this PowerBlock set primarily because of the cost savings over individual dumbbells and also the space-saving feature. Let me say I’m glad I did, because after a couple months of use, they haven’t disappointed in performance."

- Craig

"The clips don't go in straight like the videos I saw on YouTube. The weights also feel uneven and uncomfortable, and the square design is horrible to hold. Some people says that it takes a little while to get used to the design, but unfortunately, it's just not working for me."

- Jack B.

FAQ

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Are PowerBlock dumbbells any good?

Yes, PowerBlock dumbbells are good for all types of training from amateur to pro. Even the most basic pair offers a wide range of weight settings, which could take your strength and muscle building routine to the next level.

Another popular adjustable dumbbell is BowFlex. You can read our full Bowflex Dumbbells review here.

Can you do squats with PowerBlock dumbbells?

Yes, you can do squats with PowerBlock dumbbells. You could either grip each handle and hold them next to your body. Or you could hold one handle with your hands overlapping to have a more balanced center of gravity.

Are PowerBlock dumbbells suitable for muscle building?

Yes, PowerBlock dumbbells are suitable for muscle building. The PowerBlocks Pro Series are aimed at athletes in the bodybuilding category. But even the Sport and Elite series should give you enough variety to bulk up like you would with fixed dumbbells.

Are PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells better than Bowflex?

Both PowerBlocks and Bowflex are great adjustable dumbbells for anyone who wants a more compact equipment to their home gym. But the choice between the two depends on your personal workout plan, needs, and goals.

If you prefer a less bulky adjustable dumbbell for a small space, then Bowflex might be a better option since its design is close to traditional dumbbells. We found that changing the weight settings are also faster with Bowflex because of its easy-to-use mechanism.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more stable adjustable dumbbell, then the square shape that PowerBlock provides can end your search for a perfect pair. Aside from a comfortable handle grip, you can also save a few bucks on the PowerBlock Elite Series.

Are PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells better than Ironmaster?

While these two differ on many aspects, both have advantages over the other. The PowerBlock series offers a larger weight range of up to 90 lbs as well as a fast weight adjustable system.

On the other hand, you can get the same feel as standard sets at the gym with Ironmaster dumbbells. While it doesn't have the speed of PowerBlocks, it skips the use of plastic in any of its parts, making it durable and longer-lasting. It also includes a limited lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.

Should You Buy Powerblock Elite Dumbbells?

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Our entire team here has been happily working with clients using these adjustable dumbbells, and we would recommend a PowerBlocks adjustable dumbbell pair for anyone who wants to do some extra workouts at a home gym.

The mechanism for switching out the plates is not just simple to use, but also fast.

As a result, you won’t have to worry too much about cooling down. I’m not surprised many consider this brand as the best adjustable dumbbells on the market

I have it in my home gym so I can vouch for it, as supported by this review.

Once you’ve started using them, make sure you leave us a comment about how they worked out for you.

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