Bowflex adjustable dumbbells

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Combining several sets of weights into a single piece of equipment is easy with the SelectTech 552 dumbbell.

They are appealing to people who have limited space and are looking to upgrade their home gym without buying a whole rack of dumbbells.

The dumbbells are a bit longer and bulkier than traditional ones, which may make it difficult to perform certain movements.

I tried the SelectTech 552 dumbbell to see if it was the right fit for your home gym.

Pros

  • 15 pairs of weights are replaced to save space.
  • “It’s easy to adjust using a dial.”
  • Premium grips and molded plates maximize comfort and reduce noise.
  • It includes free shipping and extensive warranties.
  • JRNY app membership includes one year.

Cons

  • It may make certain workouts more challenging.
  • There are reports of issues with the locking mechanism.
  • Some weightlifters might not be able to lift a maximum weight of 52.50 pounds.

Bowflex offers two models of adjustable dumbbells: the Bowflex SelectTech 552 and Bowflex SelectTech 1090.

The SelectTech 552 is designed to replace 15 pairs of weights.

The dumbbells can be adjusted by either 2.5 or 2.3 pound increments, and then by 50 pound increments. The final adjustment adds 2.5 pounds for the heaviest weight.

The dial mechanism is easy to use and adjusts easily.

How the SelectTech 1090 compares

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 replaces 17 pairs of dumbbells and offers weights of 10–90 pounds (4.5–40.8 kg) in 5-pound (2.2-kg) increments.

The 1090 system uses a dial mechanism to adjust the weight.

Jessica Timmons HL Member Testing Profile for fitness content
Graphic by Ruth Basagoitia

I started lifting weights in my parents’ garage gym when I was 16. In the years since, I’ve rounded things out with kickboxing and rowing, but resistance training has always been part of my routine.

We invested in equipment for a garage gym of our own and canceled our gym memberships during the Pandemic. We lift weights for 5 days a week.

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are designed to replace 15 pairs of dumbbells, which makes them a pretty versatile piece of equipment. You can realistically complete a full-body workout at home with this setup.

The dial on the end of the dumbbell is used to set the amount of weight to be spun.

Photo by Jessica Timmons

The dumbbells have an automatic locking mechanism that locks in the weights you choose and leaves the rest of the plates in the included tray. When you are done, you line the dumbbells up with the plates you left.

Photo by Jessica Timmons

You can choose heavier or lighter weights depending on your training plan and fitness goals.

The features of the Bowflex dumbbells maximize their effectiveness.

Premium grips are used for extra stabilization and comfort. They also include a quieter workout by making the metal plates softer.

You can easily adjust the weight of each dumbbell using the dial mechanism. This saves you space by eliminating the need for multiple sets of dumbbells.

JRNY has an extensive library of guided workouts and training plans that you can use with the dumbbells.

To further enhance your workout, you can purchase additional accessories on Bowflex’s website, including benches, dumbbell stands, barbells, and kettlebells.

“The dumbbell stand is a good upgrade. The stand makes it so that you don’t have to bend over to change your weights, because you can adjust the dumbbells between exercises.”

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is suggested for $429.

The JRNY app, which features on-demand, trainer-led workouts, is a nice bonus since a JRNY subscription typically costs $149 per year.

Financing options are available.

The SelectTech 552s have a 2-year warranty, but also have an additional fee for protection.

The dumbbell stand with media rack is currently priced at $179. It comes with a 10-year warranty on the frame and a 1-year warranty on the media rack.

The 552s were assembled in their trays. They are ready for use when you unbox them.

Assembly was required for the stand. It comes with everything you need for the job, and the instructions are easy to understand.

The stand took about an hour to put together, and I recommend having two people for the job. One person can hold things in place while the other tightens them.

The first thing I noticed about the SelectTech 552s was their size.

The stand and dumbbells are not as large as a rack with 15 pairs of weights, but they are long.

Photo by Jessica Timmons

I found myself modifying some of my planned exercises to accommodate their size when I first saw them.

On a standing shoulder press, for example, I had to turn my elbows forward so my palms were inward. These dumbbells are so long that I come close to clipping my ears if I try a standard press with palms facing forward and elbows out.

For some exercises, like a single-arm overhead triceps extension, I found the 552s too big to use comfortably. Still, the dumbbells work just fine for many other exercises, and you really can get an effective full-body workout using them.

Photo by Jessica Timmons

The 552s have slightly softer grips than my regular dumbbells, which is a nice change. The 552 grips are larger in the center. They felt a little different in my hands.

“We don’t worry about noise because we use these weights in our garage. The 552s are pretty quiet, with no clanging sounds from reracking steel dumbbells.”

Adjusting the weight and reracking

“The dial is easy to spin to change the weight. You have to be careful when you rerack, but it isn’t hard.”

I wonder if the hard plastic used to make the trays will last for a long time. It seems like cracking could become an issue over time.

Photo by Jessica Timmons

I had no issues with the 552s being put into their trays, but my husband and son found it a little tight.

The trays have a small area in the center to hold your hands. If you upgrade to the stand, the trays are secured with a plastic buckle and a strap.

It is not a great design for people with bigger hands, and the stand is really convenient. Without it, you would have to spend a lot of time adjusting the dumbbells.

If you use the JRNY app, the media rack is handy because it fits any device.

Using the app

The JRNY app features a number of workouts designed specifically for the SelectTech dumbbells. It also includes options for yoga, Pilates, bodyweight, barre, HIIT, stretching, mobility, and more. You can filter workouts by time frame, difficulty level, activity, or trainer.

Screenshot by Jessica Timmons

There is no way to filter for workouts that include the SelectTech dumbbells. You have to scroll through the strength workout videos and make a decision based on the thumbnail image.

“There are other drawbacks to the JRNY app. You can’t fast- forward or slow down the videos. I found it a little annoying. The video is small on my Apple device, which I paired to the television, because it plays in a vertical format.”

“I was already familiar with the movements and technique, so I didn’t find the videos or instruction useful.”

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 and SelectTech 1090 systems have mostly positive reviews on the Bowflex website, with an average user rating of 4.8 and 4.7 stars, respectively.

Specifically, customers enjoy the space-saving design and find it easy to switch among different weights while working out.

The plastic molded helps to minimize noise and prevents metal plates from clanging together, which is beneficial for those living in apartments or shared spaces.

Some customers say that the bulkiness of the dumbbells makes certain exercises more challenging and that it is difficult to place the dumbbells back in the rack.

The dumbbells are prone to jamming and other issues.

Dumbbells are expensive and an investment, just like an investment. The added benefit of the Bowflex 552 dumbbells is that they take up less space than the 15 pairs of dumbbells you will pay for.

The 552s are a good option for a budget-friendly option. If you have a lot of experience with traditional dumbbells, you will notice that they are longer and bulkier.

Buying the 552s through the Bowflex website has the bonus of a free 1-year membership to the JRNY app. It’s probably not worth the money if you already know your way around a set of dumbbells, but I can see its appeal for those who are new to weightlifting.

There are other options to consider, even though Bowflex produces some of the most popular dumbbell on the market.

Bowflex stacks up against some of its competitors in this brief overview.

Mechanism Price (MSRP) Weight range Training options
Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dial $429 5–52.5 pounds (2.3–23.8 kg) 1-year JRNY app membership included
Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dial $799 10–90 pounds (4.5–40.8 kg) 1-year JRNY app membership included
NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells adjustable dial $499 10–55 pounds (4.5–25 kg) 30-day iFit family membership included
PowerBlock Sport EXP weight-locking pin $409 2.5–50 pounds (1.1–22.7 kg) none

The prices for these products may vary by retailer.

Are the Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbells worth it?

It depends on what you need. The 552s are a good choice if you like the flexibility of the dumbbells and the space is tight. If you are used to using traditional dumbbells, you will have to make some adjustments for the larger size of the 552s.

Are PowerBlocks better than Bowflex adjustable dumbbells?

One isn’t necessarily better than the other. Choosing between the two largely comes down to your preference and whether you’re interested in a more traditional dumbbell setup.

For example, the PowerBlock dumbbells have a pull-and-slide adjustment and lack the traditional dumbbell structure and weight distribution.

PowerBlock can be used with expansion packs to increase their weight to 90 pounds per dumbbell.

Are adjustable dumbbells worth the price?

It depends on your goals. Dumbbells that are adjusted will cost less than 15 pairs of weights and a rack, and they will take up less space. The 552s are easy to use and versatile enough to work out a full-body.

The Bowflex are more convenient and compact than regular dumbbells, so they are a great option for those who are short on space.

They can be a high quality addition to your home gym with premium grips, plastic mold, and an easy-to-use dial mechanism.

However, there are also several drawbacks to consider, and some customers may prefer products that are simpler, less bulky, or more affordable.