Easy to use
Adjust in 2.5-pound increments
Smooth to re-rack
Takes longer than some to adjust weight
About the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells
Together, these dumbbells take up roughly 2 square feet of floor space. They’re nearly 17 inches long, and have a lightweight metal handle with a grippy rubber coating that makes them comfortable and easy to grasp throughout sweaty workouts.
The loads range from 5 to 52.5 pounds—the equivalent 15 pairs of weights—and increase in 2.5-pound increments until 25 pounds and 5-pound increments thereafter. They have two dials, one on each end of the dumbbell, which you twist to change the weight. The design of these dumbbells includes rounded weight plates organized by descending size, with small spaces between the plates to facilitate racking and adjusting.
What we like about the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells
They’re easy to re-rack
Adjustable dumbbells typically come in trays to hold the excess weight plates that aren’t in use. During testing, I found that the ease of re-racking dumbbells in their trays can make or break the experience, and no other brand we tested did this better than Bowflex. With many sets, the weight plates are held with minimal or no spacing between them. This creates a more compact set overall, but oftentimes results in the weight plates getting knocked over or stuck in the trays when re-racking. Bowflex, however, built in more space between the plates, which makes the dumbbells much easier to replace. The weight plates never got stuck, and it was a smooth transition each and every time I used them.
They have 2.5-pound weight increments
When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, smaller weight increments are better as they allow you to progress more comfortably and avoid potentially straining yourself with too large a bump. The Bowflex weights increase by 2.5 pounds until they reach 25 pounds, then increase by 5 pounds. Having 2.5-pound increments makes some exercises more comfortable, and makes increasing weight more accessible as you get stronger, especially if you’re getting back into the weight-lifting groove and a 5-pound increase is too substantial.
What we don’t like about the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells
They’re longer than average
Though having more separation between weight plates is a huge advantage, it means the Bowflex pair is less compact than others. These dumbbells are longer than many sets—the bar is a fixed length and measures nearly 17 inches, while our second-place dumbbells from Core Home Fitness top out at 14.5 inches. Smaller-framed people (like myself) may find the Bowflex awkward to maneuver, especially at lighter weights when there aren't many plates loaded. (The Core Home Fitness adjustable dumbbells have an internal bar that grows longer as plates are added, so at lighter loads, they're more similar to the size you'd expect from a pair of regular 5- or 10-pound dumbbells.) I didn’t find the Bowflexes' length to be too obtrusive, but it was noticeable from the get-go. I got used to it quickly, but others may find it cumbersome.
It’s time-consuming to change the weight
Though this pair is easy to re-rack, actually changing the loaded weight takes a little longer than average—though we’re talking a matter of seconds, not minutes here. Typically, you can change the weight on an adjustable dumbbell by either twisting the handle or turning a knob on the end of the weight. With the latter method, twisting the knob on one end usually changes the loaded weight on both ends of a dumbbell simultaneously. However, with Bowflex you have to turn two knobs, one on each end of the dumbbell, or else you will end up with an uneven load. I quickly got used to this method, but it’s somewhat of a nuisance and definitely more time-consuming.
Bowflex’s adjustable dumbbells come with a longer-than-average, two-year warranty that covers your dumbbells’ parts, including hand assembly, the plates, and base assembly. You can also upgrade to three years of coverage for $29 or five years for $59.
Should you buy the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells
Yes, they’re a great option for all fitness levels
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells are easy to adjust and comfortable to use. They have a wide range of weights that can be used for a variety of exercises, and small 2.5-pound weight increments which allow for more precision when exercising.
However, it takes longer to change the loaded weight, as you have to adjust two knobs on each dumbbell, instead of just one. And this pair is longer than average, which may be uncomfortable for smaller individuals.
All in all, the pros far outweigh the cons. The Bowflex adjustable dumbbells make it easy to work out, are space-saving in a home gym, and will satisfy anyone looking to level up their home workout.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Health and Fitness
Esther is a writer at Reviewed covering all things health and fitness.
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