I’m always on the lookout for a new pair of adjustable dumbbells. Especially during the pandemic when it’s potentially unsafe to be in a gym. There’s been a run on adjustable dumbbells over the past year with all of the popular models selling out instantly.
Yes, the pandemic situation has played a major role in the recent spike in their use in home gyms. But the affordability and space-saving design of these small boys have always made them a favorite among fitness buffs for the longest time, especially for those looking for affordable adjustable dumbbells.
At the time of this writing, in early March 2021, you still cannot find PowerBlocks, Bowflex SelectTechs, or NordicTracks in stock. You’d think all of the main producers of adjustable dumbbells would have ramped up their production to meet demand, but this has not been the case.
Enter BWSS adjustable dumbbells, and others, who have developed new adjustable dumbbells to satisfy demand. I got my hands on a pair of several of these dumbbells for review purposes and wanted to share my findings here.
BWSS Adjustable Dumbbell Review
The BWSS adjustable dumbbells took a little less than 30 days to arrive at my apartment in the US. They cost $319, and a single order will get you 2x adjustable dumbbells. Now, let's get into the gisty bits;
The Cool Side
Here are some of the pleasant surprises that caught my eye right out of the box;
The Construction is Up to Snuff
The dumbbells themselves appear to be well made, and I have not had any quality issues with my set. I saw some other commenters discuss inconsistencies with their product, but my set arrived just fine without any missing pieces.
Modifying the Weights is Easy-Peasy
Each dumbbell allows you to modify the weight by twisting the handle to the desired weight. This makes changing the weight easy, and I have not had any issues with the locking mechanism of the dumbbells holding the weights in place or slipping out during use.
While I loved several bits about this set, I also had a few gripes to pick, here we go!
The Weight Increments are a Bit too Spaced Out
The adjustment increments are 6.6lbs, 15lbs, 25lbs, 33lbs, and 44lbs. Ideally, I’d like to see more customizability as these weights are large jumps in between each setting. For dialing in on an exercise like delt flys, it can be challenging to find the right weight if you can do 15lbs but not 25lbs.
Not as Heavy as I'd Want them
My other primary complaint and this will vary based on your strength and fitness levels, is that they’re not quite heavy enough for me. I have seen information on message boards that they are designing a 90lb set, and if their 90lb set is of the same quality as their 44lb set, I would be quite happy with them.
Overall: It's a Thumps Up From Me
Other than that, overall, I like these dumbbells. They are faster and easier to adjust than my PowerBlocks, and the handle design makes them more versatile than PowerBlocks. You can perform exercises like lat pullovers and goblet squats with them without any issues.
Are The BWSS Adjustable Dumbbells Worth It?
When determining the worth of these dumbbells, it’s important to keep the pricing and availability of other adjustable dumbbells in mind. At just $319, they are extremely cheap. Also, they are available at a time when everyone is looking for ways to come up with home backyard gym, and make it stick.
They fill a niche that is extremely hot right now during the pandemic. Try finding another pair of adjustable dumbbells that are in stock, and let me know how it works out for you. I had a lot of trouble over the past year!
I would say, yes, they’re absolutely worth the money if you’re okay with their max weight capacity. Do note though, for some dumbbell only workouts, these will do everything you need and more. For others, they will only scratch the surface of your needs.
If you need adjustable dumbbells and know you will be satisfied with a 44lb max weight, I’d say they’re absolutely worth it right now. It doesn’t even look like BWSS is price gouging or taking advantage of people during a pandemic.
And I’m a fan of that.
What Are The Benefits Of Adjustable Dumbbells?
Adjustable dumbbells are amazing for a home gym setup. They will save you hundreds of dollars if you compare them to purchasing regular dumbbells in intervals of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50.
That’s 10 sets of dumbbells that you’re replacing with a single set. This brings me to the second advantage of adjustable dumbbells. They’re ridiculously convenient and save you a lot of space.
Think of the amount of space you’d need for a rack large enough for 10 (or 20, depending on the weight of the dumbbells you purchase) separate sets of dumbbells. I learned this the hard way when I had my diy dumbbell rack built only to have a hard time fitting it into my backyard gym.
That’s an entire wall taken up by just dumbbells. Besides, you still have other particularly big equipment going in there too (we all know how some types of squat racks and budget cardio machines can be space hungry), some of which can be quite "space-hungry" and with no smaller cousins.
While this is fine for a gym setting where there are large amounts of extra space, most people don’t have huge rooms to turn into a home gym. If you fall into this category, then adjustable dumbbells are for you.
Are The BWSS Adjustable Dumbbells Expensive?
They are objectively not expensive. Yes, they cost $319, but for that price, you’d only be able to get dumbbells ranging from 5-25lbs. As I mentioned, you’d also need to store these dumbbells separately, taking up a ton of space.
Check out Rogue’s Rubber Hex Dumbbells sets for comparison. They are the cheapest regular dumbbells sold by Rogue, and to get a set of 5-50lbs, you’re already looking at spending $700.
They’re also out of stock, so you wouldn’t be able to order them even if you tried.
The space you save when purchasing adjustable dumbbells, along with the convenience factor of adjustable dumbbells, you’d expect them to cost even more. At least I know I did.
Are Adjustable Dumbbells Worth The Price In General?
Again, I’d have to say yes. Even if you look at the most expensive and hardcore options on the market, like the Commercial Use Pro Series Powerblocks which can cost up to $2,200 for the 175lb versions, they’re still worth the money.
You save a lot of space, and buying the comparable dumbbells to achieve similar levels of training capacity would cost you several thousand dollars more. Large, well-made dumbbells are not cheap. Check them out on Amazon here.
For instance, take a look at the Rogue Urethane Dumbbells page. Buying just the 105-150lb dumbbell package will run you $7,500. And you’re still missing weights from 5-100lbs after you spend 3 times more than their adjustable dumbbell offerings.
Very simply put, adjustable dumbbells are extremely good value. I’m a big fan if you couldn’t tell!
Are The BWSS Adjustable Dumbbells Durable?
In my experience, yes, they’ve been perfectly fine. I’m not the type of person to throw my weights around, especially when they’re adjustable dumbbells - I just can't help being soft on a pair. So much so, that I won't let my inexperienced boys use these for youth weightlifting training.
That said, although they have seen a fair use since I got them, I haven’t noticed any telltale signs of deterioration when using these dumbbells.
They don’t rattle around during use, and they seem solid and well put together. After 3 months, they are in almost the exact condition that they were in when I received them.
It’s always a good idea to be careful with adjustable dumbbells in general. They have intricate moving parts that allow you to easily switch out the weight levels and are not a single piece of forged steel or iron like your average regular dumbbell.
Adjustable dumbbells, for that reason, will always be less durable than regular single-weight dumbbells, even the massive, hefty millennium dumbbell. I’m sure if I threw my BWSS weights at the floor at the end of every set, I could eventually break them.
That’s just the nature of adjustable dumbbells. There are trade-offs, and durability is one of them.
If you treat them right, you shouldn’t have any problem. Just don’t lunk it up too much.
Available Shapes And Weights For BWSS Adjustable Dumbbells
The BWSS offerings for adjustable dumbbells come in 3 distinct packages.
TWISTBELL 44lb Adjustable Dumbbells
These are the dumbbells I purchased from BWSS, and the ones that I am evaluating in my review. They are a standard dumbbell shape, with the handle in the middle of the weight plates.
The TWISTBELLs offer weight adjustment increments of 6.6lbs, 15lbs, 25lbs, 33lbs, and 44lbs. They are reasonable increments that will meet most needs but can be difficult to dial-in correctly for those lighter weight exercises like delt flys or skullcrushers.
Mini Adjustable Dumbbells
The Mini version of their full-size adjustable dumbbells seems to be a nice option for those who don’t need to go above 25lbs in the course of their normal workouts. We both can bet this could as well be a ton of weight if you need equipment for teenage girls' workouts, for instance.
I can’t speak personally to their build quality, but if it is the same as the TWISTBELLS, it should be more than sturdy enough for the workouts you’ll be using them for.
The Mini adjustable dumbbells allow you to adjust your weight in 5lb increments. They offer weights of 5lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs, 20lbs, and 25lbs.
The last adjustable weight offering from BWSS is the adjustable kettlebell. While I have not used this product either, it appears to be of good quality from reviews I have seen.
The adjustable kettlebell functions as a normal kettlebell and allows you to adjust your weight in 5-pound increments. You can select 10lbs, 15lbs, 20lbs, 25lbs, 30lbs, 35lbs, 40lbs, 45lbs, and 50lbs, which is actually very cool for a kettlebell.
These weights should work for you even as an intermediate lifter trying out sightly advanced exercises like the alternating dumbbell press, and would be a great addition to the home workout setup. I am considering purchasing one.
What Are the Best Alternatives to The Bwss Adjustable Dumbbells?
If you’re not convinced the BWSS adjustable dumbbells will be enough for you and need something a little heavier for your workout, there are many other options available in the space.
Fair warning, you will have a hard time getting these adjustable dumbbells based on my personal experience. I purchased mine on a second-hand website as literally, everything has been out of stock since early 2020.
Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells (My Personal Favorite - Expensive)
To me, the PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells are the king of the adjustable dumbbell space for the simple reason that no other adjustable dumbbell maker can compete when it comes to the amount of weight available.
I’ve been working out for 8+ years now, and adjustable dumbbells with a weight limit under 90lbs just won’t cut it...how much more for someone who has dumbbells and only dumbbells to go on, or someone on a dumbbell stopgap program?
The Powerblocks are one of the weirder adjustable dumbbells that are being made, as they’re the only ones that don’t look like a normal dumbbell. They look like, well, blocks.
The blocky design of the PowerBlocks is what allows them to scale to such high weights. The highest weight option of the adjustable PowerBlocks is 175lbs each. This is 85lbs higher than the nearest competitor, and PowerBlocks come with a long-standing reputation of putting out a quality product.
Powerblock Weight Increments
The PowerBlocks are available in adjustable dumbbell formats at 32lbs, 50lbs, 90lbs, 125lbs, and 175lbs. Each of the sets allows for fine-tuning adjustments and lets you scale the weight 5lbs at a time.
This sets them above the competition when looking at adjustability at customization for different workouts.
Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbell Pricing
The PowerBlocks are rather expensive in the adjustable dumbbell market. Overall, however, given their quality and reputation, they’re great value for the money.
I’m going to review pricing for the commercial PowerBlocks first as they are the cream of the crop.
- Pro 32 Commercial - $329
- Pro 50 Commercial - $899
- Pro 90 Commerical - $1,429
- Pro 125 Commercial - $1,749
- Pro 175 Commercial - $2,139
If this is a bit excessive for your needs, the EXP versions are slightly cheaper.
- EXP 50 - $319
- EXP 70 - $458
- EXP 90 - $597
Even if you purchase the more expensive commercial versions, you’re getting your money’s worth, and more.
Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells (Slightly Expensive, But Very Good)
The Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells are another worthy competitor in the adjustable dumbbell space.
I don’t have personal experience with these dumbbells, but have read almost every review and watched almost every video available on the internet.
The general consensus is, they’re a quality product, that is built to last.
They are shaped like traditional dumbbells, and the weight is adjusted by using the selector ring on the end of the weight stack. They are therefore very easy to use, and very quick to change weights.
SelectTech Weight Increments
The 552s allow you to adjust your weights to become 10lbs, 15lbs, 20lbs, 25lbs, 30lbs, 35lbs, 40lbs, 45lbs, and 50lbs.
The 1090s allow you to adjust your weights to become 10lbs, 15lbs, 20lbs, 25lbs, 30lbs, 35lbs, 40lbs, 45lbs, 50lbs, 55lbs, 60lbs, 65lbs, 70lbs, 75lbs, 80lbs, 85lbs, and 90lbs.
They’re versatile, high-weight, and reliable options.
SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbell Pricing
The pricing of the SelectTech adjustable dumbbells is slightly more expensive than lesser-known brands, but I believe the quality and brand-recognition make up for the slightly higher pricing structure.
While almost $800 can be hard to stomach, you’re replacing 16 sets of dumbbells with one set of adjustable dumbbells. As mentioned before, buying 16 sets of quality dumbbells will end up costing you more than $800, so these are still a bargain at this price.
The NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells are another compelling option in the adjustable dumbbell space. They are extremely similar in design and price point to the SelectTech adjustable dumbbells.
Having used both sets of dumbbells, there are very few differences between them. The NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells use a slightly different weight locking mechanism that appears to do a good job of holding your weight in place.
They are easy to use, robust, and can be used as a traditional dumbbell would be used in the gym. You can perform goblet squats and dumbbell pullovers without issue.
I have one friend who owns a set and uses them 4-5x a week for a range of purposes be it in calisthenics or resistance training, of course, and he has not had any issues with longevity or durability over the last year or so that he’s had them. Looking at reports online, they appear to be well made and I cannot find too many people complaining about build quality.
NordicTrack Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Increments
The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight dumbbells come in a single 55lb form factor.
They allow you to adjust your weight between 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 32.5, 35, 40, 42.5, 45, 50, 52.5, and 55lb weight increments.
This is quite a bit of customizability!
NordicTrack adjustable dumbbell pricing
The NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells are similar in price to their Bowflex counterparts. They are cheaper on reseller websites than they are on NordicTrack’s own website.
AtivaFit Adjustable Dumbbells - (Lots Of Weight Options For Different Budgets)
AtivaFit is a relatively new company that made its way onto the adjustable dumbbell scene during the pandemic and increased demand for home gym solutions. While I do not personally have experience using their product, I have taken the time to read reviews and will summarize my findings here.
The AtivaFit adjustable dumbbell collection work primarily by using a dial-based adjustment system towards the end of the dumbbell. From reading reviews, they are easy to use, and a well-built product for the most part.
I read several reviews where the users had issues with durability, but most of them admitted that they were dropping their weights at the end of a set as they would with a regular dumbbell. As mentioned, any adjustable dumbbell will only be as strong as its weakest link.
While a regular dumbbell has no weak links and is made of solid steel or iron, adjustable dumbbells need to have moving parts to allow for changes in weight. Overall, it appears they are of sufficient quality and durability as long as you are not throwing them around.
AtivaFit Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Increments
AtivaFit offers 5 separate models of adjustable dumbbells to match varying levels of strength for the users.
The AtivaFit 12.5lb Adjustable Dumbbell gives the user weight options of 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, and 12.5lbs. They are a good choice for cardio weights, but not sufficient for most weight training workouts.
The AtivaFit 27.5lb Adjustable Dumbbell gives the user weight options of 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, and 27.5lbs.
The AtivaFit 44lb Adjustable Dumbbell gives the user weight options of 11, 16.5, 22, 27.5, 33, 38.5, and 44lbs total. The weights have decent spacing for general workout use and should be a valid option for most home workouts.
The AtivaFit 55lb Adjustable Dumbbell gives the user weight options of 11, 16.5, 22, 27.5, 33, 38.5, 44, 49.5, and 55lbs total. They are slightly larger versions of the 44lb dumbbells and have a similar structure and composition.
The last offering in the AtivaFit adjustable dumbbell lineup is the AtivaFit 71.5lb Adjustable Dumbbell which gives the user weight increment choices of 11, 16.5, 22, 27.5, 33, 38.5, 44, 49.5, 55, 60.5, 66, and 71.5lbs.
AtivaFit Adjustable Dumbbell Pricing
When looking at the following prices and options, keep in mind that you are only getting one dumbbell per order. While most other companies sell their dumbbells in pairs, you will need to order 2 separate dumbbells to have a set with these weights.
This holds true for all orders apart from the 12.5 adjustable dumbbells which come in a set by default.
At this price for a single dumbbell, the AtivaFit offerings fall in the middle of the pack when compared to the other adjustable dumbbell options available on the market today.
SMRTFT NUOBELL Adjustable Dumbbell - (Expensive yet Elegant And functional)
The NUOBELL adjustable dumbbells by SMRTFT are a well-designed, robust adjustable dumbbell that will satisfy most lifters’ needs. They have a weight limit of 80lbs, so if this will be enough weight for your military press workout, congdon curls, and an array of other exercises, then you will be very happy purchasing these dumbbells.
While I do not own a pair myself, these adjustable dumbbells are highly regarded as a quality item that will keep you happy. They offer quick weight changes and come in the format of a regular dumbbell which means you can do exercises like goblet squats and dumbbell pullovers with ease.
To change the weight, all you have to do is set the dumbbell down on its cradle, and twist the handle to the desired weight. Changes are easy, and there are no reports of them breaking or being overly fragile.
SMRTFT also offers an elegant weight stand for use with these dumbbells that will reduce fatigue and prevent you from having to pick them up from the ground each set or every time you adjust them.
SMRTFT NUOBELL Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Increments
The NUOBELLs come in a single 80lb weight option. They are adjustable and allow you to adjust the weight by increments of 5lbs per dumbbell. Users have access to 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, and 80lbs.
This wide range of weights allows these adjustable dumbbells to compete for the most customizable dumbbells coming in second to only the PowerBlocks which allow for 2.5lb adjustments.
SMRTFT NUOBELL Pricing
The 80lb NUOBELLs are reasonably priced given their max weight of 80lbs and compare favorably to the Bowflex SelectTechs which offer 10 more lbs of weight.
If you only need 80lbs of weight and are looking for an elegant adjustable dumbbell that favors aesthetics, this set of dumbbells may be perfect for you.
How To Choose Which Adjustable Dumbbells
We’ve covered the major players in the adjustable dumbbell space, and by now, you’re probably sick of reading the words adjustable dumbbells. If you’re stumped on which adjustable dumbbells to buy, consider the following when deciding on your purchase.
Max Weight Capacity
In order for a single pair of adjustable dumbbells to do everything you want, they’ll need to be heavy enough for your use case. This is one of the easiest ways to knock brands out of contention when trying to decide between your options.
If you need over 90lbs of weight, your options are very limited. Limited entirely to PowerBlock, in fact. If you will be content with 55lbs, you have quite a few options.
Be sure to give yourself some breathing room, as you’ll likely become stronger and able to handle more weight in your training over time when using these weights. If you know that you currently use 60lb dumbbells for your heaviest workout, I’d suggest looking at a set of adjustable dumbbells that is around 20lbs heavier.
Budget is always a consideration in buying new gym gear. When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, none of the options are exactly cheap due to their incredible functionality and utility.
If none of the options on this list fit within your budget, you can always try browsing Craigslist or your local FB marketplace pages to see what’s available. You may find your ideal adjustable dumbbell set for less than you’d expect!
An often overlooked component of adjustable dumbbells is the weight increments they offer. Some of the brands on this list jump by almost 6lbs per-adjustment level. If you need specific weights for specific exercises that target specific parts of the body - like say if your triceps are not growing, be sure to review and check that your adjustable dumbbells will allow you to set them accordingly.
There are many different form factors when it comes to adjustable dumbbells. Some use a clip style adjustment, others use a twist style adjustment, and some require you to unscrew an endcap to load them up.
Make sure you are comfortable with the process for switching weights as you will be using this functionality very often.
If you know you abuse your weights, check to ensure the adjustable dumbbells you are buying come with a warranty. As mentioned several times in this article, adjustable dumbbells are not as strong or durable as their fixed-weight counterparts.
Try not to drop them or throw them around after sets! If you treat them right, the dumbbells on this list should not need a warranty claim.
Top 3 Adjustable Dumbbell Brands
I reviewed some of the options available today, and you may already know where my preferences lay. In my opinion, these are the top 3 adjustable dumbbell brands you should consider buying.
#1 - PowerBlocks
Powerblocks offer several benefits that no other adjustable dumbbell brand offers.
2.5lb incremental adjustments
Weight options above 100lbs
25+ years of experience making solid adjustable dumbbells
Upgradeable to increase usability over time as you get stronger
Extremely easy weight swaps with selector pin technology
Basically, if you need weight over 100lbs, and enjoy the 2.5lb incremental adjustments, PowerBlocks are the way to go.
The only downsides to them are that they are expensive, so they will not fit every budget, and some people don’t like the blocky form factor. Despite being blocky, they are well balanced and do not feel weird to use.
Overall PowerBlocks are my number one pick for adjustable dumbbells.
#2 - BowFlex SelectTech 1090s
The BowFlex SelectTech 1090s are my second recommendation for adjustable dumbbells in 2021. They are, similar to PowerBlock, one of the older and most trusted names in adjustable dumbbells.
They have a history of quality behind them and were one of the original regular format adjustable dumbbells. Most of the newer brands on the market came into existence by copying their style.
In addition to their history of quality, the SelectTech 1090s are one of the heaviest adjustable dumbbell options on the market today at 90lbs. They are one of 2 or 3 total brands to hit this mark while maintaining reliability and quality.
#3 - NUOBELL 8Olb Adjustable Dumbbells
The NUOBELLS from SMRTFT will satisfy most lifter’s needs at 80lbs per dumbbell. They look great, they’re easy to change weights on and can be purchased with an available stand.
While I have not used them myself, these dumbbells have been reviewed by many adjustable dumbbell and home gym enthusiasts and are a quality item.
One of my main criteria when looking at adjustable dumbbells is high weight limits. While the NUOBELLs are not quite heavy enough for my own usage, they will likely satisfy most intermediate lifter’s needs.
I also don’t have a power rack or barbell in my apartment. If I did, I believe these dumbbells would make a fine addition to my gym.
Honorable Mention - BWSS Adjustable Dumbbells
The only reason the BWSS adjustable dumbbells did not make my top 3, is because of their weight capacity limits - which might not be very practical depending on the exercise you want them for - could be the flip grip tricep kickbacks or long head bicep workouts, or both for those who love working biceps and triceps on the same day. I feel they have a good build quality and offer great value for their price.
If you will be satisfied with a 44lb max weight, I’d say go for a pair of BWSS adjustable dumbbells. Their cost is extremely reasonable, and will fit into most budgets!
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