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- I tried Bowflex’s SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells, which have nearly 3,500 5-star reviews on Amazon.
- The smart dumbbells can turn from 5 to 52.5 pounds with the twist of a dial.
- They’re not cheap at $300, but they can replace 15 individual weights and are guaranteed to take up less room.
I love a good workout, but there are nights where that is simply not enough to convince me to spend 80% of my remaining free time commuting to the gym, working out, and commuting back only to shower and immediately fall asleep.
In other words, I’ve been needing a way to get a good workout in at home that was effective but didn’t take up too much space. This led me to Bowflex’s famous SelectText 552 Adjustable Dumbbells.
I was aware of them as an oft-recommended cult-favorite – plus they have almost 3,500 five-star reviews on Amazon. They come as a pair, and they can switch from five pounds to 52.5 with just the turn of a large dial on the side. When you’ve turned the dial to the intended weight, the dumbbell will “lock” into place so you can pick it up off the stand with only the correct plates attached, leaving the remaining plates on the stand (you can find an example of what this might look like above). The dumbbells adjust in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds. From 25 pounds on, it increases by five pounds up to 50.
They’re not cheap at $299 by any means, but they’re theoretically extremely cost-effective by replacing at least 15 individual weights – and they’re definitely more storage friendly. Ultimately, I landed on this as my final and best option.
In practice, the adjustable dumbbells are pretty much invaluable – easy to use, intuitive, and you can tweak your home workout to be as difficult as you want. I can watch Netflix and move through a customized workout simultaneously, and it’s far easier to be consistent with fitness when the catch-all device is at the bottom of your closet rather than 20 blocks north. The best features are the convenience, lack of space required, and that switching from five pounds to 25 or 52.5 pounds really is actually as simple as turning a dial.
For downsides, I’d mention that they’re still bigger than I expected them to be, though I’m not sure why I imagined them smaller (picture below with a can of tuna for scale). They’re still easy to store in my apartment, but I didn’t realize each dumbbell would require its own cardboard box during delivery.
- Mara Leighton
Due to size and weight, they’re also not the best travel companions. If you’re a frequent traveler, you should look into TRX systems (which are tough, versatile workouts but painless for travel), resistance bands, or apps and ClassPass.
Some reviews mention that they’re difficult to put back on the stand at the exact right angle, but I haven’t found this to be the case. And while the plates do wiggle a little, the device has a safety feature that makes it impossible to lift the dumbbell if the dial isn’t properly locked in (meaning the weights aren’t either). The dumbbells are also slightly longer than you’re likely used to using, and they only go up to 52.5 pounds on each. If you’re a powerlifter, they might not be worth it. For the average person, they’re probably more than adequate.
These also obviously do not replace all possible machines at the gym in case you’re considering dropping your monthly payment in exchange for adjustable dumbbells, but they do give you a pretty great at-home workout. You can incorporate them into a good variety of exercises just like any dumbbells (bench or shoulder presses, rows, lunges, flys, curls, extensions, etc), and the quick adjustability also makes it easier to hit multiple muscle groups in rapid succession.
Having said all the above, they exceeded expectations, and the cons are easy to live with for the convenience, efficacy, compactness, and easy versatility.
All in all, if you use weights in your workouts and you’re looking for an effective at-home option that requires as little space as possible, you’re likely going to be very happy with them if the $300 is justifiable to you – and if 52.5 pounds maximum on each will suffice for you.