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Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells are the easiest to use adjustable dumbbells on the market. I’ve tested, reviewed, and used nearly every option including those from Ironmaster, Bowflex, and loadable options. Despite the competitors, which honestly all offer good solutions, I still think Powerblocks are the best adjustable dumbbells due to their ease of use, accurate weight ratings, many options, and affordable price point.
Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells are, as their name suggests, dumbbells that adjust in weight using a unique, patented clip system. The idea behind Powerblocks and pretty much every other adjustable dumbbell set is that rather than having an entire set of fixed dumbbells taking up space in your precious home gym, you instead are able to pack the equivalent in a single, adjustable dumbbell.
Honestly, regardless of whether you go with a set of Powerblocks or any of the competitors, adjustable dumbbells are by far the best option for most home gym owners.
What separates Powerblocks versus their competitors (and there are many, some good, others not so good) is both how quick it is to change between weight increments as well as how heavy they can go. For most people who are just trying to get fit, there are more budget-friendly options with lower quality and lower weight capacities. However, for those that are into strength training, bodybuilding, or just lift more than 50 LB, Powerblocks are an outstanding option which takes up very little space, get’s quite heavy, and feels very similar to a fixed dumbbell (although there are certainly trade-offs which we will detail later on.)
To give you an idea on my experience which Powerblocks, I’ve owned a pair for over a decade (the first set I bought was purchased via Craigslist) and have used the same set for everything from CrossFit Metcons with lots of dumbbell snatches (and yes, they’ve occasionally been dropped from overhead, although I wouldn’t recommend doing so) to max effort bench press training. Dumbbells are an extremely versatile piece of equipment and being able to change the weight quickly without taking up a ton of space is paramount for anyone who trains in a home gym or garage gym.
In addition to my original set, I own the latest Sport Series, Elite Series, Pro Series, Pro Commercial Series with a knurled handle as well as the Pro Series capable of reaching up to 175 LB in weight. In addition to these, I have the older Urethane Pro series. In other words, I’ve either used or own every set of Powerblocks that you can buy as well as the competitors like Bowflex and Ironmaster.
We get about as many questions on Powerblocks as we do any other equipment so I figured it would be helpful to have all of them to compare and to give my opinion on them as a whole as well as each style.
By far, the best feature of Powerblocks is how much space they take up in comparison to a full set of dumbbells. This isn’t exclusive to Powerblocks, but is really a reality for most adjustable dumbbells, however, few other adjustable dumbbells are able to go as heavy as Powerblocks while maintaining the ease of changing between weights. Many Powerblock models are able to go between 5-90 LB in 5 LB increments while their Commercial Pro Series can go all the way up to 175 LB, although they do feel a bit clunky at that weight.
If you were to instead of Powerblocks, get a fixed set of dumbbells from 5-90 LB in 5 LB increments you would not only take up much more space (basically 28 pairs of dumbbells,) but you’d also pay close to 10x the price of Powerblocks(it would be equal to over 2,560 LB worth of weight,) not even including shipping. For a home gym, adjustable dumbbells, in my opinion, are pretty much the only option for most.
Although I love how space efficient Powerblocks are, my personal favorite feature and really the reason I prefer them over competitors is how quick and easy they are to change between weight increments. In addition to reviewing gym equipment, I also own a couple other business, have three kids, a Wife, and many other responsibilities. Training is a supplement to everything else in my life and therefore forces me to value each second I spend in the gym.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time setting up my workouts or changing out weight plates. I want to quickly change between weights, pick them up, hit my set hard, and move onto the next exercise. The way all Powerblocks change between weights is with their Selector Pin made of polypropylene that they assure me is rated for 500 LB but can, in reality, take much more. The pin has magnets on the inside to hold it securely against the weights and although I’ve had mine fall out during dumbbell snatches one time, it was only because I didn’t place it all the way in. Otherwise, this method for holding the weights hasn’t caused me any issues.
Depending on which Powerblocks set you end up going with (more on which we recommend in a bit) there will either be an Auto-Lock lever that opens up a hatch to add in 2.5 LB chrome ballast weight cylinders in the lower tubes or two sets of handles of varying weights. Personally, I prefer having multiple handles because they make changing between weights easier than the cylinders, however, I used Powerblocks with cylinders for nearly a decade without any issues.
The handle on Powerblocks is typically contoured similar to most rubber hex-head dumbbells, but instead of being metal, they’re often coated in Urethane. Personally, I don’t like this type of grip, it feels to “commercial” to me, if that makes sense. Thankfully, after requesting it for years, they’ve brought out a knurled handle option for their Commercial Pro Series. These are my personal favorite, but they are more expensive and may not be what most want.
The last thing I want to hit on that we like is the durability. As we’ll discuss in the next section, Powerblocks aren’t quite as compact as a traditional dumbbell and do make more noise, however, after seeing my set of Powerblocks get absolutely beaten by everyone who comes over to our garage gym and personal training studio to use them, I’m a believer in their durability.
When you first pick up a set of Powerblocks, you may be skeptical at how durable they can be—I know I was. However, after nearly a decade of use, I’m now a believer.
If you want the best adjustable dumbbells on the market, in my opinion, Powerblocks are them.
Now although I’ve ranted and raved about Powerblocks for thousands of words, they’re no doubt imperfect. In fact, there are quite a few things we dislike, however, that comes with the territory.
First off, Powerblocks really aren’t that great to use for anything over 100 LB. I have a set of the Powerblock Commercial PRO 125 Series and they are my least used set. They are simply too cumbersome and oversized to be used without altering the movement. There isn’t much a way around this as the size is required for the amount of Weight Stacks that must be on the handle, but it is something we dislike. If you just plan on using that heavy of a weight for things like snatches and rows, it’s not a big deal. But, if you plan to use them for presses, the extra girth can get in the way.
Next, due to the way Powerblocks are made, they don’t have quite as much versatility as traditional dumbbells or even competitors like Ironmaster. The square shape is great in that it prevents the dumbbells from rolling away, but because of the connection system, it becomes pretty difficult to use the dumbbells with two hands. Things like behind the head dumbbell extensions and goblet squats are awkward, but thankfully that’s only a small amount of movements.
A question that often comes up regarding Powerblocks is whether the bars on the side of the handles get in the way of your hands. The early models of Powerblocks featured bars at all four corners of the dumbbells, but now that’s only seen on the USA Elite and Commercial PRO 125 series. Regardless, I never found it to get in the way for most movements. However, recognizing that some don’t like the bars, many of the newer models only have bars on the bottom of the handles which is superior, in my opinion.
The other thing we dislike about Powerblocks is that they do clank and rattle a bit during use. Due to the way they’re secured, the weight stacks have loose tolerances between them which causes them to clank against each other during training. This doesn’t assure the trainee of their durability and sounds a bit unnerving if you’re used to traditional fixed dumbbells. This is kind of just the nature of this style of dumbbell and you do get used to it, but it is a complaint we often hear.
The Powerblock Sport Series is the most budget-friendly adjustable dumbbell that Powerblock makes. It’s designed with lower great components, lighter weight, and aren’t expandable in the future. There are two weight variants available that are sized based upon how much weight they are. The Sport 24 and Sport 50’s. For those that just want to get fit and stay active, this is a great option. If you plan to ever lift more than 50 LB, we suggest avoiding these.
The Powerblock Elite Series is based upon the original Powerblock design and although it’s somewhat different, it’s largely been unchanged. This model is expandable from 5 LB all the way up to 90 LB. This is the best value option Powerblock sells and probably the best for most people.
The Powerblock Pro Series is my favorite series. These are expandable all the way up to 175 LB depending on the model you buy and feature premium details throughout, such as urethane coated steel plates, multiple handles, knurled options, and more. If you want the best adjustable dumbbell that Powerblock makes and just the best one on the market, period (in our opinion) then this is the set we would suggest.
If you’re considering Powerblocks then you should definitely consider their competition. The biggest competitor at the moment is Ironmaster. Ironmaster Dumbbells feel more like a traditional dumbbell, can go up to 165 LB, and are offered at a great price point.
To be honest, we really like Ironmasters and don’t think you could go wrong with either option. However, the reason we prefer Powerblocks is because of how quick they are to change weight increments. Ironmasters aren’t slow to change as the Quick-Lock Screws are a great design, however, having to load the plates on and off is more of hassle in making sure you’re getting the right amount of weight.
Ironmasters also don’t have quite the fit and finish of Powerblocks. The plates chip, rust, etc, while Powerblocks pretty much look the same no matter how long you’ve used them.
Although we prefer Powerblocks, Ironmasters are still a great pair of adjustable dumbbells.
The other comparison that often comes up is the battle between Powerblocks and the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells. Although Bowflex is most known for making cheapy exercise equipment, the SelectTech Dumbbells are actually a pretty good product.
In comparison to Powerblocks, they don’t go nearly as heavy (52.5 LB per dumbbell) and they’re not quite as durable. However, they are often much cheaper, and have a quick dial system for changing out the weights.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, budget-friendly adjustable dumbbell, we think the Bowflex SelectTech’s are surprisingly a great value. We’ve used them quite a bit and have many people in the Home Gym Community that love them for lighter weight training. Understand they won’t be as durable as Powerblocks, but for the price, they’re an excellent alternative.
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