The Ultimate Guide to Adjustable Dumbbells

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Whether you’re setting up your home gym or considering upgrading your fitness equipment, one question that often arises is: “Are adjustable dumbbells any good?” This question, along with others like “What size adjustable dumbbells should I get?” or “Are 50 lb adjustable dumbbells enough?”, will be tackled in this comprehensive guide.

What are Adjustable Dumbbells?

Adjustable dumbbells are a versatile piece of equipment that allows you to adjust the weight by adding or removing weight plates, similar to a barbell. This versatility is a key advantage when considering adjustable dumbbells vs. regular dumbbells. The ability to quickly change the weight can make your workout more efficient, especially if you’re performing exercises that require different weights.

Benefits of Adjustable Dumbbells

Space Efficiency

One of the main advantages of adjustable dumbbells is their space-saving design. Instead of needing an entire rack of weights, you only need two dumbbells and a set of weight plates. This design makes them perfect for small home gyms or apartments where space is a premium.


Adjustable dumbbells offer a broad range of exercises. They can be used for strength training, toning, bodybuilding, and more. Whether you’re doing bicep curls, bench press, or squats, adjustable dumbbells can accommodate your workout.


In the long run, investing in a pair of adjustable dumbbells can be more cost-effective than buying a whole set of fixed-weight dumbbells. You only need to buy more plates when you want to increase the maximum weight.

In the next section, we will delve into the downside of adjustable weights and discuss a particular brand—Bowflex, often asked about in terms of its worth and performance.

The Downsides of Adjustable Dumbbells

Despite the benefits, adjustable dumbbells have some potential drawbacks to consider.

Adjustment Time

Changing the weight on adjustable dumbbells can take a bit more time compared to grabbing a different set of fixed dumbbells. This can interrupt the flow of your workout, especially if you’re doing circuits or supersets.


Adjustable dumbbells typically have more moving parts than regular dumbbells, and this complexity could potentially lead to durability issues over time. The locking mechanism, in particular, is a crucial area to maintain.

Weight Limit

Adjustable dumbbells typically have a maximum weight limit. For most models, you’ll find it ranges from 50 to 90 lbs per dumbbell, but this varies. Before purchasing, ensure that the max weight suits your training needs.

Bowflex Dumbbells: Are They Worth It?

When it comes to the world of adjustable dumbbells, one brand often comes up in the discussion—Bowflex. With their SelectTech line, including the popular 552 and 1090 models, Bowflex has made a significant impact on the market.

So, are they worth it?

The Bowflex dumbbells are generally well-regarded. They offer a wide weight range, are easy to adjust, and have a durable design. They also come with a compatible app that provides a variety of workout routines.

One common observation from users is that Bowflex dumbbells can feel heavier than the same weight on regular dumbbells. This perception is likely due to the length of the dumbbells, which remains constant no matter how much weight you have loaded. This length can affect the balance and the leverage during your exercises, making them feel heavier.

As for whether the Bowflex 552 provides enough weight, it depends on your fitness goals. They adjust from 5 to 52.5 lbs per dumbbell, making them versatile for most strength training exercises. If you’re lifting heavier, you may want to consider the Bowflex SelectTech 1090, which ranges from 10 to 90 lbs.

The question of “Are 20 lb dumbbells too heavy?” is highly personal. If you’re just starting, 20 lbs might be a bit much. However, as you progress, you may find that 20 lbs becomes too light for some exercises.

Choosing Your Adjustable Dumbbells

Now that you’re equipped with this information, how do you go about choosing the right adjustable dumbbells for you? Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Weight Range: Determine the weight range you need. If you’re a beginner, you might not need a set that goes up to 90 lbs. If you’re more advanced, ensure the set goes heavy enough for your needs.
  2. Adjustment Mechanism: Look at how the weight is adjusted. Some systems are faster or more intuitive than others.
  3. Durability: Check the build quality and materials. Read reviews and see if any issues commonly crop up.
  4. Price: Decide on your budget. Remember that a higher upfront cost might pay off in the long run in terms of durability and versatility.
  5. Brand Reputation: Consider the reputation of the brand. Do they offer good customer service? Is the warranty sufficient?

In your research, you might want to compare NordicTrack vs. Bowflex or Weider vs. Bowflex, or even look at other brands like Core Fitness.

As for the size of adjustable dumbbells you should get, it depends on your fitness level and goals. If you’re just starting out, a set that goes up to 25 or 30 lbs might be enough. However, if you’re more experienced or plan to get more serious about strength training, a set that goes up to 50 lbs or more would likely be more beneficial.

Adjustable Dumbbells vs. Regular Dumbbells

Whether to buy adjustable dumbbells or regular dumbbells is a decision based on your personal needs and circumstances.

Adjustable dumbbells are great for home gyms with limited space. They allow a wide range of weights in one compact design. However, they can be more expensive upfront than a pair or two of fixed-weight dumbbells. If you’re doing high-intensity workouts with quick changes between weights, the time it takes to adjust the weights might be a drawback.

On the other hand, regular dumbbells are simple, durable, and quick to swap out. They’re ideal for commercial gyms where many people use different weights simultaneously. However, accumulating a wide range of weights can be expensive and requires more storage space.

The decision ultimately depends on your workout routine, space, and budget.

Are 50 lb Adjustable Dumbbells Enough?

Whether 50 lb adjustable dumbbells are enough depends on your fitness level and goals. For most people, especially those new to weight training or working out at home, 50 lbs per dumbbell is quite a lot and should be more than enough for a wide range of exercises.

However, if you’re an experienced lifter or looking to do heavy lower body work (like goblet squats or lunges), you might find 50 lbs per dumbbell limiting.


Adjustable dumbbells offer versatility and space-saving benefits, making them a great option for home workouts. Although they have some potential downsides, like a slower weight adjustment process and potential durability concerns, they provide a complete solution for weight training that can adapt with your fitness progression.

Whether you’re considering Bowflex, NordicTrack, Weider, or another brand, remember to check the weight range, adjustment mechanism, build quality, price, and brand reputation. And always align your choice with your personal fitness goals and preferences.

Happy lifting!

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