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The Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells make it easy to mix up your workout routine by combining several sets of weights into a single piece of equipment.
They are especially appealing to people who have limited space or are looking to upgrade their home gym without purchasing an entire rack of dumbbells.
However, the dumbbells are a bit longer and bulkier than traditional dumbbells, which may make it awkward to perform certain movements.
I tried the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells to help you decide whether they’re the right fit for your home gym.
- replaces 15 pairs of weights to save space
- easy to adjust using a built-in dial
- designed with premium grips and molding around the plates to maximize comfort and reduce noise
- includes free shipping and extensive warranties
- includes 1-year membership to JRNY app
- bulky shape and length that may make certain workouts more challenging
- some reports of issues with the locking mechanism and durability of the dumbbells
- maximum weight of 52.5 pounds (23.8 kg) might not be enough for some weightlifters
Bowflex offers two models of adjustable dumbbells: the Bowflex SelectTech 552 and Bowflex SelectTech 1090.
The SelectTech 552 is designed to replace 15 pairs of weights, ranging from 5 pounds (2.3 kg) to 52.5 pounds (23.8 kg).
The dumbbells can be adjusted by 2.5-pound (1.1-kg) increments up to 25 pounds (11.3 kg), and then by 5-pound (2.3-kg) increments up to 50 pounds (22.7 kg). The final adjustment adds another 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) for the heaviest weight of 52.5 pounds (23.8 kg).
The dial mechanism, which works on both sides of the dumbbell, is simple to use and adjusts easily.
How the SelectTech 1090 compares
The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 replaces 17 pairs of dumbbells and offers weights of 10–90 pounds (4.5–40.8 kg) in 5-pound (2.2-kg) increments.
Like the 552, the 1090 system uses a simple dial mechanism to adjust the weight.
I started lifting weights in my parents’ garage gym when I was 16. In the years since, I’ve rounded things out with kickboxing and rowing, but resistance training has always been part of my routine.
During the pandemic, my husband and I canceled our gym memberships and invested in equipment for a garage gym of our own. We lift weights 3–5 days a week.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are designed to replace 15 pairs of dumbbells, which makes them a pretty versatile piece of equipment. You can realistically complete a full-body workout at home with this setup.
The dumbbells feature a built-in dial on either end that you spin to the desired amount of weight.
The dumbbells also have an automatic locking mechanism, which locks in the weights that you select and leaves the rest of the plates in the included tray. When you’re finished, you line the dumbbells up with the leftover plates to rerack.
Together, these features allow you to choose heavier or lighter weights, depending on your training plan and fitness goals.
Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are equipped with several impressive features to maximize their effectiveness.
For instance, they are designed with premium grips for extra stabilization and comfort. They also include molding around the metal plates to ensure a smoother, quieter workout.
You can easily adjust the weight of each dumbbell using the dial mechanism. This saves you space by eliminating the need for multiple sets of dumbbells.
You can also use the dumbbells with the JRNY app, which includes access to an extensive library of guided workouts and training plans.
To further enhance your workout, you can purchase additional accessories on Bowflex’s website, including benches, dumbbell stands, barbells, and kettlebells.
The dumbbell stand, in particular, is a good upgrade. You can expect to adjust the dumbbells between exercises during a workout, and the stand makes it so that you don’t have to bend over to the floor to change your weights.
The current manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) for the Bowflex SelectTech 552 is $429.
When purchased from Bowflex, the dumbbells include free shipping and a 1-year membership to the JRNY app, which features on-demand, trainer-led workouts — a nice bonus since a JRNY subscription typically costs $149 per year.
Financing options are also available.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552s come with a 2-year warranty, though Bowflex also offers extended protection plans for an additional fee.
In addition to the dumbbells, I tried Bowflex’s dumbbell stand with media rack, which is currently priced at $179. It comes with a 10-year warranty on the frame and a 1-year warranty on the media rack.
The 552s came fully assembled in their trays, which is pretty convenient. As soon as you unbox them, they’re ready for use.
The stand, however, did require assembly. Luckily, it comes with everything you need for the job, and the instructions are fairly straightforward.
The stand took about an hour to put together, though I recommend having two people for the job. That way, one person can hold things in place while the other tightens the bolts.
I’m used to standard, non-adjusting dumbbells, so the first thing I noticed about the SelectTech 552s was their size.
While the footprint of the stand and dumbbells themselves is definitely smaller than a rack with 15 pairs of weights, the actual dumbbells themselves are pretty long.
This design makes them a little unwieldy at first, and I found myself modifying some of my planned exercises to accommodate their size.
On a standing shoulder press, for example, I had to turn my elbows forward so my palms were inward. These dumbbells are so long that I come close to clipping my ears if I try a standard press with palms facing forward and elbows out.
For some exercises, like a single-arm overhead triceps extension, I found the 552s too big to use comfortably. Still, the dumbbells work just fine for many other exercises, and you really can get an effective full-body workout using them.
The grips on the 552s are slightly cushioned, which is a nice change from the ridged steel of my regular dumbbells. However, the 552 grips are also noticeably wider in the center. This just meant that they felt a little different in my hands.
We’re using these weights in our own garage, so we’re not too worried about noise. But I did notice that the 552s are pretty quiet, with none of the clanging sounds that come from reracking steel dumbbells.
Adjusting the weight and reracking
Spinning the dial to change the weight is straightforward, and the dumbbells fit well into their trays. You have to be careful to line them up properly when you rerack, but doing so isn’t overly challenging.
With that said, I do wonder about the long-term performance of the hard plastic used to make the trays. It seems like cracking could become an issue over time.
I had no space issues when reracking the 552s into their trays, but my husband and 15-year-old son both found it a little tight.
The trays have a little divot in the center to accommodate your hands when you’re putting the dumbbells back. However, if you upgrade to the stand, these divots are covered by a big strap and plastic buckle that secures the trays to the stand.
It’s not a great design, especially for those with bigger hands — and that’s unfortunate because the stand itself is really convenient. Without it, you’d be spending a lot of time bending over to adjust the dumbbells.
The included media rack also fits any tablet or smartphone, which is handy if you’re using the JRNY app.
Using the app
The JRNY app features a number of workouts designed specifically for the SelectTech dumbbells. It also includes options for yoga, Pilates, bodyweight, barre, HIIT, stretching, mobility, and more. You can filter workouts by time frame, difficulty level, activity, or trainer.
While filtering by class type is handy, there’s no way to filter for workouts that include the SelectTech dumbbells. As a result, you have to scroll through the strength workout videos and make your choice based on the thumbnail image.
There are a few other drawbacks of the JRNY app. For example, you cannot fast-forward or rewind the videos. I found this a little irritating. Additionally, on my Apple device, which I paired to the television, the video itself plays in a vertical format only, so it’s pretty small.
I didn’t find the videos or instruction particularly useful, but that’s because I was already familiar with the movements and technique.
Both the Bowflex SelectTech 552 and Bowflex SelectTech 1090 systems have mostly positive reviews on the Bowflex website, with an average user rating of 4.8 and 4.7 out of 5 stars, respectively.
Specifically, customers enjoy the space-saving design and find it easy to switch among different weights while working out.
Many reviewers also note that the plastic molding helps minimize noise and prevents the metal plates from clanging together, which is especially beneficial for those living in apartments or shared spaces.
However, some customers report that the bulkiness of the dumbbells makes certain exercises more challenging and that the plates sometimes shift, making it difficult to place the dumbbells back in the rack.
Other common complaints involve issues with the durability of the dumbbells and jamming of the locking mechanism.
Dumbbells are expensive, and investing in a full set is just that — an investment. You’ll absolutely pay more for 15 pairs of dumbbells than you will for the Bowflex 552 dumbbells, which have the added benefit of taking up far less space.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, space-saving option, the 552s are a good choice. However, if you have a lot of experience with traditional dumbbells, you will notice that they’re longer and bulkier.
Buying the 552s through the Bowflex website has the bonus of a free 1-year membership to the JRNY app. It’s probably not worth the money if you already know your way around a set of dumbbells, but I can see its appeal for those who are new to weightlifting.
Although Bowflex produces some of the most popular adjustable dumbbells on the market, there are several other options to consider as well.
Here is a brief overview of how Bowflex stacks up against some of its competitors:
|Bowflex SelectTech 552
|5–52.5 pounds (2.3–23.8 kg)
|1-year JRNY app membership included
|Bowflex SelectTech 1090
|10–90 pounds (4.5–40.8 kg)
|1-year JRNY app membership included
|NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbells
|10–55 pounds (4.5–25 kg)
|30-day iFit family membership included
|PowerBlock Sport EXP
|2.5–50 pounds (1.1–22.7 kg)
Keep in mind that prices for these products may vary by retailer.
Are the Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbells worth it?
It depends on your needs. If you like the versatility of adjustable dumbbells and space is tight, the 552s are a good choice. However, if you’re used to traditional dumbbells, keep in mind that you will have to make some adjustments for the bulkier size of the 552s.
Are PowerBlocks better than Bowflex adjustable dumbbells?
One isn’t necessarily better than the other. Choosing between the two largely comes down to your preference and whether you’re interested in a more traditional dumbbell setup.
For example, the PowerBlock dumbbells have a pull-and-slide adjustment and lack the traditional dumbbell structure and weight distribution.
However, PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells can be used with expansion packs to increase their weight to 90 pounds (40.8 kg) per dumbbell, depending on the model.
Are adjustable dumbbells worth the price?
Again, it depends on your goals. Adjustable dumbbells will certainly cost less than 15 pairs of weights and a rack, and they’ll take up far less space. The 552s, in particular, are simple to use and versatile enough for a full-body workout.
Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are more compact and convenient than regular dumbbells, so they’re a great option for those short on space.
With premium grips, plastic molding, and an easy-to-use dial mechanism, they can be a high quality addition to your home gym.
However, there are also several drawbacks to consider, and some customers may prefer products that are simpler, less bulky, or more affordable.