For absolutely YEARS I’ve wanted some decent weights at home.
I live in a terraced house with no basement and no garage. Our spare room is an office and there is no room for elaborate gym equipment. I’m never going to have my own squat rack, I don’t even have space for dumbbells other than the sort of 2kg pairs you buy in supermarkets. This means that if I want to do home workouts I’ve been restricted to bodyweight exercises or resistance bands.
Both of those things have their place, but it would be really nice to be able to do some at least reasonably heavy weights work from the comfort of my own home, without the hour round commute to the gym. Time is precious!
Then a couple of months ago I got an email introducing me to a product I never knew existed. Adjustable dumbbells. Specifically the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells.
They sent me a set to try out, so today I’m going to share my thoughts.
These can be bought individually, but as a pair give you a bit more flexibility on workouts. Essentially they are dumbbells with attached weight plates that mean the weight can go from 2kg all the way up to 24kg. It’s worth remembering that as a unit each dumbbell and it’s storage plate weighs over 24kg, so be aware of that when you try and shift them around a room, or take the box off the delivery guy.
To change the weight you turn a dial on the side to the relevant weight, and then just pick up the dumbbell. It’s easy to use, but also far too easy to forget to adjust both sides and end up with a lopsided dumbbell. When that happened I also found it quite hard to get them back into the storage unit to correct the issue as the dials didn’t turn until I’d lined everything back up.
Personally I’d stick a post-it on it to remind you to do both sides!
Storage-wise they’re a dream. Relatively compact considering the weight they go up to they could be tucked away out of sight behind a sofa or under a table, though it’s worth remembering that whenever you want to use them you have to drag 24kg worth of dumbbell out again. Personally I just tuck them against a wall in my dining room, so they’re easy to grab whenever I want to use them.
The base plate and the dumbbell come with a security strap to stop 24kg accidentally rolling off and onto your foot. The fastening uses an allen key and is frankly a bit of a pain to fasten and unfasten. Personally, I only use the strap when moving them between rooms, rather than when they’re just sat in storage as if I had to unfasten that every time I worked out I’d get fed up before I even started. The base is pretty secure and it’s unlikely that the dumbbells could fall off without significant effort anyway.
Lastly, how are they to actually use?
Well, mostly they’re like a dumbbell, just taking up a lot less space than a huge rack that goes up to 24kg. The set up of them means that when you are using them at lighter weights they can feel a bit clumsy as they are longer and wider than a regular 2kg dumbbell, but at heavier weights they are little different in shape and size than a standard gym dumbbell. They’re comfortable to hold and feel good quality.
I’ve used these to add weight to squats, do tricep dips, lunges, and a floor press instead of a bench press. You can also add weight to core exercises like russian twists, turkish get-ups and windmills. You can literally do a full workout with no additional equipment at all. You can also download the app which will give you exercise suggestions and workouts to do with the dumbbells.
(P.S. I have no idea why my face looks so terrified here, I think it’s my concentrating face!)
So, I think they’re great, as long as you’re not as stupid as me and you remember to turn the dial on BOTH sides before you take them off the base unit.
But how much do they cost?
Well, they’re not cheap. RRP is £649 for a pair, but Fitness Superstore have them for £399 for a pair. You can get dumbbell sets for slightly less, but they take up a lot more space. I would say getting a pair of these is probably roughly equivalent to a years gym membership. If getting to the gym is inconvenient for you, if you have children or other caring responsibilities at home perhaps, or if you live in a rural location then these are a great solution.
If you’ve got some cash to spend on home gym kit, these are also a great supplement to a gym membership. They’ll pretty much last forever, so it’s an investment that will soon pay for itself, especially if there’s more than one of you in the house that will use them.
I’m really grateful to Bowflex for giving me the chance to try these out and opening my eyes to the existence of such a product!
Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are currently £399 for a pair at Fitness Superstore.
I was sent these dumbbells free of charge to try with no obligation. All opinions are my own.