Bowflex Select Tech Adjustable Dumbbells (552 version)

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These are a pair of adjustable dumbbells that allow you to change the level of resistance faster than regular adjustable dumbbells due to a unique selector device.  Simply twisting a dial on each dumbbell to your chosen weight will select more or less resistance. 

If you select less than 52lbs the remaining weight plates will stay in the dumbbells' weight cradle.  To change the weight you simply replace the dumbbells into their cradle, turn the dial to your chosen weight, lift the dumbbell out of the cradle and commence exercising.  This can be done in around 10 seconds and is less bothersome than changing weights on a regular adjustable dumbbell.

The lowest weight is 5lbs and the highest is 52lbs (hence the model is called 552).  There is a wide range of resistance levels between these two: 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5 etc up to 52lbs in 30 increments.  You also have the option of off-loading each dumbbell so that one side is heavier than the other, e.g., 10lbs on one side and 15lbs or more on the other.  This produces a different training effect than an evenly loaded dumbbell.  On some exercises it allows you to focus on one part of a muscle more than another.

The pros of this piece of equipment are:

  1. Faster and less bothersome to change weight than regular adjustable dumbbells
  2. Takes up less space than fixed dumbbells as it is the equivelent of 30 fixed dumbbells
  3. Takes up less space than regular adjustable dumbbells as the weight plates remain in the cradle and not on the floor or on a weight tree
  4. Cheaper than fixed dumbbells in a comparable range of weights as it is the equivelent of 30 fixed dumbbells - more if you consider off-loading

The cons are:

  1. More expensive than regular adjustable dumbbells
  2. Do not always smoothly slide back into weight cradles if less than 52lbs is selected
  3. Weight only goes up to 52lbs per dumbbell which may not be enough for very strong people
  4. No option to upgrade to add more weight

I think this is a good product for men and women who train at home and do not have much space.  Although the 52lb maximum resistance per dumbbell may appear to be a limitation for very strong people, even they can get a satisfying workout from these dumbbells if they exercise creatively.  As the saying goes, "It's not the weight you use, it's the way you use the weight."

Readers are advised to look at adjustable dumbbells made by Bowflex's competitors before making a purchase: Ironmasters and Powerblocks.  These have a range which is upgradable to cater for stronger individuals though they are obviously larger, bulkier looking and take up more space.

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