The Best Adjustable Weights Systems – Powerblock vs Bowflex
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The Powerblock vs Bowflex battle is one that has been raging for ages, but today we’ll settle this debate once and for all. Together we’ll investigate the features of both dumbbells, compare them, and examine the pros and cons.

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The two best adjustable dumbbells are thoroughly investigated in this post. They are:

Both of these superb dumbbell sets feature in our best dumbbells sets for home reviews as well as our guide to how adjustable dumbbells work.

Here is a quick run down of the Powerblock and Bowflex dumbbell systems.

The Powerblock Dumbbell

At first glance, anyone new to using weights may not even realize that the Powerblock is an adjustable dumbbell; I know I didn’t when I first saw them. Founder Carl Towley conceptualized its square shape and unique design in 1993.

To adjust the Powerblock dumbbells, you simply have to stick its magnetic pin into the particular weight that you desire for your workout. Then, lift it up and get to work.

There are three Powertech models: The Pro, Sport and Elite Series—all with varying weights and prices. And if you ever outgrow those weight ranges, then you can buy an expansion pack and keep those muscle gains coming.


  • Square-shaped weights won’t roll away when you place them on a surface.
  • Compact design.
  • Ten-year warranty on some models, five-year warranty on most.
  • More even weight distribution.


  • No options for staggered resistance.
  • Protruding pin.
  • Adjusting the 2.5 pound weight increments takes longer.

The Bowflex

Bowflex prides itself on being the creator of the very first selectorized adjustable dumbbell system in the world. It was the brainchild of Ethiopian engineering student Tessema Dosho Shifferaw, who started promoting Bowflex directly to customers in the early 1980s.

The Bowflex has more of a traditional design with rounded weights at each of its ends. All you have to do is adjust the dial to your heaviness of choice, and you’ll be ready. See vid below.

There are three models of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells: The 552, 560, and 1090 dumbbells. These versions all have their own unique weight ranges and prices, detailed later.


  • Two-year warranty.
  • User-friendly design.
  • Staggered resistance available.
  • Some models are BlueTooth enabled, and all models have an accompanying app.


  • Large amounts of plastic are used in the design, which lessens its durability.
  • There are no options for increasing the maximum weight of the dumbbell.
  • The length of the handle can be an inconvenience in some exercises.

Powerblock vs Bowflex Face to Face

To really get to the nitty-gritty of the Bowflex vs Powerblock battle, we have to zoom in on some important features that are common to adjustable dumbbells.

The end result of the these two popular adjustable dumbbells systems are the same, to be quickly able to change weight resistance of a dumbbell.

But the means to that end is different.

Ease of Adjustment

The Bowflex dumbbells boast an adjustment system that’s quick and extremely easy to use. It reduced my adjustment time between sets to just five seconds.

You simply have to turn a dial to the exact weight you want to lift, and you’ll be ready to go. Its select tech dials are located on each end of the dumbbell with fifteen weight adjustments for you to choose from.

Interestingly, the adjustment system of the Bowflex dumbbells lets you take advantage of staggered resistance. “What is staggered resistance?” you ask. Well, staggered resistance allows you to put a heavier weight on one side of the dumbbell than the other.

This arrangement is not one that is widely used but it may prove to be very useful for certain exercises, such as overhead tricep extensions. If you are new to strength training using weights then this is probably an unnecessary feature.

The Powerblock dumbbell has an adjustment system that is more simple than the Bowflex dumbbells. This is because you have to simply insert a magnetic selector pin into the colored rails at its sides. This corresponds to the colored weight charts on top of it. It’s still a pretty quick and easy to change the weight plates though.

Once the pin has been completely inserted into the desired slot, then you’ll be good to go. The magnetic pin helps you change your resistance by five-pound weight increments. This video demonstrates.

But if you want to change it by two and a half-pound increments, then your adjustment time will go up by about twenty seconds. That’s because you’ll have to add a two and a half pound steel tube by inserting the small weights into the handle of your Powerblock.

If this all sounds a bit fiddly it will be worse if you don’t have a raised platform to make weight adjustments.

Weight Variety

The weight plates of the Bowflex Selecttech 560 is between 5–60 pounds. When you want more weight it comes in 2.5 lb increments up to 25 lbs and then its increment changes to 5 lbs.

Comparatively, the weight range of the Bowflex Selecttech 1090 is between 10–90 pounds with 5-pound increments. Finally, the range of the Bowflex 552 is between 5–52 pounds with 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds. After that, its increment changes to 5 pounds.

There are three models of Powerblock dumbbells: The Pro Series, the Powerbloch Elite Series, and the Powerbloch Sport Series. The weight range of the Pro Series is between 4⁠–32 pounds.

The range of the Elite series is between 5⁠–50 pounds, and finally, the weight range of the Sport Series is between 3⁠–24 pounds. Of course, all Powerblocks have weight increments of 2.5 and 5 pounds.

Additionally, the Powerblock adjustable dumbbells can be expanded by purchasing expansion kits. These expansion kits will increase the weight of your set up to a maximum of 90 pounds.

Durability and Style

Both boast very stylish finishes. They both look like premium fitness products.

The Powerblock dumbbells are made of high-quality steel in squared shapes. It’s also extremely stable and durable.

The Bowflex dumbbell is reminiscent of the traditional dumbbells that we see in many gyms. They consist of rounded metal weights that have a flattened base. They also come with a stylish case.

Its handles have an ergonomic design, being thicker in the center than the edges. This allows for a firmer grip on the Bowflex dumbbell.

The Bowflex weights are made of metal that has been coated in hard plastic. This can be a problem for some people, as some users report the plastic and handle on the Bowflex dumbbells becoming damaged from hard falls.

Additionally, the fixed length of the Bowflex handle may be of concern to you. Some exercises, such as curling and pressing, may be awkward if you do them with the Bowflex.

Stand Out Features

The Bowflex Dumbbells

  • Integrated Bluetooth technology and Bowflex SelectTech App: The Bowflex 560 boasts Integrated Bluetooth technology that joins forces with the Bowflex SelectTech App to be your own little trainer.
    Together they’ll provide advanced video coaching, count your sets and reps, and they can even track your weight. Free for the first year.
  • Storage tray: The Bowflex adjustable dumbbells come with a handy tray molded to the contors of the dumbbells.

The Powerblock Dumbbells

  • Expandable Weight Range: If you outgrow your current weights, you can always purchase an expansion pack and keep your muscles growing. That means your Powerblock will be with you for a very long time.
  • Less maintenance: Because of the Powerblocks’ simpler design mechanism, there is less friction amongst the weight plates and selector mechanism so there is less worry about looking after the dumbbells.

Powerblock vs Bowflex Summary

For the best adjustable dumbbell set I’ve found my clear winner in this Powerblock vs. Bowflex battle; have you? If you’re still a bit unsure, don’t fret. I’ll help to refresh your memory about which of the dumbbells you may prefer.

Buy the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells if you:

  • Like the simplicity of its dial system.
  • Like the traditional look of the Bowflex Selecttech and the user-friendly design.
  • Prefer the cheaper option.
  • Want to take advantage of staggered resistance?
  • Want a BlueTooth-enabled dumbbell?

Opt for the Powerblock adjustable dumbbells if you:

  • Want to expand the weight range of your adjustable dumbbell?
  • Prefer an even weight distribution.
  • Want a long-lasting warranty on your dumbbell?
  • Prefer a dumbbell that’s demonstrated to be durable.
  • Want a compact and stable dumbbell.

The Best Adjustable Dumbbells For Me

My personal preference is the Powerblock Pro Dumbbells. Although I like the traditional dumbbells’ style of the Bowflex dumbbells it was a less comfortable feel.

The long handle tends to get in the way when doing certain workouts.

The Powerblock dumbbells, although unusual at first, with your whole hand being encased within the frame, feels even and comfortable. Again I think beginners are going to love the design and soon get used to the different weight selection system.

And besides, they use the Powerblock set up at one of my favorite workout video providers

Find out the benefits of strength training especially for the more mature of us and how to get super-toned arms with or without weights.

What are you waiting for? If free weights aren’t doing it for you anymore then the Powerblock adjustable weights might be the answer.

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Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. Redundancy from retail management meant an enforced move from helping women with sports shoes and apparel to helping people get fit and well.

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