The Best Adjustable Weights Systems – Powerblock vs Bowflex

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 and a guide.

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, 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.

It comes in three different versions: 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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

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

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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 the 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.

It comes in three different versions: The 552, 560, and 1090 dumbbells. These versions all have their own unique weight ranges and prices. Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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.

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Features 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. Together we’ll go through them and see which adjustable dumbbell comes out on top for each category!

Ease of Adjustment

The Bowflex boasts 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 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 has an adjustment system that’s a bit more complicated than the Bowflex. This is because you have to insert a magnetic selector pin into the colored rails at its sides. This corresponds to the colored weight charts on top of it. They’re still pretty quick and easy to change the weight 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 desired weight by five-pound 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 range of the Bowflex 560 is between 5–60 pounds. It can do 2.5-pound increments up to 25 pounds and then its increment changes to 5 pounds.

Comparatively, the weight range of the Bowflex 1090 is between 10–90 pounds with 5-pound increments. Finally, the weight 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.

The Powerblock offers three different series: The Pro Series, the Elite Series, and the Sport Series. The weight range of the Pro Series is between 4⁠–32 pounds. The weight 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 increments of 2.5 and 5 pounds.

Additionally, the Powerblocks 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 itself is made of high-quality steel in squared shapes. It’s also extremely stable and durable.

Bowflex 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.

The Bowflex consists of metal weights that have been coated in hard plastic. This can be a problem for some people, as some users report the plastic and handles on the Bowflex 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

  • 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.

The Powerblock

  • Expandible 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.

Conclusion

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 mentioned above would better suit your needs.

Buy the Bowflex if you:

  • Like the simplicity of its dial system.
  • Like the traditional look of the Bowflex 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 if you:

  • Want to expand the weight range of your dumbbell.
  • Prefer more even weight distribution.
  • Want a long-lasting warranty on your dumbbell.
  • Prefer a dumbbell that’s long-lasting and less likely to break.
  • Want a compact and stable dumbbell.

The Winner For Me

My personal preference is the Powerblock Pro Dumbbells. Although I like the traditional style of the Bowflex system it was a less comfortable feel especially with the long handle that can get in the way for certain workouts especially for beginners.

The Powerblock, 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 FitnessBlender.com.

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 the features of the Powerblock are what you’re after, then go for it.