Powerblock vs Bowflex – Which Adjustable Dumbbell To Choose?

by: Michael Perry

December 20, 2020

Adjustable dumbbells are one of the best pieces of exercise equipment you can get. They're a sturdy, durable, space-saving solution for your workout routine. With so many kinds on the market, how do you know which to purchase? This guide takes a deep look at two of the most popular brands: Powerblock vs Bowflex.

The best overall pick is the Bowflex SelectTech 552

We'll dig deeper into exactly why and which features are ideal for each, but for now, let's.....

Meet Our Contenders

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Bowflex SelectTech 552

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 set of dumbbells let you quickly and easily make weight adjustments during your workout. These weights use metal plates coated with durable plastic attached to the main handles with metal tabs.

These dumbbells have a sleek, ergonomic design for excellent grip. Bowflex is a giant in the fitness equipment industry, so you know you're getting quality equipment.

  • Space-saving design takes the place of up to 15 pairs of individual dumbbells
  • Easy adjustment system to change weight during exercise
  • Small increments for new lifters
  • High quality, name brand recognition
  • Shorter standard warranty than Powerblock
  • Limited weight range

- Check Its Price Here

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Powerblock Elite Dumbbells

Similar to the Bowflex, the Powerblock Elite dumbbells let you quickly change weights during your workout. This set uses metal plates coated with a black powder.

The main difference when comparing the Bowflex vs Powerblock is in their shape and function, which we'll dig deeper into below. Powerblock has a squared-off shape, as opposed to Bowflex's rounder appearance.

The Powerblocks also use a pin system instead of a dial system to select the desired weight.

  • Space-saving design takes the place of up to 16 pairs of dumbbells
  • Adder weight allows for 2.5-pound increments
  • Features color-coded design for easy identification of weight
  • The box design is unique
  • Pin weight adjustment system can be slow to change weights
  • Might be too small for people with very large hands

- Check Its Price Here

The Bowflex Vs. Powerblock - Head To Head

Quality And Durability

Both the Bowflex and the Powerblock are high-quality products that are quite durable. Each dumbbell set is made from solid metal with lasting coatings, so they're resistant to dings, scratches, etc.

Even though they are both quite strong, neither set should be dropped as you might a heavy barbell in a traditional gym setting. Designed for use in home gyms, these dumbbells smoothly lift with whatever weight you choose.

Reviewers report having both their Bowflex dumbbells and their Powerblock Elites for years. Even using these sets multiple times per week, users report little to no issues with quality or durability.

Design and Style

Pair of powerblock elite

The Bowflex pair is designed with a rounded set of weights at either end of the handle. The Powerblock, on the other hand, have square weights that almost completely enclose around the handle. This can make them tricky to use for certain exercises or if you have especially large hands.

Both the square design of the Powerblock and the flattened bottoms of the Bowflex weight plates mean neither set of dumbbells will roll away from you during a workout.

In terms of style, the Bowflex has a sleek and visually appealing aesthetic. The rounded weight plates and swooping durable plastic base make these dumbbells a beautiful addition to your home.

The Powerblock Elite set is squared off and rather blocky. While not unappealing, it definitely has more of a futuristic and unconventional appearance.

The Adjustment System

The Powerblock vs Bowflex dumbbells differ greatly in their adjustment systems. The Bowflex SelectTech weights utilize a system of selector dials on each side of the dumbbell. This design means you can switch between desired weights with a simple spin of the dial.

This design also means you can have a different weight on one end of the dumbbell than the other. This is very useful for off-balance and core exercises like suitcase carries.

bowflex selecttech 552 dial system in action

On the other hand, the Powerblock dumbbells use a selector pin system, much like a weight machine, to change its weight options. The different levels are color-coded with a guide on top of each dumbbell, so you can easily see which level of weight you're working with.

The selector pin system is pretty easy to understand, although it is slightly slower than the speedy dial system of the Bowflex. This may not work well for people following a video workout or who need to rapidly change weight.

The Grip

In terms of grip, there isn't much difference between the Powerblocks vs Bowflex. Both sets of adjustable dumbbells have very sturdy, ergonomic grips.

The Bowflex dumbbells have a rubber-coated grip that's textured. The Powerblock dumbbells also have a rubber grip that's contoured and padded. You're unlikely to drop either set of dumbbells during a workout.

Weight Ranges

The weight ranges are where Bowflex vs Powerblock also differ slightly. The Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells start at 5 pounds and end at 52.5 pounds. The Powerblocks start at 5 pounds and end at 50 pounds.

Additionally, the Bowflex dumbbells are adjustable in 2.5-pound increments up to 25 pounds. They then switch to 5-pound increments. The Powerblock dumbbells are only adjustable in 5-pound increments unless you use the extra step of the adder piece to get 2.5-pound increments.

This makes the SelectTech 552 ideal for those who are beginning lifters or need smaller increments for their weight range.


powerblock upgradability

The Bowflex dumbbells currently come with no options for upgradability. What you purchase is what you get with those weights.

The Powerblock Elite set has three different kits you can purchase.

Stage 1 is the kit reviewed in this guide that goes up to 50 pounds. Users can add a Stage 2 kit that goes up to 70 pounds and/or a Stage 3 kit that goes up to 90 pounds.  You can also purchase each Stage separately and not as an add-on.

This versatility is a key point in Powerblock's favor. Beginning lifters can start with a Stage 1 kit and simply upgrade as they progress. Bowflex users will require an entirely new set of weights if they want to lift heavier.

However, the price point might serve as a deterrent. The Stage 1 Powerblock and the Bowflex SelectTech 552 are roughly the same price, with only a $50 difference between them. The expansion kits are roughly half the price of the Bowflex, so if customers upgrade all the way from Stage 1 to Stage 3, they wind up spending almost $600 total.

Comfort and Safety

The bowflex selecttech 552 stand

Both the Bowflex dumbbells and the Powerblock dumbbells are very comfortable and safe. The grip on both weights allows for a solid workout without the risk of dropping the equipment.

The metal plates hook into the handles with metal tabs, meaning they're very unlikely to fall off during use. They're also unlikely to suffer much wear and tear, which connects back to the durability of both sets.


Both sets of dumbbells come with warranties. Bowflex provides a standard 2-year warranty with the option to add a 3- or 5-year warranty for an extra fee. Powerblock provides a standard 5-year warranty, making them a slightly more desirable option if warranties are important to you.

What's Special About Each One?

The Bowflex 552

  • Dial system: Bowflex's dial adjustments are much simpler and faster to change between weights than the Powerblock.
  • Sleek, traditional design: for people who prefer the look of traditional dumbbells, the Bowflex set is best.
  • Big brand name: trusted customer service from a huge name in home gym equipment

The Powerblock Elite

  • Smaller increments: the 2.5-pound adder weight, while slightly more cumbersome to use than Bowflex's dial system, means you can increase the weight by a smaller amount.
  • Unconventional appearance: people who like unique setups will appreciate the blocky nature of the Powerblock.
  • Color-coded weight labels: easily visually see which weight range you're in.

Alternatives To The 552 And Elite

1. Merax Deluxe 71.5-Pounds Adjustable Dumbbells

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An alternative to both Bowflex and the Powerblock is the Merax Deluxe 71.5-pound set of adjustable dumbbells. This set uses a dial system similar to the Bowflex, except in 5.5-pound increments. The weight starts at 11 pounds and goes up to 71.5, making it a good option for heavy lifters.

Also similar to the Bowflex and Powerblock options, this set has an optional dumbbell stand so you can elevate the weights to about hip level.

A large difference between the two sets and the Merax is the price tag. The Merax costs more than double both the Bowflex and the Powerblock. However, reviewers say they're equally durable, so if you've got the money, it can be a solid investment.

You can It's price here.

2. Bowflex SelectTech 1090

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With all the features of the Bowflex SelectTech 552s, the 1090s mainly offer an increased weight range. They go from 10 pounds up to 90 pounds of weight, making them another excellent option for people who want to lift heavier.

They use the same convenient dial as a weight adjustment system; however, reviewers recommend purchasing the newer models. Older models, with red numbers on the dials, had a faulty plastic cover over the metal tabs that are supposed to hold the weight plates in place. As such, the plastic would wear with use and the plates stopped sticking to the handles.

Newer models with white numbers on the dials replaced this problem with the metal tabs of the 552s. If you want a heavier set but don't like the square design of the Powerblock, the 1090s are a good set for you.

The main detriment to the 1090s is they sell each adjustable dumbbell separately. You must purchase two separate bells to create a pair, making them not quite as cost-effective of a choice.

Check it out here.

3. ATIVAFIT Adjustable Dumbbells

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ATIVAFIT offers adjustable dumbbells that use a dial system similar to the Bowflex. There are two weight ranges from which to choose: 55 pounds or 71.5 pounds. You adjust the weight in 5.5-pound increments.

Reviewers report this system feels durable. It's priced slightly more affordably than the Bowflex and Powerblock dumbbells; however, this system is another one that only sells the dumbbells as singles. You have to purchase two to get a pair.

Some reviewers have said when you're using lighter weights, it can be difficult to line the plates back up when putting the weights back. Others note the weight distribution feels a bit off, as these are slightly longer than the Bowflex or the Powerblock.

See the ATIVAFIT here.

Why Even Purchase Adjustable Dumbbells?

Adjustable dumbbells are an excellent addition to a home gym. Because most pairs replace at least 15 sets of separate dumbbells, they're a highly efficient way to save space in your home. You can do almost every single exercise that ordinarily uses barbells with a dumbbell set.

Once you invest in a set of adjustable dumbbells, you don't have to purchase any further exercise equipment to complete most strength training workouts. This makes them a solid investment for years of fitness.

They're also fairly consistent in terms of size. As fixed dumbbells get heavier, they also tend to get larger. Because adjustable ones use metal plates, they tend to remain fairly consistent in size.

Especially if you don't have a strong preference for the max weight you're able to lift, adjustable dumbbells are a smart choice.

So, To Wrap This Powerblock Vs Bowflex Rundown...

Use the Powerblock Elite if:

  • You like the unconventional appearance
  • You don't mind the pin weight selector system
  • You don't need to transition from one weight to another very quickly

Use the Bowflex 552s if:

  • Changing weight quickly is a high priority
  • You prefer a more traditional, rounded look
  • You don't mind the fixed intervals
And the winner is... the bowflex selecttech 552

In the end, the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are the better choice. They have basically the same weight range as the Elite, but you can't ignore the convenience of the dial system. 

Rapidly and conveniently switching from one weight to another means more smooth, uninterrupted workouts.

About the author

Growing up as the fat kid is what motivated him to take matters to his hands at fifteen, and he has never looked back again since!

When he's not pumping iron at the gym, you'll probably find him hooked to his record player listening to rock classics.

If only he could carry it with him to the gym. Sigh.

On this site, he'll do his best to help you accomplish the same results for yourself.

(We're talking about getting in shape, not trying to carry a record player to your local gym)

Michael Perry