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Product Review: SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Posted by bmagnus On August - 2 - 2010

Home weight lifting equipment presents an astounding array of option from cheap concrete weights, to kettlebells, to single dumbbells, to resistance machines using weights and bands and bows and more. Of all of these options none is so universally accepted as the simple dumbbell. Unfortunately, for most people owning and storing a full set of dumbbells is just not a possibility.

Enter the SelectTech 552,  the smaller of the adjustable weight sets made by Bowflex. Bowflex is owned by Nautilus, which also makes a variety of exercise equipment under its own name, Schwinn, and Universal Home Fitness. The 552 allows the user to lift between 5 and 52.5 pounds and switch easily between various weights. But at a retail price of $399, the price seems steep. Is it worth the investment?

Ease of use

There is no question that SelectTech weights are easy to use and generally quick to switch between various weights. This makes them ideal for DVD workouts where there is often not much time to change the plates on traditional dumbbells. All you need to do is crank the dials on each end to your desired weight. Unused plates sit in the base after you lift the adjusted dumbbell. While it does adjust more quickly and easily than other adjustable sets we have tried, every now and then it will stick, but a quick jerk or shake returns the weights to normal function. Also, if you move the base by itself, you may end up dropping a plate by accident — hopefully not on your toes.

Between 5 and 25 pounds, you can adjust in 2.5 pound increments, which is handy for those times when perhaps you’re not sure you can handle five more pounds. Between 25 and 50 pounds, you only get 5 pound increments. In this range, they anticipate that you are probably working the large muscles of the lower body, so the extra weight is not generally a liability.

The shaped, rubberized grips are solid. Those with delicate hands will appreciate the fact that this grip is less likely to rip up your hand or leave calluses than cast weights. You’ll have to work really hard to get sweaty enough to shake your grip on these weights, but it is doable.

Space friendly

SelectTech brags on their site that the 552 set replaces 15 sets of weights and the larger 1090 (10 to 90 lbs) set replaces 17 sets of dumbbells. It can be a challenge to find room for a full rack of dumbbells in most home exercise spaces, so this is a big plus. The SelectTechs can easily be put in the corner out of the way when not in use, particularly if you opt for the ergonomic rolling 2-in-1 stand (an additional $149).

Durability

If you drop a cast dumbbell, your floor is more likely to be damaged than the weight! Not so with SelectTechs. While we have not had any issues, the tumbler mechanism for changing the weight settings is a little delicate; the manufacturer warns you not to drop the weight, or you’ll risk damaging it. Online you can find accounts of broken weights, but we suspect it’s harder to do than not. Our SelectTechs have been in daily use for over a year with no problems whatsoever.

Size Matters

The fact that SelectTech offers two sizes tells us a bit about their target demographic. Buyers of the 552 set are more likely to be women, or at the very least relatively novice weightlifters. The ad copy even says “gradually increase your strength without bulking up” — something mostly the ladies will want. Big guys who have been lifting a while may scoff at  a mere 52.5 pounds of resistance in each hand! They are likely to want the big 1090 set. Even then they may get to the point where they have to visit a full service weightlifting gym with machines or heavy barbells — and other big strong guys who can act as spotters.

Another size issue is not so obvious. The weight itself is physically large: 16 5/8″, or 42 cm long. For those with small frames or short arms, this length can be a liability during certain exercises. The size can interfere with form during some types of curls for instance.

Value

In addition to not taking up as much space as 15 sets of weights, you won’t have to buy all those weights either. It turns out that a full set can run $8001000, without the rack (easily another $100). Granted, if you are a beginning lifter, you won’t need all that weight right away and can purchase dumbbells as you need them (what is your time worth?), but it will cost you even more by the time you get to 50 lbs. As pricey as SelectTechs seem, they also compare favorably to the cost of a gym membership over the course of just a year.

The Verdict

We’re happy with ours, and gladly recommend them for the strength portion of your workout.

One Response to “Product Review: SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells”

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