PowerBlocks Vs. Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells
I did a lot of research into dumbbells a few years ago. I don’t like gyms and I know enough about fitness to get a full workout from just a few simple pieces of equipment. Dumbbells aren’t necessary if all you want to do is lose weight and to be fit and generally strong; push-ups and pull ups work just fine. Being a guy though, I felt compelled to get bigger muscles (I know it’s vain of me). Thus, I researched dumbbells because it’s way manlier than pulling on bands (the cheaper alternative to resistance training that actually works quite well). It didn’t take long to discover that buying a whole dumbbell rack with weights was going to be outrageously expensive and space wasting. But then I saw those silly commercials that we’ve all seen for Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells. The guy on the commercial is pretty darn ripped, and I wanted to be ripped too so it seemed like a perfect match. Not being a complete idiot though I caught myself before whipping out the credit card, and I decided to do research. My findings are illuminating. There are only two decent competitors in the changeable weight dumbbell market. They are Bowflex and PowerBlocks. All the rest like Reebok and Lifecore are a complete waste.
Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Vs PowerBlock Sport 9.0
PowerBlocks Get the Win:
Comparable Price at 90 Pounds: The Sport 9.0 Series is expandable to 130 lbs, but stage 1 goes up to 50 lbs for 50 dollars cheaper than the SelectTech 552 (which is Bowflex’s 50 lbs version). Stage 2 (90 lbs) is the same price as the SelectTech 1090′s. SelectTech 1090 does not go to 130 lbs so there is no comparison there.
Sturdier: There are no moving parts to damage with the PowerBlocks. There are no dials to get jammed or gunked up, nothing to go wrong (the only way to break them is to drop them). The plates of the SelectTech rattle during use and must be carefully placed back into the holders or the dialing device could get jammed and stuck when redialed. I jammed a set of SelectTechs in just that way two years ago while shopping at Sports Authority. I walked away from them pretending I didn’t just screw up the display.
Quicker: PowerBlocks work by inserting a pin beneath a color coded weight indicator on the block. It’s as simple as pulling out a bar and inserting it into the right colored slot. In other words, it’s one quick move as opposed to dialing around a wheel to match two sides of a dumbbell 4 times (two hands). Having used both of them I can say it takes less than half the amount of time to switch weights with the Sport 9.0 (there is a caveat to this. Read on to find out).
Smaller Weight Increments: The Sport 9.0 increases in 2.5 lb increments to the SelectTech 5 lbs. To achieve the smaller incremental steps PowerBlocks sacrifice their speed advantage. The blocks have 4 internal removable 2.5 lb weights which, when removed, effectively give the user twice as many weight options as with the SelectTech. But, it takes time to fiddle with the inserts. Still, it’s a win for PowerBlocks because of the added versatility. Also, the Sport 5.0 does not have the inserts and goes in 5 lb increments, beating the pants off of the Bowflex 552 version (Not many people go above 50 lbs anyway).
Clunky: SelectTech dumbbells are clunky. They don’t feel solid and they’re way too long which makes it difficult to do certain exercises. The only exercises that are difficult to perform with the PowerBlocks are wrist related movements (because of the caged nature of the block). However, also because of the shape of the blocks, the weight is better distributed in a more compact design making cross body curls easier.
Bowflex has fancier commercials (they have commercials) and they’re hawked by BeachBody and Tony Horton (the makers of P90X). While there is no denying that they do work you can spend comparable money for a superior product in PowerBlocks. PowerBlocks specialize in dumbbells; they have everything from small sport models to full fledged fitness center and professional grade designs. They even have a new KettleBlock model and a Urethane version of the Sport 9.0 series. The KettleBlock looks like an especially intriguing design which adds an entirely new dimension to dumbbell work. Bowflex is the popular choice, but PowerBlocks are the smart choice. They were my choice 2 years ago for every reason I outlined above.
Disclaimer: I didn’t get anything from anybody to say anything. I’m a fitness enthusiast who takes these things seriously, that’s all.