Bowflex SelectTech Dumbells Reviews
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Bowflex SelectTech Dumbells

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Bowflex SelectTech 1090 - Absolute Perfection for Serious Lifting

Aug 18, 2007 (Updated Sep 6, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Space Saving, Easy to Use, Adjustable to 90lbs... Perfect for Serious Lifters

Cons:Awkwardly Bulky, More Resistance Flexibility in the Low-End Would've Been Nice

The Bottom Line: The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells are a real winner. Almost perfect.

For years I have used a small home gym consisting of a Bowflex Power Pro home gym machine, as well as a few cheap additions, including Gold's Gym Push-Up Bars, a couple fixed weight dumbells, and ab roller.

After a while I realized that it was time to upgrade to a free weight system. The only problem is that having a full-scale free weight system can be quite costly. But then there is a far better alternative, and that is the Bowflex SelectTech adjustable dumbells.

So far, I have purchased the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells, and can not be any happier with them. I have used the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbells, and was trying to decide between the 1090 and 552 models. Then there are also the Bowflex SelectTech 220, which I have never used before.

Here is my opinion on the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells, and I hope you find this comparison between the 1090/552/220 helpful!

-Are these really expensive?-

If you read on about the Bowflex SelectTech dumbells, you see that members find them to be expensive. I would disagree though. First of all, if you were to have a collection of dumbells going up in the 2.5lbs (552) or 5lbs (1090) increments, the price would most likely be considerably higher than the $399 and $599 MSRP's of both the 552 and 1090, respectively. Nautilus, the company that manufactures Bowflex equipment also is a very reputable company that constructs high-quality products. I have been using both Nautilus equipment in the gym and Bowflex at home, and cannot be happier with their quality.

Based on what you receive with the Bowflex SelectTech dumbells, you really get more than what you pay for. You have a tremendous amount of weight settings in a compact high-quality piece of equipment that you can fit just about anywhere! Therefore, I find the Bowflex SelectTech dumbells to be a bargain, even if the initial MSRP prices seem a bit steep. You will also receive excellent workouts through them. Also, remember... If you were to buy all of the dumbells separately from a reputable company, you will most likely be paying more than what you would for the SelectTech dumbells.

-Bowflex SelectTech 1090 VS. 552-

When I was shopping for dumbells, I had a hard time deciding whether to buy the 1090's or 552's... At first glance, for anyone taking part in serious bodybuilding, the 1090's look far superior, but that is not entirely the case.

-The 552's Advantages-

The main difference between the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells and the 552 dumbells is the total amount of resistance offered. The 552's offer up to 52.5lbs, while the 1090's offer considerably more at 90lbs... So you may be asking yourself, "Well the 1090's are obviously better!"

Not true. The 552's have a resistance range from 5lbs to 52.5lbs within 2.5lbs continual increments. The 1090's have a resistance range from 10lbs to 90lbs within 5lbs continual increments.

Therefore, I come to believe that up to about ~30lbs, the 552's may do a better job than the 1090's. This is because up to around ~30lbs, the 552's offer a better range of weight settings, thus giving the weight lifter improved flexibility with the weight that he or she chooses.

For example, let's pretend that you are performing bicep curls and continuously ascending in weight. Let's pretend that you reach the 20lbs mark... OK... No problem, this is within the workable range of both the 552 and 1090 dumbells. Let's say you are maxing out within the low 20's... The 552's will allow you to curl 22.5lbs, while the next weight setting for the 1090's will be 25lbs. So if you're unable to move beyond 22.5lbs, you will receive a more inefficient workout from the 1090's since you will only be able to max out at 20lbs, since 25lbs will already be too much to lift. While on the contrary, the 552's can be adjusted to 22.5, 25, 27.5, and then 30lbs.

Therefore, within the lower resistance levels, the 552's really shine since they offer 2.5lbs continual increments for the first 25lbs. This is great for lifters that move up in small increments in relatively lower increment workouts. But past the 30lbs mark, the 1090's outperform the 552's since they offer greater resistance.

You might want to take this into consideration... If you perform many workouts that require lower levels of resistance, but those obviously higher than the 220's, you may want to consider the 552's. If you work with higher levels of resistance, then the 1090's are still your best bet.

-The 552's Disadvantages-

As I have already stated, the main difference between the 552's and 1090's is the level of resistance. Therefore, if you are a very serious bodybuilder, then the 552's resistance levels would prove insufficient. This is where the 1090's really shine.

-Bowflex SelectTech 1090 VS. 220-

I can not compare the two for a few specific reasons. Firstly, I have never used the Bowflex SelecTech 220 dumbells before. Secondly, both types serve completely different purposes. The 220's are intended to serve people who need to perform lighter resistance exercises and to tone their muscles. The 1090's are directed towards serious bodybuilders.

Therefore, one considering the 1090's should not consider the 220's, and vice versa. I am sorry that I can not offer any further insight on the 220's... I simply do not have the information to do so. But what I can say is that based on my personal experiences with my 1090's and other Nautilus and Bowflex products, I am certain that the 220's will very effectively perform their intended purpose, and will do it well.

-The Short-Take on the Model Comparisons-

*Without doubt the SelectTech dumbells are great pieces of equipment and serve their purposes well. The 220's remain in a league of their own, catering to a different crowd than those that would be purchasing the 552 and 1090 dumbells.

But as far as the 552 and 1090 dumbells go, it may be hard to decide between the two if you are currently lifting within the range of the 552's. The 552's offer better flexibility in the low-end resistance range thanks to the 2.5lbs continual increments. The 1090's leave a little bit to be desired in the low-end after using the 552's. But when it comes to significantly higher-resistance exercises beyond the capability of the 552's, then the 1090's are unrivaled.


So if you are a serious bodybuilder and are looking for a great free weight home gym solution at a great price, then the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 are a great option to consider. They offer a tremendous level of flexibility and resistance in a very small package.

-Bowflex SelectTech 1090 VS. Other Dumbells-

The Bowflex SelectTech are some of the most efficient adjustable dumbells available. They are far easier to use and cheaper than "spinlock" dumbells with removable plates. The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbell rests on a special base, and you simply turn the dial to the resistance level that you would like on both sides. On the contrary, with a "spinlock" dumbells, you will continuously have to pick up new plates and lock them onto the steel bar.

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells also take up considerably less space than fixed-weight dumbells. Having the same resistance levels with fixed-weight dumbells will require you to purchase a minimum of 18 set of weights (assuming you ONLY use 5lbs increments). This becomes expensive and obviously takes up a lot of room.

When you look at the big picture, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells are cheaper, take up less space, and are MUCH easier to use than other types of dumbells.

-Bowflex SelectTech 1090 VS. PowerBlock Blocks-

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells are rivaled by another brand of dumbells, that works on a similar concept. They are the Blocks made by PowerBlock. I have only seen and used them once. They are essentially cheaper than the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells, but they do not quite look like dumbells, and therefore can be a bit of an eyesore. I also did not initially like the system used to change the resistance levels. I do know that you can lift up to 130lbs with expansion kits. Anyway, I do not have enough information to review them in the near future. But when I do have time I would like to check them out. What I can say though is that if you're concerned about aesthetics, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells look much better. Just for your own information, I left the link to the Blocks right below:


-Ease of Use-

I found the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells to be very easy to use. You just carefully place the dumbell on its special base, and then turn the dial to your desired resistance level on both sides. The neat thing is that you can use different levels on each side, such as 15 & 20lbs, which would allow you to do certain exercises more effectively.

The dial system beats out having to use separate plates on a "spinlock" dumbell system. The dial is so easy to use, that anyone can use it, and definitely save time with its efficiency, therefore having a more effective workout.


Nautilus makes a good product, and the SelectTech line is no exception. These dumbells do not have a cheap design, and are built to last. There is just one concern I have though... I am always a bit worried when I place the dumbell back onto the base. I am afraid of damaging the resistance plates. The construction quality is good, but I feel that the mechanism maybe delicate? This is why I would recommend gently setting the dumbell into place, and not dropping it down. I hope that the mechanism will remain effective without any hitches.

Overall, I have used Nautilus products for years, and am impressed with the build quality. I believe that if you don't drop the dumbells and treat them well, you should have many years of future use out of them. When it comes to the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells, you shouldn't have to worry about durability.

-The Looks-

The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells are indeed very good looking. My only complaint though is their bulkiness. If you're using the minimum level of resistance of 10lbs, you will solely be lifting the dumbell without any of the attached weights. Nonetheless, it is still very bulky since the dumbell itself is very long and quite large. Therefore, when it comes to performing low-resistance exercises, you may feel awkward due to the large size of the dumbell. But it is a very small price to pay for the benefits gained by using the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells.


Free weights will be as effective as you can make them. The best feature about the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells is that they cater to serious bodybuilders. They go far beyond the resistance levels of the 552 dumbells, which already offer a generous amount of resistance, all the way up to 90lbs. This is probably more than what most consumers would need. But if you're into serious lifting and use the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells extensively, you will see results. With these, alongside the additional accessories such as the 3.1 or 5.1 bench, you can see great results.

I opted to buy the dumbells stand-alone, since I use my Bowflex Power Pro as my bench. But if you combine the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells with a bench or anything else you would use with any other free weights, then you should see great results. They definitely pack a gym-quality workout that you can have in your own home.

Speaking of your own home... Did I mention that you can fit these just about anywhere? It's amazing to think about having such a large variety of weights all in one small spot. Therefore, this makes the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells perfect for any living-situation, whether you're living in a studio apartment or a mansion.

-Other Notes-

I have already stated earlier that the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells leave something to be desired in the low-end resistance levels. If they were made more like the 552's, and had 2.5lbs increments instead of 5lbs increments for lower resistances up to 30lbs, they would be a better all-around dumbell. Depending on how much you lift now, and how much you will lift in the future, you should really consider the 552's also.


Once again, Nautilus has made a true winner with the SelectTech line of dumbells. They cater to different types of lifters from the 220 all the way to the 1090 product lines. So far I absolutely love the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells and wouldn't trade them for anything else. While they offer a bit to be desired in the low-end, they definitely shine when it comes to heavy lifting, which they are designed for, allowing weight lifters to have a resistance level of a tremendous 90lbs! From 5lbs to 90lbs, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells offer unsurpassed flexibility that will provide effective exercises for many years to come. While the initial price tag may look expensive, it is not when you really look at it. While I would still look at other options, such as the PowerBlock Blocks, I would not hesitate to purchase the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbells. Not only are they worth every penny, but when you look at the long-term results you may have, you can just about call them a steal.

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Recommend this product? Yes

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