Pros: Saves space; replaces up to 30 dumbbells; easy to use; can workout at home
Cons: Expensive; bulky at lighter weight settings; may not be heavy enough for some
We just sold our SelectTech 552 Dumbbells to a neighbor. They are a good product and my husband and I enjoyed using them, but in the end they just were not heavy enough for my husband to maximize his workout program.
Late last summer, in an effort to begin a workout program without the scheduling problems and cost that a gym membership would incur, my husband purchased the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells. They are by no means cheap, but at roughly $400 plus the cost of a basic weight lifting bench, this was a less expensive and more convenient option than a gym membership.
My husband was the primary user of the SelectTech Dumbbells, but I used them as well, just not as frequently. Seven or eight months after purchasing them, with much success using the SelectTechs, my husband basically outgrew the 52.5 lb. maximum weight. He then sold his SelectTech Dumbbells to a neighbor and out family joined our park district gym complex. He also wanted to add other strength and weight training techniques to his workout, so joining the gym at this point was the best option. We had originally hoped to use the SelectTech Dumbbells as the core of our minimally-sized home gym for about a year before moving on to a bigger and better equipped gym. We like what our park district gym has to offer, but wanted to wait a year or so before joining so that our kids would be old enough to take advantage of the facility as well. Our SelectTech Dumbbells certainly served us well, but not for quite as long as we would have liked (8 months, as opposed to a year or more). Personally, I could have used the SelectTechs forever, because I generally lift lighter weights and can’t imagine ever needing a dumbbell that weighs more than 52.5 lbs!
Because I am much smaller than my husband and did not work out as much, I pretty much only used the SelectTech Dumbbells at relatively light settings, (not more than 20 pounds, if that) depending on the exercise. While I could easily get away with just a few sets of individual dumbbells, I have to admit that I liked the flexibility of the Sellectechs. The set was perfect for me, but since we now had a family membership at a gym, I really had no practical reason to keep them.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells are a pair of adjustable dumbbells. Simply turning a dial on the end of each dumbbell changes the weight from 5 lbs. to 52.5 lbs in 2.5 pound increments (for the first 25 lbs, 5 lb. increments thereafter). There are a total of 15 different weight settings. Each dumbbell consists of 10 weight plates, a handle with a rubber grip that incorporates a plate-locking mechanism, and a base that holds the plates that are not used. These dumbbells are well made and sturdy. In my experience, I did not have any problems with the plates not locking to the handle or falling off during use. These dumbbells seemed like they would last for a long time. They come with a two year manufacturer warranty as well.
Using these is simple. With the dumbbells in their base (a tray that keeps the weight plates in place), you just turn the dial to select the weight you want to lift. Then lift the dumbbell out of its base and use as you would any dumbbell. The plates needed to create your chosen weight lock to the handle and the ones not needed remain in the base. When the maximum 52.5 lbs. is selected, all of the plates are attached to the dumbbell. When using these at 5 lbs., none of the plates attach to the handle, they remain in the base.
Do Bowflex’s Claims Have Merit?
First, Bowflex claims that this one set can replace 30 traditional dumbbells. This is true--but only if you had (or were considering) a set of dumbbells this large. A rack with 15 pairs of dumbbells most certainly takes up a lot of space, and the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells truly does take up very little room. It is certainly nice to have the flexibility of weight selection that the SelectTech offers, but in all honesty, I personally wouldn’t need a set of 30 dumbbells, so this product doesn’t actually replace 30 dumbbells.
"Build fat-burning muscle fast"--another Bowflex claim. Sure, it is possible to build muscle fast with the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells. It is also possible to do the same with a set of traditional dumbbells, or by lifting weights at the gym. There is no reason why this particular weight set will yield results any faster than using other types of weights.
Bowflex claims that the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells allow "you rapidly switch from one exercise to the next - less time wasted, more time getting fit!" It is very quick to switch from one exercise to the next, but to change the weight, you must bring the dumbbells to their base, turn the dial, and lift them out of their base. This takes only seconds, but it isn’t any faster than setting a pair of regular dumbbells down and picking up another set. I would say that the time spent switching exercises is pretty much equal.
Overall, the claims made by Bowflex are not untrue, but they do imply that the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells give the user a faster workout with better results, which isn’t really the case.
My goal in working out was to get in a little better shape. I was not overweight, but I most certainly needed to firm up and gain some strength. I have some experience with strength training because years ago, I did occasionally go to a gym. That was about 15 years ago, and I wasn’t exactly a fitness fanatic, so for all intents and purposes, I was close to a beginner level when starting my SelectTech workout in terms of my level of fitness and level of experience with weight training.
When I first used the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells, I turned the dial to select 10 pounds and lifted the weight from its base. Couldn’t be easier! I found that the handle was comfortable to hold, but the dumbbells seemed sort of bulky. When I say bulky, I mean that when these weights are set at 10 pounds, for example, they are somewhat larger in size than a traditional 10 pound dumbbell. I felt that when doing exercises such as triceps kick backs, the plates at both ends of the handle would sometimes bump against my body. Once I used the SelectTechs for a few workouts, I no longer had a problem with this, so I must have just got used to their size and shape. For most exercises, the shape and "bulk" of these is not an issue anyway.
I was able to get a really good workout using these dumbbells. I used them for the following basic exercises: chest presses, biceps curls, triceps kickbacks & extensions, shoulder presses, flys, lateral raises, lunges, squats, calf raises, and dead lifts. There are many more exercises included in the instruction manual, some that I liked, and some that I didn’t care for so much. To me, some exercises like ab crunches felt awkward using these weights. The weights were too bulky for me. Overall, though, I was able to use the SelectTechs for a full total-body workout. I only used these once or twice per week. After 6 or 8 weeks I felt stronger and was able to increase the amount of weight I was lifting. Since I don't workout as often as I should, noticeable changes are just starting to take effect now, after working out at the gym an additional 2 months. My husband has seen much more drastic results. He has lost weight (due to cardiovascular exercise as well) and gained muscle. His entire body has much more muscle definition. He noticed results not long after beginning his weight training and continually increased the amount of weight he lifted until he outgrew this set of dumbbells after only seven or eight months.
My favorite feature that the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells have to offer is their space-saving design. That is truly the main reason that we purchased them in the first place. The Sellectechs take up roughly as much space as two 60 lb. dumbells. We didn’t have space for a home gym, so we used a corner of our basement family room as a workout area. We had a treadmill, a basic weight bench, and the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells. These items could be put away to only occupy a few square feet, which was perfect for a dual purpose room like ours. They measure 17” x 8” each so they are great for small spaces.
I have to admit that I really liked using the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells once I got used to them. It wasn’t worth keeping them just for my occasional use, however, because I really could get away with a simple set of 5 and 10 lb. dumbbells. Plus now both my husband and I have access to the full assortment of weights at the gym.
Because of the success my husband had using these weights, he needed to move on to heavier weights. The SelectTechs come in a larger, more expensive 10 to 90 lb. version as well, which may have been a better option for him. We only had the SelectTech 552 Dumbbells for a short period of time, but they were very useful. We’ve moved on to working out at a gym, but I still recommend the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells, especially for those with limitations on space. Carefully consider if 52.5 lbs. is enough weight for your fitness goals.