At the time of this writing we are slowly coming out of the QVID-19 quarantine. The gyms are still closed and many of us are finding ways to workout at home. Much of the workout equipment for home is largely sold out. It’s almost as if it was like toilet paper. Once everyone realized they weren’t going to be able to go to their local gym or health club, they started hoarding equipment they could train with anywhere.
I am fortunate, I purchased a pair of POWERBLOCK adjustable barbells about 6 years ago. My main
reason for getting them at the time is so when I didn’t have time to go to the gym I could still get in a workout at home. I also bought an inexpensive bench for under $100.
The POWERBLOCK Sport 50 can be purchased with the capability to use from 2.5 to 50 pounds. Extensions can be bought to bring the total weight up to 70, or, 90 pounds.
What are Adjustable Dumbbells?
The ones you see on long rows of racks at your local health club or gym are NOT adjustable. The 50 pound dumbbell will be 50 pounds every day. So, to have a complete variety of dumbbell weights, from 5 pounds to 120 pounds, a lot of room is needed. And, all those dumbbells combined cost many thousands of dollars.
For most homes, there isn’t nearly enough available space for all those things. Adjustable dumbbells take up about the same amount of space as those at the gym.
Adjustable dumbbells are just that, you can adjust the weight so that, the same bar, or grip, can be used for low weight or considerably more weight. The user can just make the ‘adjustments’.
One of the advantages is that the adjustable dumbbells can be kept in a relatively small space compared to what is required in a gym. And, you’ll still be able to use a wide variety of weight.
Two Main Types of Adjustable Dumbbells
FIRST: One type has a dumbbell bar, weight plates and collars to keep the plates firmly in place. If the
weight of the dumbbell is 20 pounds and the user wants to put another 10 pounds on, (5 pounds on each side), he or she would have to remove the collars from both sides of the dumbbell, add 5 pounds to each
side, then fasten the collars back on. If the user is using 2 dumbbells, one for each hand, that’s 4 changes of plates and collars.
SECOND: The other type has built dumbbells where the weight adjustments can be made without collars that need to be tightened on and off every time there is a weight change. And, plates do not have to be lifted back on or off to each side of the bar.
I prefer the second type with the easy adjustment.
- It’s quicker to make the weight adjustment.
- It’s easier. There are no plates and collars to mess with.
- It takes up less space. It is essentially one integrated unit.
Comparing Bowflex 552 and POWERBLOCK Sport 50 Adjustable Dumbbells
After doing my research, I saw Bowflex and POWERBLOCK to be the two top brands. I went to retailers to learn more and try out each brand. Let me start by saying I think both of these brands are high quality, super well-designed equipment for home workout. I believe Bowflex is more well-known because of years of infomercials.
I’m reviewing the Bowflex that has 52.5 pounds vs. the POWERBLOCK that has 50 pounds. Since most of my audience are men over 60 years of age, the majority will likely not be interested in heavier weights, although they are available. Following are pros and cons for both brands:
Bowflex Pros for this 68 year old guy:
- They are shaped more like traditional dumbbells. As such one can do behind the neck presses for triceps work. I have found those to be very effective muscle-building exercises.
- Making the weight-change adjustment is quicker with the Bowflex. It’s just the turn of a dial.
- Weights can be adjusted easily in 2.5 pound increments.
- I like the way they look better. But, in making the decision, that was not a big deal for me
- At $329, the Bowflex 552 was $20 cheaper than the POWERBLOCK Pro with 50 pounds. With the 552 you can use weight from 5 pounds to 52.5 pounds.
Bowflex Cons from a 60+ perspective:
- There was a lot of plastic and it felt cheaper and less sturdy.
- There was a 2-year warranty vs. a five-year warranty with the POWERBLOCK, That further reinforced my concern about how well-build the Bowflex was.
- Can’t add weights beyond 52.5 pounds
POWERBLOCK Pros for this old boy:
- More compact, using less space.
- Built sturdier with metal and not plastic.
- 5 year warranty
- Expandable from 50 to 70 or to 90 pounds as strength increases.
- Closed cage handle to help reduce the chances of a wrist injury
- Magnetic selector pin to adjust how much weight
- Can expand up to 125 pounds per dumbbell
- It is primarily set to be changed in 10 pound increments. It can be changed in 2.5 or 5 pound increments but it does not do it with the efficiency of the Bowflex.
- Could be uncomfortable for people with very large hands
- The weights make some noise when being used due to the looser tolerances to accommodate the adjustment style
- At $349 for the POWERBLOCK 50 is $20 more than the Bowflex 552
Why the heck do I want to be lifting weights after 60?
There are many reasons for us older guys to be doing resistance training after 60 and beyond. A healthier, more energetic and vibrant quality of life is for starters. Resistance training for building muscle also builds bone. That’s right! Resistance training actually helps improve bone density. At our age that’s a big deal. How embarrassing would it be if you fall down and break a hip in the middle of the night when you’re up for your third visit to the bathroom?
Muscle increases your metabolism which means you burn more fat, even when you’re sitting on the couch watching sports history shows.
For much more information and research references see my article, “Building Muscle After 60.”
The POWERBLOCK dumbbells I bought have gotten many hours of use over the last 6 years. They have been my primary workout equipment for home. As I said earlier, I see both POWERBLOCK and. Bowflex as high quality dumbbells. You really can’t go wrong with either. My preferences were for the reasons I stated above.
I hope you found this product review helpful. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the Comments section below. I will be more than happy to respond to any questions you may have.