Traditional dumbbells are a staple in all commercial gyms across the globe. They are used by almost all gym-goers and you’ll find these dumbbells come in various weights and sizes. You probably see racks on racks of these dumbbells in your local gym and wonder if there is space for those in your home gym.
Adjustable dumbbells are space-saving and you can use just one pair of dumbbells for your lifting needs. For adjustable dumbbells, two pairs come to mind: the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight and the Bowflex SelectTech 552.
Both pairs of adjustable dumbbells are great but, we recommend the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight set as it is more compact and the handles adjust as you change the weight. This makes them feel more like traditional dumbbells. The set has a cheaper price tag too, so if you are on a budget, the NordicTrack is a great choice.
We’ve compared the NordicTrack and Bowflex adjustable dumbbells in great detail so you can see for yourself which is the best adjustable dumbbells are suited for you. In this article, we will be talking about both the dumbbells’ features, design, and other factors to give you all the information that you need before purchasing one or the other.
What Are Adjustable Dumbbells?
Dumbbells are free-weight pieces of equipment that are commonly seen in commercial gyms and they come in various sizes and weight values. Traditional dumbbells have a fixed weight ranging from 2 lbs to 110 lbs (1kg to 50kg) while some dumbbells have adjustable plates.
As the name implies, adjustable dumbbells are dumbbells where you can adjust the weight value either via a lever, dial, or pin. Adjustable dumbbells have an adjustment system for users to easily increase or decrease the weight of the dumbbell. With traditional dumbbells, you’d have to buy several dumbbells in different weights if you want to lift a lighter or heavier load.
Adjustable dumbbells are usually seen in home gyms are they are very compact and do not take up space as regular dumbbells do. With removable dumbbells, you can just easily adjust the weight selector to your desired weight without having to buy new sets of dumbbells.
With the convenience of adjustable dumbbells, you will find that they can be more expensive than a traditional dumbbell. But, it can be more cost-effective than buying several pairs of dumbbells with different weights.
There are many adjustable dumbbells in the market but, let’s take a deeper look at two different adjustable dumbbells and see which is better: the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight or the Bowflex SelectTech 552.
NordicTrack Select-A-Weight vs Bowflex SelectTech 552
Both the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight and the Bowflex SelectTech 552 have their pros and cons. They are very similar in their purpose but their features and design are different.
Let’s take a deeper comparison regarding both pairs’ features, design, and quality.
Weight Selection And Increments
Selecting the weights of the dumbbells is the most important factor whether you are working out at a commercial gym or at home. Your weight selection should align with your fitness goals and your current strength level. If you are a beginner, starting with a lower weight is better until you have gained enough strength to lift heavier weights. Advanced lifters may opt to go for heavier weights or a lighter load if coming back from an injury.
The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight comes in 15-in-1 weights ranging from 10 lbs. to 55 lbs. (4.5 kg. to 25 kg.). This complete set of adjustable plates has 5 plates on both sides of the dumbbells and has 15 incremental weight adjustments. You can adjust the weight by a mix of 2.5 and 5 lbs.: 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 32.5, 35, 40, 42.5, 45, 50, 52.5, and 55 lbs.
The Bowflex SelectTech552 also has a 15-in-1 weight but with a lower starting weight than the NordicTrack. These adjustable dumbbells also have 5 plates on both ends and have weights ranging from 5 lbs. to 52.5 lbs (2 kg. to 24 kg.) The incremental weight increases by 2.5 lbs until it gets to 25 lbs. From 25 lbs onwards, the incremental adjustment of the Bowflex SelectTech 552 goes up by 5 lbs. until it reaches the maximum weight: 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 52.5 lbs.
For weight training, smaller increments are better so the body can adapt and respond safely to the demands of the weight increase in the dumbbells. If you prefer to adjust your weights in smaller increments, Bowflex SelectTech 552 is the way to go.
For adjustable dumbbells, adjusting the weight of the equipment should have a simple and easy adjustment system. Aside from using the dumbbells, the adjustment mechanism will be used a lot so it should not be a hindrance in your fitness journey. Changing the weights should be easy in between reps and should be a breeze with adjustable dumbbells.
Both the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight and the Bowflex SelectTech 552 have an effective but simple adjustment system. Both pairs of dumbbells also have different adjustment mechanisms.
The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight has a smooth weight selection system where you can slide a slider on the top of the plates to adjust the weight value according to your preferred weight.
To compare, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 has a dial on both ends of the dumbbells and with just a twist of the dials, you can select your preferred weight. The different weight values are seen on the dial so it will be easier to select and know which weight the dumbbells are on. With the NordicTrack, the weight values are indicated at the side of the dumbbell’s storage tray.
Depending on your weight mechanism preference, you might find a dial easier to use than a slider or vice versa. Both the NordicTrack and the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells need to be adjusted on both ends of the dumbbells so make sure not to adjust all dials or sliders.
Size And Design
Adjustable dumbbells are compact and save so much space, especially for home gym owners.
The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight and Bowflex SelectTech 552 are both space-saving and compact dumbbells that are perfect even if you do not have a dedicated space for a home gym. Both dumbbells have five plates on each side and both have storage trays for easy upkeep.
One thing about the design of the Bowflex 552 is that the adjustment dial is attached to both ends of the dumbbells. Since the dial is attached, you will be lifting the whole length of the dumbbell even if you choose the lightest load. The handle does not adjust as you change the weight value so it can feel a little clunky,
With the NordicTrack dumbbells, the length of the dumbbell will depend on the weight value that you will choose. If you choose the lightest weight setting, the dumbbell will be shorter in length than if you would choose the heaviest weight setting.
Both dumbbells have a good size and design for your home gym but, if you do not like the feel of a fixed-length dumbbell, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight might be the best option for you.
For adjustable handles, fixed handles may not be the most ideal when you change their weight value.
Since the Bowflex dial is attached on both ends of the dumbbells, the handles are fixed no matter the weight’s value. This can make lifting the dumbbells feel a little awkward. For the NordicTrack, the length of the dumbbell adjusts as you change the dumbbell’s weight, which can feel more like traditional dumbbells.
For the handles, the NordicTrack has handles that are lightly knurled which can provide more grip and structure when you are lifting. The Bowflex 552 on the other hand has rubberized handles with no knurling.
Materials And Quality
The dumbbell’s material is important as it can make or break your fitness equipment. Having dumbbells with good materials will prevent them from breaking quickly, especially when they fall to the ground. Most adjustable dumbbells can also take so much wear and tear before they are unable to be used because of the material cracking or breaking.
The Bowflex 552 uses steel, nylon, ABS, and thermoplastic rubber in its dumbbells. The NordicTrack dumbbells are made with a combination of heavy-duty steel and hardened plastic.
Both dumbbells are sturdy and durable but Bowflex has more plastic casings than the NordicTrack dumbbells, which is not ideal if you drop your dumbbells a lot as the rubber might crack.
Weight Expansion Packs
Both the NordicTrack and Bowflex dumbbells’ heaviest weight is over 50 lbs and it can definitely take a lot of time and strength training to get past the 50-pound mark.
Weight expansion packs are added weights you can buy separately to add to the maximum weight of the adjustable dumbbells.
Both the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight nor the Bowflex SelectTech 552 do not offer weight expansion packs. So, if you have already reached the maximum weight of either pair of dumbbells and want to increase more weight, you will have to get a separate set of heavier dumbbells.
Storage And Portability
Both the NordicTrack and the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells include a storage tray for the pair of dumbbells. The storage trays for the Bowflex and NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells keep the dumbbells off of the floor, preventing the plates from becoming damaged or rolling off.
Since the design for both adjustable dumbbells is very compact, it is easy to store even if you have a smaller space for your home gym. Having a compact design also means that you can take these dumbbells and work out anytime anywhere. If you do take these dumbbells in other places, make sure to take everything, including the storage tray. It might be tempting to bring just the weight value you prefer but, the dumbbells might be damaged if you travel with them without bringing the storage tray.
Also, keep in mind to adjust the dumbbells’ weight while they are on the storage tray.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is compatible with a variety of exercises such as overhead presses, squats, and biceps curls. Bowflex also has a fitness app called JRNY® app where you can choose from on-demand trainer-led workouts that have different whole-body exercises that you can do with the Bowflex dumbbells. These workouts include Pilates and Yoga. The app also has a curated music station for you to listen to your preferred music while you follow along with the on-demand classes.
The main feature of this app is motion tracking, where the app can provide real-time feedback as you do your exercises. This motion tracking feature can also count how many reps you have completed and can also recommend you increase or decrease the weight.
Bowflex offers a 1-year free trial for new members which will auto-renew unless you cancel the membership. Do note that the JRNY® app only works with compatible phones and tablets. This app can be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play.
Like the Bowflex, NordicTrack Select-A-Weight is also compatible with different strength training exercises.
If you purchase the NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells, you can opt to avail of the iFit membership where you can do interactive training from your device. iFit offers a 30-day trial if you want to see if it is something you wish to add on as part of your fitness journey.
iFit has an immense workout library and world-class trainers if you are just starting out and want to do workouts right in your home. The iFit app can also recommend daily workouts and other membership perks.
Value For Money
Adjustable dumbbells are more expensive than traditional dumbbells but, if you are looking to save money, adjustable dumbbells may be more cost-effective. These adjustable dumbbell sets come with multiple plates and various weight values.
While these two adjustable dumbbells cost a lot, they can give you great value for money as they already come in a set, and with a compact design, you do not have to worry about finding space to store multiple dumbbells in your home gym. Traditional dumbbells can also cost a lot, especially heavy ones.
The downside for the NordicTrack and Bowflex dumbbells is that they do not offer weight expansion packs. If you have reached over 50 lbs and want to get heavier dumbbells, you will have to invest in another set of heavier equipment.
But, if you are just starting to increase your strength, these adjustable dumbbells are great value for your money.
NordicTrack is less expensive than the Bowflex so if you are on a tight budget, the NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells are a great option for you.
As something as costly as these pieces of equipment is, you expect that there is a product warranty included if you purchase them.
The NordicTrack Select-A-Weight only has a 90-day warranty which might be a deal breaker for some. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 has a 2-year warranty.
If you prefer gym equipment with a longer warranty period, then the Bowflex SelectTech 552 is the greater option of the two.
Pros and Cons of NordicTrack and Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbell
Now that we’ve compared both the NordicTrack and Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, let’s have a summary of the pros and cons of both pairs of adjustable dumbbells.
Pros and Cons of NordicTrack Adjustable Dumbbells
NordicTrack Select-A-Weight plates weigh from 10 lbs. to 55 lbs. which is great for people who like to lift heavier weights. These dumbbells have 15 incremental weight adjustments so you have a lot of options to choose from. The handles also adjust as you decrease or increase the weight of the dumbbells so it can still feel as if you are lifting traditional dumbbells.
On the downside, the NordicTrack dumbbells have bigger incremental weight adjustments. These dumbbells have a mix of 2.5 lbs. and 5-pound increments: 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 32.5, 35, 40, 42.5, 45, 50, 52.5, and 55 Lb. weight increments. This may be a deal breaker for people who want to adjust their weights in smaller amounts.
The NordicTrack Dumbbells also start out at 10 lbs. which can be heavy for those who are just starting out.
In terms of warranty, NordicTrack’s warranty can also be a huge deal breaker for some home gym owners as the manufacturer only offers a 90-day warranty which is not a long time. Most gym equipment manufacturers have at least 1 to 2 years of warranty for their fitness equipment.
NordicTrack’s adjustment system may be a pro for some and a con for others. The slider on top of the dumbbells allows you to change the weight easily but some may find a dial easier to adjust.
Pros and Cons of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells
Unlike the slider adjustment of the NordicTrack adjustable dumbbells, the Bowflex dumbbells have a dial on both ends to adjust the weight of the plates. The weight values are indicated on the dial itself so it is easier to adjust the weight according to your preference.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 has a weight range of 5 lbs to 52.5 lbs. and like the NordicTrack, the Bowflex dumbbells also have 15 incremental weight adjustments. The Bowflex dumbbells do have smaller increments than the NordicTrack. Bowflex has an increment of 2.5 lbs. from the lightest weight until it reaches 25 lbs. and the increment increases to 5 lbs. until it reaches the maximum threshold which is 52.5 lbs.
The Bowflex Selecttech 552 incremental weight adjustments are 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 52.5 lbs.
Smaller increments are great to let the body adapt and respond safely to the weight changes on the plate. This is also good for people who are building strength as smaller increments let you build strength slowly but surely over time. These dumbbells also have a lower starting weight of 5 lbs. so it is a great option for those just starting out.
The downside is, the handle does not adjust as you change the weight’s value which can be a little awkward when in use. This is because the dial is attached at the ends of the dumbbells and cannot be removed. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is around 17″ long and even if you choose the lightest weight option, you will still be lifting all of the 17″ long dumbbells.
If you do not mind this disadvantage, you’d be happy to know that Bowflex offers a 2-year warranty for the SelectTech 552 so you will have that peace of mind when working out.
Home workouts have become more popular since a lot of people want to get on top of their fitness journey aside from going to the gym. There are many pieces of gym equipment suited for a home gym but let’s admit that some of these pieces of equipment are too big or bulky for some spaces.
The NordicTrack and Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are space-saving and compact and can replace racks on racks of traditional dumbbells.
Our choice when comparing these two brands is NordicTrack Select-A-Weight. It’s perfect for people setting up a home gym. Plus, it out-prices and outperforms the competition.
We have reviewed two of the known adjustable dumbbells in detail and we hope this article helped you in making an informed decision on buying adjustable dumbbells.