Live Science Verdict
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are an incredible addition to any home gym, providing the equivalent of 15 pairs of free weights (ranging from 5lb-52.5lb) while taking up the same floorspace as a shoebox. When taking them through a series of workouts, we found they were sturdy, secure and comfortable to use, while allowing us to change weight in the blink of an eye.
Quick, smooth weight changes
15 weights in one compact package
Secure and silent in use
Plastic finish feels cheaper than metal alternatives
Plates can feel awkward to hold in goblet position
Why you can trust Live Science Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best ones for you. Find out more about how we test.
Buy the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbell and you can say goodbye to cluttered workout spaces. This nifty customer crams 15 pairs of free weights into one compact package measuring just 15.8in by 8in when fully loaded. So, you can enjoy all the training benefits of a dumbbell rack without sacrificing a significant section of your spare room or home gym.
The space-saving dumbbells come in a holding dock and feature dials on either end that, when turned to your weight of choice, automatically attach the relevant plates. Lift the dumbbell out of the holding dock and it will have your chosen load attached, ready for you to start lifting without having to fiddle around with plates and spinlock collars.
Weight range: 5-52.5lb (2kg-24kg)
Dimensions/size: 15.8in by 8in (40.1cm x 20.3cm)
Warranty: Two years
Price: $429 for a pair or £249 for one (sold differently in the UK and US)
When things sound too good to be true, they often are. To make sure this wasn’t the case, we put the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells through a weights at home workout. And, by the end of the session, our muscles were fatigued and our mind was made up: this is a quality product that can certainly be counted among the best adjustable dumbbells.
The plates felt secure and didn’t rattle during lifts, while changing the weight proved to be an idiot-proof endeavour. Re-racking and removing the weights from the holding dock was smooth sailing – a common problem area uncovered during our adjustable dumbbell tests – and the ability to increase the weight in fractional 2lb-4.5lb increments is perfect for resistance training newcomers looking to make steady strength gains.
If you’re looking to perfect your home weights training with a piece of kit that takes up next-to-no space but can transform your gym-free fitness routine, look no further.
Price and release date
In the US, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are available as a pair for $429 from the Bowflex website. UK buyers can find the dumbbells sold separately on Amazon, retailing at £249.
Set up and ease of use
- No set-up needed
- They arrive as a complete unit
- Weight-changing dial is straightforward to use
If DIY isn’t your strong suit, never fear; the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells arrive as the finished article. All plates come pre-loaded and attached to the central handle, with the complete set sitting in the holding dock. Taking this out the box is the extent of the set-up.
The Bowflex weights are easy to use, too. Dials on either end of each dumbbell are labelled with the 15 weight options – we tested the UK version, so these were 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 23 and 24kg.
With the dumbbell in the holding dock, you can change the weight by twisting the dials to the load you need for your next exercise. Lift it out of the dock and the necessary plates will be attached to the central handle, while any that are surplus to requirements will remain in the dock.
The weights are in numerical order, with the only possible pitfall being users’ ability to unevenly load a dumbbell with different weights on either end. But if you’re diligent while changing the weight this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Robust feel
- Very compact
- Plastic finish looked cheap
The Bowflex SelectTech 552s are a neat bit of kit, with their clever, compact design offering the widest selection of different weights (15) of any adjustable dumbbell we tested. This makes the fact they measure just 15.8in by 8in all the more impressive.
They also benefit from subtle design features that boost functionality and set them apart from many competitors. For example, small handles built into either end of the holding docks mean you can easily lift them with the dumbbells in rather than having to move the weights and trays separately, as is the case with the JaxJox DumbbellConnect. The dials increase in numerical order, too, unlike the AtivaFit Adjustable Dumbbells we tried. So, if you’re completing a dropset where you want to quickly decrease the weight to the next nearest increment, you only have to alter the dials by a single notch.
While we were impressed by the Bowflex SelectTech 552's performance and ease of use during our tests, we admit they aren’t much to look at. The plastic finish on the plates and the chunky rubber handle give it a cheaper feel than its metal competitors
However, these design choices fill practical purposes. The plastic plates are quieter than rattling metal ones, and the rubber handles feel comfortable while offering excellent grip.
Features and functionality
- 15 weight options from 5lb-52.5lb
- Dividers between plates make sure they stay in position
- Straight edge stops round plates from rolling away
The devil is in the detail with the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells. Yes, they do the basics impeccably, providing 15 weight options from 5lb-52.5lb by way of 10 changeable weight plates on each dumbbell. But, it's the little things that separate them from the rest of the field.
Handles in the base of the holding docks make them easy to move, having the dials increase in numerical order enhances the ease of use, and the addition of small, textured Bowflex logos to the rubber handle improved our grip during sweatier sessions.
We liked the plastic dividers on either end of the central handles, too. These are designed to sit between each plate, ensuring they don’t move while you’re using the dumbbell and, as a result, the weights can be loaded seamlessly into the holding dock every time. This process was made even smoother by the curved edges surrounding the gap in the plates where the central handle sits. Even if we returned the dumbbell to the dock at an angle that was slightly off-center, it would still slide into position.
A straight edge built into the bottom of the plates, so they don’t roll away when you place them down on a flat floor, was also appreciated.
- Efficient, effortless weight-changing
- Handle offers great grip
- Slightly awkward to hold for goblet squats
Finding fault with the Bowflex SelectTech 552's performance is reminiscent of rummaging around for a needle in a haystack. With their variety of weight options, minimal footprint and smooth performance, there’s little not to like.
The dumbbells are robustly made and the plates feel secure when you press the weights overhead. Loading them into, and removing them from, the dock is slick, too (unlike other adjustable dumbbells we tested). Meanwhile, changing the weight between sets took little time and even less effort, the rubber handles provided excellent grip, and the plastic plates made next-to-no noise, whatever exercise we tried.
The inclusion of additional weight increments than other adjustable dumbbells means you get more bang for your buck (the equivalent of 15 fixed-weight dumbbells) and also provides a perfect platform for newcomers to resistance training, allowing them to take advantage of the progressive overload training principle by upping the weight gradually as they grow stronger.
The 5lb-52.5lb weight range is likely to be more than enough for most exercisers taking part in HIIT or resistance training. However, if you’re a seasoned lifter, the brand also makes the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 adjustable dumbbell, with an increased weight range of 10lb-90lb (4kg-41kg).
It was minor gripes that kept the Bowflex SelectTech 552s from the top spot in our pick of the best adjustable dumbbells. The wider circumference of the weight plates, compared with the winning JaxJox DumbbellConnects, made them marginally more cumbersome during exercises like bicep curls, and they aren’t as nice to look at either.
At some lighter weights, where only plates further away from the central handle are attached, it can also be awkward to hold the dumbbells in a goblet squat position - a shame considering (as anyone who has ever asked a personal trainer the question, "What are the benefits of squats?" will only know too well) this is one of the best exercises for building lower body muscle.
However, if your home workout space doesn’t have access to a mains outlet, or you just fancy a lower-tech alternative to the JaxJox digital dumbbells, these should be your first port of call.
Value for money
Retailing at $429 for a pair on the Bowflex website, or a £249 RRP per dumbbell in the UK on Amazon, we think these adjustable dumbbells are great value for money.
The fact you get 15 sets of dumbbells in one is enough to qualify them as a worthwhile investment. A pair of dumbbells can be used for a plethora of exercises and are all you need to get started with strength training at home. They can also provide a worthy alternative to the gym, saving you money each month on a membership cost.
Add to to this price-conscious cocktail the fact that you don’t have to endure the stress of finding a place to store 15 fixed-weight dumbbells and you’ve got yourself a smart purchase.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells are a seriously impressive piece of kit that have everything you need for a fun and varied at-home fitness routine. They have 15 weight variations (from 5lb-52.5lb or 2kg-24kg) that you can switch between in seconds using intuitive dials on either end of each dumbbell, adding a new dimension to your training as you can up the weight as your strength increases. We found them sturdy, ergonomic and devilishly simple to use too, allowing us to get into the meat and drink of our workouts with minimal fuss.
If this isn't for you
If you’re after a high-tech adjustable dumbbell that works brilliantly and looks great, we recommend our top-rated JaxJox DumbbellConnect (shown above). With app connectivity, digital rep counting and weight-changing at the touch of a button, it truly is the free weight of the future.
Alternatively, if you love the idea of multiple weight options in one compact package, but don’t like the look of the Bowflex’s higher price point, try the Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells, or another pair from our pick of the best cheap adjustable dumbbells (you never know, the SelectTech 552 could be on sale).
Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.
When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.
Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.