The Bowflex 552 Dumbbells is almost twenty years old. They were the first pair of adjustable dumbbells I owned, and at the time, they were the very first selectable dumbbells to boast quick adjustment times. These things replaced 15 sets of fixed-weight bells, saving tons of space, and were half the price of the cheapest rack of fixed-weight dumbbells; they were a no-brainer at the time.
The rapid advance over a few years and the choice of adjustable dumbbells are enormous. And one of the best sets I have encountered in recent years is the Core Fitness dumbbell. Core Fitness has introduced the twist-lock regulation system. It is a system that can be adjusted with a wrist stroke. It’s super quick, it takes a second, and that’s one of the reasons why this dumbbell series has become so popular.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Core Fitness Dumbbells – Bowflex’s Closest Rivals
- 2 Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell
- 3 Bowflex dumbbells
- 4 In short
Core Fitness Dumbbells – Bowflex’s Closest Rivals
Bowflex’s closest rivals are the Core Fitness dumbbells, the Elite Powerblock, and the 55-pound NordicTrack dumbbells. Core Fitness dumbbells are my favorite among all Bowflex competitors, so I wanted to make the comparison and write a Core Fitness Vs. Bowflex Dumbells guide. So, without further ado, let’s see how they match and who comes out in front.
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells arrive in two boxes, each containing 12 pieces that comprise a single dumbbell. This is made up of 10 plates, one handle, and a holding dock.
Setting them up is straightforward, starting with loading the plates into the holding dock from the outside in. Each plate has a raised, angled shape on the outside and the same shape as an indent on the inside, so they can slide together and connect like pieces of a jigsaw.
The order you insert the plates into the holding dock doesn’t matter for the most part, though two smaller plates must be added last and nearest the center as they act as a socket for the handle. After this, the only thing left to do is lower the handle into place.
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells delivered an altogether impressive performance that was let down by a couple of small snags.
The 10 weight options (from 5lb to 50lb, with 5lb gaps between them) provide a wide range for most lifters, particularly those looking to perform bodybuilding or accessory movements. Beginners may favor an adjustable dumbbell with smaller weight increments, like the Bowflex SelectTech 552, as these will allow them to increase the weight they lift more gradually as their strength increases.
The dumbbells proved comfortable to use and easy to wield and the plates felt secure with minimal movement or noise, whatever exercise we were performing. The package as a whole is sturdy, and the compact nature of the product is brilliant for anyone short on space whose at-home fitness routine relies on having access to a variety of free weights.
Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set is a fantastic option for anyone looking to buy their first adjustable dumbbell without breaking the bank. It provides an affordable alternative to more expensive options, while still offering the functionality you would expect from a top model, including 10 weight options (from 5lb to 50lb) and the ability to switch between them with a simple twist of the handle.
- A clever yet simple method of changing weight
- Neat design
- 10 different weight settings from 5lb to 50lb
- Stiff to remove from holding dock
- Larger jumps in weight (5lb)
The Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set is a good fit for beginners looking to take their home training to the next level. More affordable than many adjustable dumbbells on the market, each one boasts 10 weight options (ranging from 5lb to 50lb) but still only takes up the space of a single dumbbell – ideal for a weights-at-home workout. So, with this sterling CV in mind, we decided to add a pair to our at-home exercise set-up and see how they could improve our gym-free fitness routine.
During our tests, we were impressed by the neat, efficient method of changing weight: twist the handle to increase or decrease the load in 5lb jumps. Their compact shape and sporty aesthetic made them a stylish (and space-efficient) addition to our home gym, and the range of weights proved more than enough for most bodybuilding movements – from walking lunges to bicep curls to bench presses. These factors combined made them a contender for the title of the best adjustable dumbbell.
Long handles are not easy to lift
Many selectable dumbbell sets, including the Bowflex 552s, use a fixed-length handle. The problem with fixed-length handles is no matter how much weight you’re lifting, whether it’s 5lb or 50lb, the length of the handle stays the same. Long handles can be awkward to lift with, especially when curling, and they don’t have that natural feel about them.
I have used and reviewed many adjustable dumbbell sets with fixed-length handles, and I would not say that they are a bargain killer because you can adapt to them over time. However, they feel weird at first, and preparing for some exercises with Bowflex dumbbells is a headache. Using a 17 grip when you’re only curling 20 pounds is not good.
More compact Core Fitness Dumbbell Natural to Lift With
The Core Fitness Dumbbells are more compact, and this is something I love about this set of bells. The handle of the Core Fitness dumbbells only increases in length when more weight is added. This makes for a much more compact dumbbell. They feel natural to lift with and much closer to the feel of a fixed-weight dumbbell which is what we want.
In addition, I prefer the Core Fitness dumbbell when configuring the machines because the ends of the dumbbells are flat. The Bowflex dumbbells have a dial at the end, so when you’re preparing presses; the dials dig into your thighs which is not good.
What are the easiest fit systems to operate?
The Core Fitness Dumbbells use a twist-lock adjustment system, and the Bowflex 552 uses a weight selection dial. Both are easy to use and foolproof. The twist-lock system of the Core dumbbells is faster as all it requires is a twist of your wrist takes a second.
The Bowflex Dumbbells have a dial on either end of the dumbbell. Each dial takes a couple of seconds to change at most. Both sets of dumbbells are easily fast enough to perform any advanced or basic bodybuilding techniques. Even drop sets that require speedy weight changes can be performed with the Bowflex and Core fitness dumbbells.
I prefer the Core Fitness dumbbells’ twist-lock system because it’s so easy to use. You almost feel like you’re lifting with a pair of fixed-weight dumbbells. You can go over to your dumbbells, twist your wrists change the weight and take the dumbbells in a second. It’s an excellent adjustment system and the most impressive of any adjustment system I’ve used.
A small increase in weight is one of the keys to progress, regardless of the exercises you perform or what device you use. And ideally, for dumbbells, we want weight increments of 2.5 lbs or 5 lbs at maximum.
This is where Bowflex 552 dumbbells shine as they adjust in 2.5 lb increments until 25 lb and 5 lb after that. The Core Fitness Fitness Dumbbells adjust in 5lb increments.
Bowflex is best for newcomers
The 2.5lb increments of the Bowflex 552 will make them a better choice for beginners and is another reason why this set is so popular. Lower weight increases will help you progress more quickly, especially during isolation exercises. Because Bowflex 552 can be adjusted in 2.5lb increments, they replace 15 sets of dumbbells which are impressive. Core Fitness dumbbells substitute only 10.
Bowflex is the clear winner with regard to weight increases. Always the 5lb increments of the Core Fitness Dumbbell are a huge improvement over many 50lb sets which adjust in 10lb increments. And remember, the Core Fitness Package is $100 less expensive.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells make it easy to mix up your workout routine by combining several sets of weights into a single piece of equipment.
They are especially appealing to people who have limited space or are looking to upgrade their home gym without purchasing an entire rack of dumbbells.
However, the dumbbells are a bit longer and bulkier than traditional dumbbells, which may make it awkward to perform certain movements.
I tried the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells to help you decide whether they’re the right fit for your home gym.
- Replaces 15 pairs of weights to save space
- Easy to adjust using a built-in dial
- Designed with premium grips and molding around the plates to maximize comfort and reduce noise
- Includes free shipping and extensive warranties
- Includes 1-year membership to the JRNY app
- Bulky shape and length may make certain workouts more challenging
- Some reports of issues with the locking mechanism and durability of the dumbbells
- A maximum weight of 52.5 pounds (23.8 kg) might not be enough for some weightlifters
Plastic – How Much is Too Much?
Plastic is something that has infested rapid assemblies to adjust for years. Practically every selectable dumbbell has a small amount of plastic in its design. And unfortunately, Bowflex and Core Fitness packages are more plastic than most others. The Bowflex and Corte Fitness dumbbells have plastic adjustment systems and handle, and they have plastic enclosure surrounding the iron weight plates.
Because drops aren’t covered in the warranty, you’ll need to be careful not to drop either of these dumbbells from height, which means no training to failure and dropping them on that last killer rep.
You need to be most careful of the plastic surrounding the weight plates, as this is usually the first thing to break on sets like this. Once the plastic enclosure is cracked or chipped, the dumbbells become unserviceable.
Plastic is not a deal killer; just remember to be careful. Both Bowflex and Core Fitness dumbbells will survive drops of 6″ or so, but I wouldn’t risk anything higher. There are selectable dumbbells out there with all-metal designs like the super hard AD-50 Snode and use the twist-lock system, except they cost almost $600!
Is there something else to mention?
One last thing to mention is that both the Bowflex and Core Fitness dumbbells come with their own storage cradles. These are also used to change weight. These are also used to change weight.
Many people had problems fitting their dumbbells because they did not push the dumbbell completely into the board before trying to change weight. Always make sure to sit the dumbbell fully in the storage tray before changing weight. Make sure the dumbbell handle is pushed down into the tray for rapid and gentle weight changes.
Bowflex 552 dumbbells have always been awesome. These guys have introduced super rapid weight changes and a set of dumbbells that can replace a ton of fixed-weight dumbbells. They were a great kit when they got out, and they’re still almost 20 years later.
I still think the Bowflex 552 is an excellent choice for beginners because of the small weight increases, the build quality, and the ease of use. There’s no major negative on this.