We can’t all be out out in the woods running and hiking every single day. Some kind of strength and cardio setup at home is nice for those other days.
We recently looked at a Bowflex treadmill as a way to get some kilometres in when you’re stuck inside in the winter, too busy or coming back from an injury.
Cardio is great and required for most sports but it’s not the whole meal deal. Training for anything will see more benefits when there’s strength training in the mix too. For that we need weights. But they can be expensive. And take up a lot of space.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells are adjustable so only take the space of 2 large dumbbells but have all the different weights of 15 sets.
This post is a review of the SelectTech 552 dumbbells.
The 552’s can adjust from 5 to 52.5 pounds. The weights adjust 2.5 pounds up to 25 pounds and then every 5 pounds after that. The small form factor replaces 15 different sets of weights in just 2 dumbbells. The optional rack takes up a bit of space but makes them way more convenient to use.
Let’s get into the review of these dumbbells and see what makes these such a good buy for home gyms (and your body).
- 2.5 pound increments up to 25 pounds (5 pounds for the rest)
- fast to change
- saves space
- less expensive than buying the weights separately
- Large to hold at lower weights
- Adjustable 5 – 52.5 pounds
- 2.5 pound increments up to 25 pounds
- 5 pound increments up to 50
- 1 year JRNY app included, but not required
- 43 x 21.2 x 22.8 cm (16.9” L x 8.3” W x 9” H)
- Made of steel, nylon, ABS, thermoplastic, and rubber.
- $549 CAD for the weights
- $229 CAD for the rack
Efficient Use of Time and Money
The 552 dumbbells are good bang for your buck. $549 buys you 15 pairs of dumbbells. They take up a lot less room than 15 sets of dumbbells.
I added up getting a set of Amazon Basics Dumbbells, and it would be over $750 CAD for just 8 pairs, from 10 pounds to 45 pounds. Reviews say they stink like rubber for a while too. But that’s only 8 pairs.
The Better Body Dumbbell set is closer with a range of 5 to 50 pounds. S you get 10 pairs of weights and rack. That set is currently $1559 CAD. More expensive.
There’s also the Synergee Fitness Dumbbell set, again with 5 to 50 pound weights. So that’s 10 pairs and rack for $1,999.95 CAD. Way more expensive.
So far, with these weight sets, it’ll be cheaper to get 2 adjustable dumbbells than trying to find a set of 15 different pairs.
There is one downside to only having 2 dumbbells instead of 15 different sets. If you work out with multiple people, you’ll have to share the 552s. I’m usually the only one using them at my house so it’s not a problem and saves a ton of space.
Frame and Build
The bars and plates themselves feel solid. I’ve been using them for a few months now with no issues. The hand part of the handle is rubberized which makes it easier to hold.
The plate holders on each end are very thick plastic. They slide into the weights easily. My only concern would be dropping the weights might break these plastic ends that hold the weights. I don’t drop mine but I can’t say I’ve been careful with them and it’s been fine.
Whether the weights are full at 52.5 pounds or just have 5 pounds on them, they feel balanced and good to hold. At 5, 7.5 and 10 pounds there aren’t many plates on the handles so they’re bigger than a regular dumbbell.
I don’t find the longer handle an issue with any workouts. Larger weights will be larger and longer anyways.
The best part of the 552 dumbbells is changing weights. It’s easy and feels good to click through the weight ranges. The click is very satisfying. A large dial on each end spins to select the weight you want. Each end has a dial for that side of the handle.
At the lighter end of the weight the increment of the dial is 2.5 pounds. So the difference between weights from 5 to 25 pounds is 2.5 pounds. After 25 pounds the increment is 5 pounds. The one last increment is 2.5 from 50 up to 52.5.
One small item that I’d prefer to see changed, is the dials moving in the same direction on either end. In my brain 1 moving clockwise and the other moving counter-clockwise would make them spin both towards me or both away and easier to set weight. It doesn’t take long to get used to them both spinning the same direction.
Most of the time I’ve been using the dumbbells with the same weight on either end but you don’t have to. Bowflex calls it Offset Weight Selection when you pick different weights for each end. One end could be set at 20 pounds, the other 30. This means you have 25 pounds on the handle. They balance differently when you do this which is good for some exercises.
JNRY and SelectTech Apps
JRNY have 2 apps right now on iOS with weight workouts: SelectTech and JRNY.
The SelectTech app was a specific app just for the 3 adjustable weights they have. It had a list of 6 45 minute workouts, each with 5 or 6 exercises in it, mostly using the adjustable weights. It’s free until it’s retired.
Bowflex will be retiring the SelectTech app some time in 2022. All of the workouts have been moved to JRNY along with many other workouts and exercises.
JRNY is the main app from Bowflex for all machines and weights going forward. The Video section for Whole Body is free. If you want to track workouts on their JRNY treadmills and bikes as well, it costs $29/month.
In the JRNY app, there a Just for you and Videos section that work with the weights. Just for your recommends length and types of videos that you might like once it learns what you do.
The Videos section is a huge, filterable, list of different length and type of workouts. It’s got yoga, HIIT, cardio, strength, pilates, mobile and stretching videos anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes long.
There are hundreds of videos in the app already. When filtered to just strength videos 341 show up at the moment.
For more details and screenshots, see our full review on the JRNY app.
Fitness trainer Tom Holland works with Bowflex and has put out his own book The Micro-Workout Plan. The point of the book and the workouts is that you can do workouts in 5 minutes or less and still get results over time. Some of the workouts use the adjustable 560 weights (since discontinued and replaced with the 552s).
I’ve been doing these workouts over the last few months. They’re so easy and quick to get a workout in before work, at lunch or right when I get home. It’s far easier to get a workout in when they’re 5 minutes instead of an hour.
I like the combination of short micro-workouts and small 552 weights fitting anywhere in the house and the day.
SelectTech Dumbbell Stand
The SelectTech weights come with their own cradles. They hold all the plates when you have all the handles out. The cradles can easily sit on the floor but it’s nicer to have a rack.
The SelectTech Dumbell Stand holds the weights up off the ground so they’re easier to grab.
For looks, I had hoped the 552s bolted onto the rack but only the 560 weights do. Straps keep the cradles attached to the rack.
A small media stand on the back holds tablets nicely. It’s not that had to set up the tablet elsewhere but if you work out in front of the rack then it’s an easy spot to put your phone or tablet.
The rack was easy to put together and took less than an hour (dealing with many interruptions). The Bowflex manuals are very easy to read and use. I’ve used their manuals to put together the Bowflex Treadmill 22 and it was easy to follow.
The rack does make the whole setup larger. It’s 63.5 x 67 x 68.3 cm (25″ H x 26.4″ W x 26.9″ L) so it makes the tiny weights much larger. I prefer having it around so it’s easier to use the weights. When it’s easier to use the weights, I’ll work out more.
The SelectTech 552 dumbbells are a great buy if you are looking for 15 different sets of weights that won’t take up much space. They are cheaper than buying all the different weights and only take up the space of 2 large dumbbells.
If you have space, the rack makes grabbing the weights and watching your workout videos a little more convenient.
Pair up the 552s with the some micro-workouts and you have fast, compact workout solution for the off-season or coming back from injuries.
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Get in the Comments
Do you use dumbbells at home? Have you used adjustable dumbbells? Would you try them?