PowerBlock Dumbbells Review: Pros & Cons

Read my PowerBlock dumbbells review to see if the PowerBlock dumbbells are the right adjustable dumbbells for you.

I'll explain the pros and cons of this dumbbell system, so that you can weigh them and judge how well this system meets your needs.

Although the PowerBlocks come in many different models, they all share core commonalities as an adjustable dumbbell system.

And so I will, at least for the most part, lump them together and talk about them as a whole. Though, when applicable, I will point out important differences between specific models...

...If you would like to learn in-depth about the differences between the various PowerBlock series and models, I urge you to read my full guide on PowerBlock Dumbbells.

Before I begin, I'll post a short video clip that shows the very basics of the PowerBlock system, for those not yet acquainted with the concept:

Pros & Cons of the PowerBlock Dumbbells

At several points within the list of pros and cons below, I'll compare the PowerBlock dumbbells to the Ironmaster Quick-Lock dumbbells...

...The Ironmaster dumbbells, which I own, are unquestionably the only formidable competitor of the PowerBlocks. As such, it's necessary to point out some major differences between the two systems.

Keep in mind, too, that while I do own the Ironmasters, I don't actually own the PowerBlock dumbbells.

I considered and thoroughly researched both of these systems. But I ultimately decided that, at least in my case, the Ironmasters provided more value. However, your decision may very well be different.

Now, without further ado, I'll get to the good part of my PowerBlock dumbbells review! The pros and cons are as follows:


  • Rapid Adjustment. If fast weight adjustment is a top priority for you, then the PowerBlock dumbbells are your best option. It takes no more than 2 to 5 seconds to change the weights of the dumbbells. Rapid adjustment is an essential feature for you if you plan on doing a lot of supersetting or some type of cross training (or if you're just really impatient). This, in my opinion, is the greatest benefit these dumbbells have over the Ironmaster set.
  • Self-Contained Storage. The PowerBlocks utilize a self-containing storage mechanism, where the dumbbell handle and weights conveniently and compactly "nest" within eachother. This reduces the space required to store the dumbbells to that of their own small footprint. There's no need for extra space to store individual weight plates. That said, it's still desirable to have a dumbbell stand to safely and efficiently rack the dumbbells between sets, and to store them when not in use.
  • Heaviest Models Are Expandable to 125, 130 & 175 lbs! There are several PowerBlock dumbbell models from which to choose. The different models have varying weight capacities. The light and moderate capacity sets have maximum weight capacities between 20 and 65 pounds. The heavier dumbbell sets are expandable to 125, 130 and 175, respectively. Since this is a site focused on building muscle and strength through heavy weight training, it should come as no surpise that I strongly recommend buying one of the high weight capacity models (i.e. the "Elite", "Sport 9.0", "U-90" or "Heavy Weight" sets). You'll want one of these even if you can't lift such heavy weight yet, since you'll become stronger soon enough. You can opt to buy one of the base sets now, and purchase the add-on kits once you can handle heavier weights.
  • Very Compact Size. All PowerBlock dumbbell models – from the lightest model (the "U-20") to the heaviest (the "Heavy Weight 125 lb" w/50 lb add-on) – are the most compact dumbbells on the market. This includes both adjustable and traditional fixed dumbbells. The compact size is helpful, in particular for using the optimal path of movement for bicep curls (i.e. no maneuvering the dumbbells around your hips). And in general, the smaller size makes the weights easier to control during heavy exercises.
  • Sturdy Construction. These things last people through years and years of consistent use without breaking or needing repair. That's why you'll see used PowerBlocks being sold on Craigslist that are several years old but still in very good condition (with the expected superficial scratches or bumps from use, of course). Some folks have dropped them multiple times without incident and wouldn't worry if it were to happen again. That said, dropping the dumbbells is definitely not advised, since they contain parts that could break, crack or warp, more easily than the Ironmasters or traditional dumbbells.
  • 10 Year, 15 Year & Lifetime Limited Warranties. PowerBlock, Inc. offers some pretty good limited warranties for their dumbbells. The terms and conditions, and the length of these warranties vary based on the series and model. The Classic series all have 10 year warranties, the Sport Series have 15 year warranties and the Urethane Series have lifetime warranties. I won't get into the detail of the terms and conditions of each warranty type, but I will note that the warranties are voided if the dumbbells are dropped from 6 inches or higher, for all models except the Sport 9.0 and the Urethane Series models. The warranties are voided for the Sport 9.0 and the Urethane Series models if they're dropped from 12 inches or higher.
  • Accompanying Accessories. There are a several accessories available for the PowerBlock dumbbells. One accessory is the kettlebell handle, which allows you to transform the weights into a kettlebell. Unfortunately, this only works with the Urethane series, but PowerBlock, Inc. does make a dedicated adjustable kettlebell system: the "KettleBlock." Other PowerBlock accessories include the array of stands for the various PowerBlock dumbbell models. Additionally, there are three benches available: a full sized flat/incline bench (with optional dip station, chin-up bar and dumbbell storage stand), a seated utility bench (with optional dumbbell storage tray) and a portable travel bench (with optional dettachable dumbbell stand).


  • Relatively Expensive. Obviously, designating the price of any product as being expensive or inexpensive is based on an individual's subjective judgement of a given product's value. I personally consider the PowerBlock dumbbells to be expensive, at least when compared to the Ironmasters, because: 1) the PowerBlocks, specifically the heavier models, cost significantly more, and 2) the Ironmaster dumbbells also happen to better match my preferences. That said, let's pretend that the Ironmasters didn't exist – In such a hypothetical scenario, I would gladly pay the higher price for the PowerBlock system and consider it a good deal.
  • Incompatibility Between Different Models. PowerBlock, Inc. makes several product series and models. The upside of this is that you have a much bigger variety of options from which to choose, compared to the Ironmasters. However, the downside is that the components of the different dumbbell sets are (usually) incompatible with eachother. Thus, it's important that you understand and are comfortable with the capabilities and limitations of a given model, before you buy it. You won't be able to modify the weight increments or increase the maximum weight by using add-ons or other parts from different models.
  • Dumbbell Stand Not Included. Unlike the Ironmaster adjustable dumbbell system, the PowerBlocks don't come standard with a dumbbell stand. Of course, this is a good in that you pay less than you otherwise would. However, you'll almost surely want/need a stand. And so, you'll end up paying for one anyway. That is, unless you snap and go full-blown "Bob the Builder" mode and build your own makeshift stand.
  • They Look...Different. The first thing you probably noticed about the PowerBlock dumbbells was their non-traditional design. They're constructed with pillars in each corner, which surround the handle and give the dumbbell a cubic shape. Also, they use weight "brackets" as opposed to traditional plates. Plus, they've got just about all the colors of the rainbow on their sides. Obviously, all of these things serve specific and necessary purposes. While not a make-or-break issue for me, I do prefer the more natural look of the Ironmasters. That's just me, though. I know most people couldn't give two craps about how its aesthetics. Yet, there are some folks who say the design is too "weird" for their tastes.
  • Non-Traditional Dumbbell Feel. Keep in mind that I don't own any PowerBlocks, so I can't personally comment on their "feel." However, I can report that many others claim that the peculiar dumbbell design gives them a noticeable different, or unnatural, "feel" compared to traditional dumbbells. Having pillars surrounding the handle can potentially interfere with wrist movement, though this is likely only an issue if you have bigger wrists and hands (which I do). Lastly, the pillars prevent you from using the traditional grip for dumbbell triceps extensions (though you can work around this by gripping any two adjacent pillars).
  • Audible Rattling Noise. Due to the PowerBlock's design, they produce some noise during use. This is because the various components – the weight brackets, the plastic cores and the adder weights (in some models) – can move around somewhat. This results in rattling and clicking. While not a loud and distruptive, it is audible to you and anyone in your general vicinity. The Urethane series dumbbells, however, cut down on the noise, since the steel weight brackets are coated in urethane.
  • Not Designed for Very Rough Use. The PowerBlocks are far from what one might consider fragile or dainty. As I explained in an earlier bullet point, one of the pros of this dumbbell system is its durability and solid build quality. However, as I also mentioned in that point, you should treat the dumbbells more carefully than you'd treat the Ironmaster dumbbells or traditional fixed dumbbells. Put differently, they aren't meant to be dropped or thrown around all willy-nilly. Just because the dumbbells will likely survive a drop, that doesn't mean it always will. There is, after all, a reason that their warranties don't cover drops from above 6 or 12 inches (depending on the model).

Hopefully my PowerBlock dumbbells review has helped you to decide if this is the right adjustable dumbbell system for you. Whether you've decided to buy or if you still have questions, one of following two sections will help you out:

"I'm Sold! Where Can I Buy Them?"

If my super-awesome PowerBlock dumbbells review convinced you that you want a set of PowerBlock, then go ahead and buy them on Amazon.

Be sure to choose the right pair, though. If you're serious about lifting, then your only real choices are the Elite, Heavy Weight, U-90 or Sport 9.0 sets.

"I Need to Do More Research Before Making a Decision."

Do you want to see more PowerBlock dumbbells reviews (from first-hand users), and learn more about the specific differences between the various PowerBlock series and models?...

...If so, then I'll direct you to my other PowerBlock dumbbells page. It contains a comparison chart of all the PowerBlock models, an explanation of the logic behind my top four choices and several video reviews from PowerBlock owners.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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1 comment
wbe says January 26, 2013

very helpful review. thank you for the honest and detailed input. it will help me make a better decision.

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