PowerBlock Dumbbells Review - Is This the Best Adjustable Dumbbells Set?

PowerBlock Dumbbells Review: Pros & Cons

This page is my PowerBlock dumbbells review. Read on to find out 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:

Pros

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

PowerBlock U90 Stage 2 Adjustable Dumbbells Set - Self-Contained Storage

The PowerBlocks utilize a self-containing storage mechanism, where the dumbbell handle and weights conveniently and compactly "nest" within each other. 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 Model for Home Use Is Expandable to 125 Pounds!

Different PowerBlock Dumbbell Models - Weight Range - Lightest to Heaviest

There are several PowerBlock dumbbell models to choose from. The different models have varying weight capacities.

The light and moderate capacity sets have maximum weight capacities between 21 and 50 pounds.

The heavier dumbbell sets are the Elite 90 set, Sport EXP Stage 3 set and U90 Stage 4 set. They are expandable to 90, 90 and 125 pounds, respectively. You'll want one of these even if you can't lift such heavy weight yet, since you'll become stronger soon enough.

I personally think the U90 Stage 4 is the best choice for serious lifters because it goes all the way up to 125 lbs. Plus, as I discuss later, the U90 is compatible with a kettlebell accessory that greatly increases the number of exercises you can do with this weight set.

You can opt to buy one of the base sets now (e.g. U90 Stage 1, Sport EXP Stage 1, Elite 50), and purchase the expansion kits once you can handle heavier weights or have extra cash to spare.

NOTE: PowerBlock does make a dumbbell set that goes even higher. It's the U175 Club Set and it can go all the way up to 175 lbs. However, it's part of their commercial equipment line. And it is MUCH more expensive than even the most expensive home-use dumbbell sets. We're talking about a total cost of over $2000 after shipping. It's likely way out of the price range for most people--As such, I chose not to highlight it or make it my top choice (though I'd love to own it!).

Very Compact Size

All PowerBlock dumbbell models – from the lightest model (the Urethane U33 Stage 1 set which goes up to 21 lbs) to the heaviest (the Urethan U90 Stage 4 set which goes up to 125 lbs) – 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.

This is 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 sets all have 10 year warranties, the Sport Series sets have 15 year warranties and the Urethane Series sets have lifetime warranties.

I won't get into detail on 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 sets except the Urethane Series sets and some of the Sports Series sets. The warranties for said Urethane and Sport Series sets are voided if they're dropped from 12 inches or higher.

Accompanying Accessories & Complementary Equipment

PowerBlock Kettlebell Handle

The PowerBlock Kettlebell Handle is compatible with U70 & U90 dumbbell sets. 125 lbs max capacity (with U90). Has 2 adder weights for smaller increments.

There are a several accessories available for the PowerBlock dumbbells.

One of the coolest accessories is the KettleBlock handle. It allows you to transform the weights from a dumbbell to a kettlebell just by swapping out the handle.

It's important to note that the Kettleblock handle only works with the Urethane U70 sets and the U90 sets. This is one of the reasons why the U90 is my top pick for best PowerBlock set. The other reason is that it has the highest weight capacity of all the home equipment: up to 125 lbs with the Stage 4.

However, PowerBlock, Inc. does make these 3 other dedicated adjustable kettlebell system:

  • KettleBlock 20: This model has 5 weight adjustment increments including 5, 8, 12, 16 and 20 lbs.
  • KettleBlock 40: This model has 8 weight adjustment increments including 8, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 lbs.
  • PowerBlock Adjustable Kettelbell: This is their newest kettlebell product, which sports a sleeker design compared to the KettleBlock 20 and 40. It has 4 weight adjustment increments including 18, 22, 26 and 35 lbs.

Other PowerBlock accessories include the array of dumbbell stands for the various PowerBlock dumbbell models.

PowerBlock Dumbbell Stands

There are several types of PowerBlock dumbbell stands that are designed for different dumbbell set sizes. The ones shown in this image are for some of the larger dumbbell sets.

Also, in case you're wondering--the four holes on top of each are for storing the cylindrical adder weights that come with some of the dumbbell sets.

Additionally, there are 2 benches available:​

  • Sport Bench: Full sized flat/incline bench with optional dip station, chin-up bar and dumbbell storage stand
  • Travel Bench: Portable travel bench with optional detachable dumbbell stand​
PowerBlock Sport Bench with Optional Dip and Pull Up Attachments

PowerBlock Sport Bench shown above with Optional Dip and Pull Up Attachments

PowerBlock Travel Bench

PowerBlock Travel Bench shown above unfolded for use, and folded for easy transport and storage

Cons

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 each other...

...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 extension kits 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.
  • They use weight "brackets" as opposed to traditional plates.
  • 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).​

Not Designed for Very Rough Use

The PowerBlocks are far from what one might consider fragile or dainty.

As I explained in an earlier 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 PowerBlock.com (there are a few models available on Amazon, too).

Be sure to choose the right pair, though. If you're serious about lifting, then your only real choices are:

"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 PowerBlock dumbbell comparison page. It contains a detailed comparison chart of all the PowerBlock models (current and discontinued 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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Leave a Comment:

4 comments
wbe says January 26, 2013

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

Reply
    Alex says February 3, 2013

    Awesome! That was my goal here 😀

    Reply
Majid says July 11, 2017

Very useful. Thanks Alex.

Reply
    Alex says July 12, 2017

    You’re very welcome, Majid. I hope you were able decide which (if any) of the PowerBlock dumbbell sets is right for you.

    Reply
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