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 generally lump them together and talk about them as a whole. Though, when applicable, I will point out important differences between specific models.
If you're here to find a quick answer to which PowerBlock dumbbell model is right for you, I'll include a summary of my top recommendation in the table below:
Rated 5 out of 5 in Adjustable Dumbbells
Rated 4.5 out of 5 in Adjustable Dumbbells
Rated 4.5 out of 5 in Adjustable Dumbbells
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.
Without further ado, let's get into the pros and cons...
Pros & Cons of the 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:
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:
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.
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!
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.
That said, I think most lifters would find the Elite 90 to be the best choice from a budgetary perspective. You get to go up to 90 lbs, which is pretty high for most people and most dumbbell exercises. However, you do miss out on the weights from 90 to 125, which isn't ideal. BUT, the trade-off is that you save about $410!...
...If you do want the ability to go up to 125 lbs., though, and if you can afford the higher price tag, then I urge you to go with the U-90 stage 4.
Also, understand that you can make the budget aspect easier on you by opting to buy one of the base sets now, regardless of which set you choose (e.g. U90 Stage 1, Sport EXP Stage 1, Elite 50). Then you can 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 are the most compact dumbbells on the market, at least in terms of their length. 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.
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.
5 Year Limited Warranties
PowerBlock, Inc. offers a 5 year limited warranty for ALL of their home-use dumbbells. Previously, different models had different warranty lengths (e.g. The Classic Series sets used to have a 10 year warranties; the Sport Series sets used to have 15 year warranties; the now-discontinued Urethane Series sets had lifetime warranties)...
...However, around late 2018 when the Pro Series was released with its 5 year warranty, I believe they switched all other Series/models to have the same warranty duration. After all, it wouldn't make sense for the Pro Series, which is the best overall and most expensive model, to have the shortest warranty.
Of course, if you bought one of the other models before the warranty length change, they would honor the warranty length at time of purchase.
I won't get into detail on the terms and conditions of each warranty type. I'll give the basics -- It covers materials and workmanship defects. It doesn't cover obvious things like misuse or abuse, which includes (among other things) damage from dropping the dumbbells from 12 inches or higher (or 6 inches or higher for some models).
Accompanying Accessories & Complementary Equipment
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 Pro 50 and Pro EXP sets (as well as the now-discontinued Urethane U70 sets and the U90 sets). This is one of the reasons why the Pro EXP is my top pick for best PowerBlock set.
The KettleBlock handle be used comfortably on most exercises up to 55 lbs, but can go all the way up to a 95 lb max capacity (with the Pro EXP Stage 3). However, the heavier it gets, the wider it becomes, making it awkward to handle at very heavy weights bigger it.
As an aside, PowerBlock, Inc. does make these 3 other dedicated adjustable kettlebell systems:
- 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.
Additionally, there are 2 benches available:
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:
- The PowerBlocks, specifically the heavier models, cost significantly more, and
- 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?"
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.