How Durable And Reliable Are Bowflex Dumbbells? And How Do You Maintain Them For Best Performance?

Are Bowflex dumbbells durable

Bowflex makes some of the best-selling dumbbells on the current market, but are they durable and reliable? This is what I’ll be answering today!

The Bowflex dumbbells are generally reliable and durable according to customer reviews. The majority 97% of users did not report the dumbbell breaking. Of the minority 3% of users who did report a major fault, the most common issues were related to the internal weight selection mechanism.

Whilst they may be best-sellers, there have also been numerous accounts of the Bowflex dumbbells breaking.

But are they sporadic occurrences or an unfortunate trend?

That’s a question I debated for a long time before taking the plunge.

That’s why I decided to write this post to help others make their own buying decision!

I tested the Bowflex 552 dumbbells for 2 years and found them to be durable and reliable.

The Bowflex Dumbbell Product Line

Bowflex make 2 dumbbells in their lineup. I use the Bowflex 552’s!

How Reliable And Durable Are the Bowflex Dumbbells?

To find the numbers on how durable the Bowflex dumbbells are, I first located the Bowflex 552 dumbbells on Amazon.

Then I filtered the reviews based on the star rating each review received.

How I researched how durable Bowflex dumbbells are.

Next, I assumed that:

  • Reviews that received 3 stars or more functioned perfectly fine or with minor faults.
  • Reviews that received less than 3-stars experienced a serious fault.

Here’s what I found:

Results for how durable and reliable Bowflex dumbbells are.

97% of the reviews got 3 or more stars, indicating the Bowflex dumbbells are generally both reliable and durable.

Of the remaining 3% that saw durability issues (i.e. they broke), the most common ways they break are:

  • 36% of users said the weight plates or dial became jammed.
  • 57% of users said the internal locking mechanism became faulty.
  • 7% of users said the weight plates cracked.

These numbers make the Bowflex dumbbells seem not very durable at all.

But remember, they are percentages of the 3% that became faulty (remember 97% still worked perfectly fine with no issues).

Whilst I admit this is a rather crude test for how durable the Bowflex dumbbells are, it still gives you a good idea of their overall reliability.

Interested in how to use these dumbbells? You might be interested in my Bowflex dumbbell workout to build muscle and burn fat here!

How Long Can You Expect Your Bowflex To Last?

The Bowflex dumbbells can last years of constant use. The majority of user reviews stated that their particular model has served them for at least 1 to 3 years. It is also important to note that the Bowflex dumbbells can be expected to last longer if they are correctly maintained.

I got these figures by analyzing the user reviews mentioned above.

Whilst I don’t have the exact percentage, I can say that the majority of the 97% positive reviews quoted the Bowflex dumbbells lasting them over many years.

 “I have had these for years and never had problems. I do recommend them as long as you [look after them]”.

Mike S, Amazon

With that said, there ARE some instances where they DO break.

Results for how long Bowflex dumbbells last.

Of the 3% of reviews that reported major faults, here’s how long the Bowflex dumbbells lasted before they became unusable:

  • 50% of users said the dumbbells broke after 1 to 2 years.
  • 30% of users said the dumbbells broke after 2 to 3 years
  • 2% said the dumbbells broke after 3 years.

Bearing in mind that the Bowflex dumbbells come with a 2-year manufacturer warranty, these numbers are not bad at all.

Put simply:

Not many of them break. And of those that do become faulty, this usually happens within the warranty period.

Therefore, in my opinion, the Bowflex dumbbells seem to be fairly durable and reliable if you look after them.

And in many instances, this means you shouldn’t drop them.

Why The Bowflex Dumbbells Should Not Be Dropped

Bowflex dumbbells should not be dropped. Although they are constructed from durable materials, these dumbbells also feature components that cannot handle physical shocks regularly. Examples of potential weak points include the weight plate covering and internal locking mechanism.

Bowflex user manual advises you not to drop Bowflex dumbbells.

This is made explicitly clear by Bowflex.

For example, the Bowflex 552 manual advises you not to let the dumbbells fall freely onto the ground.

Bowflex dumbbell warning advising you not to drop it.

Each dumbbell also has a warning label etched directly onto the weight plate.

Whilst the Bowflex dumbbells are generally quite durable, dropping them can damage the internal locking mechanism (causing the plates to suddenly drop off the handle).

The otherwise reliable adjustment dial can also be knocked.

This can break directly on impact or the impact may force the dial to turn when it’s not in the cradle (causing it to jam).

You may also be interested in my other post to find out if adjustable dumbbells are safe.

Why The Bowflex Weights Can Sometimes Get Stuck

The Bowflex dumbbells can occasionally break. Common ways the dumbbells can break include; the weight plates falling off the handle, adjustment dial not rotating, and the dumbbell not going back into the cradle. These issues can often be fixed using the procedures recommended by Bowflex.

As with most of the other adjustable weights on the market, the Bowflex dumbbells are generally quite reliable and durable (assuming you have authentic Bowflex’s).

You can check out my other article to learn how to spot a knock-off Bowflex.

But some users may just be unlucky with their particular dumbbell.

The good news is most Bowflex issues can be rectified at home.

Here’s how to fix a pair of Bowflex weights that are stuck:

Ways The Bowflex Weights Get StuckHow To Fix
The handle does not fully go back into the cradle when no weight plates are selected.Turn both dials to the 5lb weight setting.
The handle does not go back into the cradle when weight plates are selected.Make sure both dials are on the same weight setting (e.g. both should be on 5lbs) and that each weight plate is in the correct position on the cradle.
Dial does not rotate when the handle is inserted in the base.Make sure the handle is fully inserted into the cradle. Make sure the locking tabs on each weight plate are facing away from the handle when inside the cradle. Remove any debris from inside the cradle or dumbbell locking mechanism.
Weight plates fall off the handle during use.Make sure all of the metal locking tabs are facing away from the handle. Make sure each weight plate is in its correct position in the cradle.

Speaking from personal experience, these issues usually arise when the dumbbelsl have been used incorrectly.

If you follow the manufacturer guidelines, your Bowflex dumbbells should work smoothly!

You may also be interested in my other post to learn how to use Bowflex 552 dumbbells properly.

How To Maintain Bowflex Dumbbells

Bowflex dumbbells are a low-maintenance product. But their moving parts can be looked after with general maintenance good practices including; not subjecting the dumbbell to shock or mechanical stress, removal of dirt and grime, and an occasional inspection of the locking components.

How I maintain my Bowflex dumbbells.

Here are the Bowflex dumbbell maintenance tips in more detail:

  • Do not subject the dumbbell to shock- don’t let them bang into each other during use and don’t let them hit the ground.
Avoid doing too many dumbbell push ups using the Bowflex.
  • Do not subject the dumbbell to mechanical stress- do not lean on the dumbbells (as advised by Bowflex) in exercises like the dumbbell push up. Speaking from personal experience with the Bowflex 552 dumbbells, they are sturdy enough to take your weight every now and then but I wouldn’t recommend doing it repeatedly. For more information, you can check out my article which explains if you can do push ups on Bowflex dumbbells.
How to insert the Bowfex dumbbells onto the base correctly.
  • Insert the dumbbell back in its’s cradle correctly- the dumbbells should be oriented vertically and perpendicular to the base. Do not inser them at an angle which can damage the locking tabs on the weight plates.
How to maintain the Bowflex dumbbell internal locking mechanism.
  • Periodically inspect the internal locking mechnism- check for signs of wear and tear, damage, worn down plastic notches, chips, etc. These can all be replaced by Bowflex under warranty.
How to maintain your Bowflex dumbbells using a toothbrush to remove dirt.
  • Remove dust and debris from inside the dumbbell- you can use a soft tooth brush or an airblaster like this Koonie (link for the cheapest price) to get dust out of the internal locking mechanism.
  • Periodically wipe the weight plates- disengage the plates by selecting the 5lbs setting, pull them off the cradle, and wipe using a cloth lightly dampened in soap water. Wipe dry with another clean cloth. Microfibre towels like these Amazon Basics (link for the cheapest price) are recommended but the plastic is also hard enough to not be scratched by normal kitchen cloths too.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals- bleach, ethanol, methanol, acetone, white spirits, and strong detergents are not recommended. They can compromise the integrity of the plastic.
  • Do not use machine-grade lubricants- the weight plates should not require lubrication (as stated by Bowflex). But if you feel it necessary to apply lubrication, use a food-grade silicon lubricant.

Even without applying many of these practices as well as I should do (I only clean and inspect once a month), my Bowflex Selectech 552 dumbbells have lasted me over 2 years of heavy testing.

So in my opinion, the Bowflex dumbbells are definitely durable!

You can find the cheapest Bowflex 552 price here.

How To Test The Bowflex Internal Locking Mechanism

Bowflex recommends users regularly inspect the dumbbell’s internal locking mechanism to ensure full reliability.

“Periodically inspect and test the locking mechanism for correct function by following the test procedures included in this manual”.


Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select the 5lb dial setting with the dumbbell on the base. You should hear a metallic clicking noise and tactile click when a weight has been selected properly.
  2. Pull the dumbbell off the base.
  3. Gently attempt to turn the dial with the dumbbell off the craddle. Do not aply force. The pin should not be able to turn.
  4. Repeat for all 4 dials (two on each dumbbell).
  5. Re-insert the dumbbell into the cradle.
  6. Turn the dial to a position that’s in between 5lb and 7.5lb. This represents an incomplete weight selection (i.e. half way between two weight settings) which should not happen during normal use.
  7. Gently try to lift the dumbbell off the cradle without applying too much force. The dumbbell should remain locked to the cradle and cannot be removed (even with light pressure as it can normally be).
  8. Return the selection knob to a “full-weight selection” by clicking it back to 5lb.
  9. The dumbbell should be able to pull out from the cradle with light force.
  10. Repeat with all 4 dials.
  11. Test the adjustment dials are securely fastened to the handle. Do this by selecting the 5lb setting and pulling the dumbbell out from the cradle. Now gently push and pull on the dial. The knob should be securel y fastened and not give way.
  12. Repeat for all 4 dials.

I do this once every 2 months (if that), and my Bowflex dumbbells have proved to be reliable and durable.

Interested in the Bowflex dumbbell? You can check out my full Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbell review!

How To Fix A Broken Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell

Bowflex advises broken dumbbells to be repaired at an authorized dealer. DIY methods can also be attempted at home which aims to replace the internal locking discs. However, these practices will void the manufacturer warranty and should not be attempted unless there are no other alternatives.

Therefore the first thing to do is to contact Bowflex (assuming your dumbbells are still under warranty) and arrange for a repair.

Nautilus (the parent company of Bowflex) can be contacted on 628-8458 (USA). You can also contact the dealer you bought your dumbbells from.

You should be aware that Nautilus has a warranty clause stating that the dumbbells and the base cannot be disassembled.

Doing so will void your warranty.

So unless you’re dumbbells have exceeded their warranty period, I would always recommend contacting Nautilus first.

Bowflex® Selecttech® 552 safety issues - permanent fix (old vid...view channel for the latest info)
Check out Average Joe’s tutorial for a Bowflex 552 dumbbell home fix.

If you’re dumbbelsl have exceeded the warranty and you have no other options left, then you can attempt a self-repair.

Average Joe on Youtube makes a good tutorial that others have used with success.

He even makes his own internal locking discs made from metal.

These discs are much more durable than the stock discs on the Bowflex dumbbells and should last you a lifetime.

Disclaimer: I’ve not attempted this repair myself. My opinions are based on the comments on this video. So attempt at your own risk!

My Personal Case Study: How Durable Is The Bowflex SelecTech 552 Dumbbell?

The Bowflex SelectTech 552 is generally a durable adjustable dumbbell. The weights are made from plastic-coated solid steel and the internal locking mechanism is constructed from hard plastic. It will typically last for years if it is properly looked after and maintained.

Here are my Bowflex SelectTech 552 after 2 years of heavy testing using a 6-day training split:

My Bowflex 552 dumbbells have been durable and reliable for the 2 years I've owned them.

You can see the hard plastic has kept well.

There are minor scuff marks on the bottom of the weight plates from where they contact the floor, but other than that, there is no cosmetic damage.

The dumbbells still perform well after 2 years.

The dials have seen no issues, are still smooth to use, and still make a satisfying metallic “clink” with each turn.

I’ve had no issues with the weight plates falling off and the internal locking mechanism failing.

Therefore I can say that my Bowflex dumbbells have been both reliable and durable to date!

If you’re interested, you can find the cheapest Bowflex price here!

Or you can check out my other post to find out why adjustable dumbbells are a good investment.

Bowflex Dumbbell Lineup Recap


I’ve explained how durable and reliable Bowflex dumbbells are.

The majority of user reviews (97%) give these dumbbells positive feedback, and they seem to last most people for years.

I’ve also been using my Bowflex dumbbells heavily for the past 2 years with no durability issues or mechanical faults.

With that said, just like all adjustable dumbbells, the Bowflex’s CAN break.

But then again, so can any product with moving parts.

If you look after them and use them as recommended by Nautilus, the numbers show that they should work fine for a long time!

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a bullet-proof adjustable dumbbell, then you should consider the Powerblock competitors instead!

What do you think about the Bowflex dumbbells?

Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

Recent Posts