Dumbbell pushups add awesome variety to your home chest workouts. But will adjustable dumbbells like the Bowflex and Powerblock- two of the most popular types of dumbbells- be able to take your weight without breaking? This post explains if you can do pushups on adjustable dumbbells.
Some adjustable dumbbell models are suitable for doing pushups. Block-shaped adjustable dumbbells like the Powerblocks are sturdy and provide enough grip to perform pushups. But most round-shaped adjustable dumbbells like the Bowflex will slip and are not suitable for pushups.
I ran two tests to back up my claims.
You can find my full analysis below!
- Why Some Adjustable Dumbbells Are Not Suitable For Push-ups
- How Cheap Adjustable Dumbbells Can Break During Pushups
- How To Tell If You Can Do Push-ups On Your Adjustable Dumbbell
- Can You Do Pushups With Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells?
- How The Bowflex Dumbbells Feel During Pushups
- Can You Do Pushups With Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells?
- How The Powerblock Dumbbells Feel During Pushups
- Best Adjustable Dumbbell For Push-ups
Why Some Adjustable Dumbbells Are Not Suitable For Push-ups
In reality, there’s no clear-cut answer when it comes to which adjustable dumbbells are suitable for push-ups.
That’s because there are a lot of different adjustable dumbbell models out there.
And some are built better than others.
Whilst MOST adjustable dumbbells- especially those made by the premium brands like Bowflex, Powerblock, Ironmaster, Core Home Fitness, etc- CAN be used to do pushups with, you should also be aware that NOT ALL adjustable dumbbells are suitable for this exercise.
Additionally, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Remember- adjustable dumbbells are inherently more fragile than their fixed-weight hex dumbbell cousins.
How Cheap Adjustable Dumbbells Can Break During Pushups
Here are some vulnerable weak points in an adjustable dumbbell that can break during push-ups:
- Dial and pin selectors. The weight selector mechanism is joined directly to the handle in some adjustable dumbbells. So exerting too much force on the handle could damage the dial or pin mechanism.
- Internal locking mechanisms. A series of discs and plates secure the weight plate to the handle in many adjustable dumbbells. Frequent shock forces generated when a dumbbell lifts off the ground (e.g. in a Renegade Row) can damage this mechanism.
- Cradles. Some dumbbells sit in a plastic cradle and the weight can only be adjusted when the dumbbell is sat inside this cradle. You shouldn’t apply weight directly on the cradle as it can crack over time. And this will render your dumbbell useless.
- Weight plates. Adjustable dumbbells feature different outer coatings on their weight plates. Cheap plastic and paint can chip underneath the dumbbell if too much weight is applied directly on top (e.g. in a dumbbell push-up). If interested, you can find my full dumbbell push-up guide here.
Some of the cheaper adjustable dumbbells may initially feel sturdy enough to support your weight on a push-up, but you could actually be damaging the internal components without knowing.
As a result, your adjustable dumbbell could become faulty over time.
And the next thing you know, you have a broken dumbbell with a voided warranty!
Ultimately, you should do your diligent research and exercise caution when deciding whether or not to do pushups on your adjustable dumbbells.
You might also be interested in my other post to find out if adjustable dumbbells can be dropped.
How To Tell If You Can Do Push-ups On Your Adjustable Dumbbell
Here are the main signs that you can safely do pushups on your adjustable dumbbells:
- Look on reviews. There’s a high likelihood that your dumbbell is sold or was sold on Amazon in the past. Locate the adjustbale dumbbell and type “pushups” into the “search reviews” function. Now you can see what other people thought about using the adjustable dumbbell for pushups.
- Check on video platforms. If you have a popular adjustable dumbbell, then chances are you’ll be able to find someone doing pushups with that dumbbell on Youtube, Vimeo, TikTok, etc. Some big manufactuers like Bowflex and Powerblock also have their own Youtube profile where they provide exercise tutorials. If your adjustable dumbbell is suitable for pushups, then you’ll be able to find it on their profile.
- Read manufactuer manuals. Any reputable adjustable dumbbell brand will have an online e-manual. Download it and see what it says about pushups and bodyweight exercises. Use the CTRL+F function to search for keywords like “bodyweight”, “pushup”, “do not”, “caution”, etc.
- Perform light testing. If you already own the adjustable dumbbell then you can test it with a few pushups. Start with kneeling pushups so as to not put all your weight on the dumbbell straight away, before trying a full push-up. Does the dumbbell creak? Does the material bend or give way? Or does it slip on the ground? If so, then you can’t do pushups on your adjsutable dumbbell!
Next, I’ll share the results for when I tested pushups on the Powerblock Elite (link for my full review) and Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbells.
Can You Do Pushups With Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells?
Bowflex advises against doing pushups on their adjustable dumbbell. Their instruction manual explicitly states “not to lean on the dumbbell handles or use them to support body weight, such as a base to perform a push up”. Therefore you should not use these dumbbells for push-ups.
Note to potential buyers- this warning is only found in the hard copy manual. I couldn’t find the same warning in their e-manual.
Furthermore, they do not include the dumbbell push up in their “10 Push-Ups To Get Ripped” video (see above).
I also looked at the Bowflex 552 reviews on Amazon.
75% of reviews do not recommend the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells for pushups.
The remaining 25% of reviews said they do the occasional pushups on their Bowflex dumbbells without any problems.
All in all, the evidence suggests that the Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbell is not good to perform pushups. You can also check out my Bowflex 552 hands-on test here.
But doing a few sets now and then won’t break them either.
Just don’t overdo it and you should be fine!
If you’re interested, you can learn how to clean maintain your dumbbells here!
How The Bowflex Dumbbells Feel During Pushups
I own a pair of Bowflex 552 adjustable dumbbells and tested them with 7 days of pushup training.
I weigh 165lbs and did 100 pushups each day with them
Yes I know I’m going against Bowflex’s guidelines. But I bet some of you rulebreakers will be doing the same!
Besides, some of the reviewers said they do the occasional pushup on their Bowflex dumbbells without issue.
So let’s see how they perform:
|Pushups You Can Do With Bowflex||Pushups You Shouldn’t Do With Bowflex|
|Flat push up||Push up to renegade row|
|Diamond close-grip push up||Clap pushup|
|Dumbbell floor press|
Overall, I would say the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells can be used as a base for static pushup variations. These are pushups where the dumbbells never leave the ground (e.g. traditional push up).
They’re not the best, but they certainly don’t feel like they will crumble wither.
If you set the Bowflex dumbbells on the heaviest weight, you have enough weight plates to support your body weight.
The weight plates don’t interfere with your pushup range of motion either.
But the dumbbell can slip and wobble if your grip is too wide (e.g. in a wide-grip pushup).
That’s because the weight plates have a round shape and this reduces the constant area with the floor. And this issue is even more pronounced on laminate/hard floors which have less grip than carpet.
Also, there seemed to be no marks/scratches on the bottom of the weight plate where it contacts the floor.
I WOULD NOT use the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells for dynamic pushup variations. These are pushups where the dumbbells lift off the floor (e.g. Renegade row pushups).
Dynamic pushup variations are usually performed with lighter weights since they’re harder to do.
But the Bowflex dumbbells are rather flimsy when you set them on the light settings because there just aren’t enough weight plates propping the handle.
Additionally, the weight plates themselves can wobble on the handle. And I’m sure the dumbbells will become damaged over time if you keep applying stress onto a wobbly weight plate.
The fact that the weight plates wobble also makes it hard to get a good grip.
And this can become dangerous during explosive movements.
You can also check out my other article to find out how safe adjustable dumbbells are.
Can You Do Pushups With Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbells?
Pushups can be done comfortably on the Powerblock adjustable dumbbells. The dumbbell unit features a sturdy welded steel design which makes it a safe base for performing pushups. Furthermore, dumbbell pushups are an exercise that Powerblock recommends users to perform on their video workouts.
Unlike Bowflex, nowhere in the Powerblock manual does it advise against doing dumbbell pushups or leaning your body weight on the dumbbell.
Furthermore, pushup rows (aka pushup to Renegade row) are an exercise they teach on their Youtube channel. If you’re interested, you can also find my full-body PowerBlock workout here.
And if the Powerblocks can handle a Renegade row (which puts additional stress on the floor dumbbell), they can certainly handle a standard push-up!
I also check the Powerblock Elite (entry-model in the Powerblock lineup) reviews on Amazon.
100% of reviewers who mentioned pushups also stated they work great for this exercise.
Overall, the evidence suggests that not only are the Powerblock adjustable dumbbells sturdy enough to handle your body weight for pushups, but they’re actually quite comfortable to do pushups on!
You can check out my comparison post if you’re struggling to decide between the PowerBlock vs Bowflex dumbbells.
How The Powerblock Dumbbells Feel During Pushups
So the Powerblocks adjustable dumbbells seem to work great for dumbbell pushups.
I repeated the same test as with the Bowflex 552 dumbbells.
Just a reminder- that test involved doing 100 pushups a day for 7 days at 165lbs bodyweight.
Here’s how they perform:
|Pushups You Can Do With Powerblock||Pushups You Shouldn’t Do With Powerblock|
|Flat pushup||Clap pushup|
|Diamond close-grip push up|
|Dumbbell floor press|
|Pushup to renegade row|
You can see the Powerblock dumbbells perform much better than the Bowflex dumbbells for push ups!
The Powerblocks work fantastically with static pushup variations like the traditional pushup where the dumbbells don’t leave the floor.
The solid steel frame construction is sturdy and feels like it could take double my body weight.
Additionally, the block-shaped Powerblocks make a good point of contact with the floor due to their high surface area.
The dumbbells grip the floor well and they don’t wobble or slip like the Bowflex 552s
And the compact dumbbell unit doesn’t interfere with your push-up range of motion.
The handle is also very comfortable for leaning your entire body weight onto.
Powerblock dumbbells can also be used for dynamic pushup variations like the push up to Renegade row or T push up.
Even on the lightest setting, the Powerblock grips the floor well and does not wobble or slip.
It’s also surprisingly sturdy.
Even though the lowest weight setting is a composite plastic block, it still feels more durable than the Bowflex (for pushups anyway).
Put it this way- I’d be confident it can comfortably handle even a 250lb+ person.
One thing to beware of- I would only use the Powerblocks for dynamic pushups on carpet or a yoga mat.
The dumbbell has an industrial design and it’s literally a block of steel sitting on your floor.
You don’t want the dumbbell to scratch or damage your hardwood/laminate floor.
But all in all, the Powerblock adjustable dumbbell is excellent for doing pushups.
If you’re looking for a set of adjustable dumbbells, you can go to my other article to find out how much adjustable dumbbells cost.
Best Adjustable Dumbbell For Push-ups
The Powerblock series are the best adjustable dumbbells for pushups. They are durable enough to support most body weights. The block-shaped design also provides a good amount of grip on the floor. These two features make the Powerblock very suitable for dumbbell pushups.
I have the Powerblock Elite and fully recommend it.
It’s a great beginners dumbbell that can be used to bench press, floor press, as well as do pushups.
If you want to build a killer chest and arms, these dumbbells will do the job and more!
You can also use it to target all the different muscle groups and do full-body workouts.
The best thing about it?
It’s extremely affordable but still has all of Powerblock’s patented design features.
Just be aware that I’d recommend getting a yoga mat as these dumbbells sit directly on your floor without a cradle.
I’ve explained why you can do pushups on adjustable dumbbells and also compared how two of the most popular adjustable dumbbells- Powerblock Elite and Bowflex 552- perform on pushups.
You need to make sure the dumbbell itself is sturdy enough to take your body weight.
This can be done by checking reviews, e-manuals, and online videos.
It’s also a good idea to choose a dumbbell that has a flat base.
This prevents it from rolling and slipping as you’re performing your pushups.
That’s why I would recommend the Powerblock Elite adjustable dumbbells for pushups!
Will you be doing pushups on your adjustable 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!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)