Bowflex makes some of the most popular dumbbells. But their SelectTech series has a few models, making it slightly confusing to figure out exactly how much weight they provide. This post explains how heavy the different Bowflex dumbbells go.
The Bowflex SelectTechs can go to either 52.5lbs or 90lbs per hand, depending on the model. The Bowflex 552 has a maximum weight capacity of 52.5lbs per dumbbell. In comparison, the Bowflex SelectTech 1090 has a maximum weight capacity of 90lbs per dumbbell.
It took me hours of research time to decipher the differences between the SelectTech 552 and 1090 dumbbells.
Turns out it’s mainly the weight they provide!
Keep reading to find out how the 552 and 1090 weight settings stack up against each other.
How Heavy Each Bowflex Dumbbell Goes
How heavy a Bowflex dumbbell goes depends on the model you’re looking at.
There are currently 2 models in the Bowflex SelectTech line of adjustable dumbbells:
They both have a similar design and build quality.
The main difference between the two Bowflex dumbbells is in how heavy they go, as follows:
|Bowflex SelectTech 552||Bowflex SelectTech 1090|
|Weight of dumbbell-only (lbs)||52.5lbs||90lbs|
|Weight of cradle (lbs)||2.5lbs||3lbs|
|Weight of dumbbell on the cradle (lbs)||55lbs||93lbs|
|Number of weight settings||15||17|
|Weight increments (lbs)||2.5lbs to 5lbs||5lbs|
You can also see the weight settings are slightly different.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells weigh 52.5lbs each, with 15 different weight settings.
Each weight goes up in 2.5lb increments from 5-25lbs and 5lb increments from 30-50lbs.
There’s also one more 2.5lb increment that takes it from 50-52.5lbs.
The Bowflex SelectTech 1090 dumbbells weigh 90lbs each, with 17 different weight settings.
Each weight goes up in 5lb increments from 10-90lbs.
How Heavy Is The Bowflex Dumbbell Base?
Each Bowflex SelectTech sits on a base (cradle) that also adds weight to the final dumbbell unit.
I struggled to find any resource online that revealed how heavy the base is and how heavy the Bowflex dumbbell is when it’s sat in the base.
So I weighed it myself (see pic below).
The total weight of the Bowflex 552 in the base is 55lbs.
Since we know that the 552 weighs 52.5lbs, this means the base weighs 2.5lbs.
I didn’t have the Bowflex 1090 on hand to repeat the same experiment.
But looking on Amazon, we know that the total package weight is 101lbs.
Minus the packaging (8lbs) and the weight of the Bowflex 1090 dumbbell (90lbs), we can infer that the total weight of the Bowflex 1090 in the base is 93lbs.
This means the base weighs 3lbs.
That makes sense since the Bowflex 1090 is a heavier dumbbell than the 552, so you’d expect the base to also be made from a more durable construction. And by extension, this would increase the weight of the cradle.
If you’re interested, you can check out my other post to see how durable or fragile Bowflex dumbbells are.
Weight Of Each Plate On The Bowflex SelectTechs
Bowflex dumbbells have 5 weight plates on each side ranging from 1.25lbs to 15lbs in weight. The SelectTech 552 has a series of weight plates that weigh 1.25lbs, 2.5lbs, 5lbs, 7lbs, and 8lbs. The SelectTech 1090 has a series of weight plates that weigh 2.5lbs, 5lbs, 7.5lbs, 10lbs, and 15lbs.
All Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells cycle through their weight settings using a dial mechanism.
Each click of the dial engages a different combination of weight plates to make the final weight of the dumbbell.
Each weight plate has a different size and weight.
Here’s how much each weight plate weighs on the Bowflex 552 and 1090 adjustable dumbbells:
|Weight Plate||Bowflex SelectTech 552||Bowflex SelectTech 1090|
I got the numbers for the SelectTech 552 by weighing each plate on a bodyweight scale.
My scales weren’t sensitive enough to detect the individual weight plates on their own.
So I weighed myself to determine a baseline and then weighed myself holding each weight plate.
This allowed me to minus my bodyweight from bodyweight + weight plate.
As I didn’t have the Bowflex 1090 dumbbells on hand, I had to make an informed estimation on how much they weigh.
This estimate is based on my Bowflex 552 study and the fact that the Bowflex 1090 dumbbells have a similar weight plate structure as the 552.
You can check out my other post for more details on how to use the Bowflex dumbbells.
How Heavy Are Bowflex Dumbbells Considered To Be?
The Bowflex dumbbells are considered to be moderate to heavy dumbbells, depending on the model. The SelectTech 552 weighs 52.5lbs per dumbbell and this is generally accepted to be a moderate weight. The SelectTech 1090 weighs 90lbs per dumbbell and this is considered to be a heavy weight.
So what’s considered to be a light, medium, and heavy dumbbell?
Check out my breakdown below for a better idea:
- Light- 10 to 30lbs per dumbbell.
- Moderate- 40 to 60lbs per dumbbell.
- Heavy- 70 to 90lbs per dumbbell (the heaviest adjustable dumbbells go up to 90lbs).
Depending on how detailed you want to be, you can also classify dumbbells somewhere in between.
For example, a 35lb dumbbell could be classified as a light-moderate weight.
Therefore I would say the Bowflex 552 is a moderate weight dumbbell. It’s great for beginners and intermediates to build some muscle, lose fat, and tone.
In contrast, I’d say the Bowflex 1090 is a heavy weight dumbbell. They are great for intermediates and advanced lifters to build muscle. The lighter weight settings can also be used to burn fat.
If you’re interested, you can check out my other post which explains if Bowflex dumbbells are worth buying.
Are The Bowflex Dumbbells Expandable?
Bowflex dumbbells are not expandable. The weight on each dumbbell is pre-manufactured and cannot be upgraded. The user is restricted to the weight settings that already come with the Bowflex SelectTech 552 and 1090. Expandable dumbbell alternatives include Ironmaster and Powerblock dumbbells.
In my opinion, this is one of the biggest downfalls of the Bowflex dumbbells.
For the price you’re paying, you’d want some room for future progression other than the weight increments already provided.
It would have been nice if you could purchase addon kits to upgrade the weight on a Bowflex dumbbell.
But you can’t.
If you’re looking for a dumbbell with this capacity, then consider the Powerblock Elite (you can check out my Bowflex vs PowerBlock hands-on test here) or Ironmaster Quicklock instead.
With that said, the Bowflex dumbbells are still high-quality weights that come with an array of positives.
If you’re interested, you can check out my hands-on Bowflex Selectech 552 review here.
How To Upgrade Bowflex Dumbbells With More Weight
Bowflex dumbbells can only be upgraded by adding external weight. This commonly takes the form of wrist weights or resistance bands. Wrist weights wrap around the forearm and add around 5lbs per arm. Resistance bands can be looped around the body to add even more weight.
Wrist weights like the Fragraims (link for the cheapest price) can be wrapped around the forearms as you lift your dumbbells.
Each wrist weight can weigh anywhere between 2.5-10lbs (depending on the model).
This allows you to upgrade your Bowflex dumbbells and effectively make them heavier.
But you’re limited to 10lbs per hand which isn’t very much.
I prefer to use resistance bands like the Undersuns (link for the cheapest price).
You can wrap them around your body or the dumbbell itself. This adds a lot more resistance to your lifts.
For example, looping a band around your shoulders and feet can increase the intensity of a Goblet squat.
Or you could try looping the bands directly onto the Bowflex dumbbells in a shoulder press!
Just a word of advice:
Platemates don’t work on the Bowflex dumbbells. These are microplates that add weight to metal dumbbells by sticking to them magnetically.
But the Bowflex dumbbells are made from a hard plastic that is not magnetic.
If you’re looking for ways to use your Bowflex dumbbells, you might want to check out my other post for a Bowflex dumbbell workout plan to gain muscle and lose fat!
I’ve explained how heavy Bowflex dumbbells go and how to add more weight after you’ve maxed out.
How heavy your Bowflex dumbbells go will depend on which model you buy.
The SelectTech 552 goes up to 52.5lbs per dumbbell, and the SelectTech 1090 goes up to 90lbs.
Neither of them can be upgraded with added weight.
So if you need more resistance, you should try using wrist weights or bands!
Do you think the Bowflex dumbbells provide enough weight?
Let me know in the comments!
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 I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)