PowerBlock vs Bowflex

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex: I Tested Both To Find Out Which One Is The Better Adjustable Dumbbell!

The adjustable dumbbell scene has been dominated by two giants- PowerBlock and Bowflex- for over a decade. But which brand is actually better? This post is a hands-on comparison between PowerBlock vs Bowflex dumbbells.

Most people would agree that PowerBlocks are better than Bowflex. PowerBlocks have a superior weight capacity, increments, handle, compactness, durability, and warranty compared to Bowflex. However, both dumbbells are still very good and a decision should be made based on personal preference.

I bought the PowerBlock Elite (review here) and the Bowflex SelectTech 552 (review here) to pit them against each other.

I also conducted a series of online studies to find out what other people think.

You can keep reading to find out the results of my comparison!

I tested the Powerblock and Bowflex dumbbells to find out which is better.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Comparison Overview

Comparison overview for Bowflex vs PowerBlock.

The table below summarizes the main differences between the PowerBlock and Bowflex dumbbells:

MetricPowerBlockBowflexWinner:
Materials and aestheticsPowder- or urethane-coated steel (depends on model) with plastic handle cavity.Polyurethane-coated steel plates with chrome-plated steel handle.Tie
Dumbbell shapeBlock-shape.Traditional dumbbell-shape.Bowflex
Weight adjustment mechanismPin-selector with adder weight insert function.Dial-a-weight selector on both ends of the dumbbell.Bowflex
Max weight and increments90lb max capacity replacing up to 28 dumbbells in 2.5/5lb increments.90lb max weight capacity replacing up to 17 dumbbells in 2.5/5lb increments.PowerBlock
Handle/GripStraight or contoured thermoplastic rubber handle with 4.7″ length and 30-38mm diameter (depends on model).Contoured steel handle with textured neoprene or knurled grip, 4.7″ length, and 38mm diameter (depends on model).PowerBlock
Compactness and space-savings16.25” x 6” x 6” (LxWxH).17.5″ x 10″ x 10″ (LxWxH).PowerBlock
Sturdiness and durabilityHard-wearing materials and sturdy build able to take bodyweight.Hard-wearing materials but the build is not very sturdy and cannot take body weight.PowerBlock
Shipping and warranty1-2 weeks shipping on Amazon and 5-year limited warranty.1-2 weeks shipping on Amazon and 2-year limited warranty.PowerBlock
You can follow the links to find the cheapest PowerBlock and Bowflex prices.

The “winners” are based on personal experience having tested the PowerBlock Elite vs Bowflex 552 for 2 years.

Note: the specs mentioned above are the best possible for each brand. In reality, PowerBlock and Bowflex both have multiple models which might have slightly different features from those mentioned in the table.

Materials And Aesthetics Comparison

Materials and aesthetics comparison between PowerBlock vs Bowflex.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Urethane-coated plates (Pro series only) are chip-resistant, unlike Bowflex’s polypropylene.Heavy-duty polypropylene plates are more durable than PowerBlocks powder-coating.
More suitable for those who prefer an industrial-look dumbbellMore suitable for those who prefer a modern-looking dumbbell with a traditional shape.

My Choice:

Tiebreaker

Reason:

At the end of the day, looks and aesthetics are primarily subjective qualities.

Which dumbbell you prefer the look of really depends on your tastes.

I favor the PowerBlock’s no-nonsense look, but you may rather choose Bowflex’s modern-looking design.

Superficial reasons aside, the weight plate materials on both dumbbells DO offer performance benefits and drawbacks:

  • PowerBlock Elite/Sport powder-coating. Keeps the price low but can scratch, chip, and rust if the dumbbell is dropped. Also, does not offer protection for flooring.
  • PowerBlock Pro urethane-coating. The most resistant material to knocks, scratches, and protects your floor. But comes with a premium price tag.
  • Bowflex SelectTech Polyurethane coating. Similar qualities to PowerBlocks urethane-coating but slightly less durable and more prone to chipping.

It’s a close competition between PowerBlock vs Bowflex when it comes to material durability.

The urethane-coating on PowerBlock Pros is harder-wearing compared to the polypropylene in Bowflex dumbbells, which is, in turn, more durable than the powder-coating on PowerBlock Elites/Sports.

It really depends on which models you’re comparing!

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here and the cheapest Bowflex price here.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex: Dumbbell Shape Comparison

Shape comparison between PowerBlock vs Bowflex.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Block-shape made from steel rails is generally more durable than the Bowflex design.Traditional dumbbell shape gives a similar feel and weight distribution to commercial gym dumbbells.
Open-handle shape allows greater variety in the way you hold the dumbbell compared to PowerBlocks’ closed-handle design.

My Choice:

Bowflex.

Reason:

In terms of lifting ergonomics, you can’t go wrong with the traditional dumbbell shape offered by the Bowflex dumbbells.

After all, dumbbells have been manufactured to the same design for hundreds of years.

A traditional dumbbell shape effectively distributes the weight to both ends of the handle. It also gives you an open-handle design (where your hand can reach the dumbbell handle from all angles).

The Bowflex open-handle design is better than PowerBlocks closed-handle design.

Combined, this replicates the feel of a commercial gym dumbbell which many people find important.

In comparison, PowerBlocks have all the weight concentrated directly onto the handle. This can make exercises utilizing an off-center grip, like the supinated dumbbell curl, feel slightly awkward when you’re already familiar with gym dumbbells.

PowerBlocks also have a series of rails running across the dumbbell in a closed-handle design.

A good example of this is the foam-padded handle guards on the PowerBlock Elites.

The PowerBlock closed-handle design.

This can be awkward when it gets in the way during some exercises that utilize unconventional grips (e.g. the dumbbell pull-over).

With all this said, the PowerBlock shape IS much more durable compared to the Bowflex.

But overall, Bowflex gets a slight win over PowerBlock on this one I’m afraid.

You can get the Bowflex delivered quickly here!

Weight Adjustment Mechanism Comparison

Weight adjustment mechanism comparison between PowerBlock vs Bowflex.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Pin-selector adjustment mechanism never gets stuck, which can happen on Bowflex dials.Bowflex dial mechanism is more beginner-friendly and intuitive compared to PowerBlocks pin-selector.
Dial-selector is generally more durable compared to PowerBlocks polypropylene pin-selector

My Choice:

Bowflex.

Reason:

In my opinion, you can’t really beat the intuitiveness of Bowflex’s simple dial system; just turn the knob to choose your desired weight.

In comparison, the PowerBlock pin-selector system needs to be used in conjunction with a color weight chart. And if you’re not familiar with the coding stem, it can be rather slow to adjust the correct weight.

But once you’ve familiarised yourself, it becomes second nature.

Once you’ve gotten used to the PowerBlock adjustment mechanism, the speed at which both dumbbells change weight is more or less similar:

Adjustment Speed MetricPowerBlockBowflex
2.5lb to 5lb adjustments7 seconds2 seconds
10lb adjustments2 seconds2 seconds
5lb to 50lb adjustment2 seconds2 seconds
You can click on the links to find the cheapest prices!

However, where the PowerBlocks adjustment speed suffers, is in their adder weight adjustments.

You need to pull the handle cavity out of the main weight nest to insert/remove the adder weights to adjust in 2.5/5lbs.

Whilst the adder weight function is awesome, it can be slow and cumbersome to use, even with PowerBlocks auto-lock switch which was designed to make the process faster.

PowerBlock adder weight function review.

In comparison, the Bowflex dumbbells are quick to adjust in all weight ranges.

That’s why I think the Bowflex is better than the PowerBlock on this front, despite some of the durability issues reported by some customers.

You can find the cheapest Bowflex price here!

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex: Max Weight And Increments Comparison

PowerBlock vs Bowflex max weight and increments comparison.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Elite/Sport/Pro 50 EXP models are expandable to 90lbs per dumbbell, unlike the Bowflex 552.Bowflex 552 has a 12.5lb setting which is unavailable in most PowerBlock models (except Sport 24 and Pro 32). This weight is great for beginner bicep curls.
Base models can be expanded whenever the user is ready and this gives greater flexibility and affordability for owners, unlike Bowflex dumbbells.
EXP models allow 2.5lb increments across the entire weight range (2.5lb-90lb) unlike the Bowflex dumbbells.
PowerBlocks replace up to 28 dumbbells, which is 11 more than Bowflex’s best model (SelectTech 1090).

My Choice:

PowerBlock.

Reason:

PowerBlock’s main selling point is in its durability and awesome weight settings.

It’s built for those who need to lift heavy or beginners who intend to lift heavy in the future.

For most people, the PowerBlock expandable (EXP) models offer excellent value for money (they’re not a lot more expensive than non-EXP models).

How the PowerBlocks can expand weight unlike Bowflex.

All models in this PowerBlock EXP series give you a base weight of 2.5-50lbs in 2.5lb increments (using the adder weights) and replaces 16 dumbbells.

This is similar to the Bowflex 552.

But where the PowerBlock outshines the Bowflex is in their ability to be expanded up to 90lbs per dumbbell.

This means you have the option to upgrade if and when you outgrow the current weight, without being forced to spend close to $1000 on a 90lb dumbbell (like the Bowflex 1090) right from the get-go.

Bowflex dumbbells cannot be expanded.

In comparison, the Bowflex weight structure is more rigid and forces you to go for either a 52.5lb dumbbell or a 90lb dumbbell.

And if you do happen to find it too heavy/light after purchase, then tough, you’ll have to stick with it or purchase a new pair of dumbbelsl to upgrade.

Additionally, PowerBlock EXPs give you 2.5lb increments across the entire weight range, compared to Bowflex 552 dumbbells which only give you 2.5lb increments up to 25lbs (Bowflex 1090 dumbbells don’t offer 2.5lb increments at all).

PowerBlocks 2.5lb adder weight function is better than Bowflex.

Without 2.5lb increments, it becomes slightly harder to make smooth strength gains in small exercises like the bicep curl, lateral raise, and tricep extension.

Finally, PowerBlock dumbbells generally replace a higher number of dumbells compared to their equal Bowflex competitor.

These reasons combined, allow me to confidently say that PowerBlocks weight settings are far better than the Bowflex dumbbells.

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here!

Handle/Grip Comfort Comparison

Bowflex vs PowerBlock handle comparison.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Grip covers the entire dumbbell handle, unlike the Bowflex dumbbells.Open-handle design feels more like a traditional dumbbell handle compared to PowerBlocks
TRP material provides more grip compared to Bowflex dumbbells.36mm handle diameter is more comfortable for smaller hands.
38mm handle diameter is great for the average hand size.

My Choice:

PowerBlock.

Reason:

This was a close call but I had to go with the PowerBlock and here’s why.

Firstly, the handle diameter between the PowerBlock and Bowflex are similar. The 2mm difference means the Bowflex handle is slightly better for people with small hands (< 4″ clenched fist diameter).

But to be honest, the difference is minimal and you’ll not be able to notice unless you’re comparing both dumbbells side by side.

PowerBlock off-centre grip is better than Bowflex.

Secondly, the grippy material covers the entire PowerBlock handle. In comparison, the grippy material only covers a portion of the Bowflex handle.

This makes a big difference when you’re doing exercises that use an offset grip (e.g. tricep extensions and supinated bicep curls) since the Bowflex offers very little grip when the handle is held off-center.

I performed a grip test on my PowerBlock and Bowflex dumbbells to find out which had the better handle.

Thirdly, I performed a simple test to find out which handle material provides the better grip – PowerBlocks TRP (thermoplastic rubber) vs Bowflex’s textured neoprene sleeve.

The test involved using my index finger and thumb to pinch the handle of each dumbbell set at 10lbs with just enough force to pick it up.

I then lifted it from the floor and timed how long I could hold the dumbbell (longer = more grip):

PowerBlock Elite Handle Pinch Grip TestBowflex 552 Handle Pinch Grip Test
4 seconds2.5 seconds
You can follow the link for the cheapest prices!

You can see the PowerBlock performed better on my grip test.

So overall, I do feel the PowerBlock handle gets a slight edge over and is better than, the Bowflex handle.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex: Compactness And Space-Savings Comparison

PowerBlocks vs Bowflex dimensions and space-savings comparison.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Compact block-shaped design generally feels much less bulky and awkward during exercises, compared to the Bowflex.Comes with a storage cradle that protects the dumbbell and your floor.
Occupies around 25% less cubic volume compared to Bowflex dumbbells, making them better for small home gyms.
Can be stacked on top of one each other during storage.

My Choice:

PowerBlock.

Reason:

Most customers feel that the Bowflex dumbbells are generally worth the money.

But one of their biggest issues is their sheer bulk.

Take the Bowflex 552 for example- the dumbbell measures 17″ from end to end, compared to the PowerBlock Elite which measures 12″.

PowerBlock is much more compact compared to Bowflex dumbbells.

What’s even worse though, is the fact that the Bowflex dumbbells don’t get shorter as the weight gets lighter (as PowerBlocks and fixed-weight hex dumbbells do).

This means the Bowflex dumbbells often bump into each other during small movements like the bicep curl.

This makes them feel awkward and sometimes incredibly frustrating to use.

PowerBlocks save more space in storage compared to Bowflex dumbbells.

Storage-wise, the PowerBlocks win again.

Not only are they more compact in all dimensions, but they can also be safely stacked on top of each other when not being used (perfect for small spaces).

However, one negative to point out with the PowerBlock Elite/Sports is that the steel rails sit directly on the floor.

This can scratch hardwood and tiled flooring if you aren’t careful.

But overall, I’d say the PowerBlocks are still much better with regards to their overall compactness and size.

You can check out my other post for more details on the differences between each PowerBlock and which one is the best.

Sturdiness And Durability Comparison

PowerBlock vs Bowflex durability and sturdiness comparison.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Steel rail block design is extremely durable for an adjustable dumbbell.Bowflex propylene weight plates are more scratch resistant compared to PowerBlock Elite/Sport powder-coating.
Can safely take body weight in exercises like the dumbbell push-up unlike Bowflex dumbbells.

My Choice:

PowerBlock.

Reason:

For me, the clear winner is PowerBlock.

Bowflex dumbbells aren’t exactly flimsy. OK the weight plates rattle on the handle, they can’t be dropped, and you can’t lean your body weight on them in exercises like the dumbbell-push up.

However, if you look after them, they’ll last you a long term (my Bowflex SelectTech 552s have lasted me over 2 years now).

PowerBlocks are sturdy enough to support body weight.

But the PowerBlocks block design is definitely superior.

My PowerBlock Elites genuinely feel like they can take a pounding despite being the cheapest PowerBlock model.

I can safely lean my entire body weight on them and even drop them without the slightest sign they’ll break (not that I recommend you abuse this).

The only negative about PowerBlock’s durability is in their weight plate outer coating.

PowerBlock powder-coating is not as durable as Bowflex heavy-duty plastic.

On the cheaper models (Elite and Sport), the weight plates are powder-coated in thick enamel paint.

Whilst this is generally quite hard-wearing, it is by no means invincible to scratches and chips (not an issue with the Pro series urethane-coated plates).

In contrast, the polypropylene Bowflex plates are much more scratch-resistant.

But overall, I feel the Powerblocks are much better than the Bowflex dumbbelsl in terms of general resilience.

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here!

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex: Shipping And Warranty Comparison

Bowflex vs Powerblock shipping and warranty comparison.

PowerBlock Vs Bowflex Head-To-Head:

Why PowerBlock Is BetterWhy Bowflex Is Better
Extended 5-year warranty compared to Bowflex’s 2-year warranty.Ships in 1 parcel reducing the risk of transit issues.
More likely to be in stock on Amazon.

My Choice:

PowerBlock.

Reason:

Both the PowerBlocks and Bowflex dumbbells are designed in the USA and made in China.

The shipping process is also similar for both dumbbells, taking just under 2 weeks and up to $200 for international delivery on Amazon (US shipping takes around 1 week and is free of charge).

The main difference comes down to the fact that PowerBlock dumbbells ship in two boxes (not a major issue since they both arrived with less than a days lag) and Bowflex dumbbells are delivered in a single box.

They are both sold in pairs.

It’s the warranty policy that sets these two dumbbells apart.

All PowerBlock comes with an industry-leading 5-year warranty that also covers damage as a result of drops less than 12″ in height.

In comparison, Bowflex only offers 2-years and does not cover damages as a result of drops.

So you can probably understand why I would say that PowerBlocks are much better than Bowflex dumbbells in terms of the warranty policy!

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here!

What Other People Think About PowerBlock Vs Bowflex

Whilst I personally think the PowerBlocks are better than the Bowflex dumbbells, this is just my opinion.

For this PowerBlock vs Bowflex article to be fair, I also conducted a comparison study on various online platforms to find out what other people think of these dumbbells.

Amazon Thinks PowerBlock And Bowflex Are Both Very Good Dumbbells

PowerBlock and Bowflex models compared:

  • PowerBlock Pro.
  • Powerblock Elite EXP.
  • PowerBlock Sport (2020 model)
  • Powerblock Sport 24.
  • Bowflex SelectTech 552.
  • Bowflex SelectTech 1090.

And here’s what other customers think about the PowerBlocks vs Bowflex dumbbells:

MetricPowerBlockBowflex
Total reviews2,77117,776
% reviews >4*89%91%
% reviews <2*5%7%
Scores are accurate at the time of writing. You can click on the links to find the cheapest prices!

Right from the bat, the most noticeable difference seems to be that Bowflex dumbbells are much more popular than PowerBlocks.

However, these numbers should be treated with caution.

PowerBlock sells its dumbbells on its website as well as on Amazon. Additionally, they seem to have more authorized retailers compared to Bowflex.

Therefore PowerBlock sales on Amazon are likely not a true reflection of the number of units sold.

Furthermore, speaking from experience, I can say that Bowflex dumbbells are always available on Amazon; unlike PowerBlocks which are often out of stock.

There was no statistically significant difference between the % of reviews >4*/<2*.

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here and the cheapest Bowflex price here.

Reddit Thinks PowerBlocks Are Better Than Bowflex Dumbbells

I tracked down the following Reddit polls:

And then I compiled Redditor’s opinions on which dumbbells are better between PowerBlock vs Bowflex.

Here are the results:

75% of Reddit agree that PowerBlocks are better than Bowflex.

You can see that the majority 75% think PowerBlocks are better than Bowflex dumbbells.

Only 25% think Bowflex dumbbells are better than PowerBlocks.

Generally speaking, I think both brands make very good dumbbells.

But in a showdown where one winner must be chosen, I think the PowerBlocks give very good value for money overall, and in fact, offer more than Bowflex (as agreed by the Reddit audience).

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here!

YouTube Agrees PowerBlocks Are Better Than Bowflex Dumbbells
PowerBlock vs. Bowflex: Which Adjustable Dumbbells Should You Buy?! | Best Fit | Men's Health Muscle

I tracked down the following Youtube videos which compared the PowerBlocks vs Bowflex dumbbells:

YoutuberNumber Of Video LikesPreference
Garage Gym Reviews23,000PowerBlock
Shredded Dad Garage Gym5,900PowerBlock
DoubleD Fitness5,300PowerBlock
Mauriciette Diaz641PowerBlock
Duy Tang107PowerBlock
Jesse Rosenthal45PowerBlock
Values are accurate at the time of the study.

You can see that all Youtubers unanimously agreed that the PowerBlocks are better than the Bowflex dumbbells.

However, it should be noted that most of the videos also commented on the fact that they’re both solid dumbbells.

It’s just the PowerBlock is slightly superior when considering all performance and value factors.

You can find the cheapest PowerBlock price here!

Conclusion: PowerBlock Vs Bowflex: Which Is Better?

Comparing PowerBlock vs Bowflex is like comparing a Ferrari with a Lamborghini.

At the end of the day, both companies make great products and in most circumstances, it depends on individual needs and preferences.

In my opinion, the Bowflex dumbbells (SelectTech 552 and 1090) have a more beginner-friendly shape and weight adjustment mechanism.

It’s great for beginner-intermediates and those training for casual fitness or weight loss.

You can check out my hands-on Bowflex SelectTech 552 review here.

The PowerBlock dumbbells (Elite, Sport, and Pro) are much more versatile; offering better weight settings, greater handle grip, better durability, a more compact and comfortable shape, and a superior warranty.

It’s ideal for intermediate-advanced lifters who need a heavy and durable free weight for their home gym, as well as those looking to build a good amount of muscle.

You can check out my hands-on PowerBlock Elite review here.

Overall, beginners will be more than happy with either product. And more experienced lifters will likely be happier with the PowerBlocks.

Which do you think is the better dumbbell brand?

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!

Peace Out,

Kal

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

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