How Do Bowflex Dumbbells Work?

Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells are adjustable dumbbells. One dumbbell block holds several weights and takes up considerably less space than several regular dumbbells. Turn a dial to select your weight and pull it out of the dumbbell block. Bowflex offers two SelectTech dumbbell models that work in the same way, but offer slightly different features.

The Technology

The SelectTech dumbbells have a series of grooved weight plates and a dial at each end of the dumbbell. The dial is marked with all the weight options for the dumbbell. It attaches to a red bracket that runs across the top of the plates. Turn the dial and the bracket only grabs the weight plates that equal the selected weight. Pull the handle out of the dumbbell block and the plates you don't need stay in the block.


The SelectTech dumbbells offer several weights in one compact block of space. According to Bowflex, depending on which model you choose, SelectTech dumbbells can replace either 15 or 17 sets of regular dumbbells. The smaller SelectTech dumbbell block is 15.75 inches long, 8 inches wide and 9 inches long. The larger block is 17.5 inches long, 10 inches wide and 10 inches tall. Switching weights is relatively quick. Set the handle into the block, turn the dial at each end to select your weight and pull the handle out of the block.


Bowflex offers two SelectTech models: the 552 and the 1090. The 552 is the less expensive and smaller SelectTech model. Each dumbbell block holds between 5 and 52.5 lbs. The first 25 lbs. is adjustable in 2.5-lb. increments and after that, it is adjustable in 5-lb. increments. Each 1090 dumbbell block offers 10 to 90 lbs. in 5-lb. increments. The dumbbell blocks sit on a stand that you can purchase separately.


Because of the number of weight plates it can hold, a SelectTech dumbbell is larger than most regular dumbbells. A regular hex dumbbell is typically between 10 and 15 inches long. The SelectTech 552 is over 15 inches long and the SelectTech 1090 is over 17 inches long, regardless of the weight you choose. The large size of these adjustable dumbbells can make it awkward to perform some exercises, especially for smaller, more petite, lifters.