Either you love mayonnaise, or you hate it. Either you can’t get enough of roller coasters, or you only ride them to make your kids happy. Either you are a fan of adjustable dumbbells, or you aren’t. These are the divisive issues of our generation.
We’re not here to convince you to love adjustable dumbbells if you’re already of the opinion that they aren’t right for you. But if you do like them or are adjustable-dumbbells curious, then hopefully, this review of the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells ($350) will be of use to you. These are a solid, reliable, and safe set of dumbbells at a price point right in the middle of the market for adjustable dumbbells of this weight range. They’d make a great addition to your home gym, especially if space is at a premium or if you’re like me and you trend toward minimalism and utilitarianism with your gear choices.
One more preface, I’m an endurance runner with a lifetime weightlifting habit that’s designed to support my running. I push weight around on the regular, but I do so with the goals of maintaining muscular strength (including getting it back after losing muscle mass to the high volume mountain days of the summer), maintaining muscular endurance, and preventing injury. Depending on the time of year, I lift low weight and high repetitions or medium weight and medium repetitions. I prefer to build my workout routines around dumbbells and weight bars.Shop the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells
NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells Specifications and Features
At their heart, the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells are pretty simple — like any good dumbbell — with relatively few features.
The newest version of these dumbbells offers weight increments between 10 (the weight of the handle bar only) and 55 pounds in the following progression: 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 32.5, 35, 40, 42.5, 45, 50, 52.5, and 55 pounds. The weight plates are round, have a diameter of roughly 8.5 inches, and the whole system is about 20 inches long if you use all the weight plates. The dumbbells get shorter at lower weights but have the same diameter except at the smallest couple of weight increments.
The dumbbells come with a heavy-duty plastic tray in which they sit, on which weight increments are labeled. Each dumbbell has four tabs used to adjust the weight. You use the labeled tray and the tabs in combination to dial in your preferred weight.
The handle bar is straight with some texture.
It’s not included in the purchase — save for a free, month-long trial subscription — but NordicTrack’s online, interactive training platform, called iFit, offers loads of strength workouts you can follow as you use these weights.
NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells Performance
The very first thing one should ask when considering adjustable dumbbells, or any weight equipment, is if they are safe. At least, that’s what comes to my mind first when I’m laying on a bench pressing a whole lot of weight into the air right above my head. In 15 months of use, one to two times per week so far, I have found the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells to be very safe.
Those who weightlift tend to develop safety routines. They add and subtract weight plates from bars in the same order, place safety pins at the same spot in their set-up sequence, and cast their eyes around for a final check in the same direction each time. I found that I quickly developed a subconscious safety routine with these dumbbells and that, in combination with a great piece of equipment, I have found lifting with these weights to be as safe as this sport gets.
On each dumbbell, you use the four tabs to dial in your weight. Two of the tabs slide in a half circle, and two are pull tabs which you pull and move laterally through the weight plates to add and subtract weight.
Over my first 20 or so uses of the dumbbells, I found the adjustment process to be a little slow and tedious compared to just walking up to a rack of dumbbells of various weights and choosing the ones you want. However, very quickly, muscle memory developed, and I soon adjusted them smoothly and without delay.
Each tab slides in its various place options with a small click that you can hear and feel, and my autopilot safety check is a quick wiggle of each tab after sliding it to the desired slot for a double check that nothing’s loose.
When you buy nonadjustable dumbbells for home use, it’s most likely a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Is this the case with these adjustable dumbbells, which are a little more complex with a few moving parts? I’m not sure, as I’m only about 15 months into my regular use of them. However, thus far, the dumbbells still look and act new.
The heavy-duty plastic tray has some potential fallibility. It’s plastic, and 55 pounds is a decent amount of weight. One of my trays came out of the shipping container with a small piece of plastic cracked out of it. It doesn’t compromise the tray’s integrity, and I keep the tray turned with the chip toward the wall, so it’s not visible.
That said, I’ve racked weights into the trays hundreds of times and sense no weak points in them, though the nature of the racking of these dumbbells so that you line up the weight plates you used with the tray and the weight plates you didn’t use, requires you to place them with some precision. This prevents you from banging them onto the rack, as we are naturally apt to do when our arms are tired at the end of a set.
The size of adjustable dumbbells is what deters some potential users. At their largest weights, these adjustable dumbbells are about the same size as a nonadjustable dumbbell of the same weight. However, at their smaller weights, they are just plain bigger and bulkier than non-adjustable dumbbells of the same weight.
While there’s the psychological aspect of using weights of an unfamiliar and larger size, the size also requires subtle modifications of exercises to accommodate the bulk. I haven’t found any exercises that I want to but cannot do with these dumbbells, but I do lift weights in a gym too, and the position differences between non-adjustable dumbbells there and these adjustable dumbbells at home for some exercises are noticeable.
We can’t forget to mention the major plus of how much space is saved by using adjustable dumbbells, which can make all the difference if you have a small place to work out at home, if you work out in a room that has multiple uses, or if you’re trying to convince anyone with whom you share a home that, no way, no how, are you gobbling up the whole house with your fitness equipment. Ahem.
As mentioned, with their size, you’ll make some small position adjustments to accommodate their extra bulk at their lower weights. If you’re pushing more weight around, though, the size will be quite similar, and I imagine fewer adjustments of your position will be needed. The max I’ve used these weights at is 40 pounds, though, so I can’t speak to using them to their maximum weight and size.
I can do any dumbbell exercise I want to do with these, however, including floor exercises where I load them with part of my body weight.
My only complaint about these dumbbells is not really a complaint, but having only one set of adjustable dumbbells slows you down and messes with your between-set rest just a bit. I’m all about efficiency at the gym. I love what strength work does for me, but like most folks, I’m a very busy person. I build my workouts in supersets and similar, alternating complementary exercises such that I can do one exercise on an unused muscle group or groups while I rest the others from the previous exercise.
If you want to alternate complementary exercises, you’ll likely have to rack the dumbbells to readjust their weight between each exercise, which takes more time than having two sets of nonadjustable dumbbells of different weights at the ready. Again, it’s not really a complaint. It’s a note that you might have to slow down your workout by just a bit for the adjusting part of using adjustable dumbbells.
Last note, these make a tiny bit of noise as the weight plates ever so slightly shift around during use, while nonadjustable dumbbells are silent. You ain’t gonna wake the baby by any means, but if you’re sensitive to noise and sensations, you’ll notice this.
iFit is NordicTrack’s online, interactive fitness platform. It requires a subscription for access.
There are a ton of workouts you can do on iFit, from run workouts to follow on a NordicTrack treadmill, to spin workouts on a NordicTrack bike, and from aerobic floor workouts using no equipment to strength workouts you can do with adjustable dumbbells.
I don’t love the majority of the iFit workouts, but that’s only because I do very specific kinds of training, and so a minority of the iFit workouts are a natural fit for me. I do love to turn on one or two of the treadmill run workouts on a recovery day and bee bop along while an iFit trainer takes me on a virtual run of some beautiful place I’ve not been before. This is a perfect way to recover the body and mind from other harder runs.
So while it wouldn’t be preferred or even natural for me to use iFit for a strength routine, I put myself through a bunch of the workouts with these adjustable dumbbells to understand what NordicTrack is offering here.
Like all of the other kinds of iFit workouts I’ve previously tried, the iFit strength workouts are high-quality in diverse offerings. They run the gamut from strength-focused to strength combined with an aerobic workout. Some of them use only body weight, and some of them call upon you to use dumbbells and bands. The instructors tell you to select a weight that works for you, and generally, the workouts trend toward higher repetitions. Finally, a majority of the workouts are full-body, and a minority target an area of the body.
A purchase of these dumbbells comes with a free, 30-day trial iFit membership, so you can give it a go and see if it’s right for you.
NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells Overall Impressions
If you’re open to the idea of adjustable dumbbells, you need them because you have a limited space in which to work out, or you prefer a more minimalist take on your gear, then the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells are an excellent option.
They don’t come cheap, but they are in the middle of the price range for adjustable dumbbells of their weight range. Plus, they cost about the same or less than outfitting your home gym with the range of nonadjustable dumbbells you’d need for your preferred arms, legs, and full-body exercises.
I’ve found them to be safe, effective, and require only a small and tolerable amount of adaptation to their particular differences from nonadjustable dumbbells.
After about 15 months of regular use, I’m happy with my gear choice, and I look forward to hopefully a lifetime of strength workouts with them.Shop the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells
Call for Comments
- Do you use adjustable dumbbells? If so, which ones do you use?
- Are you also using the NordicTrack 55 Lb. Select-A-Weight Dumbbells or any others in the NordicTrack line? What say you about them?
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