Powerblock everything you need to know

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Powerblock everything you need to know Review Facts

Powerblock revolutionized the fitness industry more than twenty years ago with the introduction of their innovative all-in-one adjustable dumbbell set. The Powerblock allowed you to have the equivalent of a whole rack of dumbbells in a space that was about that of a small chair and you can get them at a fraction of the price.

Since then, Powerblock has only gotten bigger and better. Today you can purchase a whole range of products that are built around the innovative Powerblock selectorized weight design, from kettlebells to barbells and, of course, a complete range of dumbbell options to suit your needs. In this article, we can get a more in-depth look at the Powerblock Elite Adjustable Dumbbell. 

Editor's Pros & Cons

It is easy to adjust between weight amounts during your workout

If you buy a 5-50lb model, you can expand it to more weight later with expansion sets

They have a wide variety of weight in small increments you can use for a precision workout


They stick a little during the break-in period


The Powerblock has an interesting design and style which stands out from the rest on the market. The weight range you can exercise with using these dumbbells is between 5 to 50 pounds. You can increase the weight in increments of 2.5 pounds. Once you work your fitness level up to 50 pounds you can expand the amount by getting an expansion kit which is sold separately.

The set uses a slide tray to easily adjust the amount of weight you are working with. Color-coded weight labels let you know how to adjust the weight. It has a handle which helps to keep the weights in place while you are doing your lifts. It is very stable and has flat ends, making it much easier to rest on your lap before you lift. It is easy to grip so you will have safe and secure lifts and is very durable if you are worried about wear and tear.

How It Works

The center-piece of the Powerblock accounts for ten pounds. However, the handles have removable rods so that you can reduce it down to five pounds. Each of those rods is 2.5 pounds in weight so that you can set it at 2.5, 5, 7.5 or 10 pounds. A lever at the top of each side of the base allows you to remove the weights on the bottom of the unit. It has close positions on either side and an open position in the middle. In the open position, you can remove the stainless-steel slugs which are each 2.5 pounds.

A selector tool or indexer allows you to pick the weight that you want. On the bottom of the base is a chart that indicates the different weights by way of color-coding. Each color provides you with three weight options, depending on whether the handle rods are inserted or not. So, each color provides you with an empty handle weight, one rod inserted weight and a two-rod inserted weight.

On the end, bases are ten ridges that run the length of the base. The selector slots into these ridges to allow you to select the weight that you want. The center section has two parallel bars that are padded, while the handle in the middle of the unit has a rubber grip around it. The handle has a slight contour to provide ideal grip ergonomics.

To select your weight, you slide the selector into the color-coded area on the side of the Powerblock that corresponds to the weight you wish to use. Each of the plates which are housed on the ends of the units is ten pounds. When you lift the handle from the base, the selected weights come out along with it.
The Powerblock U90 is expandable up to 90 pounds, with the purchase of two additional weight packs. The base unit goes up to 50 pounds in total (green). You can then buy an add-on pack that takes you up to 70 pounds (stage II) and another that gets you up to 90 pounds (stage III).

The Powerblock weight plates are ten pounds each. They have a smooth urethane finish (five pounds on each side) and metal pins connect the two sides. There is a little bit of flexibility in the plate end. This is a good thing when you are quickly changing between weights. The plates feel extremely solid.

The middle section of the block is completely reversible, so it doesn’t matter what direction you put it in. Overall, there are not a lot of moving parts, which is a good thing. This in contrast to the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, which have more moving parts. The fewer parts, the fewer things that could go wrong.

Operation of the selector is pretty straightforward. You simply slide the selector into the color-coded section corresponding to your desired weight. However, this will only provide you with the heaviest weight in that color band. For example, if you are working with the green color code, the selector will give you a total of 50 pounds. If you are after either 45 or 47.5 pounds, you will have to also remove one or both of the steel rods that are in the handle. This takes extra time and maybe a hassle for some people.

Another potential negative is that you may mistakenly place the selector into different color codes at each end when you are in a hurry or simply fatigued from your workout. If you do that, the weight will not come out and the selector may be damaged.

In comparison to a standard-sized hexagonal dumbbell, the Powerblock is a little larger. However, it is more compact in terms of overall length than the Bowflex 552. The length of the Powerblock is a little over 12 inches, with a 15-pound hex dumbbell being around 10 inches. Traditional cast iron adjustable weights (20 pounds) are about 13.5 inches in length. The Bowflex 552, in contrast, has a length of about 16 inches. The compactness of the Powerbock is a major advantage of the Bowflex, as it does not restrict your range of movement on such exercises as seated dumbbell curls and side lateral raises.

Easy To Use

The Power Block Dumbbells are easy to adjust between weight ranges. The weight plates are in stacks which have markers that are color-coded. They show the weight amount for each plate or stack. You can use the u-shaped selector pin to slide off the weight markers and select the weight. Changing the weight settings is quite easy. The pin is magnetic so you will not have to worry about it coming loose accidentally. Once you slide it into the equipment, you will hear it click into place. Then you know the connection is secure.


The Powerblock is made with a flex bracket design which is designed to last through years of use without breaking. The plates are made of steel with a urethane coating to protect them from wear and tear. Dropping them is not advised since they do have breakable parts but some users have reported dropping them without incident. It is made with only premium-quality materials and has a smart, economical design which can withstand abuse.


When it comes to adjustment, these elite dumbbells are easy to adjust the weight settings on. The weight plates come set in stacks, with markers that are color-coded that tell you exactly the amount of weight in each stack. When you want to select a specific weight you want to use in your workout, you use the selector pin that is U-shaped to move into the different holes of the weight markers. Changing the weight settings can literally take you a grand total of a few seconds and you will be on your way to your workout in no time flat.

It comes with a magnetic pin, so you will not have to worry about it coming loose at all during your workout. You can feel it click once it's in place in the dumbbell so you know you have a good, secure connection.

Another huge plus is that you have the ability to adjust the weight by 2.5 lb increments simply by using the adder weights which happen to attach to the inside of each dumbbell. These precise weight increments are critical if you want to get the utmost versatility from your adjustable dumbbells. It does take a little longer to change weights in these smaller increments than it does when you change to the larger, 5 lb or 10 lb increments because you manually input the 2.5 lb weights yourself. With the larger increments, you simply just use the pin and change between the different weight settings lightning fast. If you want to take full advantage of these smaller increments, it will involve a little more time. As long as you don't have any issues with spending an extra 10 seconds or so to add these small yet effective increments of weight, it’s very simple to do.


The PowerBlocks have a self-contained storage mechanism. The dumbbell handle and weights work together to conveniently and compactly "nest" within each other. This is very convenient because you will not need a lot of space required to store the. It is reduced to the size of their own small footprint.

You will not need extra space to store individual weight plates. However, it is still advised that you use a dumbbell stand to safely and efficiently rack your dumbbells between sets. It is good to store them safely when they are not in use.​

Compact Size

These PowerBlock dumbbells are easily the most compact dumbbells on the market, at least in terms of their length. This includes both adjustable and traditional fixed dumbbells.

Being compact is helpful, especially when you are working to use the optimal path of movement for your bicep curls and not having to maneuver them around your hips. Since they are smaller, the weights are easier to control during heavy exercises.


You might be fooled by the unique squared design. It seems like it may be a little bulky at first look at it, but they actually have a very natural, well-balanced feel to them. This is no easy task to perfect with an adjustable dumbbell because the majority of models you see have a bracket design that is longer by nature. It doesn't matter how much weight you choose, the actual size doesn't change. A 50-pound weight setting has the same length as a 10-pound setting.

Due to the fact that PowerBlocks uses a stackable design, however, the dumbbell length will change depending on the amount of weight you are using. You might not think this a big issue, but a having a dumbbell that is well-balanced plays a major role in your workout because it will only help with you performing lifts with a more natural approach, even more so when you are working with the lower weight range. A big complaint with some other bracket-designed adjustable dumbbells is that those dumbbells do not feel natural. The long, awkward design actually keeps them from executing some exercises, but with the PowerBlock dumbbells, this will not be an issue that you will encounter.

The Final Word

The Powerblock system is a compact, easy to use adjustable dumbbell system that has been refined and developed over the last couple of decades. Its major advantages are its compact design and the ability to add to the weight stacks. We also love the new innovation of being able to switch to a kettlebell handle, though you will have to this accessory. It’s a little more expensive than the Bowflex SelectTech system and its adjustment system is a little more involved. But if you are after the best range of exercise motion and the highest weight capacity, Powerblock is your choice.