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Adjustable dumbbells are the perfect option for those who want to work out at home (or on the go), but don’t want to fill their home with weight benches and gym equipment.
Think about it: If you set up a bench press with a barbell and enough weights to lift, you’d have a pretty space-consuming setup. You’d have to dedicate an entire room to your workout, and that’s not always possible if you have a small (or full) house.
Enter adjustable dumbbells…
Bottom Line Up Front: If you are stuck deciding between the two, my recommendation is to buy the 522s here first. They are easier to handle (more comfortable) and easier to store. Then, once you are ready, upgrade to the 1090s.
Adjustable dumbbells allow you to add and remove weight with the simple turn of a dial or click of a button. You can work with anywhere from 5 to 50 pounds per hand, giving you more than enough weight for just about any workout. Best of all, they take VERY little space in your home.
Tale of the Tape
First off, we have to start off by comparing the most important aspects of these two dumbbells: the size and weight.
Bowflex 552 – This set of adjustable dumbbells is just under 16 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 9 inches tall. It’s slightly longer than your average pair of dumbbells, but it won’t take up much more space than any regular dumbbell.
For weight, the 552 can range between 5 and 52.5 pounds per dumbbell. You have up to 15 weight settings, and it can be adjusted in increments of 2.5 pounds up to 25 pounds. This makes the Bowflex 552 ideal for the exercises that require less weight (shoulder and arm exercises, for example). You have a lot more control over the weight you want to work with!
Bowflex 1090 – The 1090 is a bit larger than the 552—at 17.5 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 10 inches high. They’ll definitely take up more space in your home workout room, though not too much more.
The 1090 has a much greater weight range: between 10 and 90 pounds. It has 17 weight settings, and can be adjusted in increments of 5 pounds. That makes it a good choice for those who want a lot of weight, and for working out the larger muscle groups (legs, chest, and back).
Winner – Both are excellent. The Bowflex 552 is better for those who need LESS WEIGHT t and have LESS SPACE, but the 1090 is better for anyone who needs a lot of weight (more advanced lifters).
What features does each of these dumbbells have to offer?
The fact that they’re designed by the same company means they’re both controlled by the same dial system. The dial allows you to add and remove weight as desired by simply turning the button. Simply place the dumbbell back in its rack, twist the dial to adjust the weight, and get working. It takes a couple of seconds, and you can move on to the next exercise easily.
You can perform hundreds of exercises with the dumbbell, thanks to the adjustable weight and the versatility of dumbbells. They’re both equally durable, with the same durable molding around the metal plates to reduce noise as you train. Both are likely to break if you drop them, so it’s important that you are very careful when using them.
The only real difference between the two lies in the weight increments and weight range. The 552 handles the lighter work better, while the 1090 is better in terms of sheer weight.
Winner: Once again, both the 552 and 1090 are tied for top dog. They have the same features, and they each appeal to a different type of resistance trainee.
Here is where we find the greatest disparity between the two products. My personal opinion aside, this is a hotly contested debate.
Bowflex 552 – The Bowflex 552 has been around for longer, so it’s no surprise that it has close to 3,000 reviews. But what is surprising is its rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. That’s a very high ranking, and as you’ll see by most of the user reviews, this adjustable dumbbell deserves it:
- “The dials, in my opinion, are ten times easier than the magnetic pins of PowerBlocks, and these Bowflex dumbbells look ten times more fashionable.”
- “The construction is sturdy; not once did I feel any uneasiness in using them. Even moves where the dumbbells were lifted quickly and brought back down didn’t cause any issues with the locking mechanism of the dumbbells. The only slight issue is the overall length of the dumbbells. The width is manageable but the length can cause a few issues in maybe 5% of the exercises performed.”
- “The grip is just the right firmness and size, the plates aren’t bulky, and while they feel a bit rattl-ey, they aren’t!”
Bowflex 1090 – The 1090s are a bit newer, so they don’t have as many user reviews (just over 500 on Amazon). However, their rating is slightly lower—just 4.3 out of 5 stars. That’s still an excellent rating, but there are a few comments that highlight why it’s lower:
- “I have only had these for about a week. Doing my first workout with about 50lbs I found those handles to be a pain. It felt like it was tearing my hands up.”
- “The dumbbells are a little long compared to standard ones. I never find them difficult to use or troublesome, but they are a good 6 inches longer then standard dumbbells.”
- “If your hands are crazy tough or you don’t usually lift heavy don’t sweat it, but if you lift heavy and you like having skin on your palms, you need gloves for these handles.”
However, there were a lot of positive comments as well:
- “These are an incredible deal given the flexibility they give you.”
- “Changing weights with the turn of a dial could not be faster or more convenient.”
- “The dial to switch the weight amount is smooth and easy to turn. Good grip feel and thick.”
Winner: Bowflex 552 has a slight edge in terms of customer satisfaction, and if the reviews are to be trusted, they’re a better option overall.
n terms of value, the 522s are a bit better. If you only ever lift with just one dumbell, then a single 1090 might be worth getting instead.
Conclusion: The Final Lift
Now we come to the big question, which is the better pair of adjustable dummbells? Is the heavier 1090 a better choice than the lighter 552, or does the more comfortable handle and smaller dimensions of the 552 give it the edge?
The truth is that these dumbbells are so much alike that it’s nearly impossible to say which is better. It all depends on what your workout goals and capabilities are.
Need Heavier Weights? If you need more weight for heavier lifts, the 1090 is your best choice.
Comfortable with Lighter Lifts (and looking to save space)? If you’re looking for a pair of dumbbells that give you more precision for lighter lifts, you should go with the 552s.
In terms of everything else (features, specs, dimensions, price, etc.), the two dumbbells are as close to identical as it gets. They’re both excellent choices, but with slightly different individual fits.