Adjustable dumbbells are such a brilliant invention and a good way to build your strength without letting your fitness equipment take over your house. You can keep them in the corner of your living room or home gym without worrying too much about an ever-growing collection that costs you more and more as you make gains. That brings us to the Powerblock vs Ironmaster debate: which one is better, and why?
These two dumbbell brands provide the same function, but they’re very different in a lot of ways. Let’s look at the features, pros, and cons of each one, then compare them side-by-side, to see which ones are the perfect fit for you. We’ll give our recommendation at the end.
- 1 Main Differences Between Powerblock vs Ironmaster
- 2 Features of Powerblock
- 3 Features of Ironmaster
- 4 Comparison Chart
- 5 Alternatives to Powerblock and Ironmaster Dumbbells to Consider
- 6 FAQs
- 7 Powerblock vs Ironmaster: Which Should You Buy?
Main Differences Between Powerblock vs Ironmaster
The Main Differences Between Powerblock vs Ironmaster are:
- The Powerblock weights require you to purchase the in-between upgrade in order to use the maximum upgrade, whereas the Ironmaster doesn’t require it (you may want to, though, since one comes with 5-lb plates and the other comes with 22.5-lb plates).
- The Powerblocks only have a five-year warranty, whereas the Ironmasters have a lifetime warranty.
- The Powerblocks can’t be dropped or tossed around, whereas the Ironmaster can be dropped without breaking.
- The Powerblocks use a selector pin to choose from color-coded weights, whereas the Ironmaster has a quick and easy screw-in and screw-out method for changing weights.
- The Powerblocks max out at 90 lbs per hand, whereas the Ironmasters go up to 120 lbs per hand (or even 135 lbs with the Heavy Handle Plate Kit).
- The Powerblocks will all stack easily—even with expansions—whereas the Ironmasters will require storage for extra plates and screws.
- The Powerblocks are pretty easy to find and purchase at a few different stores, whereas the Ironmasters are only listed on Amazon (unavailable) and the Ironmaster.com site, where they’re currently only available through sporadic lottery drawings (though hopefully, this will change in the future).
- The Powerblocks have an unusual design that’s about the size of traditional weights but a different shape and handling experience, whereas the Ironmasters closely mimic the experience of traditional weights you’d use in the gym.
- The Powerblocks have several starting points and only some sets are expandable, whereas the Ironmasters all start with the same basic set and expand from there.
Features of Powerblock
Even if you’re just getting into weightlifting, you’ve probably heard of Powerblocks. If you’ve seen Powerblocks, you know what to expect—color-coded bands and a squared-off shape, though some sets have more rounded edges along the top. Let’s take a look at what they offer:
- Color-coded weights (except on the Sport series)
- Compact size
- 5-year warranty
- Variety of weights and price-points to choose from
- Option to expand up to 70 lbs or 90 lbs per hand on some sets
- Selector pin for changing weights
- Increase weights in 2.5- to- 5-lb increments (varies by model)
Powerblock Options Available
If you decide that Powerblocks sound more like what you’re looking for in general, the options they have could still make your head spin. There are three different series: Pro (available in Pro 32, Pro 50, and Pro EXP options), Sport (Sport 24, Sport 50, Sport EXP), and USA Elite.
It’s easiest to understand the differences when they’re in a chart. From there, you can choose the Powerblock option that might be best for you and compare it to the Ironmaster set to determine the best fit:
|Max Weight (lbs)||Weight Increase Increments||Dimensions (inches)||Key features||Price||Warranty|
|Pro 32||32, not expandable||4 lbs||12” L x 5.75” W x 5.5” H||Color-coded bands, more rounded top than the Elites, black finish, urethane over steel||Just over $300.00
|Pro 50||50, not expandable||2.5 lbs||13” L x 7” W x 7.25” H||Color-coded bands, more rounded top than the Elites, black finish, urethane over steel, can use the kettlebell or barbell attachments||About $450.00||5-year limited|
|Pro EXP||90, expandable to 90 lbs each hand||5 lbs||12” L x 7” W x 7.25” H at 50 lbs, 14.75” L x 7” W x 7.25” H (50 lbs); adding 70- and 90- lb expansions bump the length to 14.75” and 17”, respectively||Color-coded bands, more rounded top than the Elites, black finish, urethane over steel, can use the kettlebell or barbell attachments||Starts at just under $500.00||5-year limited|
|Sport 24||24||3 lbs||10.5” L x 5.35” W x 5” H||Steel gray powder finish||Just under $200.00 at Dick’s Sporting Goods||5-year limited|
|Sport 50||50||5 lbs||12.5” L x 6.5” W x 6.5” H||Steel gray metallic finish||Just under $400.00 at Walmart||5-year limited|
|Sport EXP||90, expandable to 70 or 90 lbs each hand||5 lbs||starts at 12” L x 6.5” 6.5” H and extends to 16” L x 6.5” W x 6.5” H with the 90-lb expansion||Steel gray metallic finish||Starts at just under $400.00||5-year limited|
|USA Elite 50||50, expandable to 70 or 90 lbs each hand||5 lbs (2.5 if using adder weights)||6” H x 6” W x 11.75” L original, 14” L with the 70-lb add-on, and 16.25” L with the 90-lb add-on||Steel, black, color-coded by weight||Starts at just over $329.00 before expansions||5-year limited|
Now you can have 20 pairs of dumbbells at home in the space of just 1 pair with the PowerBlock Pro 50 Adjustable Dumbbell Set. Pro 50 has a weight range of 5-50 lbs per hand and allows you to change weight in 2.5 or 5 lb increments in seconds.
The Powerblock Adjustable Dumbells are ultimately the better option. They are ideal for a heavy lifter that is looking to increase the weight limit, thus strength, over time, which is not possible with the Bowflex Dumbbells.
These Dumbbells have a weight range of 5-50 lbs and replaces 16 dumbbells in the space of 1. EXP means expandable and you can expand this set later to 70 lbs and again to 90 lbs with optional expansion kits.
Powerblocks stand out in the adjustable dumbbell world for several reasons:
- There’s something for everyone, whether you want a small commitment or a larger one
- Some models expand to up to 90 lbs per hand
- Widely available, generally (some Powerblock sets may be harder to find than others)
- Color-coding makes selecting the weight you want quick and easy
- Relatively inexpensive when it comes to adjustable dumbbells
- Seem to be well-made with no plastic in worrisome places that could wear down and result in injury over time
- Compact and closer to the size of regular dumbbells than some other options
They aren’t perfect, however. (Which ones really are, though?)
- Stands are recommended (not necessary) but not included in the cost, so you could be looking at another expense
- It may prove difficult to track down anything but the Elite set
- The plastic that selects the weights can feel flimsy and slow down the weight-selection process; this doesn’t appear to be a safety hazard, but it is a slight inconvenience if you’re working out with a video or in a hurry
- Expansions cost about as much as the weight sets themselves
- It may be not the most comfortable to use for those with larger hands
- Not all sets can be expanded to heavier weights
- If you’re looking for more than 90 lbs in each hand, you won’t get it with these
Features of Ironmaster
- Uses a Quick-Lock handle design for speed and security
- You can drop them and they’ll be fine.
- No need to trade the feel and lifting experience of traditional dumbbells for space and savings adjustable dumbbells can give you since these are shaped and sized about like what you’d use in the gym.
- Lifetime warranty
- Plates are marked in lbs and kgs.
- Your initial set will max out at 45 lbs per hand, but you can expand up to 120 lbs per hand.
- Diamond knurled grips
- The starter set comes with four locking screws, 12 5-lb plates and 4 2.5-lb plates
- Handles and screws combined weigh 10 lbs and are counted toward the 45-lb weight in each hand.
- Before taking any expansion sets into account, the maximum dimensions of these dumbbells are 6.7” x 6.7” x 11.5”.
Ironmaster Options Available
In most cases, you’ll start with the five- to- 45-lb (each hand) set and then expand from there. There is, however, the option to purchase the 75-lb set with a stand.
Add-on options will apply to that basic set and include:
- Micro Plate Kit: four 1.25-lb plates
- Heavy Handle Plate Kit: four 7.5-lb plates and hardware
- Add-on Kit to 120 Lbs: 4 long-locking screws and 4 22.5-lb plates
- Add-on Kit to 75 Lbs: 12 5-lb plates
- Custom 165-lb Add-on Kit: Requires the 75-lb and 120-lb add-ons and a phone call (you can’t order online)
There is so much the Ironmaster dumbbell design gets right:
- There’s a lot of versatility here, which allows you to create your ideal adjustable dumbbell experience, through weight, handle type, and incremental increases.
- Weight plates from the dumbbells can also be used with the Ironmaster adjustable kettlebell handle
- You can really control your increases in weight by adding 1.25 lbs at a time, using the Micro Plate Kit, instead of making the more challenging jumps of 2.5- to- 5-lb increases.
- Have the shape and general size of traditional dumbbells
- You can’t get a better warranty than a lifetime.
- Discounts available for military, first responders, and certified trainers
They’re close to perfect, but there are still some things to consider before diving in on these:
- Expensive to get started (about $450.00 for the 45-lb-per-hand set)
- Expensive to add on ($169.00 for the 75-lb upgrade and $349.00 for the 120-lb kit)
- Hard to get your hands on, since they’re only sold at Ironmaster.com and Amazon, and as of this writing, some sets are only available through a lottery drawing
- Takes longer to change weights than the Powerblock
Let’s take a look at the Powerblock and Ironmaster side-by-side:
|Price||Just under $200.00 to just over $800.00 (with expansion)||Around $459.00 to get started with handles and 45 lbs per hand|
|Payment plan?||Yes, through Affirm||Accepts PayPal Credit|
|Where to buy||Powerblock.com (offers the financing), Walmart, Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, though availability will vary from store to store||Ironmaster.com, possibly Amazon (currently unavailable)|
|Dimensions||As small as 10.5” L x 5.35” W x 5” H (Sport 24) to 17” L 7” W x 7.25” H with expansion (Pro EXP)||The basic set with weights is 6.7” x 6.7” x 11.5”|
|Weight range||24 to 90 lbs in each hand||5 to 45 in each hand to start, up to 135 lbs per hand with add-ons|
|Notable features||Color-coding, selector pin, Pro 50 and EXP work with barbell and kettlebell accessories, steel (finishes differ), small incremental increases||Incredibly durable, can be used with a Fat Grip Adapter Set|
|Recommended accessories||Expansions, stand, barbell (some models), kettlebell handle (some models)||Stand, kettlebell handle, expansion sets|
Alternatives to Powerblock and Ironmaster Dumbbells to Consider
If neither Powerblocks nor Ironmaster sounds like exactly what you’re looking for, maybe one of these alternatives will be exactly it.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 are often compared to the Powerblocks, since they’re somewhat similar in function and price. Plus, they’re just two of the most well-known brands of adjustable weights out there.
- One of the more affordable quality sets of two adjustable dumbbells
- Available for purchase at Bowflex.com
- Free shipping
- Replace 15 sets of weights and only take up the space of one large set
- Adjust in small increments (2.5 up to 25 lbs, 5-lb after that)
- Enough of a weight range for the average user at 5 to 52.5 lbs
- Longer than traditional dumbbells and could be awkward to use in some moves
- Not expandable
- It May take months to ship (as of this writing)
These look similar to the SelectTech set and they’re also from a trusted fitness brand.
- Go up to 55 lbs
- Comes with a year of iFit membership
- Adjusts in 2.5-lb increments
- 0% financing is available
- Expensive at about $600.00
- You can’t just buy the dumbbells for less and skip the iFit membership that you may not want
- Starts at 10 lbs, so some users won’t be able to do all exercise moves with them
- It May feel a little long for some exercise moves (max length is 19.5”)
- Not expandable
The Merax Deluxe 71.5-lb adjustable dial dumbbell set isn’t exactly inexpensive at just under $700.00 (shipping’s not free, either). However, you can get up to 71.5 lbs per hand with this set, so it may be the mid-point option between the pair of Powerblocks you like and the Ironmasters that are hard to purchase right now.
- Available online with or without stand
- There is an option to only buy one if you want to spend less and work one side at a time
- Easy dialing system to select your weight
- Only a two-year warranty
- Weights listed in kg, which could be confusing for some users
- Not expandable
You’re only getting one dumbbell when you buy this as it’s listed (find it on Amazon). However, that might be just what you’re looking for, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
- Available as a single weight, which means you can spend less and still get enough weight for a good full-body workout
- Choosing a new weight is easy, with a push-pull motion along the top
- Weights are clearly marked
- 44 lbs
- Free shipping with Amazon Prime
- Starts at 11 lbs, so you may not be able to use it for some moves, like shoulder exercises, depending on your strength level
- Not expandable
Question: Are Ironmaster dumbbells worth it?
Answer: With the lifetime warranty and expandability of this set, I think so. It could be the only pair of dumbbells you or your family ever needs, no matter how strong you get. It’ll be hard to outgrow them and they start at a low enough weight to be versatile in upper body workouts, too.
Question: Which Powerblock is best?
Answer: The Pro EXP, because of its versatility. It’s expandable and works with accessories that most sets won’t work with.
Question: Which Adjustable dumbbells are best?
Answer: Ironmasters are the best, but may not be attainable because of price and limited availability. Powerblock Elite or Pro EXP would be next in line.
Question: Are Powerblock dumbbells worth it?
Answer: Yes, but skip the lighter sets that aren’t expandable if you can. Keeping your options open will help you avoid the need to sell and purchase a whole new set later.
Question: How much do Ironmaster dumbbells weigh?
Answer: Five to 135 lbs, depending on what you add. The basic set is up to 45 lbs per hand, counting the handle, screws, and weight plates together.
Question: Should I get adjustable dumbbells?
Answer: If your space is limited or you just want to get the most budget-friendly dumbbell option, yes.
Question: Why are Powerblock dumbbells so expensive?
Answer: They’re really not that bad as far as price goes once you consider how many sets of dumbbells they’re replacing.
Question: Can you expand Powerblock classic 50?
Question: Can you gain muscle with just dumbbells?
Answer: Absolutely. Just make sure you’re challenging yourself with the weights and rep ranges and eating food that supports your goal.
Question: Are Powerblocks sold in pairs?
Answer: Yes, you’ll be buying a set of two dumbbells if you go with Powerblocks.
Powerblock vs Ironmaster: Which Should You Buy?
This is a tough decision because they’re so different. We think the Powerblock will satisfy the most people and they’re a good, quality product, so that’s our recommendation.
Some Powerblock sets expand past what the average user would probably ever need, and there are more options to choose from within the line for those who don’t want more than 24, 32, or 50 lbs.
They’re also easier to get your hands on when you do decide you’re ready to buy, so you can get started on (or continue) your fitness journey almost immediately, while you’re still excited. I do recommend going with one of the expandable models, just to keep your options open.
That said, Ironmaster’s warranty, durability, and expandability make them very appealing–just not the best solution for the average person who won’t need the ability to go up to 120 lbs per hand and just wants something quick and easy to use. If you’re a serious bodybuilder, have the budget, and you’re not in a rush to have the weights at your house, I recommend the Ironmaster.