Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbells Review - Better than Powerblock or Bowflex SelectTech
Ironmaster is the manly man's dumbbell
The two biggest names in the world of adjustable dumbbells are Powerblock, with it's dumbbell that looks like a hollow rainbow brick, and Bowflex SelectTech. The one best name in adjustable dumbbells is Ironmaster. Ironmaster not only makes adjustable dumbbells that can be made heavier than the competition, but there's are more robust and can even be dropped without causing damage. Drop a set of SelectTechs and you'll probably find you've got dumbbells that are no longer adjustable.
I first found out about Ironmaster about 5 years ago. They are a relatively small company and they don't seem to spend a lot of money on advertising like their competitors do. Their dumbbells tend to be a little more expensive than the others, but the difference in quality makes it worth it. The thing that annoys be most about SelectTech is the clings and clangs they make when you lift them. There are all sorts of little parts shifting around and hitting each other, and if feels like parts are going to fall off. Not so with the Ironmasters. You lift one of those and it feels like one solid dumbbell, just like a non-adjustable would feel. That's due to the Quick-Lock system that they use, which basically bolts the interlocking plates into place.
The standard Ironmaster dumbbells go up to 75 lbs. That's a lot of weight, and a good 25 pounds more than your standard SelectTech and Powerblock sets. There is a Powerblock Elite set that goes up to 90 lbs, but the price is usually over $700, which is a rip-off because Ironmasters go for about $550 and they have an add-on to make them go up to 120 lbs for under $200. So for about the same price as a Powerblock Elite set you could get Ironmasters with the add-on and get a lot more potential weight in a higher quality product.
Ironmaster also sells a fantastic weightlifting bench called the Super Bench. You can buy it as a combo with the dumbbells to save some money. The one thing I don't like about this bench is that the attachments such as the dip bar and chin-up bar are sold separately and they have proprietary connections, so alternatives will not work with this bench. What I do like about this bench is that it's incredibly high quality, especially considering its price. Because the Ironmaster dumbbells can go to such a high weight, you'll be able to do bench presses with your dumbbells. With the 120 lb. add-on that's 240 lb bench presses. That might not seem like much, but remember you are using a separate dumbbell in each hand, which changes the game completely. It gets many more muscle groups involved when each individual arm has to stabilize its own weight.
The dumbbells do come with their own heavy duty stand, which was really nice to have in my garage gym. If you're just starting out and looking for a key component of your home gym, go for the standard Ironmaster dumbbells without the add-on. Work out with those until you feel the need to move up to the 120 lb dumbbells for things like the bench press and squats. Most of the attachments for the bench are under $100 each, so they can make great birthday or Christmas gift ideas for your loved ones as you slowly build the ultimate bench.