Fitness Equipment

CAP-dumbell-setMuch like the previously reviewed Yes4All dumbbells, CAP Barbell’s 40-pound adjustable dumbbell set is an affordable entry-level option for beginners and frugal enthusiasts alike. At just over $40 it’s priced nearly the same as it’s closest competitor.

The design is straightforward and classic as you’d expect at this price; no fancy spaced aged engineering here. Just solid durable cast iron plates, rubber trim collars and ergonomic handles.

The 40-pound set includes two handles, four 2.5-pound plates, four 5-pound plates, 4 collars, and a plastic storage case.

The molded case is a great idea and really handy for people like me who like to change up their location to keep their exercise routine interesting. Inside there are recesses for each iron plate, which do a good job of keeping everything in place. I found I especially appreciated this while it was in the back of my vehicle.

One major difference between these and the Yes4All dumbbells is the shape of the iron plates. The CAP plates have nicely rounded edges while Yes4All’s edges are sharply squared off. This of course comes down to personal preference, though I will say I preferred smooth feel of the CAP plates when adding or removing weights to the handles.

This line in the description on shocked me a bit.

Warning: This product contains one or more phthalate chemicals known to the state of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm

While I appreciate the disclosure it makes me ponder the costs of buying cheap Chinese goods.

The smell may be overpowering to some and definitely compounded with the health warning to make me weary of spending much time with the plates until thoroughly aired out in the garage.

Although 40-pounds isn’t much weight and it would be better if this was available in more weight configurations, additional plates are available from CAP. Adding a few more five or ten pounders isn’t a big deal. However, if you want absolute certainty you won’t outgrow your dumbbell set I’d look to the Yes4All sets that range from 40 to 105 lbs.

The rubber washers in between the cap screws and the plates may fall out, since they are not secured in any way. You may opt to either superglue the washers on or remove them entirely. The caps tighten just as well without the washers.

You’ll need to tighten the caps fairly tightly to avoid any possible “clanging” noises.

The Verdict

These dumbbells by CAP Barbells provide a good start. Flaws such as the bad odor and easy-to-lose washers are pretty standard at this price. I wouldn’t be surprised if these dumbbells were manufactured at the same factory as the competition (Yes4All). Still at a little over $40 it’s hard to complain with all solid components and iron plates with a professional look and feel. If you’re a beginner or short on the funds needed for an adjustable dumbbell set from Bowflex or Powerblock, don’t hesitate to give these a go.

Yes4All-dumbbellsAdjustable dumbbells such as the popular Bowflex SelectTech 552 are amazing feats of engineering, super fast to adjust to the amount of weight you need, etc. However for many there is one key disadvantage: the price. While worth it if you workout regularly, not everyone can justify paying this much on fitness equipment, period.

Yes4All has answered the call for those seeking an affordable solution with adjustable dumbbell sets with configurations of 40, 50, 52.5, 60 and 105 lbs. The price starts at just over $40 and the weightiest model goes for under $100 on

Don’t let the price fool you. These will easily beat the generic dumbbells sold at Walmart or Target. And just like much more expensive options they don’t take up much space or require a rack like traditional dumbbells.

These are classic adjustable dumbbells in form and function. The components are all solid, made up of cast iron plates, solid chrome handles, and spin-lock star collars. Screwing on the end pieces may take a bit longer than the fancy weight adjustment mechanism featured in the Bowflex, but it’s a tried and tested method of keeping everything in place. If you aren’t changing the weight of you’re dumbbells that often the minor inconvenience won’t matter much. The collars may slowly come loose as you workout so you might need to tighten these intermittently as you exercise.

Yes4All dumbbell sets have the advantage of growing with your needs. Even if you’re an absolute beginner lifting 10 lbs per arm and dream of becoming a triathlete some day, the right set could get you there.

Some people have noticed an odd odor coming from the paint on the plates. This goes away after a while. The paint may also flake off over time if you’re rough on them, so if you don’t workout in the garage, preferring a carpeted area, the resulting mess may be an issue.

There are rubber O-rings on the end caps that help create a tight seal between the caps and plates. Annoyingly, the O-rings aren’t attached to the cap so you’ll either have to be careful not to lose them or superglue each on.

The Verdict

Yes4All dumbbells have their flaws, however at this price that is to be expected. The only thing you’ll need to get the most out of one of these sets is a bit of patience. The design is classic and far less refined than high-end adjustable dumbbells by Bowflex or Powerblock, however the quality of materials used is pretty impressive. If you’re not sure how serious you’ll be about your workout regimen, or are on a strict budget, Yes4All dumbbells will give you good start.

As great as home gyms are, all the gear can quickly eat square footage. Traditional dumbbell sets take up considerable space against the wall, which is the most valuable real estate of all in a home or apartment.

In contrast, Bowflex SelectTech 552s can neatly be tucked away in the corner or closet. Each dumbbell is 15.75″ by 8″ so even those living in a cozy apartment can consider these.

The 552s employs a dial system that moves in increments of 2.5 lbs. Depending on the exercise and your fitness level, each dumbbell can be anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds.

This ability to increase or decrease weight in small increments is one of the biggest advantages the Bowflex has over a traditional set. Sometimes moving up 5 pounds can be overwhelming and this makes harder for you to transition into lifting heavier weights. Bowflex has found the sweet spot with 2.5 lbs increments.

It’s wonderfully engineered and unlike any other adjustable set available. The spindles are made of hard plastic that on rare occasion can break. Fortunately Bowflex has been good about sending out replacements in just 5 days when this happens.

The included DVD is surprisingly good because the exercises show you how to get the most out of SelectTech equipment specifically (and use it safely). You’ll learn how to perform over 30 exercises with over 80 variations.

When lifting, the weights feel tightly constructed. The plates firmly lock onto the handle so there is no rattling or movement of the plates. The feel is very similar to the old school dumbbells we’re all accustomed to.

The 15.75” length is fairly long which tends to make the dumbbells great for most exercises but slightly awkward for a few such as Congdon Curls and Flip Grip Twist Kickback.

The Verdict

Although I was skeptical at first due to the bright red plastic components, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells have proven to be a workhorse set that can handle the abuse of daily workouts.

Even if you have loads of space, the 2.5 lbs increments have turned me into a believer and at this point I’d find it hard to go back to my basic set made up of 5s, 10s, 15s, and 25s.

Unless you have a big rack of dumbbells of differing weight right in front of you, it can be difficult manage your dumbbells while following real-time video in P90X. It’s especially challenging if you have limited space as various dumbbells can easily clutter up your workout space.

The best solution for most home gym aficionados is an adjustable dumbbell set. A good set replaces a huge rack of metal dumbbells, while taking up far less space. This makes it a no-brainer for apartment or condo dwellers. The other advantage is speed. Simply plop the dumbbells on the base, make your adjustments, and pull the set back up again.

There are two great options out there: the Bowflex SelectTech 552 set and the PowerBlock Classic set. Both are exceptional choices for P90X. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each so you can make the best choice according to your individual needs.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells Review

The Bowflex dumbbell set has a space-age design that is impressively intuitive. At the far end of each dumbbell is a large dial that allows you to increase or decrease the weight as you see fit.

The weight settings go up in increments of 2.5 pounds. This gives you a great deal of flexibility, making the shift to heavier weights more manageable. Each dumbbell can be adjusted anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds each (2.27 to 23.8 kg).

The fact you can go up and down in such small increments comes in very handy for P90X. With a traditional small set including a pair of 10s, 15s, and 25s it can be tough to reach the sweet spot while doing a given exercise. Due to the 10 pound difference between the 15s and 25s, most people end up feeling they’ve chosen a dumbbell that is either too heavy or too light.

The dumbbells measure 16” long which might make some P90X exercises awkward. Width on the other hand is perfectly manageable.

Although the design is appealing, come compromises were made to make the set so easy to adjust. The looseness between the plates is the biggest disadvantage to the 552s. The dial plus tiered system makes it possible for the metal portions to tap against each other. This might create a slight rattling sound when you are doing curls.

PowerBlock Classic Adjustable Dumbbell Set Review

This set from PowerBlock couldn’t look more different than the Bowflex SelectTech line. As the name implies each dumbbell resembles a rectangular block. The unique engineering plus color-coded buttons and components give it a future-retro vibe.

Each dumbbell can be adjusted between 5 and 45 pounds in 5-pound increments. In this area, the PowerBlock Classic set is trumped by the more flexible SelectTech 552 model. This limitation is exposed when certain P90X exercises either feel a bit too easy or too difficult. In a way less options are a good thing when you are making a split second decisions about which weight you should choose. With 5-pound increments the selections seem more obvious. Those that value simplicity may prefer this approach over the more exacting Bowflex scheme.

The most impressive characteristic of the PowerBlock Classic set is the solid feel the dumbbells have. This is partially due to the superior construction quality and partially due to the fact that all the pieces are rigidly held in place thanks to the design. You never feel like any plates are too loose as you do with the Bowflex.

Some care must be taken when you are aligning the pins to select the weight you want. It ceases to be a problem when you put it up on a table top or stand. If you are a somewhat clumsy or careless person you may want to get the Bowflex which is very forgiving in this regard.

The Verdict

If you are the type of person that values ease of use and flexibility the Bowflex is for you. It allows you to increase weight in 2.5 pound increments which is very useful when doing P90X. The drawback to this set is the looseness of the plates.

If you like designs that put ruggedness first, get the PowerBlock Classic set. It may look a bit strange to some but the engineering and quality components give it a solid feel. The drawback in this case is decreased flexibility. Adjustments are made in 5 pound increments rather than 2.5 pounds like the Bowflex set.

A good pull up bar will rack up more mileage with P90X than other piece of work-out gear. Using your own body weight instead of relying on workout machines is at the core of the system.

First off, many of the generic chin-up bars out there are absolute junk. Both the Iron Gym Extreme and 90X bar have an extensive track record with enthusiasts. So these two bars are the only obvious choices out there. It’s highly possible there are some obscure workout bars out there that are just as good, but there’s no reason to seek a needle in a haystack.

Not every door frame is a worthy choice. Consider the fact that supporting the entire body weight of a person is no easy task. You need to carefully measure your doorway and compare it with the dimensions of the pull up bar. The 90X bar works with doorways up to 32 inches wide. The Iron Gym claims to go up to 34 inches but in practice it is more like 32 inches. Ideally you want a few inches to spare for extra support, so if your door is 30 inches wide or less, you are among the lucky ones.

The P90X bar touts its ability to support up to 12 different grip positions. The Iron Gym is identical in this respect. The grips are all placed in the same way. Beside minor cosmetic differences, the design of these bars is close to identical. The all-black P90X does look a little slicker and more refined.

One major difference between the P90X chin-up bar and the Iron Gym Extreme is price. Currently the P90X bar by Beachbody sells for a touch over double what the Iron Gym costs.

Both bars have a good solid feel once mounted. Components tend to loosen up over time so you’ll need to tighten screws here and there if you want to retain the sturdiest feel possible. The screws on the P90X model were inclined to loosen quicker as they are undersized compared to the Iron Gym.

One common complaint with the Iron Gym is the low quality of the screws, bolts and nuts. If you are above 200 lbs. this may start to become as issue as there are reports of the screws snapping. So are you in the clear with the more expensive P90X? Not quite. The hardware might break with this model as well. Either way, you’ll want to have some backup hardware on hand in case something snaps. Replacements are cheap and readily available at any hardware store so this isn’t a biggie.

The Verdict

It’s hard to find any obvious differences in quality between these pull-up bars as both are incredibly similar. Neither product is perfect as screws tend to loosen over time and have a chance of snapping – this is simply the nature of the beast. Some simple maintenance is required.

The price factor makes the choice obvious. The Iron Gym Extreme is just as good and sells for less than half the price.