A Little Expensive, But Adding Muscle Isn't Cheap
Easy to change dumbbell weight; helpful DVD
Cost; should come with stand
The Bottom Line:
I would definitely recommend Selecttech Dumbbells to anyone, but I would caution them on the expense. If you're committed to gaining muscle, this is the product for you.
The Bowflex Selecttech 550 Dumbbells allow you to have one pair of dumbbells, but multiple weight levels. They are overall a good product, at a fairly high price. I paid a little under $350 for mine (they were on sale), and that included me lugging them into the trunk of my car from my local Sears store! Getting them home was fun, let me tell you. That reminds me, if there's any way possible for you to have them shipped to your home, that's better, as the dumbbells were packaged together, not separately, making the entire package well in excess of 125 pounds!
I have owned them for a about a year and a half, and if I had been a little more diligent in using them on a more regular basis, I'd probably be ripped by now! But, even with my laziness factored in, I still managed to gain a half-inch on my biceps, and my forearms are more toned than they were before I started using them.
Don't get me wrong, I have used them more than enough to see the benefits of using them, but I wish I had used them even more.
Basically, you can set the dumbbells to almost any weight you need to (from 5 lbs. to 52.5 lbs.), for various different exercises, by simply turning the dial on each end of the dumbbell to the desired weight. Then you simply pick the dumbbells up out of the holder they are in, and get lifting.
The SelectTech design also allows you to place a disproportionate amount of weight on one side of the dumbbell, in order to isolate a muscle more or to add variation to your workouts.
The set includes an instructional DVD, titled "The 4-Step Rep," which is actually quite helpful as far as exercise DVD's go. It shows you all kinds of exercises you can do with the dumbbells, some of which I had not really thought of before. In addition, the DVD explains how to properly do the exercises, not only to maximize benefits, but also to avoid injury. Now, many of the exercises on the DVD require you to have a bench, which I have not purchased yet, as it is another $200, but if you can afford it, you will have a whole new set of exercises you can do. You could also consider buying a less expensive bench that would help as well, which I may end up doing.
I have read a few comments about the quality of the dumbbells not being up to par, but I can assure you that I have had no problems with them at all. Now, you can't just slam them down when you get tired, but they can take a bit of a beating and still hold up well.
One problematic issue is if you are using both sets at once, and you have a different weight on each set, when you go to put the dumbbell back in the holder, you have to remember which one goes where...otherwise, you may run the risk of damaging them if you force it into the wrong holder. The same is true for just one dumbbell if you have a different amount of weight on each side.
The dumbbells did not come with the stand either. I do not own the stand, but I'm sure it would be something worth considering for those who may have back problems or a weak back. That way, you don't run the risk of injury when you bend down to pick up the dumbbells.
The dumbbell handles do have a nice rubber grip on them, which adds a little bit of comfort, but I still use weightlifting gloves when I work out.
If the 550 dumbbells are too much weight for you, Bowflex offers a lighter set, the SelectTech 220, which ranges from 2.5 to 20 lbs. For the advanced weightlifters (i.e. freaky muscle dudes), Bowflex offers the SelectTech 1090 set, which ranges in weight from 10 to 90 lbs. Obviously, their price varies from set to set.