Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell review: An innovative adjustable dumbbell that effectively replaces nine pieces of home gym equipment (per unit). It's a bit clunky to operate but saves a ton of space, and it's also super portable.
Space is one of the biggest concerns for many when setting up a home gym. Not everyone can afford a home big enough to have a dedicated gym room, so they must think twice about what equipment to get first. Adjustable dumbbells are one of the best options for space-pressed individuals, no wonder these were the first home gym equipment to disappear when the lockdown started a couple of years ago.
The Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbell goes a step further, and as well as replacing four individual dumbbells (each), it also doubles up as an adjustable kettlebell and a parallette. That's no less than nine home gym equipment replaced by a single adjustable dumbbell. Better still, it only costs £150 per dumbbell, which might sound a lot but should you want to buy all the weights mentioned above separately, you'd have to pay a lot more.
Should you buy one? Let's find out together.
Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell review: Price and availability
The Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbell is available to buy now directly from Boxbell (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of £150 per dumbbell. You can buy them in pairs; that costs twice as much (£300) – quick maths!
Included in the price are the base unit and six additional weight plates. The base unit also acts as a cradle, saving you even more space and making the weight all the more portable.
Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell review: Build quality
The Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbell is a solid piece of home gym equipment. It has a metal construction – the handles and plates are all made of metal and radiate ruggedness. The handle is knurled and has a good girth which is great and ideal for strength exercises such as the bench press.
The integrated cradle is made of flexible plastic; probably the weakest point of the design. It's a softer plastic so from what I can tell it isn't prone to chipping. The edges of the plastic bend when you remove or slot the plates back in – another good sign the cradle might stand the test of time.
The Boxbell pair used for this review were test units and apparently have been used for a year. I could see signs of use but again, no chipping or broken plastic anywhere. In all honesty, I never dropped the weights during my workouts – that's just terrible practice – but for renegade rows, they felt sturdy enough.
Another concern of mine was the pull pin. I kept on reminding myself that the review unit has been used for a year and the spring showed no signs of damage but at the same time, especially when doing bench presses and shoulder presses, I prayed the plates wouldn't fall on my head. I'm happy to report, the pin worked perfectly fine during testing.
Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell review: How does it work
As previously mentioned, the Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbell review is a 3-in-1 home weight and can be used as a dumbbell, kettlebell and parallette. The last two functions are pretty much the same – at least the handle position is the same – but you can move the handles up and down depending on what exercise you want to perform with the weights.
The adjustable handle has a pull pin that slots into the external weight plate, securing the rest of the plates into position. When it's in "dumbbell mode", the handle is located at the centre of the plate; in kettlebell mode, it's at the top. To move it, you need to pull the pin, twist the handle 90 degrees, move it up or down, turn it back and secure the pin by letting it go.
Simple, right? It's not a complicated process but a clever one for sure. I found it easier to move the handle in the dumbbell position; rotating the handle near the top of the plates required some trial and error, probably because the plates are a bit further away from each other. It's not a significant hindrance, but changeovers are not as smooth as in the case of other adjustable dumbbells.
Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell review: Workout performance
No matter how innovative home weights are, whether people will buy and use them comes down to workout performance. The Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell is certainly an innovative product, and it's also super portable. I really enjoyed that I could pick them up, carry them around and change the weight setting wherever I was in the house.
The knurled handles are lovely, and the metal construction – especially the sound it makes – makes you feel like you're pumping iron with the big boys in the gym. For strength exercises, especially large compound movements, the Boxbell 3-in-1 proved to be a great workout companion.
Not everything is all so dandy, though. Well, this might actually be a blessing in disguise, but the bottom bar makes the weights unbalanced. Unless you want that bar to rub against your wrist, you have to grip that knurled handle like you mean it, which is great for forearm and grip strength but not for convenience.
Speaking of knurled handles: let's talk about kettlebell performance. As you might know, kettlebells are heavy iron orbs with a handle; this shape allows gravity to move the kettlebell into the correct position when you swing it. Kettlebells haven't got knurled handles either. Knurling makes it easier to hold the weight steadily when you press or pull it. It can grate your palm away if you swing it around too much.
The knurled handle aside, there is another issue with the kettlebell performance of Boxbell 3-in-1: it's not balanced right to be swung. Due to the location of the weight plates, it's tricky to find the correct hand position to grab the weight. A tiny slip, and you might yeet the Boxbell out of your workout area and into a wall.
In terms of changing the weights, the process is not as smooth as other adjustable weights. It's great to carry the cradle with you wherever you go, but plate changeovers take time. You have to undo the handle, lift the plates and put the handle back in. It's not a terribly complicated process but not too smooth either.
Plus, the jumps between weights are comparatively high (4 kg/8.8 lbs). I tried removing just one plate, and it worked fine for me, although beginner lifters might find it harder to stabilise the weights when there are more plates on one side than on the other.
As for using the weights as parallettes, you certainly can do that. But then you can also use standard hex dumbbells or, you know, dirt-cheap parallettes as parallettes. It's nice that this function is integrated into the weights, and the heft provides a more stable anchor point for your body, but I wouldn't say this is a game-changer function.
Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell review: Verdict
The Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbbell is a decent home weight and one that has many functions. It can replace several home weights and is super portable; it's also compact, making it easier to store and use for workouts. The weight spread is pretty good, and 20 kg as a max weight is more than enough for home gyms.
The 3-in-1 function has its caveats. The Boxbell 3-in-1 works great as an adjustable dumbbell, but it's not quite ergonomic enough to replace kettlebells. It can be used for kettlebell moves the same way you can use a decent-sized dumbbell for snatches. The same goes for using the Boxbell 3-in-1 as parallettes: you can use hex dumbbells or cheap wooden parallettes instead.
That said, the Boxbell 3-in-1 is a unique home weight and one that I would recommend to people who are really pressed on space, such as people living in shared accommodations. The footprint of the weights is tiny, and once you get used to the ins and outs of the Boxbell 3-in-1, you can use them for a variety of home workouts.
Boxbell 3-in-1 Adjustable Dumbell review: Also consider
PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Adjustable Dumbbell looks similarly blocky to the Boxbell 3-in-1. It's not without flaws but if you want to start a home weights room from scratch and are tight on space and cash, you can't go too far wrong with this peculiar-looking bit of kit. Please do bear in mind that this PowerBlock model only has a maximum weight of 11 kg.
Slightly larger but more convenient to use than the Boxbell 3-in-1 is the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand set. It's perfect for people who take muscle building at home seriously but can't afford a pair of Bowflex 552s. If you want to get big arms, get these bad boys.