Men's Health Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell Review: Bowflex just got a problem

Bowflex for a lot less money: a complete set of weights in one compact, if not very lightweight, unit

Men's Health Cast Iron Adjustable Review
(Image credit: Men's Health/Argos)
T3 Verdict

Solid construction, an affordable price and a very useable spread of weight make the Men's Health Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell a worthy purchase for any home gym. Or, more accurately, dumbbells, as you'll have to invest in two units to perform a proper workout

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Long-lasting construction

  • +

    Heavy enough for most

  • +

    Space saving

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Unnatural feel

  • -

    Slightly fiddly weight selection process

  • -

    Dropping them is a bad idea

The decision to shun your local gym and start working out at home isn't one that should be taken lightly, but the Men's Health Cast Iron Adjustable Dumbbell is a good place to start. Hence this review. 

If you're willing to do a little research and learn to make the most out of minimal equipment, you'll be amazed at what you can achieve with just a simple set of dumbbells and a good weights bench.

This set from Men's Health aim to reduce the need for copious floor space further by cleverly cramming a spear of 2.5kg to 25kg into a single dumbbell mechanism. Harnessing a clever spinning collar, the user can quickly and easily change the weight on the move. The same thing is also available in a 40kg version. The weights seem to be exclusive to Argos and are significantly cheaper than market leader Bowflex. At time of writing the prices of the 25kg and 40kg dumbbells were £110 and £150 respectively.

• Buy 25kg Men's Health adjustable dumbbell (single) at Argos

• Buy 40kg Men's Health adjustable dumbbell (single) at Argos

Not only does this allow you to perform multiple different exercises, which can work everything from the shoulders to the glutes, it also aids progression, encouraging a gradual increase of weight over time to build bigger and stronger muscles. 

Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell: what is it?

Essentially, it is a set of weight plates (five on each side of the dumbbell) that are cleverly 'picked up' by a locking mechanism that is controlled by a rotating dial on the collar.

The dumbbell itself comes with a plastic tray, which sits beneath the plates and keeps those not in use nice and organised and ready for use when the handle is replaced and a different weight is selected.

The handle itself weighs 2.5kg and can be used for those exercised that require fewer kilograms. Selecting all of the weight plates sees the mass rocket to an impressive 25kg.

Constructed from cats iron (and a little bit of plastic), the dumbbells feel solid and with an overall package weight of 27kg, you'll probably want some help if you're thinking of lugging them back from the shops alone.

But remember, the list price for these bad boys only includes one dumbbell, so you'll effectively have to double the budget if you want to perform a proper chest press or anything that requires a weight in each hand. 

Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell: what are they like to use?

Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell review


(Image credit: Men's Health/Argos)

There are other weights on the market that use a very similar mechanism (the high rated Bowflex Selecttech 1090i Dumbbells being one of them) but the Men's Health offering is definitely one of the most affordable.

That said, it doesn't feel cheap for it and it offers a solid base from which to performa a variety of workouts.

The handle is a little on the skinny side and will feel a bit measly in those hands used to expensive and chunky gym equipment. Plus, like other selectable units we've tried, the Men's Health 'bells don't feel as well-balanced as a traditional dumbbell.

Load the weight up to 25kg and it feels like a complete package, well-balanced and smooth to press. But when the weights are dropped and, as a result, plates left in their little plastic holder, things start to get a bit wayward.

The weight selection process can be a bit fiddly too, with the user required to line up the dumbbell with any plates left in the holder, which tend to wobble around a bit. There's a certain knack to it and it definitely gets easier the more you use them. 

Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell review


(Image credit: Victor Freitas/Pexels)

Due to the inclusion of a weight selection mechanism, these dumbbells really aren't supposed to be dropped, so are no good for those beefcakes that like to go for a one rep max, fail and then jettison their weights on the floor. They'd likely survive a few drops before something gave way.

It's only a minor quibble, but the dumbbells do clank  a bit too, as the weight plates rattle around in their holding mechanism whenever a rep or movement is performed. It's nothing major, but clearly a traditional, solid dumbbell will be much more peaceful for sleeping flat mates et al. 

Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell: verdict

Men's Health Adjustable Dumbbell review

Rotating collar quickly and easily selects weight

(Image credit: Men's Health/Argos)

Costing far less than the selectable dumbbell competition, these Men's Health units represent excellent value for money. The build quality might not be quite up there with those offered by Bowflex, but they remain an excellent addition to any burgeoning home gym.

Not only do they offer a really useable spread of weights for most, they take up minimal space and prove relatively easy to transport between workout locations (if you've got the guns to lug them).

Gym enthusiasts will likely have an issue with the general feel of the things, as they aren't the smoothest or most natural objects to press, curl and lift, but it's easy to work around these issues if needs must.

Although the list price only covers a single dumbbell, purchasing two is still a much cheaper and more space-sensitive option than buying ten sets of bulky dumbbells and the required rack to store them properly. 

With that in mind, check out our Ultimate Dumbbell Workout and set a course towards totally swole this summer.