Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review: the perfect cheap Bowflex 552 rival for home gyms

The Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand set is an essential home gym equipment for people who take home workouts seriously

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand set is 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

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great value

  • +

    Decent weight-range

  • +

    Easy to operate

  • +

    Solid stand

  • +

    Easy to assemble

  • +

    Satisfying 'click' sound when dumbbells are placed back on the cradle

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Weights do feel a bit loose

  • -

    Dumbbells look pretty bland

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review TL;DR: an excellent value-for-money adjustable dumbbell set that benefits greatly from the included stand. Perfect for serious but price-conscious lifters who haven't got much space in their home gyms.

I'm a big sucker for premium adjustable dumbbells: I think they are not only the best dumbbells but the best home weight in general. Don't get me wrong; I love my Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell and Mirafit M3 Olympic Barbell. Still, if I was told I have to live on a desert island starting tomorrow and I can only take one piece of home gym equipment with me, I'd probably say I'll take an adjustable dumbbell.

And after testing the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells for a few weeks, it might be the dumbbell I would take to said desert island. This dumbbell feels good in the hand, is easy to operate and has a decent weight range that enables you to perform many exercises. 

Want to find out why I liked the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and Stand set? Read on to find out.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review: price and availability

The Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and Stand set is available to buy now at Core Fitness for a recommended retail price of $549.98. At the time of writing, it was on offer for $499.98.

Core Fitness also sells the dumbbell set and the stand separately for $399.99 and $149.99, respectively. You can also buy the dumbbell set bundled up with the Core Fitness UB200 adjustable weight bench for $599.98.

Check out all the available bundle options at Core Fitness.

There is no information about availability in the UK and AUS.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review

(Image credit: Future)

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review: how does it work?

Adjustable dumbbells are clever home gym equipment. They replace a range of individual dumbbells thanks to their clever lock mechanism that picks up the right amount of weight and leaves the unused weight plates on the cradle.

To pick up the desired weight, turn the handle of the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells in the right direction ('+' to add weight and '-' to reduce weight, obviously). The weight range is between 5-50 lbs, and it can be adjusted in 5 lbs increments.

One thing that might be a bit harder to wrap your head around because the dumbbells haven't got an orientation, so you turn both dumbbells in the same direction to adjust the weight.

Instinctively, you would want to twist both handles 'in' to reduce the weight, whereas, in reality, you have to turn both left or right to add/remove weight. It feels a bit weird at the beginning, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that there isn't a lefty or righty dumbbell; that system would be even more confusing to use.

I particularly liked the sound the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells made when placed back on the cradle. The lock lets out an audible 'click' when you place the weights back on the cradle: it's not only very satisfying to hear but also provides feedback to the users that the dumbbell is in the right position to change weights if required.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review

(Image credit: Future)

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and Stand review: design and build quality

Before I used the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and Stand set, I always thought getting a stand for adjustable dumbbells was a bit of a waste of money. After all, if you can't pick weights up from the floor, you probably shouldn't try lifting them, right?

When I tested the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar – without the stand or 'media rack'– I found it convenient enough to put the weight back on the floor and those weights were much heavier than the Core Fitness dumbbells.

Yet, I found myself appreciating the ergonomic stand provided with the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells. Better still, it was super easy to put it together: I didn't need to force any of the screws in, all the elements fitted together nicely – a different experience from putting the Mirafit M1 Folding Weight Bench together for sure. 

The Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells have a rubber handle that helps keep hold of the dumbbells without using chalk. The weight dials work fine, and based on a few weeks' worth of testing, there are no issues with the lock either. I tried various exercises, and not once the plates dropped from either side of the dumbbells.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review

(Image credit: Future)

That said, and in the usual adjustable dumbbell fashion, the plates do feel a bit loose and move around despite the lock holding them firmly. If you haven't tried adjustable dumbbells before, you might need a bit of time to get used to the sensation. As I said, I had no issues with weights dropping, but I also appreciate that this isn't a long-term review, and I can't vouch for the structure's longevity.

All I can say is that the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells felt fine during testing, and from what I can tell, they won't fall apart soon either as long as you don't start throwing them around after each set, something you shouldn't do anyway. There is even a sticker on the cradle saying this.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review

(Image credit: Future)

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and Stand review: workout performance

I really enjoyed working out with the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells. They provided the perfect weight range for my capabilities and enabled me to progress steadily in several different exercises targeting different muscles in the body.

The 5-50 lbs weight spread means you can work your arms – including the delts, biceps and triceps – properly with just two dumbbells which is impressive. The heavier setting can be used for pecs workouts: I used the 50 lbs setting to mix up my pecs workout with some slow rep sets after heavy barbell bench presses.

Thankfully, the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells look similar to standard rubber dumbbells, even when fewer plates are attached to the handles. Even premium adjustable dumbbells such as the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell look a bit peculiar – like a 'skeleton dumbbell' – you don't use all the plates.

But not the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells! From what I can tell, this home weight uses a retractable core mechanism: it extends out as you twist the handle to pick the plates up. It looks works and looks fine: perfect.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review

(Image credit: Future)

Just like other adjustable dumbbells, the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are not as resilient as their fixed weight counterparts. You can't perform exercises when your bodyweight rests in the weights, such as renegade rows, and as mentioned above, you can't throw them around either.

Although I must say, you have to be a massive twat to throw weights around, either at home or in the gym. You should have enough energy left at the end of the set to finish the last rep and release the dumbbells properly.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review

(Image credit: Future)

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand review: verdict

I really like working out with the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand set. It's easy to use, has a great weight range and looks pretty much like a traditional dumbbell but takes up way less space than the 10 dumbbells it replaces.

Actually, two Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells replace 20 dumbbells which might explain why I was so happy to use these dumbbells: my home is overrun by home gym equipment as it is. Any home weights that can save me some space without compromising the quality of my workouts are welcome.

As always, the asking price looks steeper than if you just bought a hex dumbbell on its own, but it's waaaaaaay cheaper than getting 10 pairs of dumbbells, not to mention the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are also more convenient to use.

I would recommend the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand to people who take muscle building at home seriously and would like to have home gym equipment that enables them to progress steadily in the coming months/years. If you need a pair of dumbbells for your HIIT workouts, these weights might be a bit of an overkill. If you want to get big arms, get the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand set.

Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and Stand review: also consider

If you're in the UK, you should check out the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbells. These are heavier than the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells and look more similar to the Bowflex 1090i but provide a similar workout experience nevertheless.

If you need lighter weights, check out the PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Adjustable Dumbbell: it's a well balanced and easy to use adjustable dumbbell that comes in pairs and a surprisingly neat way to replace eight standard dumbbells.

Finally, especially if you're in the US, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Set might be a good alternative to the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells. It's great for anyone new to weight training, since the purchase includes one year of virtual fitness classes, courtesy of iFit.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.