MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: very solid, cheap Bowflex alternative

The MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell is a decent home weight that doesn’t cost the earth

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell Review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

Although it might lack innovation, the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell still delivers a workout experience similar to the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i for a fraction of its price. MuscleSquad's monster dumbbell takes up surprisingly little space yet leaves a lot of room for progression and to ‘go heavy’.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great value for money

  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Large weight range great for progression

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Weight plates do rattle a bit

  • -

    Not ideal for some more obscure exercises

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MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review TL;DR: if you fancy owning a Bowflex 1090i dumbbell but can’t afford the hefty price tag, the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell will provide an almost identical similar workout experience for much less.

Gyms might be reopening, but it doesn’t mean everyone will return to the church of iron to build muscle and/or lose weight straight away, or ever for that matter. Sad news for gym owners but not necessarily for people who would like to work out at home in peace, not having to wait around for machines in loud and sweaty gyms.

Granted, even the best dumbbells won’t replace a well-equipped gym, but the best adjustable dumbbells, such as the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell, can be versatile enough to keep you going for a good while, as in, for years to come.

The MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell seems sturdy enough to last for at least a good couple of years, and the weight range is plenty big enough for the majority of people wanting to work out at home.

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: price and availability

The MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell is available to buy now at MuscleSquad for a recommended retail price of £220. At the time of writing, it was discounted down to £200.

Muscle Squad also sells smaller and larger adjustable dumbbells: the 12.5kg version retails for £70 (excellent value), the 25kg version for £170 and the biggest model (40 kg) for £275.

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

MuscleSquad 32 5kg Adjustable Dumbbell Review

(Image credit: Future)

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: how does it work?

Adjustable dumbbells effectively replace a range of individual dumbbells thanks to the clever dial mechanism that picks up/drops weight plates according to user needs. In case of the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell, there is a dial at each end of the dumbbell which can be rotated to select the desired weight. The weight range is between 5-32.5 kg and it can be adjusted in 2.5 kg increments.

To change the weight, press down the red safety button then turn the dial at either end and select the desired weight (keep the red button depressed while turning the dial), Once the weight is selected, release the red button and lift the dumbbell off the cradle. You’ll probably notice that the dumbbell only picked a few plates but not all, unless you set it to 32.5 kg. Once finished with the workout, place the dumbbell back on the cradle.

MuscleSquad 32 5kg Adjustable Dumbbell Review

(Image credit: Future)

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: design and build quality

The MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell is a heavy beast. It’s also pretty big, even when there aren’t many weight plates clinging to the skeletal axle of the dumbbell. And it’s completely understandable as you need a sturdy core that can hold a lot of weight when fully loaded (a.k.a. In the heaviest setting).

Not only does the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell look solid, it also sounds solid. Each stop on the dial has a satisfactory click so you know exactly when the dial is in the correct position, no need to worry about the dumbbell not picking up the weight plates. That said, although I’m sure they’re secure, the plates did rattle a bit on the dumbbell which might be a bit unnerving for people who aren’t used to working out with adjustable weights.

I remember testing the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell a couple of years ago, thinking that the plates could fall out at any moment through the open bottom of the kettlebell during kettlebell swings. Needless to say, even after using it for a couple of years now, the Bowflex 840 never failed me, so when I tested the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar, I was fully confident it would hold the plates just fine, and I was right.

Same goes for the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell: although I only used for a couple of weeks, it feels like it would last for a quite long time without falling apart, as long as you make sure it’s kept somewhere away from damp, so not on the garage floor. I’m sure iron or rubber dumbbells would last even longer, but they are nowhere near as convenient as an adjustable dumbbell.

MuscleSquad 32 5kg Adjustable Dumbbell Review

(Image credit: Future)

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: workout performance

Working out with adjustable dumbbells is a whole different ball game than working out with standard hex dumbbells. The weight is the same – obviously – but adjustable dumbbells sit differently in the hand than traditional home weights. It’s a strange sensation at first but you get used to it pretty quickly.

As I mentioned above, although the weight plates are being held properly by the dumbbell’s mechanism, they do move slightly not only, making some noise in the process. This can be strange and slightly uncomfortable to some people, especially when hovering the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell over your head. Again, from what I can tell the plates are held securely but I appreciate that some bodybuilders might be unsure about the weights at first, based on the rattle.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell might not be optimal for all types of exercises. Some less popular exercises, such as the goblet squats or triceps overhead extensions, might be harder to perform using an adjustable dumbbell given the construction of the weight. Stuff like curls and bench press are fine, but I’m not sure if I would feel safe placing my weight on the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell doing renegade rows, for example. Especially if for some reason the weight is not ‘facing upwards’, if that makes sense.

For the most popular exercises, like the aforementioned bench press or even dumbbell deadlift and bent over rows, the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell is pretty much perfect. 

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: verdict

Taking everything into consideration, including the price, the versatility, the weight spread, the construction, all of it, I would recommend the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell for home use, especially for those who like to go heavy in their workouts.

One minor issue is that you will probably need two of them to be able to effectively perform exercises and admittedly, it’ll cost you. That said, it’s still cheaper than getting two big Bowflex dumbbells, but not cheap in the sense that you will have to pay £400 for two adjustable dumbbells.

If you’re happy to pay the price, though, you can rest assured that these dumbbells will allow you to pack on muscle at home without taking over your living room floor. Ready to take on Chris Hemsworth in an arm-circumference competition?

MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell review: also consider

Of course, we'll mention the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell here; it's the 'Rolls Royce' of adjustable dumbbells, after all. If you're happy to pay the premium for these premium dumbbells, you'll get a versatile, sturdy and ergonomic dumbbell that'll serve you well in years to come.

Or if you don't need a dumbbell quite as heavy as the MuscleSquad 32.5kg Adjustable Dumbbell, have a look at the PowerBlock Sport 2.4 Adjustable Dumbbell: it's a well balanced and easy to use adjustable dumbbell that comes in pairs and is just a surprisingly neat way to replace eight standard dumbbells.

If you're in the US, you have multiple great adjustable options to choose from. One of them is the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Set, a good alternative to the MuscleSquad dumbbell. It's great for anyone new to weight training since the purchase includes one year of virtual fitness classes, courtesy of iFit.

There is also the Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell and Stand set, 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 this adjustable dumbbell set. Easy as that.

Looking for something cheaper? The Domyos Weight Training 20 Kg Threaded Weights Kit is a decent cheap adjustable dumbbell set for home workouts. Compact, well-built and easy to adjust via the threaded screw, these home weights are durable, provide good grip for all types of lifting and feel reassuring old-school.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.