Two dumbbells, 30 weight settings. NordicTrack takes a swing at the adjustable weight market with a design aimed at improving ease of use.
Sure, we might remember our moms watching daytime TV while swishing imaginary ski tracks. But the brand that helped start the craze for low-impact workouts now has its eyes on the weight rack.
NordicTrack last summer launched the Select-A-Weight system. The two-dumbbell set does the work of 15 different pairs of dumbbells, with weights ranging from 10 to 50 pounds on each.
In short: Adjustable dumbbells aren’t new, but NordicTrack offers standard features and a lower price than some of the competition. These dumbbells provide a great at-home weight set for beginners and intermediate lifters. It won’t replace a gym membership for advanced fitness buffs, but the Select-A-Weight system proved an easy-to-use compromise between high-end and budget alternatives.
To understand what these dumbbells are and what they do well, it helps to know what’s already out there. Adjustable dumbbells have been around in some form for decades. Primitive iterations worked like any barbell, where users slid on a plate, followed by a locking collar to hold it in place.
But within the last 15–20 years, more user-friendly versions have sprung up. There are loads of brands, but a few of the biggies are PowerBlock, Ironmaster, and Bowflex. Each company sets itself apart with a sightly different approach.
Not only do these brands offer different shapes, materials, and weight ranges, but the key distinguishing feature is the adjustment mechanism. PowerBlock uses a large clip that you slide into the appropriate weight setting. Ironmaster opts for a more traditional approach, where users slide plates on or off, then spin a lock onto the end. Bowflex offers a dial that engages the weights using tumblers.
There are upsides and downsides to each, and much of it is personal preference. But NordicTrack went with a slightly different design: an adjustable pin that slides back and forth on each side of the dumbbell. Lift the pin to slide it to the desired weight, then release it to lock it down.
The first selling point on the Select-A-Weight is price. They come in at $289 on NordicTrack’s site, and less on Amazon. For context, the brands mentioned above start at $300 and go up.
But NordicTrack strikes a solid balance between helpful features and budget design. The sliding pin, for example, is simple. It’s not as eye-popping as PowerBlock’s color-coded plates, nor as fancy as Bowflex’s numbered dial. But it gets the job done and is easy to use.
In six months’ use, I’ve experienced almost no issues. The pin stuck between plates a couple times, not locking into place. It’s difficult because the mechanism isn’t visible, but the fix was simple – small movements back and forth until it locked in. Nothing about the design takes your breath away, but it’s simple and, so far, reliable.
The selection of weights was also satisfying. Each dumbbell offers the following choices: 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 32.5, 35, 40, 42.5, 45, 50, 52.5, and 55 pounds. And each dumbbell has ten 5-pound plates (five on each side).That’s where your macro weight adjustment happens. But you can also micro-adjust weight with four smaller plates (two on each side) that add 2.5 or 5 pounds.
Some brands require you to add this weight manually, but the NordicTrack has a selector on the innermost plates. The small plastic slider pushes a cam that engages these small plates. Again, it strikes a balance between convenience and quality. It’s neither the simplest nor the most impressive offering on the market, but it works reliably.
It’s important to note that to adjust weight you will need to have the dumbbells in the included tray. Because weights lock in vertically and by position, only the tray will properly align the plates. Frankly, this was a bit inconvenient, but it’s not uncommon among adjustable weights.
The build is probably the biggest drawback to these weights. Nothing is as satisfying and reliable to lift (or drop) as metal. By contrast, nothing is as dissatisfying as plastic. And NordicTrack’s adjustable dumbbells feel more plastic than they do metal.
The metal plates are covered in plastic, the pin selector and micro-adjustment dial are both plastic, and the dumbbell handles are – you guessed it – plastic.
To be fair, I’ve banged the weights together and dropped them from waist height onto a stiff rubber floor, and they’ve held up great. But still not as nice as metal.
While the brand seemed to make some concessions on the facade, the shape and design proved excellent. NordicTrack created octagonal plates with rounded edges. This has all the balance and ergonomics of standard round plates but provides just enough of a flat surface that the dumbbells don’t roll away.
Unlike square plates, you don’t have to worry about hitting yourself with a sharp corner during behind-the-head tricep extensions. And not only do the dumbbells stay put when you put them down, you can also use them for deep push-ups between sets.
Following our review, readers noted customer reviews that reported weights on these dumbbells that did not secure properly. Some reviews claimed the weights were either loose, or in some cases disconnected during use – a potentially serious hazard. Though these dumbbells worked without issue in our tests, we spoke with Jake Stewart, vice president of Research and Development for NordicTrack parent company, ICON Health & Fitness.
“We have seen a few of these plates not stay secured in the mechanism,” Stewart told us. According to Stewart, NordicTrack discovered that in some cases, caps adhered to the plates were coming loose or deforming after manufacturing. And that hindered the plates’ ability to properly slide into place on some dumbbells.
As a result, NordicTrack has modified the Select-A-Weight’s construction to remedy the issue going forward.
“We’ve redesigned that cap to snap-fit better and are adhering them at the manufacturing level,” Stewart said. Plus, Stewart said NordicTrack will replace faulty plates for anyone who notices a problem.
“I would happily have them reach out to us to have the appropriate plates affixed,” he said. He advised anyone with issues to contact NordicTrack at 1-800-862-3348.
Anyone with a familiar lifting routine understands the necessity of dumbbells. They offer range of motion and customizability – key to great fitness.
Adjustable dumbbells are a must for at-home workouts. And while every manufacturer offers features some people will love (or hate), NordicTrack hits the market with a respectable offering.
They are sold as a set for $289 (and less), which is cheaper than similar products. In our review, they have survived consistent use and abuse through our tests. Plus, they’re easy to use, well designed, and offer a great range of workout possibilities.
Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie – from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it’s outside, it’s worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.
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