This Set of Dumbbells Is So Good That My Cheap @#$ Just Spent $300 on Them!


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This Set of Dumbbells Is So Good That My Cheap @#$ Just Spent $300 on Them!

Working out is something I’ve made a priority in my life since reaching early retirement at the end of 2018. I’ve worked out at home, done different gyms, and even bought an over-priced set of dumbbells in the U.S. while we were living in Panama just so I’d have something to use when visiting.

Now that we’re back in the U.S. to live, I needed to figure out what I’d use for my workouts here.

I initially planned to use the gym in our apartment complex, but I’m just not happy with the equipment available. I also considered using a nearby gym like Planet Fitness, but I know me. Unlike Boquete, Panama where we were living, we have winter here in Ohio. I hate the cold and the snow and know that it’s pretty likely that I’d slowly stop going.

So, I decided to buy some basic equipment to keep and use in our small 2-bedroom apartment. I already had a basic set of dumbbells that allowed up to 30 pounds on each dumbbell. What’s cool though is that I actually outgrew those and needed more weight. I resolved to sell these and buy something better to replace them.

I spent a lot of time researching and looking at what I wanted. Supposedly, fitness equipment is overstocked right now both in stores and with folks trying to get rid of it, so prices are supposed to be low.

Even so, my cheap butt just spent $300 on a set of dumbbells and I couldn’t be happier!

My old dumbbells served their purpose but had a couple of issues…

I purchased two sets of CAP dumbbells during COVID after returning to the U.S. from Panama on a humanitarian flight in the summer of 2020. We didn’t know how long we’d be back in the U.S. and I needed something to continue my workouts. I bought them on OfferUp for $40 for each set, which is overpriced but getting your hands on fitness equipment during COVID was a struggle (supply and demand!). I bought two sets because it was the only way I could get up to 30 pounds on each bar…

They did the job and worked just fine. A downside though is that the collars slow you down. Constantly changing out the weights for various exercises and different weights adds quite a bit of wasted time to every workout.

So, now that I’ve outgrown the 30-pound limit per dumbbell, it was time to re-evaluate and kill two birds with one stone. I wanted a bigger max weight but I also wanted to get something that would be more efficient to work with.

Since we don’t have a big apartment right now, getting any type of home gym or some other type of machine just wouldn’t work – we simply don’t have the space for it. So I decided to stick with dumbbells.

The choices boiled down to getting a set of adjustable dumbbells or getting a rack with different size dumbbells on it. Although a rack of dumbbells would be even easier to work with, that also would take up a lot of space – plus, it would be a lot more expensive.

So, an adjustable set of dumbbells it is!

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Set of Dumbbells

If you know me, you know that I have this problem where I sometimes over-analyze things… especially when it comes to purchases. I’ll easily spend an hour researching before buying a $20 item on Amazon. Although it usually makes me feel like I’m making the right decision on a purchase, it’s also a lot of time thrown out the window.

Regardless, I spent a lot of time deciding on a set of dumbbells that would be a smart purchase for years to come. I was actually surprised at how many different options there were in the adjustable dumbbell space. However, all roads seemed to come back to the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable set of dumbbells

Yes, there were lower-priced options (and higher-priced ones!), but most of the less expensive dumbbells generally had one or both of these issues:

  • A maximum weight of 40 pounds per dumbbell (or less), which wasn’t giving me much of an increase over what I already had.
  • The weight increments you could set weren’t very incremental – say 5-10 pound increments. So maybe you could set them to 20 pounds or 30 pounds but nothing in between – that’s a tough jump in range!

And then there were issues on how they handle, how well they work, how reputable is the brand, etc.

In the end, though, I decided on the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells for a multitude of reasons…

  • Reputable brand – I think almost everyone is familiar with Bowflex from all the specialized fitness equipment they’ve released over the years.
  • Each dumbbell maxes out at 52.5 pounds. I eventually might need more than that but I can make do with that for a long time.
  • The adjustable increments allow you to quickly set a dumbbell to weights of 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 52.5 pounds.
  • They come with a 2-year warranty.
  • Although there are other choices, folks throughout the internet tend to point out how much smoother these are to use than others.

Are they expensive? Yes.

But sometimes you need to be smart and know that you get what you pay for. I was still hesitant because of the price anyway but as my wife, Lisa, said – “It’s not like you’re buying some new toy that you’re going to use for a week and then be over it. This is something you’re doing to stay healthy and fit. Plus, you already work out 5 days a week so just spend the money.”

I hate it when she’s right… but she is.

The good news is that because most people aren’t stuck in their homes anymore from the pandemic, stores and people are struggling to get rid of all their fitness equipment. Folks are outside now and they’ve either given up on working out or have gone back to the gyms.

So you’ll find that the Bowflex SelectTech 552 set of dumbbells has a list price of $429 (that’s for two dumbbells). But as I type this, they’re at Amazon for $379 and at Walmart for $379 as well.

Those are affiliate links so I may get a small commission if you click through and buy them. That said, I only recommend products I wholeheartedly believe are worthwhile and in your best interest.

Personally, I’d recommend that you could also check places like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp to see if you can get the set of dumbbells at a cheaper price (though they might be used in many cases if that bothers you). I don’t get any commission for either of those places – I just think it’s worthwhile to check those out as part of comparison shopping.

And that’s exactly what I did. I ended up finding them new and unused on the Facebook Marketplace for $300 for the set. That still sounded a little expensive to my frugal nature until I thought more about how much use these will get over the next several years.

It’s an investment in your health and that’s what truly matters, which makes the price a no-brainer.

My Home “Gym”

So, what does that make my home gym look like? Well, what can I say? I don’t have a lot of equipment to really constitute having a gym but I do have enough for my needs.

I have the set of dumbbells that this post is about. I’ve used them for about a week and a half now… and I love ’em!

I wasn’t done with just the dumbbells though. The one problem is that I get back pain sometimes and there are exercises I enjoy doing but they’re harder on my back by themselves. For instance, I like doing dumbbell rows.

You might remember how much I like using the Fitbod app to guide my workouts. For someone who wants a little guidance without going with a trainer, Fitbod fits the bill perfectly and has helped me tremendously over the years.

On a side note, if that’s something that sounds good to you, go to fitbod.me/redeem and enter the code RETIRE in all caps. You’ll save 25% on your membership!

But Fitbod likes to give me an exercise called “Elbows Out Bent Over Dumbbell Rows”

Fitbod - Elbows Out Bent Over Dumbbell Row

I would do ’em because I’m a glutton for punishment and then I would complain the next day about how my back hurts. Lisa loved my complaining about that (yeah, there’s some sarcasm there! 😉 ).

So I decided to get a weight bench. In a small apartment like ours though, every inch of space counts. So that led me to look for one that folds up.

In the end, I found a barely-used (essentially new) FLYBIRD Weight Bench that retailed for $170 on Amazon. I got it on Facebook Marketplace for $60.

Flybird Weight Bench

I like it a lot. It’s extremely well-designed, sturdy, and adjustable. And then it easily folds up to nicely so I can put it out of the way.

Now I can still use my set of dumbbells to do exercises like rows, but I can do them with the bench taking some of the pressure off my back…

Fitbod - Dumbbell Rows

I also have a pull-up bar – this thing’s gotten its share of use from me over many years. I like the portability of it…

Fitbod likes to mix in a lot of different chin-up and pull-up exercises as well, which is great for workout variety.

And finally, I currently have a ProsourceFit Dip Station.

You might be thinking, “What an odd choice to have when you’re limited in what you can have in your apartment.”

100% true.

However, it was a “new – open box” item that I won in an online auction for $16 (normally over $70 on Amazon). Let’s call it an impulse buy! 😉

It comes apart pretty easily and can be stored without taking up much space. Regardless, I don’t need it or want it. I just put it up for sale on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor for $60… we’ll see what happens. I’ll keep dropping the price if needed but maybe I can make a few bucks on it.

UPDATE: SOLD!! Sold this dip station yesterday for $50… not too shabby!

It’s nice to just be able to easily add or remove the equipment I have right into Fitbod. It also lets me have multiple gyms so I can have a home gym, the gym for the apartment complex, and a hotel gym for example. It’ll then generate my workout for the day based on the gym selected and the available equipment in it.

So really, my equipment is going to be the set of dumbbells I love, the adjustable weight bench I love, and the pull-up bar that loves to torture me with pull-ups.

Not much, right? But guess what – that’s all I need right now to continue getting a full workout 5 days a week. And because it’s right here in the apartment, I don’t have any excuse not to do it.

The amount of gym equipment that you have isn’t what matters. The question is “are you using what you have?” If not, then it doesn’t matter. Otherwise, a good set of dumbells like the Bowflex ones I have will be put to good use and that’s tremendously valuable.

I might not love working out, but I’m getting to the point where I’ve accepted it and just make it happen. It’s taken some time, but seeing results has become a nice motivator. Sure, the main reason I do it is that it’s healthy but seeing muscle development is some good encouragement to continue nonetheless.

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

20 thoughts on “This Set of Dumbbells Is So Good That My Cheap @#$ Just Spent $300 on Them!”

  1. Great purchase with the dumbells. I had a set of those I bought with the metal stand and plastic holders for each dumbell back when they first came out, prob 15 years ago for $200. Used them several times a week. Miss them more than any of my equipment! Had to sell them for my move to boquete, just before the price of everything went up! I got here last fall and found a pair of 20 lb dumbells at Super Remate (they sell amazon returns) for $20, then I bought a standalone pull up rack with dip handles for $120. With the pool next door to our condo I am in better shape than when I had a full smith machine with olympic bar, a freestanding rack of up to 35 lb dumbells, the adjustable ones, etc. Now I could use the next heavier set…
    this guy is amazing for home workout motivation: https://www.youtube.com/c/CHRISHERIA/videos For amusement, check the bodyweight workout https://www.tomsguide.com/news/i-just-tried-chris-hemsworths-70-rep-bodyweight-workout-heres-what-happened I made it (sort of) through 2 rounds out of 10! but I really do resonate with the “just do a little bit more” when I am ready to quit… Add the bear crawl if you are not doing it. GREAT for core and fixing lower back pain.

    1. Hi Wayne – wow, that was some good use out of your dumbbells over the years! Weights were always a little pricey in Boquete and David so nice job on the deal at Super Remate. And swimming is supposed to be one of the best full-body workouts, so you’re set! I bookmarked your links to check out more later – I’ll have to give that a shot and see if I can do it. When someone like Chris Hemsworth shares his workout, it’s probably worth taking note, right?! 😉

  2. Hey Jim, I’ve seen those dumbbells and always wondered how they work. Do you just turn the dial to the desired weight and depending on the selection, do some of those ‘plates’ just sit in that rack if not needed? They are cool and compact thats for sure!

    1. That’s essentially it, Jim – turn the dials on each side of the dumbbell to the weight you want and pull the dumbbell out leaving some of the weight in the holder. It’s really easy and works well. They also talk about how you can do uneven weights on each side. That can then be used to work different muscle harder that maybe have been getting neglected – I thought that was interesting.

  3. I’m surprised you couldn’t find a used pair of dumbbells on craigslist or facebook marketplace. All those folks that bought fitness equipment during COVID should be just about ready to get rid of it since they “don’t have time to workout” anymore.

    Anyway, enjoy your new purchase!

    1. You’re not kidding about Facebook Marketplace, Craiglist, OfferUp, and Nextdoor being flooded with fitness equipment. There is a ton of used stuff out there! And I would have been fine with it, but there really wasn’t much on the higher end of the weight capacity like I was after. Maybe the folks who are serious “gym nuts” already had or kept the equipment they’ve been using during COVID whereas people who picked up working out during that time weren’t ready for the bigger weights?

      Either way, the $300 I got the pair for new on Facebook Marketplace is still $129 off the list price so I’m going to count it as a win! 😉

  4. Good for you, Jim! Just think, if your Planet Fitness was $30/month, you got a 10-month payback! Ironically, I just took a picture of my home gym last week and am planning a similar post (tho with a slant on How To Get In Shape for Retirement – it doesn’t count as copying your idea since I already have a draft and took the pic, right?). Amazing minds.

    1. That’s a great way to look at it, Fritz – not too long of a payback compared to a gym!

      You and I tend to think alike anyway (sorry about your luck!) so it’s not surprising you have a similar post planned. I think I’ve done the same to you before, too! 🙂

  5. I have multiple sets of cheap dumbbells so don’t need to change weights as often This gets around the 52.5 lbs weight limit and was much cheaper than the bowflex, especially if you buy used. But I got more space than you.

    1. You definitely can’t get much easier than having a bunch of different weighted dumbbells – kudos to you! Picking up various used ones on places like Facebook Marketplace could be a great way to lessen the cost, too. If I had the space, I probably would have considered your route but I gotta say, after using these Bowflex dumbbells for a couple of weeks now, I don’t know if I would ever go another way. These things really are fantastic!

  6. The fact that you’ve “outgrown” your dumbells is awesome in itself. Staying healthy is super important and I’ve had equipment at home before that just sat in the corner and collected dust. Clearly you’re making good progress! Kudos for making money on your dip station also!

  7. I’ve been thinking about the Bowflex since a WSJ article raved about them. A pullup bar would be useless for me – I couldn’t do 5 to get in the Air Force in 1979 so I’m not optimistic now. I am interested in Wayne’s beer crawl, though….

  8. Maintaining your health is priceless! We sold everything from our home gym (adjustable bench, no-name adjustable dumbells and a power tower) when we moved to Vietnam. When we returned to the States, I greatly missed the dumbells and splurged on (used) Bowflex 552. We hemmed and hawed about it for about six months, but we love them! They take up so little room in comparison to weights I used in the past and are functional for both me and my husband, which is nice because he can lift a lot heavier than me.

    1. Crazy how similar our paths have been, Shelly! We went the Panama route instead of Vietnam but we did the same – sold everything, moved abroad, came back, and started from scratch. Life’s an adventure for sure! 🙂

  9. Whoa, nice dumbells. My father-in-law gave me a pair of 20 pounds dumbells. That’s actually quite enough for me at this point. I’m slowly getting back into working out.
    Oh, I don’t think you need the dip station. IMO, it’s almost the same as push-ups. I keep it simple these days. 🙂 Also, we don’t have any space for more equipments.

    1. I’m with you on keeping it simple – I sold the dip station so no more worries about the extra equipment laying around. If I remember right, you were working on your pull-ups for a while – are you still at it?

  10. The pullup bar has been the best thing for me because it literally stares me in the face as I walk into a room. I have a jankier set of adjustable dumbbells and they are great but for some reason they tend to get a bit dusty sometimes… if only I could figure out why that is haha…

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