Product image of a new pair of PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbells

An Extremely Detailed, Honest PowerBlock Elite 50/70/90 Review

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated September 28, 2018

It’s been a long time since a product has really blown me away, and the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells have done exactly that. This is one of the best-selling adjustable dumbbells sets on the market, and after using them for several months now it’s easy to see why.

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The Elite series comes in three stages: the PowerBlock Elite 50, the PowerBlock Elite 70, and the PowerBlock Elite 90. The number on the end signifies the amount of weight the set comes with, so each stage is essentially just different weight ranges of the same dumbbell. Since that’s the case, everything you read in this PowerBlock review is about the Elite series in general, regardless of which weight stage you decide to go with.

Product Overview

The PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbells are one of the most trusted sets in the fitness industry. You may not be aware, but PowerBlock was actually the first company to come up with the concept of adjustable dumbbells. Founded all the way back in 1991, two fitness equipment designers came up with the idea after discussing the extreme cost and space restrictions of a traditional rack of dumbbells. Back then, if you wanted a rack of dumbbells to workout with at home, your only option was purchasing a separate pair of dumbbells for each weight amount. It was pretty obvious that $2,000 for a rack of dumbbells that took up 15 feet of space was totally impractical for the average home fitness enthusiast, especially if you wanted to have some other good workout equipment in there. And so, the PowerBlock “selectorized dumbbell” (as they called it back then) was born!

PowerBlock has come a long way since producing that first set of adjustable dumbbells. Over the past 25 years, they have continued to refine and perfect their design and now have what many people call, “the best adjustable dumbbells on the market.” Characterized by their incredibly unique 4-bar cage design, PowerBlock makes several models for different uses: the urethane series, the sport series, and the elite (classic) series. The Elite series is by far the most popular set for home athletes and it’s available in three different stages: the PowerBlock Elite 50, PowerBlock Elite 70, and PowerBlock Elite 90. The number on the end signifies the amount of weight, so each stage is 50 lbs, 70 lbs, and 90 lbs respectively.

Features & Specifications


  • Weight range of 5-50 lbs (per dumbbell)
  • Expandable to 70 lbs or 90 lbs
  • 16 different weight settings: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10,15, 17.5, 20, 25, 27.5, 30, 35, 37.5, 40, 45, 47.5, and 50 lbs
  • 10-year warranty
  • Made in USA
  • Dimenions: 12″ x 6.25″ x 6″ (L x W x H)

Expandable Weight Range

If you just got done comparing the features of the Elite 50, Elite 70, and Elite 90 above, you’ll probably notice the only difference between each stage was the weight range. That’s because that IS the only difference between each stage. The Elite 50 has a weight range of 5-50 lbs, the Elite 70 has a weight range of 5-70 lbs, and the Elite 90 has a weight range of 5-90 lbs. Other than that, they’re exactly the same. PowerBlock makes them that way so if you already know that you want the bigger weight range, then you have the option to buy it that way. But let’s look at the flip side and say you don’t need the bigger weight range right now, so you purchase the PowerBlock Elite 50 dumbbells, and then down the road you get much stronger and eventually need more weight than 50 lbs. This is where expansion kits come in.

One of the greatest benefits about the PowerBlock design is that the weight range is expandable. Continuing the example above, if you had the PowerBlock Elite 50 and then needed more weight later on, all you’d have to do to get more weight is add one of their expansion kits. Instead of having to buy an entirely new set of dumbbells to get more weight, PowerBlock makes these easy-to-install expansion kits so you can add more weight to your existing dumbbells and save yourself the headache and cost of replacing your set altogether. As you’ll see in our video review at the bottom of this page, the expansion kits take literally 10 seconds to install, and are available in 20 lb increments for a little over $120 each. So continuing the same example again, if you bought the PowerBlock Elite 50 dumbbells, you could essentially turn these into the PowerBlock Elite 70 or the PowerBlock Elite 90 by just adding the necessary expansion kits. PowerBlock’s expandable design is what makes them such an incredible value-buy.

Adjustability

As far as adjustment goes, the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells are really straightforward and easy to change between weight settings. The weight plates are setup in stacks, with color-coded markers to indicate the weight amount of each stack. To select a weight, you use a dual-prong U-shaped selector pin to slide in and out of the different weight markers, so changing settings literally takes two or three seconds at most. This pin is magnetic to ensure it doesn’t accidentally come loose, so you’ll feel it sort of “click” into place once you slide it into the dumbbell, indicating the connection is secure.

A huge plus to the Powerblocks is that you can adjust weight in 2.5 lb increments using little adder weights that attach to one of the inner parts of the dumbbell. Small, precise weight increments like these are crucial if you want the most versatility out of your adjustable dumbbells. Now, it’s worth noting that changing weights in 2.5 lb increments does take a little longer than changing in 5 lb or 10 lb increments because you have to manually insert the 2.5 lb adder weights yourself. With the bigger increments, you can just use the selector pin and changing between weight settings is lightning fast, but if you want to take advantage of those 2.5 lb micro-settings, it involves just a little more work (which we show how to do in our PowerBlock review video below). So as long as you’re okay with taking an extra 5-10 seconds to change weight, it’s very easy to do.

Unique Design

There’s really no getting around this one: the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells have a very interesting design. You have your handle at the center, as usual, but in addition there are 4 independent bars surrounding the handle, kind of like a cage, which connect each end of the dumbbell. Now, I’ll be honest, prior to writing this review I had no idea what on earth these 4 bars could be for. I searched in every corner of the internet, read every PowerBlock review in existence, and still couldn’t find a single bit of info on them, so I decided to email PowerBlock myself and ask what was up with this peculiar design. To my delight, I received a simple, informative response:

“The bottom bars are used for holding the adder weights which allow the 2.5 lb increment jumps, and the top bars are actually wrist guards that are intended to allow the users hands to wrest more comfortably.”PowerBlock Customer Support

Finally! After all this time wondering, they actually do have a purpose! I was happy to find out that the top bars ARE actually meant to be wrist guards, because I had actually been using them that way anyways. A lot of people (myself included) have a bad tendency to let their wrists bend backwards when using dumbbells, and over time this can cause inflammation in the tendons inside your wrist which can lead to a pretty painful wrist injury. To prevent this from happening, PowerBlock added these padded wrist guards as a way to help you maintain control and avoid any potential wrist injuries from overbending, which I thought was extremely cool and considerate. If you don’t have this wrist-bending issue, then you can pretty much ignore this. The 4-bar design does not get in the way whatsoever while lifting, even though it may appear that way when you first look at them. If you do have this bending issue, though, you will learn to love PowerBlock’s unique support system.

Quality & Durability

As I mentioned in the first part of this review, PowerBlock was an innovator in this category and has been making adjustable dumbbells since 1991. This means they have had over 25 years of production and refinement to create the ultimate adjustable dumbbells set, and they truly have. The PowerBlock Elite dumbbells are one of the highest-rated and best-selling sets of all time. This is one of the last adjustable dumbbells sets to still be made in the USA, and PowerBlock uses only premium-quality materials. Thanks to their smart and economical design, the PowerBlocks are extremely tough and can withstand all sorts of regular gym abuse. In fact, if you read through each PowerBlock review on Amazon, you’ll see many people calling these, “the most durable adjustable dumbbells ever made.” I’ve been known to be a little rough with weights, and I have to say, I was really impressed with how well the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells have held up with my constantly dropping them around my home gym. Professional athlete trainer Jeff Cavaliere has had a set for over 20 years, so if that doesn’t give you a testimonial of their long life, I don’t know what will.

Amazing Warranty

So you’ve read our thoughts on the phenomenal quality and durability, but in case you still had any second thoughts, PowerBlock has the perfect answer for you. This company is so confident that their dumbbells will last you for decades, that they’ve included a massive 10-year warranty on the Elite series. There’s nothing quite like a company that stands by their products, and a generous warranty like that is just another part of what makes PowerBlock such a trustworthy brand. Adjustable dumbbells are the type of product that really will last you for life if you buy the right model, and PowerBlock has just made it that much easier for you.

Additional Images


How Do They Feel?

Although the squared design is unique and might appear a little bulky at first glance, the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells have a very well-balanced, natural feel to them. This is pretty hard to achieve with adjustable dumbbells because most models use a lengthy bracket design, so no matter how much weight you have selected, the size of the dumbbell doesn’t change. A 10 lb weight setting is the same length as a 50 lb setting. But because the PowerBlocks use a stackable weight design, the overall length of the dumbbell does change according to how much weight you have selected. This might not seem like a big deal, but having a well-balanced dumbbell is beneficial because it helps you perform lifts more naturally, especially in lower weight ranges. One of the main complaints about other adjustable dumbbells (who use the bracket design) is that the dumbbells don’t feel natural and the abnormally long design actually prevents them from doing certain exercises. With the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells, you don’t have this issue.

Anything Bad About The PowerBlock Elites?

This is probably going to sound weird, but I really hate when I review a product and don’t have anything bad to say about them. I feel like it makes me sound like I’m trying to sell it to you rather than give you an honest review. But I’ll be honest, there really wasn’t that much that I didn’t like about the PowerBlock Elite dumbbells. I can see their 4-bar design potentially scaring some people off because at first glance, it definitely looks like those bars would get in the while working out. Thankfully they don’t, I’m just saying I could see that maybe being an issue for certain people. It’s really a mental thing more than anything. When adjusting the weight in smaller increments like 2.5 lbs or 5 lbs, it takes a little more work since you have to add the smaller adder weights manually as opposed to just being able to use the selector pin to make your adjustment. Again, this only takes an extra 10 seconds or so to do, so it’s really not a big deal, but I’m trying to be nitpicky here so bear with me. The last thing I could mention is that the selector pin tends to stick a little during the first few weeks of use. Because everything is fresh and brand new, the set needs some time to “break in” I guess you could say, so adjusting the pin isn’t completely fluid and smooth. Fortunately, that stops happening after a few weeks once you’ve got everything worn in.

Since I didn’t have many complaints about the PowerBlocks, I decided to read through all the critical reviews on Amazon to see what other users thought as well. Out of the 450+ PowerBlock reviews, there were only about 20 critical (which is a really good sign). Most of the users had the same views as me as far as the unique design, adjustability, and slight sticking during the break-in period, so the other user reviews pretty much confirmed the same thoughts that I had.

PowerBlock Elite Review Video



The Verdict

PROS
• Quick and easy to adjust weight
• Adjustable in small, precise increments of 2.5 lbs
• Easy-to-install weight expansion kits for higher weight ranges
• Well-balanced, natural lifting feel
• Comfortable grips and padded wrist guards
• Super high quality and extremely durable
• Long 10-year warranty
• Made in the USA!

CONS
• 4-bar design can seem a little confining to those who like a free grip
• Adjusting the weight in 10 lb increments is fastest, but 2.5 lb or 5 lb increments takes a few extra seconds

Overall, the PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbells are an incredible set of weights. From their one-off block design to their stackable weight expansions, these dumbbells are unlike any other set on the market (in a good way!). Because they’re one of the few sets still made in the USA, the Elite series is truly premium-quality and one of the most durable sets we’ve ever tested.  In fact, we were so impressed with their design that we awarded the PowerBlock Elite series the “Best Adjustable Dumbbells For Lifting Heavy” on our adjustable dumbbells buying guide, where they are named our best PowerBlock dumbbells.

In case it isn’t apparent by now, we absolutely recommend them.

Whether you’re shopping for the PowerBlock Elite 50, the PowerBlock Elite 70, or the PowerBlock Elite 90, the best prices we found were on Amazon since they’re the only place that includes free shipping (which saves you about $75). See them here: