Dumbbells are a versatile tool for building strength and muscle mass with single-arm exercises or simultaneously on both sides of the body. An entire rack of dumbbells takes up too much space for most home gyms, which is why some manufacturers have developed alternatives such as adjustable dumbbells.
Ironmaster and PowerBlock are two of the most popular. But how are they different? Is one better than the other?
Find out in our Ironmaster Vs PowerBlock comparison guide.
Table of Contents
All About Ironmaster Dumbbells
Among other fitness gear, Ironmaster makes adjustable dumbbells that hold weight via long screw-in pins. They’re designed for people without much spare space in their home gyms.
With three sets that max out at 45lbs, 75lbs, 125lbs, and an add-on 165lb kit, Ironmaster is a top choice for lifters as they progress through their fitness journey. They feel just like traditional dumbbells, and you can change the weight plates out quickly.
In 1978, Northern California gym owner Sam Dawson founded Spartan Manufacturing, which would later become Ironmaster. From its current Seattle-area location, Ironmaster continues to produce the quick-lock adjustable dumbbells they first began selling in 1999.
So many decades of success with weightlifters have established Ironmaster as one of the most well-known manufacturers of home gym equipment.
They’ve earned a reputation for being durable, easy-to-use weights for fast exercise or regular workouts at home.
What We Like
What We Don’t Like
All About PowerBlock Dumbbells
Carl Towley founded PowerBlock in Minnesota in 1993. The company began in a small warehouse with no heating - you can even see a video of the first PowerBlock shop below.
The big innovation with PowerBlock’s signature dumbbell product is its nested weight stacking. Rather than plates that attach at either side of the bar, PowerBlock dumbbells have a central rectangular handle that is held onto weights with a U-shaped bar.
To add weight, you put the handle in place among all the weight plates and move the U-bar down. Moving the U-bar up will remove weight.
Weightlifters who prefer PowerBlock love how fast you can move between weights, especially in the middle of a drop set or while super-setting various dumbbell exercises.
PowerBlock also has three levels of dumbbell weights. If you want to avoid clutter in a home gym, this is definitely one of the best options.
What We Like
What We Don’t Like
Ironmaster Vs PowerBlock Dumbbells: Compared For Home Gyms
Both adjustable dumbbell systems work by allowing you to add and take off weight easily. But the screw-in system of the Ironmaster dumbbells is a bit slower than moving the U-shaped selector pin of the PowerBlock model.
That won’t make a huge difference if you’re running through a few lifting exercises at the same weight. Drop sets that require you to repeatedly take off weight to reach muscle exhaustion will be a bit more annoying with the Ironmaster system, though.
Another problem is that you have to add up some numbers with the Ironmaster set. It's not particle physics or anything, but if you're in the middle of a hard workout, you don't want to have to lose minutes to mental math.
It’s not like you’ll fall behind if you’re using Ironmaster dumbbells and your friend is using PowerBlocks. It really just depends on which adjustment method you find easier.
Comfort & Feel
You’ll get used to either one of these adjustable dumbbells with enough use. If you’re looking for the feel of a traditional dumbbell, Ironmaster beats PowerBlock for sure. That mostly has to do with weight distribution on each model - and again, you’ll get used to the feel of Powerblock dumbbells in no time.
Ironmasters have a knurled metal grip that feels fine even after repeated sets. PowerBlocks have an ergonomically designed thermoplastic rubber (TPR) handle that beginning lifters will find beneficial.
When you put lots of weight on either model, they might start to feel a bit awkward. The Ironmaster’s longer handle gives you a bit more room to change your hand position to compensate for the weight, but the PowerBlocks don’t feel as bulky until you get to higher weights.
Overall, these are kind of nit-picky problems. You can lift with either PowerBlocks or Ironmaster dumbbells for a whole set without any serious issues.
Size & Shape
Ironmaster dumbbells look more like traditional dumbbells than PowerBlocks. I doubt that factor alone will influence anybody to take one option over the other. In fact, the nested shape of the PowerBlocks is pretty cool in a futuristic kind of way.
The size might have a more meaningful impact when you start stacking serious weight on the Ironmasters. The weight feels more balanced on PowerBlocks, although for some reason, the PowerBlocks also seem to have far more inertia to them when they’re fully loaded.
Neither model is too big to use in a home gym, though. Both are developed for that specific purpose. So unless you're planning on maxing out the weight on your dumbbells, Ironmasters and PowerBlocks are comparable in both size and shape.
Weight Range & Upgrade Options
Ironmaster’s original quick-lock dumbbells max out at 75 pounds on each dumbbell. An add-on kit allows you to go up to 120 pounds. They also have a special custom kit that will add 45 pounds to each dumbbell for a maximum of 165lbs. You have to call for the special kit so you can make sure you actually need that much weight.
Both companies offer accessories like benches and attachable bars. PowerBlocks has an EZ bar and kettlebell attachment that convert the dumbbell for other exercises, while Ironmaster sells useful accessories like spot stand bases and preacher curl pads.
Ironmaster convertible dumbbells are made of steel and iron, which means they’re prone to scratches, chips, and even rust. That being said, they won’t be structurally affected - it’s just that they’ll show cosmetic signs of damage, unlike some synthetic materials.
The weight plates on PowerBlock dumbbells are made of steel and might also take some small superficial damage, but on the whole, they last for years on end. The biggest worry people have with PowerBlocks is that they'll be dropped, and some of the interior pieces will take damage.
While the U-shaped selector pin could possibly bend if the dumbbell is dropped, PowerBlock sells replacements for $10. If you’re the type of lifter who lets your weights fall to the ground frequently, that replacement cost could add up. For the majority of lifters, though, PowerBlocks are plenty durable.
Availability & Ease Of Purchase
Both brands are widely available on their own websites and through approved retailers. Unfortunately, third-party retailers aren't always guaranteed to be approved sources for either PowerBlocks or Ironmasters, and if you buy from them, you could face problems with the warranty.
Ironmaster dumbbells are made in the USA, while PowerBlock manufacturing is done in China. That can sometimes impact the availability of one over the other, although generally speaking, they can both be located and bought without any problems.
The original Ironmaster dumbbell starts at around $870, while PowerBlocks start at $340. That doesn't tell the whole story, though. To get the same weight on a PowerBlock Pro Series dumbbell, you need to buy two add-on kits, which could raise the total price to over $900.
Ironmaster sells its dumbbells with a weight stand included. That starter dumbbell goes up to 75 pounds while you have to purchase a $200 add-on kit for the PowerBlocks to go that high. On the higher end of the weight spectrum and for specialty models, the PowerBlocks have a higher price overall - then again, you’re paying for a more specialized design.
At the end of the day, both adjustable dumbbells require an investment of several hundred dollars. If you’re serious about using them for your long-term workout routine, then you could very easily spend over a grand. But it’s worth it to have a dependable weight set that doesn’t take up much space in your home gym.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How long is the warranty of PowerBlock dumbbells?
PowerBlock protects buyers against defects in materials and workmanship for a period of 5 years. Only the original purchaser is protected, and the PowerBlock dumbbells must have been used in a home gym setting and bought from the manufacturer or an authorized retailer.
How long is the warranty of Ironmaster dumbbells?
Ironmaster offers a lifetime warranty, although it only covers shortcomings in the workmanship or materials used in the manufacturing process. As it says on the Ironmaster website, this warranty only covers defective parts and not damage sustained during use of the product or due to accidents.
Are PowerBlocks sold in singles or pairs?
All three models of PowerBlock dumbbells are sold in pairs on the manufacturer’s website. While you might be able to find individual dumbbells available elsewhere, they may not be legit, and they almost certainly will not qualify for the limited warranty that PowerBlock offers on the dumbbells it sells through its official channels.
What are the main differences between PowerBlock models?
The Pro, Sport, and Elite PowerBlock Series vary in several ways. The Elite dumbbells come with wrist support and hold more weight without add-on kits. Sport dumbbells can be purchased for less, although they'll have a lower weight range as a consequence. The Pro Series offers auto-lock handles on two of its three models.
PowerBlock and Ironmaster quick-lock dumbbells are both huge space-savers for home gyms.
The important thing about these products is that they make working out at home much easier. Investing in one is a great way to make sure you can get the strength gains you want no matter what.
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