Review: Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbells

When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, Ironmaster quick-lock dumbbells are often recommended over competitors such as Bowflex and Powerblock.

But why is this?

In this review, we will explain why Ironmaster dumbbells are such a popular choice for home gyms.

Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell System 75 lb Set

Quick-lock adjustable dumbbells (75lb set)

What are adjustable dumbbells?

For the uninitiated, adjustable dumbbells are designed to increase or decrease in weight, often by the addition or removal of weight plates and can be contrasted with fixed weight dumbbells, which do not have this flexibility.

Although spinlock and Olympic (spring clip) dumbbells are technically “adjustable dumbbells”, this term is usually reserved for dumbbell sets that are specifically designed to allow the weight of each dumbbell to be adjusted within a matter of seconds.

Such sets will usually require the adjustment of weight to be at set increments (of approx. 5lbs), much like a full fixed dumbbell set you would find at a commercial gym.

Adjustable dumbbells make a great choice for home gyms as they offer the option of selecting a range of different weights without taking up much room.

To read more about the different kinds of dumbbells available, please see our Guide to Buying Dumbbells.

Why Ironmaster dumbbells?

Now you have decided you want to buy a pair of adjustable dumbbells, you will be wondering which brand/model is for you.

This is a common question that has plagued many. Adjustable dumbbells aren’t cheap, so you will want to be sure that you are making the right choice.

When assessing your options, the key factors to consider are: durability, price, max weight, and ease of use.

Unlike some of its competitors, Ironmaster have paid attention to each of these factors rather than focusing on one or two selling points.

What do you get?

The “standard” 75 lb dumbbell set comes with the following:

  • Dumbbell handle – 5lb
  • Locking screw:  2 x 2.5lb
  • Weight plates: 4 x 2.5 lb, 24 x 5lbs
  • Dumbbell stand.

The weight plates are enamel painted cast iron.

One dumbbell can hold a maximum of six 5 lb plates plus one 2.5 lb plate on each end (75 lb total dumbbell weight).

PROS

Durable / Build quality

There is no doubt that Ironmaster dumbbells can take a beating. They are made of steel and iron with no plastic or fragile parts. This is a huge selling point, as brands such as Bowflex use plastic parts which can get damaged over time and prevent the adjustment mechanism from functioning.

It is reassuring knowing that, for the most part, you can drop a pair of Ironmasters without having to be concerned about damaging them. Obviously, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t drop them from any great height – for at least the sake of your floor!

Overall, the build quality of Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells is very impressive.

The handles are heavy duty and made of professional grade machine steel, which is fully welded. In addition, they are chrome plated with knurling. The knurling provides grip, making it easier to handle heavy weight and prevent slippage.

The fact that Ironmaster dumbbells are so solidly built makes them feel like the real deal.

Stackable plates

You adjust the weight of Ironmaster dumbbells by removing and adding square shaped (kind of!) iron plates.

The square shapes means that the dumbbells won’t ever roll away from you!

Ironmaster adjustable dumbbell stackable plates

Stackable 5lb plates

The distinctive plates have a raised lip around the edge of the plate on one side. On the reverse of the plates, the section inside the lip is raised. This allows the plates to fit snugly together when placed onto the Ironmaster handles, which stops them from spinning.

The handle itself has the same grooves to hold the first plate firmly in place.

The fact that the plates fit together tightly means that they do not rattle or move when the screw is tightened. This gives Ironmaster dumbbells a huge advantage over traditional spinlock dumbbells when it comes to usability. Most importantly, you won’t have to suffer anxiety about plates coming off during explosive movements.

The solid feel of Ironmasters is the reason that they are praised for being just like “traditional” dumbbells. This aspect will appeal to those who want a set of dumbbells  that feel just like ones they would use at a commercial gym.

The holes in the Ironmaster plates measure 1 inch in diameter. This means that they can be used with standard (not Olympic) barbells and dumbbell bars.

Flat at the top and base

This might seem like an unusual aspect to rave about.

However, it is immediately noticeable when dumbbells do not have flat ends, as you can’t (comfortably) place them on your knees at the start and end of sets.

For many experienced lifters, “kicking” weights up, to get them in position, is as natural as breathing.

Ironsmaster dumbbells being kicked up using knees

Ironmaster dumbbells can be “kicked up” easily

So, it is a massive annoyance when dealing with spinlock and Olympic dumbbells that do not sit comfortably on your knees.

Thankfully, due to their “traditional” shape and design Ironmaster dumbbells can rest on the knees comfortably and be “kicked up” with ease. This certainly gives them an edge over other threaded dumbbells.

Low weight increments

In general, Ironmaster dumbbells can be adjusted in increments of 5 lb per dumbbell.

This is because a standard set comes with four 2.5 lb plates – one for each side of the two dumbbells.

However, it is technically possible to adjust the weight in increments of 2.5 lb. This will mean using the dumbbells with an uneven number of plates on either end of a handle.

This may be a little uncomfortable and so will involve having to re-position your hand slightly closer to the heavier end of the dumbbell to regain balance.

It is not recommended to use more than one plate offset.

Having the option of increasing the weight in small increments is useful if you follow a programme which encourages frequent progressive overload.

They can go heavy

One of the main reason for the popularity of Ironmaster dumbbells is that they allow users to lift heavy.

The standard set provides two dumbbells weighing approx. 75 lb each. However, Ironmaster sells extension sets that allow for the weight of each dumbbell to increase up to a whopping 165 lb!

That should definitely be enough to meet the needs of 99% of lifters.

 

165 lb Ironmaster dumbbells being lifted

The 1% – 165 lb dumbbells in action

As set out in detail below, you can expand the 75 lb set to go up to 120 lb with the “standard” add on kit. The extension kit works by providing  longer screws to allow the dumbbells to literally expand in length. This means that you can pack more weight onto the handles.

Once you have the 120 lb extension kit, you can add another 45 lb with the “160 lb add on kit”. This kit is custom made and involves using even longer screws to extend the length of the dumbbells.

Compact

The length of Ironmaster dumbbells will expand or contract depending on how much weight is stacked onto the handles.

As a result, they are no longer than they need to be at any given weight.

Ironmaster adjustable dumbbell screw being inserted

This makes them more comfortable to use than, for example, Olympic dumbbells.

Each dumbbell in the standard (75 lb) Ironmaster set is 14.5″ long at the full 75 lb. Compare this will an Olympic dumbbell, which is a massive 20″ long!

Shorter dumbbells are less awkward to lift and are less likely to restrict your range of movement when lifting.

However, if you manage to increase the weight of each dumbbell up to 165 lb with the add on sets, each one will be 23.5″ long. That’s unsurprising when you see what they look like:

165 lb ironmaster dumbbell

Lifetime warranty

It is a huge plus knowing that Ironmaster offer a lifetime warranty. However, it is always worth being sure as to what this actually covers. Time to look at the small print!

Please note that he follow example extracts from Ironmaster’s warranty relate to the 45lb set.

Ironmaster warrants to the original purchaser that this Home Fitness Product will be free from defects in workmanship and materials for a specific period from date of purchase based on the part type listed below. During the warranty period, Ironmaster will either repair or replace, at its option, defective part(s) at no charge. Warranty covers in home use only.

What does the warranty cover?

Lifetime for frame and structural components. 1 year for normal wear items such as rubber, upholstered parts and surface finishes.

Unsurprisingly, the warranty covers the frame and structure components rather than the finishing. I imagine that this covers the screws, plates and handle, which means the warranty is pretty comprehensive!

What does the warranty exclude?

This warranty shall not apply if the defect was caused by misuse, neglect or normal wear and tear of the product purchased. Nor shall Ironmaster be liable or in any way responsible for any incidental or consequential economic or property damage.

It’s not clear what “misuse” constitutes but aside from dropping the dumbbells from a  great height or throwing them across the room, I can’t think of many situations where misuse is likely to occur.

Accordingly to numerous online reviews, it seems that Ironmaster dumbbells are not greatly affected by general wear and tear. This makes sense considering that they are made of iron and steel.

Overall, the warranty provides the kind of cover expected and should give you peace of mind when reaching for your wallet.

Please note: The use of the 165 lb custom add on kit will void the lifetime warranty of the original Ironmaster products (handle, plates etc.) if dropped or abused.

CONS

Time to adjust weight

By far the biggest disadvantage of Ironmaster dumbbells is that they take longer to adjust than some of their competitors.

The more you use Ironmaster dumbbells, the quicker you will get at adjusting the weight. However, if the speed of adjusting dumbbells is a crucial factor for you, then we recommend going with a set of Powerblock dumbbells.

Ironmaster dumbbells won’t be ideal for drop sets, pyramid sets, or super sets generally.  This is unsurprising, as the slightly slower adjustment mechanism allows the dumbbells to feel solid and function safely at heavy weights. Unfortunately, you can’t have it all!

If speed is a concern, it might make sense to invest in a lighter set of adjustable dumbbells for drop sets etc. to supplement a pair of Ironmasters.

For more information about the quick-lock adjustment system, see below.

Screw threads may become damaged after a while

The threading of the screws and inside the handles may become worn away after a long period of frequent use.

This shouldn’t be a major concern. Even if the lifetime warranty does not cover such damage, it is possible to buy replacement handles and screws.

However, it is worth noting that, as with any threaded metal, the locking mechanism may weaken gradually over time. If this does happen, you will notice that the plates start to rattle very slightly. Thankfully, the locking mechanism won’t just suddenly stop working, so you don’t have to worry about the plates falling off at a moment’s notice.

Damage to the threads can be minimised by maintenance.

Ironmaster recommends cleaning out the threads inside the dumbbell handles a couple times a year to remove trapped dust or particles. In addition, it is good practice to apply a light lubrication to the threads.

Slight variance in the weight of plates

Ironmaster states in a disclaimer that:

Weights listed on the plates are design estimates. Actual weights may vary depending on casting density and other factors.

Therefore, there is likely to be some variability in the weight plates. Ironmaster claims that this is due to density changes in the cast iron as well as the machining process.

This is understandable given that the primary tolerance in the manufacturing process is for the plates is the thickness and shape so they will lock tightly and safely on the handles.

As a result, Ironmaster states that most dumbbells will be within 3-4% of the stated weight.

Overall, slight weight variances will not be an issue provided the weights are heavy enough for you to continue progressing.

Quick-lock mechanism

Ironmaster claims that its patented quick-lock system will allow you to adjust the weight of each dumbbell in 2.5lb increments in less than 15 seconds! That is a lot quicker than changing the weight of spinlock or even spring clip dumbbells.

However, you should be a little wary of this claim, as in reality Ironmaster dumbbells tend to take a bit longer to adjust.

ironmaster dumbbell

Taking a plate off is relatively painless!

The mechanism is very simple. You turn counter-clockwise to open each of the screws, add or remove plates, then replace the screws and turn clockwise to lock.

ironmaster adjustable dumbbells

Turn to open and close

This is similar to the spinlock system.

However, instead of removing just a collar, the whole screw is removed. This speeds the adjustment process up a lot. It also means that the length of the dumbbell extends or retracts depending on how many plates are loaded on.

The quick-lock mechanism is faster that the spinlock one because the screws are only partially threaded. This means you can insert the screw fully without resistance (assuming it is lined up correctly) and then it only takes a partial turn (or at least should do!) to lock it.

Ironmaster dumbbell screw thread

Partially threaded screw

Which set?

The information below is correct as at the date of this article.

Ironmaster sells two full sets. Each set includes the necessary handles, plates and screws.

In addition to these full sets, Ironmasters sells two expansion sets, which comprise just the screws and additional plates.

45 lb set

45lb set of ironmaster dumbbells

  • $319.00
  • 6.7″ square x 11.5″ long at the full 45 lb.
  • Handle grip diameter is 1.25″ with 6.5″ grip width.
  • The dumbbell handles and locking screws are the same parts as the 75 lb, which means that you can buy additional 5lb plates and go up to 75 lb per dumbbell.
  • Quick-Lock weight plates: 12 x. 5 lb weight plates and 4 x. 2.5 lb weight plates total.
  • The handles weigh 5 lbs empty and each locking screw weighs 2.5 lbs so the starting weight is 10 lbs each dumbbell before plates are added.

“Standard” 75 lb set

Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbell System 75 lb Set

  • $499
  • Stand (pictured above) is included.
  • 6.7″ square x 14.5″ long at the full 75 lb.
  • Handle grip diameter is 1.25″ with 6.5″ grip width.
  • Quick-lock weight plates: 24 x 5 lb plates and 4 x. 2.5 lb plates.
  • The handles weigh 5 lbs empty and each locking screw weighs 2.5 lbs so the starting weight is 10 lbs each dumbbell before plates are added.
  • 65 lbs of plates can be loaded on each handle.

75 lb upgrade kit

75 lb ironmaster dumbbell Upgrade Kit

  • $120
  • Quick-lock plates: 12 x 5 lb plates.
  • This upgrade is meant for the 45 lb set to bring each dumbbell up to 75 lb. It would not work for the 75 lb set.

120 lb add on kit

Add on Kit to 120 lbs - Quick-Lock

  • $229
  • 6.7″ square x 19″ long overall at the full 120 lbs.
  • Quick-lock plates: 4 x 22.5 lb plates.
  • 4 long locking screws.

165 lb add on kit

  • $239
  • This is a custom built add on weight kit for to bring the weight of Ironmaster dumbbells up to 165 lbs
  • This Add on Kit adds 45 lbs to each dumbbell. This means that you must have the 75 lb dumbbells and the 120 lb Add on Kit first!
  • 6.7″ square x 23.5″ long overall at the full 165 lbs.
  • Quick-lock plates: 4 x 22.5 lb plates.
  • 4 long locking screws.
  • As stated above, the use of this custom add on kit will void the lifetime warranty of the standard Ironmaster products if dropped or abused.

Overall, a full 165 lb set will cost $967 in total.

Accessories

Dumbbell Stand

The 75lb set of Ironmaster dumbbells comes with a stand. This added extra is really an essential. It provides a convenient place to rack your dumbbells between sets and has a separate shelf for the iron plates, ensuring that they are within easy reach.

The dimensions are:

  • width: 14.5″
  • depth: 19″
  • height: 26″

This is a small footprint, which is convenient if you have a confined workout space. However, it is only just wide enough to fit two dumbbells placed next to each other.

ironmaster dumbbell stand

This means that you have to be very exact when placing the dumbbells down to prevent them from overhanging and potentially falling off.

Despite the small footprint, the stand is large enough to hold the 120 lb Add on Kit.

You can buy the dumbbell stand individually for $115 (as at 16 October 2016).

Fatgrip Adapter Set

Ironmaster sell a fatgrip adapter set which consists of two pieces of plastic, which are placed over your regular Ironmaster dumbbells and screwed together. They can also be used with  Ironmaster’s IM2000 barbell.

fat grip adapter

These are sold as a pair (for two dumbbell handles) and are available in 1.5″ or 2″ diameter size.

The grips are made from high strength molded plastic. Much like the standard Ironmaster dumbbell handles, they have real knurling.

The purpose of a thick grip handle is to stimulate greater muscle activation in your hands and forearms. In particular, they are used by athletes to increase grip strength.

The Ironmaster adapter set is reasonably priced at $29 (as at 16 October 2016). However, you may wish to use your own thick bar grips. Here is a comparison of the Fatgripz thick bar grip next to the Ironmaster adapter:

thick grip comparison

If you only intend to use thick bar grips with your dumbbells, I would recommend going with the Ironmaster fat grip adapter set, as the grips are secured tightly and fit the handles perfectly. However, they may not fit on other gym equipment.

EZ CURL BAR FOR QUICK-LOCK DUMBBELL PLATES

The great thing about Ironmaster is that you can use the iron plates that come with their dumbbells with their other products.

ironmaster ez bar

The Ironmaster EZ curl bar is a lot like any other spinlock barbell. However, crucially, it can be used with the Ironmaster dumbbell plates.  It includes the same grooved end plates on the handles that the dumbbells have.  This prevents the plates from rattling or coming loose.

Specs:

  • Diameter: 1″
  • Length: 48″
  • Length of bar ends: 7″
  • Max weight: 150lb of weight plates.
  • Bar weight: 15lb

The Ez bar is just $75 (as at 16 October 2016).

STRAIGHT BAR FOR QUICK-LOCK DUMBBELL PLATES

Much like the EZ bar, Ironmaster’s straight bar can be used with the quick-lock dumbbell plates.

ironmaster straightbar

Specs:

  • Diameter: 1″
  • Length: 66″
  • Length of bar ends: 11.5″
  • Length of inside grip area: 42.5″
  • Max weight: 210lbs of weight plates
  • Bar weight: approx 18 lbs

The straight bar is $75 (as at 16 October 2016).

Video Reviews

If you haven’t made your might up yet, or just want to see the Ironmaster adjustable dumbbells in actions, then hopefully the selected video reviews below will help you out.

Review #1

 

Review #2

This is a partial “unboxing” to give you an idea what it’s like to receive a box of Ironmaster dumbbells.

 

Review #3

 

 

Review #4

Here is IFBB  pro bodybuilder Lee Priest using the Ironmaster dumbbells. If they are good enough for Lee, they will be good enough for you!

 

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *