Nearly every selectable/adjustable dumbbell on the market has some plastic in its design. It’s almost unavoidable. So when someone asks me, can adjustable dumbbells be dropped? I always tell them never to drop one from height. Dropping an adjustable dumbbell from anything over 12″ could cause some serious damage to the adjustment systems.

Even Popular Sets Like The Bowflex Are Full of Plastic

Most selectable dumbbells, including popular sets like the Bowflex 552s, have plastic in the adjustment system. The adjustment system has many moving parts. Sadly, the majority of the parts are plastic. Even the more expensive sets like the Core-Fitness Twist Locks and Noridctrack dumbbells use plastic adjustment systems.

And it’s not just the adjustment systems. Many adjustable dumbbell sets have plastic in the dumbbell handles and plastic casing surrounding the weight plates.

Drops Arnt Covered In The Warranties

The Bowflex 552s have more plastic than most sets I’ve reviewed, as they include plastic in the adjustment system, handle, and the casings for the weight plates.

If you buy a set of Bowflex, I’d advise you to be extra careful as one of the main issues people have with the Bowflex dumbbells is cracked weight plate casings. Once the plastic weight plate casings are cracked, the dumbbell becomes unusable. And because drops aren’t covered in any of the adjustable dumbbells warranties, you end up with a hefty repair bill.

snode ad-50 places next to core fitness adjustable dumbbells

Are There Any Exceptions?

If you want a fast-to-adjust dumbbell that can survive drops and one that’s similar in design to the Bowflex 552s or a super-fast twist-lock system? You’ll have to spend a bit more cash. The best all-metal set I’ve reviewed in the past few years was the Snode AD-50s.

Snode AD-50s All Metal Unbreakable Pair

The Snode AD-50 are an all-metal selectorized dumbbell pair. They use a twice lock adjustment system, which is fast to adjust, taking only a second. There’s no plastic in the adjustment system handle or surrounding the weight plates. They’re an all-iron fast-to-adjust dumbbell pair.

The only drawback is that the Snode AD-50s cost $500+. That sounds expensive, but when you consider that Bowflex Nordictrack and Core Fitness all sell their dumbbell pairs around their $400 mark, and they’re full of plastic, paying a little extra for a durable pair of adjustable doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

snode ad-50 all metal adjustable dumbbells

Go Budget – Go Old School

Some of the toughest dumbbells you’ll find are the old-school plate-loaded dumbells. Plate-loaded dumbbells are sold in sets. You’ll receive two metal bars and a selection of iron plates and spinlock collars to secure your weight plates.

This type of dumbell is cheap. You can get hold of a 50lb set like the Yes4alls for under $100. And there’s nothing you can break because everything is made out of metal. Throw them around your gym if you like.

Old-school plate-loaded sets are still very popular because they’re cheap, and two, they’re one of the only adjustable dumbbells you can buy where you can purchase extra weight plates to add to your set when you progress. This is excellent news as it saves a ton of cash not having to buy a completely new heavier set of dumbbells later on.

Still, everyone isn’t rushing out to buy a set like this because they take so long to adjust. You have to manually take off and add weight plates, much slower than the selectable dumbbells where you can turn a dial to select a weight. Also, the dumbbell handles are long with plate-loaded sets, which can be awkward to lift with, especially when curling.

None of the above are deal-killers, and I feel the price and durability of the plate-loaded dumbbells more than makeup for their drawbacks. They’ll always be an excellent choice for anyone who wants an unbreakable dumbbell set.

yes4all cast iron adjustable dumbbell pair

Is There Any Middle Ground?

If you want a tough pair of bells, you either have to spend a load of cash for an all-metal pair of selectorized dumbbells or put up with the slow adjustment times of the plate loaded adjustables.

However, is there a kind of middle ground? Yes, the Powerblock dumbbells. The Powerblock dumbbells have far less plastic than most adjustable pairs, and they’re fast to adjust, taking just a couple of seconds (using a magnetic sector pin). I’ve owned a pair of Powerblocks for years and never had any issues with them.

They’re not plastic-free; there’s some plastic in the handles, but the adjustment system doesn’t include any small plastic parts, and there is no plastic surrounding the weights.

The Powerblocks are the toughest adjustable dumbbells you’ll find under $400. They will survive a few drops, but I wouldn’t risk dropping them regularly from height. I bought a pair of Powertblocks because I wanted an adjustable dumbbell that can take some abuse and is fast to adjust and compact. The Powertblock Eltes have it all and they’re not overpriced.

pair of powerblock elite dumbbells next to fixed weight 50lb dumbbell

To Sum Up

The dumbbell market is flooded with adjustable dumbbells that will break if dropped from height. And yes, it’s usually the adjustment systems that break first.

You could be extra careful and avoid drops at all costs, or you can search for an all-metal pair of dumbbells?  If you’re on a budget, go for the plate-loaded Yes4alls 50lb dumbbell set for $100, and you’ll receive an unbreakable set of dumbbells. Yeah, they take a little longer to adjust, but it’s worth it if you want to train to failure and drop your dumbbells on that last killer rep without fear of breaking them.

You could spend more and opt for the Snode AD-50s; these are a serious set of adjustables. They’re impressive with super fast adjustment times and a compact design. These things won’t break; heck, even the manufacturer encourages you to drop them!

And then you have the Powerblock range. These guys make tough adjustable dumbbells for all levels of lifter, with prices ranging from $180 for a pair right up to $600. I wouldn’t advise throwing them around, but they will survive a few drops. I’ve dropped mine a handful of times, and they still work just fine. There isn’t much you can break on the Powerblock sets as most is metal—the best pair of adjustable dumbbells I’ve ever owned.