By Strength Oldschool
* The following article contains Ironmaster and Amazon "Affiliated" links. This means if you click on any of the links and decide to buy something, Strength Oldschool will receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated!
* This article is an honest review of Ironmaster's Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells which was initially posted a few years back but still remains relevant today.
Let's begin this truthful review by stating the following...
Ironmaster Home Gym Equipment is excellent and I would highly recommend anyone with a Home Gym invest in buying from Ironmaster. Every purchase I've made, the equipment has been heavy duty, with no issues, and delivered quickly. However, there are pros and cons to everything, so please continue to read on.
Believe it or not, I've actually purchased the same product TWICE from Ironmaster and not by accident. That product was "Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells". The first purchase was eventually given to my brother to use and try out several years ago, which he loved, so I later invested in buying a second set again for myself!
The following "Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbell" Review Video can be watched below first before moving on with the rest of the article.
Brief Overview of my Hardcore, Commercial and Home Gym Life
Throughout my younger days as a teenager, my initial training began at my parents home, within a small bedroom, using limited equipment, such as chunky, vinyl weights.
I then progressed from my small bedroom gym to a relatively large commercial one, which wasn't hardcore by any means. It attracted all age groups and there was never any chalk being used or weights crashing to the floor. It was a good, clean gym, with a great friendly atmosphere, which enabled me to start using basic equipment along with cable machines, stuff which I had never been exposed to before.
Unfortunately within a year or so, that commercial gym closed down and I would later move on to a relatively small garage unit referred to as "The Hardcore Hell-Hole Gym", which was managed at the time by Professional Scottish Bodybuilder, Steve Creighton.
This place wasn't clean looking, it never had carpet like the last gym, but its draw in features was the "Old School", heavy duty Power Rack and pro-style dumbbells which progressed up to 70 kg (154 lbs). The last gym the dumbbells only went up to 20 kg (45 lbs). This gym was night and day different and filled with serious lifters who believed in becoming brute strong!
That would be the gym where my training would be kicked up a notch. I began Powerlifting and Olympic lifting in that gym, and before getting injured, I got pretty strong in my opinion. I also competed during those few training years from 2003 to 2005.
In 2006, I would move out from my parents house and go live in Carnoustie, Scotland, for a year. The first few months of living in my new town, three to five days a week, I would drive 40 minutes to the nearest commercial gym, in order to train. The gym was nice but it was always busy which I didn't like, as I'm more of an introverted person. So at that point, I decided to buy some basic, Home Gym equipment to use in my Flat.
I purchased Olympic weight plates, a 7ft Olympic Barbell, adjustable Squat Stands and a couple of light Hex Rubber Dumbbells. Nothing fancy, just simple, basic equipment. At that point in time, I loved training. I had a good bit of free time and my energy levels were high. So much so, I was training multiple times a day (as much as three times a day) hitting the same body parts and lovin' it! The freedom to train whenever I wanted, no matter the time of day was priceless.
Fast forward a year later and my employment status unfortunately came to an end. So due to financial reasons, I had to move back home again to live with my folks. As for the gym equipment, that got sold off. There was no space in my parents spare bedroom to hold a 7ft Olympic Barbell etc. I ended up going back to the "Hardcore Hell Hole Gym" where I would continue my training for a period of time before moving on to another commercial type gym, around 2009 I believe.
I stuck with the new gym for a couple of years before deciding to pack in the commercial gym scene for good. Just before I made that decision, Polish Strongman, Sebastien Wenta, arrived in the gym with his fellow GIGANTIC training buddies.
I believe he was in town to train for a local Highland Games show. Took me a bit of time to work up the courage, but I managed to get a photo with Wenta. The date was 13 August, 2010. Time, 12:55pm.
Looking back, I wish I was in better shape. Not sure how tall Wenta was but I'm 6ft tall for comparison. Check out that T-Shirt of mine!
Bring me Ironmaster
So late 2010, I stopped training at the commercial gym (it was getting too busy) and decided to stick with training in my small bedroom at my parents home. Some people reading this may think I was foolish, but I was keen to start "Home Gym" training again, like I used to, when I lived in Carnoustie.
Because of the limited training space I had, I couldn't buy a 7ft Olympic Barbell and Olympic Weight Plates like I had in Carnoustie. So it became a challenge to choose between the various "compact" home gym equipment options, available to me online, that would best accommodate my needs.
I knew I wanted some kind of "Adjustable" Dumbbells rather than "Fixed" Dumbbells like 'Rubber Hex Dumbbells'. The Hex Dumbbells would simply take up far too much room. So I began looking at popular "Adjustable" options online which at the time were "Power Blocks" and "Bowflex", both of which are still around today.
Both "Bowflex" and "Power Blocks" were convenient in the sense that both types could be quickly adjusted in weight, especially 'Bowflex', which simply involved turning a dial.
However, both these adjustable dumbbells had a lot of negative reviews as they were easily broken and didn't stand the test of time. Power Blocks for me also looked too SPACE-AGE! Those dumbbells could have been advertised as the best dumbbells in the world and I still wouldn't have bought them, simply due to their crazy design.
Certain exercises also couldn't be done when using the Power Block dumbbells due to their unique, bulky design, so again, that was a turn off. Bowflex resembled more of a real dumbbell which I liked, and the "change weight at the turn of a dial" definitely appealed to me. But after reading the negative reviews, I decided I didn't want to take the risk.
That's when I discovered Ironmaster. A family owned, American business, founded in 1978, famous for designing heavy duty, compact, strength training equipment, specifically aimed at the small Home Gym user. Thankfully, the business spread its wings and began operating in the UK in 2008.
So my options at that point were to either consider buying Ironmaster Dumbbells or use loadable dumbbell handles with a small selection of Olympic weight plates.
The thought of buying Olympic weight plates made me apprehensive. That option would be fine in a larger training area, but I was living in a tiny bedroom! So I decided the bulky Olympic plates wouldn't be the wisest choice and therefore continued researching Ironmaster Dumbbells. I then came across the following reviews online.
After reading the positive reviews, I became excited to try Ironmaster, especially since the company had a long history and a strong reputation for producing high quality home gym equipment. The Ironmaster Dumbbells were basically loadable dumbbell handles but designed in a compact way. So I knew it would be a solid purchase.
So the "34 kg (75 lbs) Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbell set" became my first ever purchase.
The Dumbbells and Rack above can be purchased directly from the links below:
My Personal Views and Facts on Ironmaster / Dumbbells
The following information will appeal to anyone who is considering buying Dumbbells from Ironmaster.
I'm based in the UK and from a "Delivery" point of view, I have had no issues or complaints to make. As a UK customer, delivery speed has always been fast. The only one small problem I had, which was my fault for not checking the website, was discovering that Ironmaster do not always send out a customer's products in one delivery.
So take note, depending on what you order, it may come in two or several deliveries and not just one large package. Also please be aware that additional deliveries may not happen within the same day, but you're best to contact Ironmaster for exact info on delivery procedures.
ARE IRONMASTER DUMBBELLS STRONG?
"The adjustable dumbbells lock up tight with no rattling or looseness. They feel just like traditional fixed weight dumbbells and are not restrictive in the ways you can grip them...Heavy Duty – go ahead and drop them. No plastic or fragile parts!" ~ Ironmaster
Advertised as the World's Strongest adjustable dumbbells is a very bold statement to make by Ironmaster. However they do come with a reputation of being EXTREMELY STRONG and they certainly feel strong when using them.
I'm never been personally interested in dropping dumbbells from a great height to test those "Indestructible" claims and If I'm honest, I don't even drop the dumbbells when using them during my home gym training sessions. However, should I ever need to drop the dumbbells at some point, I wouldn't be worried about damaging them. I'd be more concerned about my gym floor ha ha!
Ironmaster offer a 'Life-Time' Warranty, so that's good enough for me!
"It’s a bold claim, but we’re so confident in this product that we offer a lifetime warranty to guarantee your new dumbbell set for life. Even if you’re a Pro bodybuilder who’s pressing the entire set. No matter how many reps the dumbbells get put through every week. Whoever you are, however you use them, we’ll guarantee them for life." ~ Ironmaster
** Always check the Ironmaster website or contact them directly to make sure you get a "Life-Time Warranty". Sometimes this can be changed to "Limited" so always check before buying!! **
HOW MUCH WEIGHT CAN IRONMASTER DUMBBELLS BE LOADED TO?
Ironmaster adjustable dumbbell handles can be loaded up to 75 kg (165 lbs) by purchasing 'ADD ON KITS', so they are perfectly suited for the serious strength trainer.
"Add On Kits" can be purchased directly from the links below:
Note: There is a downside unfortunately. You can't simply buy the heaviest 'Add On Kit', you need to first purchase the 120 lbs 'Add On Kit' before buying the next heavier one i.e. 165 lbs 'Add On Kit'.
If you wish to INCREASE the WEIGHT further, Ironmaster also sell "Heavy Handle Plate Kits" which transforms a typical Ironmaster empty dumbbell handle weighing 5 lbs, into a massive 20 lbs!
"Heavy Handle Plate Kits" can be purchased directly from the links below:
So a "120 lbs ADD ON KIT" can be further loaded up to 135 lbs by buying the 'Heavy Handle Plate Kit' above.
And a "165 lbs ADD ON KIT" can be further loaded up to 180 lbs with the addition of the 'Heavy Handle Plate Kit'.
One thing to address which some people may not have noticed or become aware of. As more weight is added to an Ironmaster Dumbbell, only the "length" of the dumbbell changes. All Ironmaster weight plates are the same size, but with one exception...The heavier plates have a greater thickness.
This is where Ironmaster Dumbbells differ from regular loadable Olympic dumbbell handles and Hex Rubber Dumbbells. The chart below which I made up a few years ago, details the size measurements of Hex Rubber Dumbbells, ranging from 1 kg (2.2 lbs) all the way up to 70 kg (154 lbs). Notice as the weight becomes heavier, both the "length" and "height" of the dumbbell increases.
WHAT'S THE BREAK DOWN IN WEIGHTS FOR A 34 KG (75 lbs) IRONMASTER DUMBBELL PACKAGE?
If you purchase the 34 kg (75 lb) Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells from Ironmaster, your package contains the following...
- 2.2 kg (5 lbs) weight plates X 24
- 1.1 kg (2.5 lbs) weight plates X 4
I wish to point out one of my pet peeves of Ironmaster at this moment in time, which is, the fact that their weights aren't simply 2 kg or 1 kg, there 2.2 kg and 1.1 kg etc. Makes it a pain to calculate accurate weight when lifting. Maybe it's just me that has that problem?
WHAT IS THE LIGHTEST STARTING WEIGHT FOR IRONMASTER DUMBBELLS?
"Handles weigh 5 lbs (2.2 kg) empty and each locking screw weighs 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) – so the starting weight is 10 lbs (4.5 kg) for each adjustable dumbbell before plates are added." ~ Ironmaster
Given that I own these dumbbells I'm going to disagree slightly with Ironmaster's statement above. Here's why.
The starting weight of an empty dumbbell handle (with no locking screws attached), as Ironmaster has stated, is around 2 kg (4-5 lbs). That is correct.
Now, the next lightest weight progression up from 2 kg (4-5 lbs), is not what Ironmaster has stated to be, for example, 4.5 kg (10 lbs), with the locking screws attached. This I believe is not accurate because I'm unable to attach the locking screws to the dumbbell handles without first adding at least one weight plate to either end of the dumbbell handle. Is this normal? I'm not sure as I've never inquired about this issue with Ironmaster.
So the next heaviest weight increment from a 2 kg (4-5 lbs) empty dumbbell handle (with no locking screws attached) is really 6.6 kg (14.5 lbs), and not the 4.5 kg (10 lbs) proclaimed by Ironmaster.
My 6.6 kg (14.5 lbs) equates to the following...2.2 kg (5 lbs) empty dumbbell handle + 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs) weight plate X 2 (one on either end) + two locking screws which each weigh 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs).
So weight progression on the Ironmaster Dumbbells would look like this...
- 2 kg (handle only) * Lightest weight *
- 6 kg (handle + locking screws + 1.1 kg plates X 2)
- 8 kg (handle + locking screws + 2.2 kg plates X 2)
- 10 kg (handle + locking screws + 2.2 kg plates X 2 + 1.1 kg plates X 2)
I've simplified the weight numbers because calculating the .1 or .2 kg poundages just over complicates matters. So after the 10 kg set, you just need to start loading the remaining weight plates which allow you to build up to a maximum of 34 kg (75 lbs) if this was the set package you ordered. As I've stated previously, you can buy "Add On Kits" to increase the weight further.
Should you need to progress up in weight using smaller weight increments, then Ironmaster provide "Micro Weight Plates".
Similar to Fractional Weight Plates, Ironmaster's "Micro Plates" allow lifters to progress up in weight in smaller increments, by as little as 1.25 lbs (0.57 kg). This is ideal when training smaller muscle groups like the biceps and triceps etc.
First of, here are fractional weight plates used for loadable dumbbell handles, Olympic barbells etc...
And here are Ironmaster's Micro Plates...
"Micro Plate Kit" can be purchased directly from the links below:
CAN THE WEIGHTS ON IRONMASTER DUMBBELLS BE CHANGED QUICKLY AND EASILY?
Compared to Bowflex adjustable dumbbells which simply involve turning a dial to change resistance, Ironmaster takes a little longer to adjust I'm afraid.
As can be seen from previous photos, Ironmaster Dumbbells have a square format but with rounded edges. This design shape means the dumbbells won't roll about the gym floor. This is either a positive or negative depending on how you look at it. For example, if you train in bare feet, your toes should be safe. But if you want to get a heavy dumbbell from one end of the room to another, you're going to have to lift the dumbbell as you'll find it challenging trying to push it with your feet!
The loadable plates are designed to stack together, on top of one another, which are secured to the side plates of the metal dumbbell handle (which also has the exact same shape) using two locking screws.
The rounded edges are very smooth so won't cut your skin. It's very important that the weight plates are stacked correctly before attempting to lock the dumbbells with the screws. To lock in and secure weights correctly to the dumbbell handle, It's important to note the 'V' shape notches at the top of the metal dumbbell handles and the locking screws. Both the V shape notches must be aligned correctly in order to remove or add on weight plates.
"When the arrow on the locking screw is pointed up at the notch, this is the open position where you can pull the locking screw directly out of the handle." ~ Ironmaster
When both sets of notches are aligned, the locking screw can be inserted straight into the dumbbell handle and then turned 'clock-wise' until tight. How far round you turn it depends. Every set of dumbbell handles and locking screws may be slightly different but trust me, you will know when it's tightened. Changing the weights is not complicated and it's definitely not as quick as adjusting a dial. It's basically slightly quicker but a similar process to loadable dumbbells and adding safety collars.
HOW THICK ARE IRONMASTER DUMBBELL HANDLES?
The chrome plated steel handles with knurled grips come in a standard size / thickness of 1.25" (3.2 cm). The width of the handle measures 6.5" (16.5 cm), which is slightly longer than my Hex Rubber Dumbbell handles at only 5".
Please note that by buying Ironmaster's "Heavy Handle Plate Kit", the length of Ironmaster's knurled grip will then become less than 6.5". Ironmaster states that this should not affect performance in handling the dumbbell. I have never used the "Heavy Handle Plate Kits" so I can't possibly comment.
The knurled grips feel solid and stable in your hand but if you want to focus more on developing your grip strength and build some wrist and forearm size, I'd suggest buying Ironmaster's "Fat Grip Adapter Set". These thicker grips will also suit people with larger than normal hands.
You have the option of purchasing 1.5" (4 cm) grip handles or 2" (5 cm) grip handles. I went with the 2" grip handles and absolutely love them.
"Fat Grip Adapters" can be purchased directly from the links below:
Ironmaster USA * For some reason, they do not sell these *
The Fat Grip Adapters come as you see below. One thick grip Adapter set comes in two halves with four screws. In order to attach the Fat Grips to your Ironmaster Dumbbell handle, you simply wrap the two halves around the handle of the dumbbell and insert the screws and tighten.
I wish I could say the final part of tightening the screws to secure the Fat Grips was easy, but unfortunately, It wasn't. I found such a simple, straightforward process extremely challenging and time consuming to tighten the screws. They were just so small and fiddly to handle, and eventually after an hour of labour, I finally got the Fat Grips attached.
But once there on, the thick handle feels solid and brilliant to use, making the blood, sweat and tears of putting the grips on very much worth it! (Not quite ha ha!).
But here comes the negative...if you only have one pair of dumbbell handles (as I do), and your plan was to attach the thick grips for certain exercises only, and then remove them to use the standard grip for other lifts, unfortunately, you will not have the patience to repeatedly remove and then attach the grips during your training sessions. The process just takes too much effort and far too long to do!
Personally, I would just leave the Fat Grips on all the time. But if you still wish to use Fat Grips for certain exercises only, then I would recommend two options:
- Buy an extra pair of Ironmaster Dumbbell Handles. Use one pair with the normal standard grip and the other with the Fat Grip Adapters.
- Don't buy Ironmaster's Fat Grip Adapters. Simply buy yourself Portable Fat Grips! Portable Fat Grips can quickly and easily be taken off and put back on again within seconds!
One note of caution....If you purchase the thick grip Adapters of Ironmaster, I believe the 'Heavy Handle Plate Kits' will therefore not fit the dumbbell handles. I would contact Ironmaster to make sure if you are definitely planning on buying both the 'Heavy Handle Plate Kits' and 'Fat Grip Adapter Sets'. Better safe than sorry!
Personally, I've since removed the Fat Grip Adapters from my Ironmaster Dumbbells and will stick with using Portable Fat Grips, whenever I wish to include Thick Grip training in my routines.
ARE IRONMASTER DUMBBELLS WORTH THE PRICE?
Like everything in life, at this moment in time, prices are sky high. So lets simply compare an Ironmaster package (34 kg (75 lbs) Adjustable Dumbbells) with another brand of Fixed Dumbbells i.e. Hex Rubber Dumbbells.
If you look at the photo above, on the left, it shows part of my Rubber Hex Dumbbell collection. The small dumbbells start from 1 kg (2.2 lbs) and go all the way up to 27.5 kg (60.5 lbs).
A number of years ago, I invested money in a bulk buy, meaning the dumbbells above do actually go from 1 kg up to 30 kg (66 lbs). Unfortunately the storage rack not being of appropriate size, couldn't fit the last pair of dumbbells.
1 kg up to 30 kg equated to 18 pairs of dumbbells, for example...
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 27.5, 30.
The dumbbell storage rack above has the following measurements:
- Depth: 53 cm / 20.9 inches
- Length: 162 cm / 64 inches
- Height: 92 cm / 36.2 inches
The storage rack is solid but does take up space.
Price wise, after a quick check online, Fitness Superstore was offering 18 pairs of Hex Rubber Dumbbells for £1,249.00 (roughly $1,368.00). That price didn't include a storage rack.
Now let's compare this to Ironmaster's Dumbbells & Storage rack.
With Ironmaster, you get a compact, very strong but light enough to lift, black, very stylish, storage rack to hold all your weight plates. Should you buy 'Add On Kit's', those additional plates can still be stored within your Ironmaster rack.
The difference in size between the Hex Dumbbell and Ironmaster storage racks is huge! The Ironmaster Dumbbells and Rack are obviously much more suited to small Home Gym users. View the size comparison video below.
The impressive thing about Ironmaster is, you can load both sets of dumbbell handles up to 34 kg (75 lbs) and more if you buy 'Add On Kits'. The downside, it will take some effort and time to manually adjust the weight, whereas, Hex Dumbbells take up considerably much more room but allow you to simply, "Pick up and Go" with no time spent on changing weights.
It really does come down to personal preference and how much training space you have. Money will always be a major factor in decision making.
Price wise, the 34 kg (75 lbs) Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells and Storage Rack will cost you £869.00 ($869.00). For me, that's expensive but relatively speaking, It's still much less than purchasing the Hex Rubber Dumbbells.
Check out how good my 34 kg (75 lbs) Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells look in my House Livingroom. Blends in with the furniture well!
Granted, you could argue, why do I need 18 pairs of Hex Dumbbells anyway? If I only get 10 pairs, that's much less money!
True, but one of the most important factors of training, which many people don't think about, is small weight progression. Imagine training your biceps with Two Arm Dumbbell Curls using 10 kg (22 lbs) per dumbbell for 5 to 8 reps. If the next heaviest dumbbell you have is 15 kg (33 lbs), that really means your jumping up 10 kg (22 lbs) overall, that's 5 kg (11 lbs) per arm. That's a huge jump in weight for such a small muscle group, when it comes to dumbbell training.
So if your buying Hex Dumbbells, if you have the money to spare, It's worth investing in buying extra pairs of dumbbells to help minimise large jumps in weight. Small weight increments are much better on the CNS than making large jumps in weight and burning yourself out or worse, becoming injured!
Overall, I would say, the Ironmaster Dumbbells are definitely worth buying over the Hex Dumbbells, if you have a very small training area. For me, even though I love Ironmaster, I still like the ability of simply grabbing dumbbells without having to perform changes in weight before every set. And the Hex Dumbbells, although bulky and take up considerable room, enable that quickness for me.
You can read my further thoughts and opinions on a relevant topic I've recently written about entitled: "Fixed Dumbbells vs Loadable Dumbbells". Within that article, I vent my frustrations in regards to using loadable dumbbell handles. It's worth a read in my opinion.
I've tried to provide as much relevant details as possible in order to help you make up your own mind in regards to possibly buying from Ironmaster. At the end of the day, It's your decision and your money, so do a lot of research and choose wisely.
Hopefully what I've detailed above will help influence your decision in a small way and if anyone requires additional information from me, please post your questions within the comments box.
Remember, Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbells can be purchased from the following links below.
Regardless of high prices, I would definitely recommend Ironmaster Dumbbells to anyone. So much so, I've since made the decision to sell all my Hex Rubber Dumbbells...
Ironmaster also provide additional gym equipment such as Kettlebells, Smith Machines, Lat Pulldown Machines, Barbells, Weight Benches etc. Some of the additional equipment I own from Ironmaster can be checked out here where I've produced videos on.
Ironmaster have also just recently released Version 2 (V2) of their "Super Bench PRO". For more information click here.
Keep training hard folks!
All the best,