How To Use PowerBlock Dumbbells

If you’ve ever wondered how to use PowerBlock dumbbells, then this in depth walkthrough should help.

PowerBlocks are the simplest adjustable dumbbells to use on the market. They utilise a pin system to select the required weight from the stack of plates. As you lift the dumbbell, you lift only the weight you have selected with the remaining plates being left behind.

PowerBlock Elite EXP

In a previous article I compared the most popular selectable dumbbells currently available on the market. I concluded that PowerBlocks are the best selectable dumbbells you can buy.

In providing this step-by-step guide I hope to convince anybody that is currently in the market for a set of adjustable dumbbells, that PowerBlocks remain the best-of-the-best, despite increasing competition.

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PowerBlock Elite EXP Adjustable Dumbbells

  • Adjustable: PowerBlocks allow for quick and easy weight adjustments, making it easier to progress in your workouts.
  • Space-saving: With PowerBlocks, you don’t need a bulky weight rack, saving you valuable space in your home gym.
  • Durable: Built to last, PowerBlocks are made with high-quality materials and are designed to withstand heavy use.

Are PowerBlocks Complicated?

PowerBlocks are the simplest of all the different varieties of adjustable dumbbells on the market. A pin is used to select the desired weight within the block and you simply lift the selected stack out of the block.

If you’ve ever used a weight-stack and pin on commercial gym equipment, then selecting weights on a PowerBlock will feel very similar.

They are so simple to use that, should you purchase a set, you’ll barely need to refer to any instructions.

PowerBlocks are the most simple, intuitive adjustable dumbbells available.

Will PowerBlocks Break?

If you spend any time researching the reliability of PowerBlock dumbbells you will find very few, if any, reports of anything having gone wrong with them.

I can personally attest to their reliability having bought a set at the turn of the century which are working as well today as they did on the day I bought them. These were the equivalent of the PowerBlock Elite EXP which are the current model as at the time of writing.

I bought a second set in 2015 For heavier lifting. These are the PowerBlock Sport 9.0 with Stage 2 Kit and they weigh in at 41 kg per dumbbell. These are just as robust as the original set that I bought, however I have to report that the label adhesive on these newer dumbbells is inferior to the original set and they require regular re-sticking!

If that is my only complaint after a combined ownership duration of around 30 years, then I hope that this will reassure you in the event that you are considering investing in a set of PowerBlock dumbbells.

How Long Will PowerBlocks Last?

As you can see in the pictures of my PowerBlocks, after 20 years the original set that I bought are showing some signs of usage, but are in excellent condition. Other than the poor adhesive on the labels the PowerBlock Sport 9.0’s look as good as new.

I should also point out that my original power blocks were kept outside in a cold, damp garage for around a decade. Despite this, they have never rusted and the black paint has never chipped or spoilt in any way that I can see.

Based on this, I expect both sets of PowerBlocks to last me at least another 50 years. However, in reality they’ll probably outlast me and hopefully go on to provide my son and his children as much utility as they have provided me!

How to Use PowerBlock Dumbbells

Let’s take a closer look at how PowerBlocks work.

PowerBlock Personal

When not in use I keep the pin in the lowest selection point. This so that if I want to move the dumbbells I will lift the whole stack when I grab the handle.

It’s embarrassing when you go to grab a dumbbell thinking that it’s loaded to 20 kg but it’s actually just five, causing you to nearly fall over!


When you want to change weight pull out the selector pin and put it in the slot appropriate to the weight you want to lift.


This is the selected weight lifted fully out of the stack. The cord you can see which is attaching the pin to stack is the original cord – no sign of fraying!


When you lift a weight out of the stack, this is what you leave behind., which is why it makes sense to also invest in a stand for your PowerBlocks like this:

PowerBlock Stickers

The different weights are listed on the label on the top of the weights.

As you can see these are colour coded and correspond to the colours on each weight.

PowerBlocks Unstacked

Here are the PowerBlocks completely unstacked – this should help to illustrate how space-saving these dumbbells are.

Now let’s look at the PowerBlock Sport 9.0.

PowerBlock Sport 9.0 Stage 2

I want to show you the handle and the system of additional weights it utilises.

PowerBlock Handle

As you can see, each handle has two hollow chambers and there are two 1kg (2.2lb) cylindrical metal weights that slot perfectly inside them.

PowerBlock Inserts

When inserted the weights are locked in position using the lever on the top of the handle, which is linked to a metal guard that prevents the weights from slipping out.

PowerBlock Lock
PowerBlock Lock

This system enables the weight to be rapidly adjusted in 1kg increments per dumbbell which is very useful when you’re attempting to push to the edge of what you can lift. This system is also utilised on the PowerBlock Elite EXP.

What About That Locking Mechanism – Will it Break?

There is a very low risk of the locking mechanism breaking. It’s such a simple concept, yet it works brilliantly. There are no moving parts other than the lever and plate that comprise the lock – which are actually a single part. I hope you can make this out in the pictures.

Besides, even if it did fail, the only time this would affect the performance of the dumbbells would be if you were wanting to use just the handle with the cylindrical weights inserted. You’d be unable to do this as the cylindrical weights would simply fall out!

If the locking mechanism failed and you wanted to use the cylindrical weights to increment between the 22.5kg and 27kg weight for example, you could still do this without issue as the metal plates would themselves prevent the cylindrical weights from falling out.

With the PowerBlock you needn’t have any concerns at all over reliability or durability.

Where Can I Buy PowerBlock Dumbbells?

Over the course of the Covid pandemic it has been increasingly hard to source PowerBlocks. This is probably because of the burgeoning demand for home workout equipment as gyms around the world shut their doors.

Being made in the USA, it may also be the case that the manufacturer has understandably prioritised the domestic market, making exports scarce.

If you’re thinking of investing in a set, don’t be deterred as they are the most versatile and  frequently used bit of kit in my fitness inventory.

In the UK, I sourced this set of Powerblocks:

And in The USA I found these:

You can read all about the pain I went through when I collected my first set of PowerBlocks from a fitness store in central Manchester and had to carry them back to my office!

That was over 20 years ago when Amazon wasn’t the amazing marketplace it is today. We take so much for granted – like fast, reliable delivery and a robust returns system!

I hope this brief guide illustrating how to use PowerBlock dumbbells has helped. As always, drop me a comment if there’s anything I’ve not answered.

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