jane_fondaWhen I hear the word StairMaster, I am filled with images of Jane Fonda doing some video crap workout.  Then I think of rows and rows of treadmills, bikes, and yes climbers at the local “fitness/social club”.  To be fair, I shouldn’t associate Jane Fonda with StairMaster…but I do anyway.  For me, the company “StairMaster” has never equated with serious training.

So when I started looking for adjustable dumbbells, I was surprised to see good reviews for the StairMaster TwistLocks.  Huh?  I had to look into these (if you’re a meathead, you might be snarling at me for even considering adjustable dumbbells in the first place — but the convenience of time/space-saving is just too real to overlook).  Could StairMaster really make something better than SelectTech or PowerBlock (not that I’m a fan of either of these)?  You can’t find the TwistLocks at Dick’s or SportsAuthority, so something must be wrong — right?


Well, that naive perception quickly evaporated when I finally got my hands on a set.  In short, they were awesome.  The pros were many, while the con was singular.

The first and probably most important difference is it is ridiculously easy to adjust the weight.  It takes a total of 300 milliseconds to go from 5lbs to 50lbs.  My 6-year-old has no problem clicking the handle into the cradle, giving a light twist and pulling out a new weight…though he maxes at about 20lbs.  By comparison, the SelecTech (by BowFlex) are cumbersome.  You have to twist both ends to change weights…but that’s not a big deal.  The big deal with SelecTech is how over time they start catching/snagging and thus the individual plates don’t always get picked up.  My TwistLocks are still as silky smooth as when they first arrived (about a year ago).  The PowerBlock are even more cumbersome in changing weights…but they are also more durable over the long run compared to SelectTech.



The second comparison is comfort.  The TwistLock has a contoured handle.  The SelectTech has the same bulge.  This is different from most non-adjustable dumbbell sets and I’ve heard people complain about this.  I’ve also heard people say they’ve taped their handles and all is well.  For me, I don’t mind…they are fine…stop your complaining!  The PowerBlock have a straight handle, but this handle is inside a cube…which feels awkward to me (you’ll get used to the cube thingy, but at first it’s unnatural).  Minor con — click on the image to the right, you’ll see some wear and tear on the handle. I consider this normal and will happen on all the dumbbells…so just mentioning for full disclosure.

Finally, the big CON.  The TwistLock have a max weight of 50lbs.  SelecTech has two models…55lbs and 90lbs.  And the PowerBlock has many models…one which can go to a sick 175lb per dumbbell.  For most home users, 50lbs is fine.  But for me, it’s a big drawback.  I don’t need 175lbs, but 80-90lbs would be nice.  To compensate, I use resistance bands with my dumbbells.  Not ideal, but better than nothing.

In the end, the TwistLock are awesome.  The pros soooo outweigh the con for the general users.  Meatheads who need serious iron will have to go with the PowerBlock (or just stick with the gym), but for the rest of us, the “StairMaster” TwistLock is an awesome way to go.