Nautilus SelectTech Dumbbells


Although not the first company to create a selectorized dumbbell system (or what SNEWS® likes to call a multi-weight dumbbell system), Nautilus has certainly done one of the sleekest and smartest jobs so far. And, dang, it looks good too!

The SelectTech is a set of two dumbbells, each that can morph with the flick of a knob into any weight from 5 to 52.5 pounds each. That means that whether you're a novice who needs 5-pound weights or a beefy muscle man who wants to curl 50 pounds, the SelectTech will take care of your needs. And instead of having an entire rack of weights or maybe one or more handles you have to constantly load, unload and reload with different plates, you have it all in one trim system.

Nautilus spent some two years developing the technology and engineering behind this to make sure it was just right, and that meant the company had a lot of time to think through the tiniest features. For example, the plates that are locked or unlocked onto the handle for different weights are made of as many as 12-15 different stamped parts because casting would have made it too big to achieve the needed weight. The plates are plastic-coated so they don't jangle around annoyingly (although they of course shake a bit). There is a wide web belt with a snapping side-release buckle so you can lock the weights down to the base (don't want any kids or dogs to knock 'em over). The weights on each of two stands are each angled outward slightly in a V shape (with the wide part of the V facing the user) so if you are lifting heavier weights you can step between them for better leverage and safety for your lower back. The dumbbells' handles are curved so they fit in your palm nicely. And, the best thing, if you don't position the turning knob so it exactly clicks into a weight, the dumbbell won't budge from the stand. Nope, not the breadth of a flea's hair. That means you can't get the plates part way in, lift the handle, then drop something on your foot.

Doing strength-training exercises with the system is also easy, even with a lifting partner who may need more or less weight since all you do between sets is swiftly twist the knob. Although one tester found no problem getting the handle back into the base, another found it had to be aimed just right and took a little jiggling. Not an issue really, though.

The biggest drawback is that in order to make the system accommodating for a wide range of needs, the handles are long, really long. That means that if you're only lifting 5 or 15 pounds, you still have this rather unwieldy dumbbell to heave around, which could cause some imbalance. For example, we found tricep kickbacks with lighter weights not the most comfortable. And bicep curls moving into a supinated (turned upward) palm as you lift aren't great overall for light to medium weights because the long handle means you can't properly accomplish the supination at the right time.

All in all, this is one super piece for a home that needs to accommodate different demands in a small space and would like it to look nice too.

SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested retail: $350, dumbbells plus base (stand: $130)

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