If the workout space in your home is limited or you’re hesitant to invest in a full set of dumbbells and a rack, selectorized weights are a good option. A pair of SportBlock 5.0 weights can replace 10 pairs of dumbbells, and each SportBlock 5.0 allows you to lift from 5 pounds to 50 pounds, with the weight increasing in 5-pound increments.
The SportBlock 5.0 system is compact package that measures 9.5 inches long, 7 inches deep and about 7 inches high. It includes 9 steel weights that are nested together, plus a central block that serves as the handle for each weight plate. On each side of the central block there is a plastic wall with slots.
To select a certain amount of weight, you just slide two rods (connected to a handle) into the slots. And it’s pretty easy to find the appropriate slot because the weights are color-coded. A diagram atop the central block displays the color for each weight, and this corresponds to colored plastic sleeves on each individual plate. Overall, it’s a simple system that is convenient, easy to use and safe, if not entirely perfect.
There were several things we liked about the product design. First, the handle with rods is tethered to the central block with an elastic cord, which prevents the rods from slipping out of the slots. Plus, magnets on the inner face of the handle go one step farther in keeping the rods seated. We used the SportBlock 5.0 for months and not once did the rods slip out.
The handle-and-rod system also allows you to change the amount of weight quickly—almost as fast as you can return a set of dumbbells to a weight stack and grab the next set. The only downside is that you have to really pay attention when sliding the bars into the slots. Several times we placed one rod under a certain weight and accidentally slid the other rod into the neighboring slot for a different amount of weight. This could cause the handle to slip out, though it never happened during our testing. To help prevent this mistake, there is a slot in the handle that allows you to see the colored sleeve on a each weight plate. When the rods are seated properly, the colored plastic is visible in the slot. Still, when we were tired from working out, we found that it was easy to misplace the rods, and the colored sleeves were difficult to see when lifting in a dimly lit room. We wonder if neon-colored sleeves would improve the visibility.
Some people might hesitate to use a SportBlock system because they don’t think the weights are bulky and less trim than traditional dumbbells. But our testers felt that the Sport Block did not noticeably restrict movement. And we thought the weights were pretty comfortable. The soft, rubber handle allows a comfortable grip, and it’s slightly tacky so sweaty hands won’t slip. Rounded guards at the top of the central block prevented our wrists from knocking against any metal, and the opening in the central block is spacious and not restrictive.
What really impressed us was how balanced the nested plates felt as we lifted them. Also, the plates nested snugly so they did not shift much or clank together when hoisted. But the greatest advantage of these selectorized weights is the simple convenience. It was so nice to just slip out a handle and slide it back in, rather than frequently carting weights between our workout bench and a rack.
Despite our concerns with seating the rods improperly, the SportBlock 5.0 has so many advantages that we would definitely recommend it for those who lack the space to house a large rack of dumbbells. The system is not only compact, but functions similar to traditional dumbbells so you can incorporate the SportBlock without altering your exercises. Plus,with the SportBlock you’ll spend more time lifting and less time hauling weights back and forth.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $299 a pair