For some context you can see our comparison of the Ironmaster dumbbells with the Bowflex Selecttech and PowerBlock, but the below review goes into better hands-on detail on the Ironmaster.
Hi there to all in the weight lifting community, you might know me from my other various contributions as Deep-Voiced-One/DVO, or by my name (Tony).
Here we will take a look at the review of my Ironmaster 5lb to 75lbs adjustable dumbbells with the stand / dumbbell rack that I bought way back when in 2010 and how they held up over time.
First I should start by saying that my lifting has changed quite a bit over the years (from aesthetics to strength), but I’ve always been an old-school barbell, plates, dumbbells and body weight movements guy through and through before machines and still live by those principles and while I’ll always choose the barbell, plates and adjustable bench in a power rack primarily, the Ironmaster dumbbells have their place in my home gym.
Back in 2010 I called IM and got Matt on the phone and asked him about my concerns of if the IM dumbbells were compact enough to not bang into your chest on heavy dumbbell curls of different variations and he assured me that they are very good and will not hit the chest during curls (The whole set is a miniature investment so I wanted to be sure of my potential decision with the above question and a few others set forth and Matt was very responsive and seemed honest and nice enough, so I decided to order from the site)…
When the IM set and stand shipped to my door at the time I didn’t have a camera cell phone (Primitive I know hahaha), but from what I remember I think it came in three boxes (first box with the 2 dumbbell handles and 4 locking pins, the second box 65 lbs of plates (twenty four 5 lb plates and four 2.5 lb plates)…with the dumbbell handles and locking pins together weighing 10 lbs each it’s 75 lbs altogether each loaded handle so you get 150 lbs total weight, third box the dumbbell rack that required some minor assembly).
Upon opening the dumbbell handles, the first thing I noticed was the chrome handles were made very nicely and the knurling in my opinion is slightly passive, yet grippy enough. The handles diameter is 1.25″ thick which I think could be just a hair thicker at 1.5″ for maybe pressing movements, or farmers walks, but definitely not a deal breaker by any means and I find that I barely noticed it as I used them each time, also on the handle ends are the V shaped slits at the tops to not only tell you that they are right side up, but also to indicate where the locking pins line up with the handles…
Now on to the locking pins. They are round and have a V shaped slit as well to tell you where to line the threaded 1″ diameter steel rod piece that extends from the round locks with the dumbbell handle ends. Just line up the V shaped slits press them in and turn the locking pins a quarter, or just a bit more clockwise (as indicated on the face of the locking pins) and they are all locked in. Then to unlock turn the locking pins back to 12 o’clock where the V slits line up, extremely simple! The locking pins have knurling on them which is an excellent touch, the reason being that if they kept them smooth your hands would eventually sweat and be slipping off during the lock and unlock process…Great touch Ironmaster!
The IM plates are square and have indented grooves that make each plate attach together with 1″ sized hole diameters (to match the dumbbell handles), the coating seems like an enamel baked finish and is very durable and in my opinion is like what you would see on your decent quality cast iron plates…another nice touch is that you not only get the nice “Ironmaster” logo on each plate, but you also get the number in lbs as well as kg…Something for everyone! (Just one very minor thing to note is to be mindful on the plates when storing/attaching them face up and stacking them as they do have the tendency to sometimes pinch the thumbs or fingers between plates if you’re not careful).
Next up: the dumbbell rack (Not sure if the set could’ve been bought without the dumbbell rack back in 2010, but even if it could’ve been I would still buy them together). I personally dig this dumbbell rack… From what I can remember there was a very small amount of assembly, plus it’s so compact it only takes up a little portion of valuable space! It has one top shelf, a middle shelf and a bottom shelf (which leaves plenty of storage room for the upgraded 120 lbs adapter kit), it keeps things very organized and the dumbbell handles (fully weighted, or not) up top if you decide to keep them locked and loaded up top.
Each shelf has a sort of ridged rubber coating on each one to protect the metal on the cabinet and it has held up well seeing as how my IM dumbbells are in the attic and with humidity during the summer season might cause a bit of minor sticking from the plates and rubber tops, but nothing serious.
Another cool feature of IM dumbbells is that when you unlock the pins (just make sure you hold the outer most plate), it will keep each plate together for easy plate removal during drop sets.
So you’re probably asking me by now “DVO, How quick are they to change out weights? What about their square shape?And how did your 7 year old Ironmaster dumbbell set hold up?” And here’s my answer to each question…
Switching them out is a breeze, sure maybe Powerblocks (Which I never tried before) may be slightly quicker, but I’d hate to live off the minor speed difference (which isn’t much), plus the IMs are all steel with no plastic cheaply labored parts what so ever and I don’t know about you, but I like traditional old-school looking dumbbells and with these it is the best compromise!
As for the “Non-traditional” square shape plates, I actually prefer them exclusively on dumbbells cause not only does it avoid rolling on the ground, or on the stand, but they are also specifically compact enough for curls of all varieties (especially standing curls), chest flys on a bench and also for one arm dumbbbell rows as well…there are few weightlifting products out there where I would prefer 1″ diameter holes on the item and the only two exclusively I can think of is on weight storage pegs for ease of the plates sliding on and off the storage pegs and none other than the IM dumbbells! Everything else is 2″ olympic diameter holes.
All in all my Ironmaster dumbbells held up well in the 7 years I had them and are still being used to this day. The only things noticeable on them are some minor surface rust around some of the plates, handle grips and locking pins (which is justifiable cause of battle scars from my sweat and weather changes) and the locking mechanism still works like a charm (a shot of WD-40 wouldn’t hurt here and there)… Overall the surface rust is objectionable depending on how you maintenance your lifting products and the minor rust hasn’t messed with any of the performance of this product thus far.
Now as an added bonus review, here’s some of my favorite exercises with the IM dumbbells: DB bench press (all angles, plus flat locking pin faces for a deeper stretch), Dumbbell rows (one arm and both arm rows), Curls (of all variations), DB shoulder presses, Farmers walks (but will probably need to upgrade them to the 120 lb, 165 lb add on kit if you’re thinking of using them for that movement), Standing/Seated triceps overhead extensions (I like using them with a single dumbbell and find that when I grasp the square shape dumbbell end with the palms diamond grip it holds well for these, I never had any issues with the lock pins loosening during this movement, but as with anything use your own discretion), Decline dumbbell pullovers (laying on the bench in decline position, disclaimer on this one I’ve done this movement with around 40 lbs and a diamond shape grip and once again never had any issues with the integrity of the lock, but again use your own discretion with the direct lock facing over head type movements), Bent over lateral raises, Chest flys, Etc…
Conclusion, I would have these in my home gym even if I had enough space and funds for a whole commercial set of dumbbells and a DB rack. If you’re in the market for a pair of indestructable adjustable dumbbells priced right and space is an issue (which is a very common problem/enemy of many), then the Ironmaster dumbbells with their lifetime warranty are your ally in the arsenal of fitness equipment!