The Ironmaster Dumbbells are the most durable adjustable dumbbells on the market. Their all-steel construction creates a traditional feel that most will appreciate. Heavy lifters will especially love the heavier 165 lb weight capacity, but they’re suitable for all fitness levels.
Who It’s Right For
Things to Consider
If you’ve been researching adjustable dumbbells, you’ve likely come across the Ironmaster Dumbbells.
They have a strong reputation for their durability, weight capacity, and compact footprint.
They’re especially good for heavy lifters and anyone looking for something that looks and feels like a conventional fixed dumbbell.
In this review, I’ll explain everything you need to know about Ironmaster dumbbells. I’ll share the pros and cons and compare them to other popular options, including PowerBlocks and NÜOBELLs.
Let’s dig in.
Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Dumbbells
One of my biggest regrets since starting a home gym was selling my first pair of Ironmasters in 2016 to buy a full set of dumbbells.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my full set and use my fixed dumbbells often, but when I started investing in adjustable dumbbells, I knew I made a mistake.
Especially considering I paid a lot more for new Ironmasters than with my first used set, but I digress.
The point is, I’m a big fan of these dumbbells. I love their weight capacity, traditional dumbbell feel, straight knurled shaft, and durability.
However, they take longer to set up than others, and some users may prefer a shorter handle.
Let’s take a look at the specs and then get into the review.
- Materials: Steel
- Starting Weight: 10 lbs
- Max Weight: 165 lbs
- Weight Increments: 2.5 and 5 lbs
- Handle Diameter: 31.75mm
- Dimensions: 14.5″ L x 6.7″ H x 6.7″ W
- Warranty: Lifetime
The Ironmaster Dumbbells have a relatively traditional, pro-style design with unique square plates (more below). Dimensionally, these are 14.5″ long x 6.7″ wide x 6.7″ high, making them some of the most compact adjustables on the market.
The plate-loaded concept has pros and cons, but Ironmaster’s quick-lock design has advantages over other plate-loaded adjustables.
This is an ideal design for home gym owners who value durability and a higher weight capacity. In the following sections, I’ll cover each feature in detail.
One of the defining features of the Ironmaster Dumbbells is their square plates. If you’re accustomed to round or hex dumbbells, the square plate design may look odd at first, but they serve a practical purpose.
I don’t know about you, but it can be annoying having to chase down a runaway dumbbell. Garage gyms can sometimes be the biggest perpetrators since most have slightly sloped floors away from the house.
The square plates prevent the dumbbells from rolling, which is a convenient benefit. Even if you drop these after a heavy set, they’ll stay in place, making your life a little easier.
Another benefit of the Ironmaster plates is that they’re thin. The 2.5 lb plates are only 9.5mm thick, while the 5 lb plates are 15.5mm. The slim profile helps create a more compact footprint, resulting in a better range of motion on some lifts.
Handle and Knurling
The Ironmaster Dumbbells have a straight, fully knurled handle that most will appreciate. The texture strikes a nice balance between aggressive and passive, providing a solid grip for all movements. In my experience, it’s one of the better knurling profiles among adjustable dumbbells. I also like the 1.25″ (31.75mm) handle diameter. It’s suitable for most users and feels good with light or heavy weights.
The downside to the handle is that it’s fairly long. While most dumbbell handles range from 5.5″ to 6″ wide, the ironmasters are 6.5.” Lifters with extra wide hands may prefer this, but the added length may create balance issues for those with smaller hands on certain lifts (e.g., chest and shoulder presses).
I don’t think it’s a deal breaker, but I do prefer a slightly narrower handle. Thankfully, the Ironmaster Heavy handle Kit solves this (more below).
One of the biggest reasons people buy Ironmasters is for their impressive weight capacity. Ironmaster sells two base models: 45 lbs and 75 lbs. I recommend the 75 lb model to most people because of the extra versatility, but the 45 lb model is perfectly suitable for beginners and recreational lifters.
While these weights aren’t all that impressive compared to others, the expansion opportunities are what sets them apart. Ironmaster sells three upgrades to increase the weight capacity:
- Heavy Handle Plate Kit (Highly Recommended) – This kit attaches two 7.5 lb plates to each end of the handle, effectively increasing your base model by 15 lbs. In other words, your 45 lb becomes 60 lbs, and the 75 lb model becomes 90 lbs. Aside from the increased weight, a big benefit is that it shortens the handle, improving the balance concerns I mentioned above. A potential downside is that the starting weight becomes 25 lbs, which may be too much for some users/movements. That said, the handle plates are easily added or removed with an Allen key.
- 120 lb Add-On Kit – As the name implies, this kit takes your 75 lb set to 120 lbs (60% increase). It includes four 22.5 lb plates and four longer lock screws. At the full 120 lb capacity, the dumbbell length becomes 19″ compared to 14.5.” While still fairly compact, it may reduce the range of motion on some press variations. Keep in mind that you must start with the 75 lb set to use this expansion.
- 165 lb Add-On Kit – Similar to the 120 lb kit, this kit adds another 45 lbs to your dumbbells. It includes four 22.5 lb plates and four extra long lock screws. You must have both the 75 lb set and 120 lb add-on kit to use the 165 add-on kit. At 23.5″ long at max capacity, it’s not ideal for pressing, but it’s excellent for heavy pulls, rows, carries, and more.
In addition to Ironmaster’s offerings, you can also use third-party add-on weights. I recommend Micro Gainz Dumbbell Plates, which are offered in 2, 2.5, and 5 lb increments (pair).
Adjusting the Ironmaster Dumbbells
As a plate-loaded dumbbell, the Ironmasters aren’t the fastest or easiest dumbbells to use. However, they are better than other plate-loaded systems for one key reason: security.
Most plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells use spin locks or threaded screws to secure the plates. While these are fine, they can sometimes become loose, requiring you to retighten between sets.
Ironmasters differ because they physically lock into place. Once the plates are in position, you thread a screw into each side. When you reach the end, a partial twist locks the screw, keeping the plates very secure.
Another downside to some plate-loaded adjustable dumbbells is that they’re uncomfortable on your legs when resting. Most have narrow end caps that can dig into your skin. While the ironmasters aren’t as comfortable as a full-size plate, the wider face on the screw makes a big difference.
As far as adjustment speed goes, it takes less than 45 seconds to change the weight for the pair. If you perform a lot of super sets or drop sets, I recommend focusing on dial or pin systems, like NÜOBELLs or PowerBlocks. Otherwise, the Ironmasters are a great option for most home gym owners.
Further Reading: Adjustable vs. Fixed Dumbbells
Ironmasters are the most durable adjustable dumbbells you can buy because of their metal construction and few moving parts. Unlike other systems with intricate gears and selectors, the simple threaded design of the Quick-Lock Dumbbells limits fail points.
Furthermore, these are 100% steel, so you’re not dealing with any plastic components that can break down over time. I’ve known people who have owned their Ironmasters for over a decade without issue. In fact, the first pair I bought second-hand were several years old. I ended up selling that pair to a friend, and they’re still going strong 6 years later.
The plates fit together nicely, and when the screw is locked, there’s absolutely no wiggle room. This helps protect your plates while eliminating any noise from metal-on-metal contact.
Compatibility With Other Ironmaster Products
An underrated benefit of Ironmaster’s unique square plates is that they’re compatible with their other products. Most notably, you can use these plates with their adjustable kettlebell handle. Given the versatility of a kettlebell and the fact it costs less than $100, it’s a great way to save money. Additionally, you can use their plates with their weighted vest, another versatile home gym tool.
Lastly, you can use them with their loadable mace handle and curl bar, giving you four potential implements for weight training.
Storing the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells
One of the biggest advantages of Ironmasters used to be that they included a storage stand to keep your dumbbells organized and off the floor. Unfortunately, they no longer provide the stand with your purchase.
If you want a storage stand, you can purchase their standard or Pro stand, depending on your needs and budget. Alternatively, you can buy third-party storage systems, including the Titan Fitness Dumbbell Stand and even PowerBlock Stands.
Ironmaster backs up their workmanship with an industry-leading lifetime warranty on their Quick-Lock Dumbbells. As long as you own the product, Ironmaster guarantees no defects in structural or functional components. If you find issues with your dumbbells, they will repair or replace them at no cost.
As with any company, the warranty does not cover misuse, neglect, or normal wear and tear.
Ironmaster Dumbbells vs. PowerBlock Dumbbells
PowerBlocks are arguably the poster child for home gym adjustable dumbbells. They’ve been around for decades and have one of the most unique designs on the market. When people are deciding which dumbbells are best for them, these two are often in the discussion.
The biggest difference between Ironmasters and PowerBlocks is the design. While Ironmasters have a traditional look and feel, PowerBlocks have a unique rectangular shape with a recessed handle system. It’s almost as if you’re putting on a pair of gloves… or toaster ovens. There’s an adjustment period with PowerBlocks that some people can’t get past. So, if you want a traditional dumbbell experience, I recommend Ironmasters.
Where PowerBlocks are better is speed. Using a simple pin, you can change the weights on PowerBlocks in less than 5 seconds, making them great for super sets, drop sets, etc. Everything is self-contained, so you don’t have to fumble with individual plates.
Both of these dumbbells have great weight capacities with expansion options. Most PowerBlocks max out at 90 lbs, which is the same as Ironmaster with the heavy handle kit. However, the commercial PowerBlocks can go to 125 lbs and even 175 lbs. However, at that weight, they become very unwieldy (same as Ironmasters).
Although Ironmasters are the most durable and carry the best warranty, PowerBlocks are built to last. They also have decade+ long users and offer a 5-year warranty. Both dumbbells are priced similarly.
Ultimately, this comes down to speed and preference for look and feel. If you don’t care much about speed, I recommend Ironmasters. On the other hand, if you require fast adjustments and don’t mind the unique design, PowerBlocks are an excellent option.
Further reading: PowerBlock Dumbbells Review
Ironmaster Dumbbells vs. NÜOBELL Adjustable Dumbbells
NÜOBELLs are another popular home gym adjustable dumbbell set that I recommend frequently. They blend speed with a traditional look and feel but lack in two key areas compared to Ironmasters.
Looking at the design, NÜOBELLs use a handle dial system that is extremely easy to use. When cradled, you only have to twist the handle to the appropriate weight – it only takes a few seconds and is much faster than Ironmasters.
They also maintain a very traditional design, with round metal plates and a straight knurled shaft. However, they do include several plastic areas, making them less durable than Ironmasters. With a 2-year standard warranty, the NÜOBELLs can’t compete with Ironmasters in that department.
NÜOBELLs are available in 50 lbs and 80 lbs, both of which have 5 lb increments. Compared to the stock weights of Ironmasters, the max loads are actually higher with NÜOBELLs. That said, they can’t be expanded, making Ironmasters the much better choice for heavy lifters.
With similar pricing, this comes down to preference for speed, durability, and weight capacity. Again, if you require fast adjustments, NÜOBELLs are the clear winner. But if you want to lift heavy and care about long-term durability, Ironmasters are the best choice.
Further reading: NÜOBELL Review
Pros and Cons
The Ironmaster Dumbbells are simply some of the best adjustable dumbbells you can buy.
Their durability is unmatched, their weight capacity ranks among the highest, and you can’t beat the lifetime warranty.
If you want speed and efficiency, I don’t recommend the Ironmasters.
However, if you prefer a traditional dumbbell feel and want the option to load heavy weights, the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells are excellent.
FAQs about Ironmaster Dumbbells
Can You Drop Ironmaster Dumbbells?
While I recommend against dropping dumbbells often, you can drop Ironmasters, thanks to their all-metal construction. These dumbbells are built for heavy lifting, which often comes with drops after a hard set. You should still do so as carefully as possible, but unlike more fragile adjustable dumbbells, Ironmasters can handle drops.
How Heavy are Ironmaster Dumbbells?
Ironmaster handles have a base weight of 10 lbs without any weights loaded. The smallest plates Ironmaster makes weigh 2.5 lbs, meaning the base weight with plates is 15 lbs. With increments of 2.5 and 5 lbs, the standard sets can go as heavy as 45 or 75 lbs. From there, you can expand to 120 and 165 lbs, making them some of the heaviest adjustable dumbbells on the market.
Do Ironmaster Dumbbells Come With a Storage Stand?
Ironmaster does not provide a stand with their dumbbells like they once did. If you want to store your dumbbells off the floor, you can purchase an Ironmaster dumbbell stand separately or another third-party storage option.