Kensui AdjustaBell Review: A Simple, Strong Adjustable Dumbbell
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Don't let the hard nylon construction fool you. There's plenty of potential in these convenient, sturdy adjustable dumbbells.
A good set of adjustable dumbbells can be an excellent pick for your budding home gym. Their versatility across a wide array of weight totals helps you save space while still giving you a mixed bag of workout possibilities.
But what if you’ve already started to build your training space from the ground up (literally) and instead began with a weight set for barbell-centric exercises? Do you really want to add more weight — and another bill — to your setup when you’ve already invested in plenty of plates to suit your bench, squat, deadlift and press performances?
Thankfully, there’s a solution — the AdjustaBell from Kensui Fitness.
Resembling budget-friendly spin-lock loadable dumbbells, these sleek and lightweight fitness tools utilize a hard nylon construction to create a nice balance of durability and comfort. What sets these silhouettes apart, though, is the ACME thread end caps that eliminate the overhang you’d experience with other spin-lock profiles. Plus, the AdjustaBells are compatible with both 1-inch and 2-inch plates, adding more versatility to your setup for less than $50.
But is this lightweight, packable, sturdy, affordable adjustable dumbbell profile worth your time and effort? Is this silhouette too good to be true when it comes to making the most of your home gym experience?
These are a great solution for those with an established home gym filled with weight plates, or those who attend a training center where dumbbells are often busy. The loading process is quick and simple, and the lack of overhang is a definite plus when performing lifts — there’s no uncomfortable rod that limits your range of motion or gets in the way during setups.
I also appreciate how Kensui accounts for all plate styles by offering centering adapters and extension end caps. This allows you to create the most secure setup possible while still saying well below normal adjustable dumbbell prices. Yes, you’ll need a good bit of change plates to make these worthwhile, and the knurling could be better at the handle, but for less than $50, the AdjustaBells are a can’t-miss essential.
Spin-lock or other loadable dumbbell silhouettes have a set shaft length that houses the chosen weight totals. While this can make the simple process of loading the dumbbell similar to what you’d experience in barbell setups, it can also leave an excess amount of bar protruding out the end. This excess shaft can make it uncomfortable to rest the dumbbell against your frame before your set, and also limits your ability to move through workouts with the same range of motion you’d experience with set dumbbell styles.
I like the AdjustaBell design because the plates essentially act as washers between the flat end cap and handle component, creating a good sense of security while still leaving the exterior plate with a flat design. I can rest the weights easily atop my thighs before seated presses, and the flat end cap allows me to complete my reps at the top without trying to direct traffic across awkwardly-protruding profiles.
Granted, I wouldn’t say these mimic a traditional dumbbell entirely — the dumbbell height is still impacted by your plate design — but as far as loadable bells go, this is my favorite design thus far.
Admittedly, having a “plastic” tool for strength training, especially one designed to bear excessive weight, is a tough sell at first glance. After getting hands-on with the hard nylon composition, though, I have the utmost faith with these Kensui profiles. Now, would I ditch these adjustable dumbbells at the top of a heavy overhead press? Absolutely not — and neither should you. If you know how to act in the gym and take care of the equipment, these AdjustaBells are more than capable of housing weights up to their listed 70-pound max.
I even loaded these adjustable profiles up to 100 pounds for some controlled dumbbell rows, and found no faults in the durability. This was solely for testing purposes, though, and I wouldn’t make a habit out of the act.
Another perk to the hard nylon design of the AdjustaBells is how lightweight and compact the profiles are. I was more than capable of keeping these silhouettes housed in my gym bag, and didn’t feel they were a nuisance when sharing internal space with my normal gear. I like having these AdjustaBells on standby in the gym, as they eliminate the annoyance of someone using your desired dumbbells. You always have a set on hand, provided you’re working with weights below 70 pounds.
As impressive as the hard nylon is for keeping your setup secure, the material does have its limits, which I experienced at the handle. Kensui does engrave a “knurling” pattern at this grip point, but in my opinion, it’s merely there for show and I don’t feel like it creates an enhanced sense of traction during lifts. Admittedly, expecting a plastic dumbbell to have as aggressive a knurling patch as its metal-based brethren is ludicrous, but a little more grip would have been nice.
I also want to point out that keeping the handle sweat-free is a must, as the plastic can become slippery when in the throws of a workout. Make sure to keep a gym towel handy for quick in-between wipe downs, and you should be good to go.
Naturally, the Kensui AdjustaBells use change plates to create the various loads for working out. This was a non-issue for me as I have a slew of plates at my disposal, but athletes that have yet to acquire such an expansive reserve may be in for a higher cost than they’d expect. Weight plates can be expensive, even for lighter profiles. Plus, if you want to perform dual-dumbbell exercises, you’ll need to double the amount of weights you purchase. For example, if you want to perform 40-pound dumbbell presses, you’ll need four 10-pound plates per handle.
For this reason, I recommend that athletes without a well-established set of plates opt for a more traditional adjustable dumbbell set, or at least do the math to see if this cost-effective AdjustaBell will actually save you money in the end. Sure, the handles may be less than $50, but when you’re spending up to $400 for all the change plates you’ll need, is it really a bargain?
I also recommend purchasing the centering adapters, too, if you're planning on using Olympic 2-inch plates. These accessories help shore up the connection and eliminate any slop or play experienced during workouts.
The hard nylon construction and lightweight frame put the AdjustaBells in a class all their own, but they’re definitely not the only dumbbell option out their for strength enthusiasts. For a loadable silhouette that still uses change plates, the Loadable 15-inch Olympic Dumbbell Handles from Titan Fitness are a great option. Yes, you can load up to 400 pounds across their frame, but you still need to deal with that excess overhang which can compromise your form and comfort.
For regular adjustable dumbbells, I'd recommend the Smrtft Nüobell. The adjustment mechanism is quick and intuitive, and you have the option of 50-pound or 80-pound profiles. Still, though, if you have an abundance of change plates, I doubt you’ll want to add more load to your setup.