Bowflex adjustable dumbbells are incredibly popular and allow you to quickly switch between different weight levels with just the turn of a dial. However, like any piece of equipment, they can sometimes malfunction and get stuck between weight increments. This can be immensely frustrating when you’re trying to complete your workout.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the common reasons behind Bowflex dumbbells getting stuck and provide steps to troubleshoot the issue yourself. We’ll also share maintenance tips to prevent problems in the first place, look at when it’s time to call in a professional and discuss other adjustable dumbbell alternatives in case you decide to upgrade.
Understanding How Bowflex Dumbbells Work
Before diving into troubleshooting, let’s first understand what’s going on inside these innovative dumbbells.
The key components include
- Weight plates The dumbbell consists of nested weight plates that slide onto the handle. Heavier plates sit at the bottom, with lighter plates stacked on top.
- Selection dial This dial allows you to turn to the desired weight level. As you turn it, an internal locking mechanism slides the appropriate plates into place.
- Locking brackets These plastic brackets lock the selected weight plates securely onto the handle so they don’t slide around during your workout.
- Internal springs Springs at the top of the handle keep excess weight plates elevated while not in use.
When functioning properly, turning the selection dial engages the locking mechanism to seamlessly slide the required plates into place with a satisfying “click.” But occasionally, issues can arise that prevent this smooth action.
Common Reasons for Bowflex Dumbbells Stuck
If your Bowflex dumbbells are getting stuck between weight increments, there are a few likely culprits to blame
Dust and Debris Buildup
Over time, dust and debris can accumulate inside the dumbbells. This is especially true if you work out in a garage, basement, or other area that isn’t climate-controlled. Excess dust and dirt can cause the sliding mechanism to jam.
Sweat can also build up on the internal components, causing things to stick. Likewise, chalk from your hands when lifting can gunk up the works.
Lack of Lubrication
The sliding mechanism relies on the lubricant to operate smoothly. If lubrication runs low, friction increases. This makes it harder to slide the locking brackets and weight plates into position.
Many users forget to periodically lubricate their Bowflex dumbbells. Or the included lubricant tube runs out without them realizing it. This lack of lubrication is a prime suspect when dumbbells start to stick.
Damage from Dropping
Bowflex dumbbells are durable but not indestructible. If you drop them repeatedly, especially from excessive height, you can bend or misalign internal components. This can throw off the precise tolerances needed for the weight plates to slide easily.
Damage from dropping can also snap the plastic locking brackets, preventing them from securing the plates properly.
Mechanical Wear and Tear
Like any mechanical device, Bowflex dumbbells can simply wear out from prolonged use over many years. The sliding plates and locking mechanism face a lot of repetitive friction which slowly degrades them. Springs also lose their strength and resilience over time.
For heavy users who perform high-volume lifting, wear and tear occurs faster. If your Bowflex dumbbells are more than 5 years old, simple age may be causing issues.
Preventative Maintenance Tips
With some basic preventative maintenance, you can keep your Bowflex dumbbells running smoothly for years and avoid many stuck issues in the first place
- Clean regularly – About once a month, use compressed air or a vacuum with a brush attachment to clean inside the dumbbell hand grips and select dials where dust builds up. Also, wipe down the outside with a lint-free cloth.
- Apply lubricant – Lubricate the sliding mechanism about every 3 months as part of routine maintenance. Use only the lubricant recommended by Bowflex. Apply a few drops down the interior shaft and work the selection dial to distribute evenly.
- Inspect for damage – Check the locking brackets and selection dial regularly for cracks or malfunctions. Stop using it immediately if anything appears broken or bent.
- Avoid dropping – Be careful to never drop the dumbbells. Always place them gently on the floor or rack. Dropping puts excessive force on internal components.
- Turn dial gently – When adjusting weight levels, rotate the selection dial smoothly without jerking or twisting aggressively. Sudden force can damage the sliding mechanism.
- Use proper storage – Keep dumbbells stored in a clean, dry place rather than a damp basement or garage. Moisture accelerates mechanical wear.
Following these maintenance tips will minimize issues and keep your Bowflex dumbbells operating like new ones for longer.
Troubleshooting Steps When Dumbbells Are Stuck
If your Bowflex dumbbells have already become stuck, don’t panic. Here are some troubleshooting steps to try at home before calling in a professional
1. Try Working the Dial Back and Forth
If the weights are stuck between two increments, gently and slowly work the selection dial back and forth between those two settings. Sometimes this rocking motion can dislodge whatever is jammed.
Apply gradual but firm pressure on the dial as you work it back and forth. The motion may help it overcome friction and settle into the desired notch.
2. Clean Out Debris
As discussed earlier, dust buildup and chalk residue could prevent the internal sliding plates and locking brackets from moving smoothly.
Use compressed air to blow out any debris that may have been collected inside the dumbbell handles and selection dial. If compressed air isn’t available, try using a thin brush or pipe cleaner to dislodge gunk.
3. Apply Lubricant
Lack of lubrication is a very common reason for Bowflex dumbbells stuck. If working the dial doesn’t resolve the issue, apply fresh lubricant per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Spray or drip it down the center shaft, then work the dial back and forth to evenly coat all the internal components. The lubricant will reduce friction so components can slide freely again.
4. Check for Broken Parts
Inspect the selection dial and locking brackets for any broken parts. If something cracks or fails internally, the dumbbells will remain stuck until that part is replaced.
If plastic pieces are broken, contact Bowflex support to order replacement parts. For metal components like springs, you’ll need professional repair.
5. Let Them Rest
In rare cases, the internal components may have gotten temporarily misaligned if the dumbbells were set down roughly or the dial was jerked.
Letting them rest overnight allows internal springs and slides to revert to their proper positions. Try the dial again in the morning.
6. Contact Bowflex Support
If you’ve tried all other troubleshooting steps without success, reach out to Bowflex customer support online or via phone. Explain in detail the issues you’re experiencing.
They can provide further advice specific to your situation. They may recommend replacement parts or have you ship the dumbbells in for professional service.
Seeking Professional Repair Help
DIY troubleshooting can resolve many common Bowflex dumbbells stuck issues. But sometimes parts fail or get damaged beyond what you can address at home.
In that case, specialized service from an authorized technician is needed. Here’s what to expect with professional repair
Finding a Qualified Repair Tech
Start by asking Bowflex support to recommend a certified technician in your area. Or search online consumer sites for highly reviewed fitness equipment repair shops near you.
Look for a technician with specific experience servicing Bowflex products. Avoid general appliance repair shops.
Shipping to the Service Center
In some cases, you’ll need to package up the dumbbells and ship them to the authorized service center. This avoids the cost of a technician’s travel visit.
The manufacturer will provide instructions on how to package them safely. Make sure to insure the package in case of shipping damage.
On-Site Service Call
For larger bench and rack systems, a technician may perform on-site service. This costs more but spares you from disassembling and shipping equipment.
The technician will diagnose the cause of the failure and replace any broken parts, like locking brackets, pins, or springs. Proper lubrication is also applied.
Expect to pay $50 – $150 or more for professional dumbbell repair service, varying by parts needed and technician time. Shipping to a service center also adds costs.
The full-service process typically takes 1-2 weeks from the time of drop-off to getting your dumbbells back. To minimize downtime, request a loaner set if available.
Considering Replacement Dumbbells
If your Bowflex dumbbells are very old and have required repeated repairs, replacing them with new equipment may be the better long-term option.
Here are some factors to weigh when deciding between repair vs replacement
- Age – If they are over 5 years old, upgrading may make more sense than sinking money into high repair costs.
- Frequency of issues – Frequent sticking despite proper maintenance hints at general wear and tear. Newer models may prove more reliable.
- Cost of repairs – At a certain point, accumulated repair bills will outweigh the cost of replacement dumbbells.
- Availability of parts – Bowflex cannot service outdated models indefinitely. The lack of available parts will necessitate an upgrade.
- Improved designs – New Bowflex models have design tweaks to improve performance and reduce sticking issues.
- Your budget – If low cost is most important, repair extends the usefulness. But if budget allows, new dumbbells provide the best experience.
Shopping Alternatives to Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells
If you decide to replace your Bowflex dumbbells entirely, it’s worth looking around at alternative brands and models. Here are some of the top options
Bowflex SelectTech Latest Models
Bowflex remains a trusted brand and offers their SelectTech dumbbells in updated versions with enhancements over older editions. The 1090 model adds magnetic resistance for smoother weight changes.
Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell
This adjustable model rivals Bowflex in performance at a more budget-friendly price point. Streamlined design results in fewer sticking issues. Helpful tutorial videos aid assembly and use.
PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbell
The unique cube design slides in weight plates from either end for quick changes between 5 to 50 lbs on each dumbbell. High-quality components offer reliability for serious strength training.
Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbell
With a sturdy stand and metal weight plates, Ironmaster dumbbells provide a gym-quality adjustable system for home use. The quick change mechanism allows reps with heavier weights.
Nuobell Adjustable Dumbbell
Nuobell boasts a patented design that adjusts each dumbbell from 5 to 80 lbs in 5 lb increments by simply rotating the handle. Easy to store and transport.
When selecting new adjustable dumbbells, look for solid construction, smooth handling at higher weight loads, and marked weight settings. Read reviews to learn how real owners rate the ease of use and durability.
Maintaining Dumbbells Properly for Years of Use
Whichever adjustable dumbbell brand and model you select, proper maintenance is key to keeping them working smoothly for years. Follow these tips
- Perform regular cleaning by blowing out dust and debris with compressed air.
- Lubricate sliding parts and selection dials every 3-4 months as directed.
- Visually inspect for damage after workouts. Watch for cracks or loose parts.
- Store dumbbells properly on a rack or in a protective case away from moisture.
- Handle gently and avoid dropping to prevent internal damage.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule and procedures.
- Adapting Your Workouts Around Equipment Issues
When dealing with a stuck dumbbell issue, you may need to modify workout plans temporarily
- Switch to alternative exercises not need that weight level. Avoid exercises that excessively strain the stuck mechanism.
- Use lighter or heavier dumbbells to work around the stuck weight increment. This allows training while avoiding the problem area.
- For one-arm exercises, grab a single dumbbell rather than a pair until repaired. Do additional reps on the free side to balance.
- Transfer workouts to machines like cable crossovers, leg presses, and lat pull-downs that don’t rely on dumbbells.
- Focus on bodyweight exercises like push-ups, lunges, and planks that develop strength without any equipment.
The key is tailoring your training to avoid overstressing the dumbbell while keeping fitness progress going. Get creative and don’t lose motivation!
The Takeaway Tips for Smoothly Functioning Bowflex Dumbbells
With proper care and maintenance, Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells provide years of reliable performance. However, sticking issues can occasionally arise and interrupt your workout plans. By understanding what causes sticking problems and learning troubleshooting steps, you can often resolve common issues that pop up.
Prevention is also key through regular cleaning, lubrication, inspection, and careful handling. If problems persist, reliable professional repair through authorized Bowflex technicians can get your dumbbells smoothly functioning again.
Should repairs become overly frequent or cost-prohibitive on older models, purchasing one of the newer and upgraded Bowflex designs is recommended. Or, exploring quality dumbbells from other brands like PowerBlock and Ironmaster provides fresh options.
With the tips provided throughout this guide, you’ll be fully equipped to keep your adjustable dumbbells running like new – no matter which brand you choose. Here’s to many more years of effective strength training!