PowerBlock Elite USA 90 Review

PowerBlock Elite USA 90 Dumbbell (A Strength Coach’s Review)

I’ve owned my set of PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbells for over a decade now.

In this review, I’m going to tell you what I like about my Powerblock Elite 90s, what I don’t like and ultimately, whether I believe they’re worth your money.

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Why Trust My Reviews? I’ve spent 20 years as a collegiate sports performance coach and have been lifting personally even longer. I’ve bought and used equipment for both 14,000 square foot weight rooms and for my own garage gym. Finally, I only review products I’ve personally tested.

powerblock elite 90
PowerBlock Elite Dumbbells on Stand

Quick & Dirty Review

The PowerBlock Elite 90 is the best adjustable dumbbell on the market. They’re extremely cost-effective, space-efficient, easy to adjust and ridiculously durable.

First, let’s jump into the general specs of the PowerBlock Elite adjustable dumbbells so we’re on the same page on exactly what to expect from them.


The Elite USA adjustable dumbbells from PowerBlock come in three ‘stages’. They refer to Stage 1 as their 5-50 set. This means exactly what you think it does – the dumbbell can be adjusted from 5 pounds up to 50 pounds.

The Stage 2 Kit expands the dumbbell from 50 pounds to 70 pounds.

Finally, the Stage 3 Kit will expand the dumbbells from 70 pounds up to 90 pounds.

All of these expansions do come at a cost:

PowerBlock ModelCostTotal Cost
PowerBlock Elite 5-50$419.00$419
Stage 2 Kit (50-70)additional $189$608
Stage 3 Kit (70-90)additional $189$797
You can also add the Column Stand to hold your dumbbells for $129 – $179, depending on the size you get.

However, as I’ll go over in the Pros section just below, the cost of a set of PowerBlocks is a fraction of what you would pay to get the same set individually.

Finally, the overall size of each dumbbell is 12″ x 6″ x 6″.

PowerBlock Elite Pros

There is a lot to love about these dumbbells, but I want to touch on four specifics that make PowerBlocks really stand out.


I’m a numbers guy, so let’s talk numbers. I detailed above that if you buy the PowerBlock Elites with the two expansion kits, you’re going to spend around $800.

That may seem expensive, and no doubt it’s definitely a good chunk of money. However, let’s compare it to buying dumbbells the old-fashioned way – one set at a time.

Most new dumbbells cost between $1.50 and $4 a pound. Using the lower end of that range a pair of 90-pound dumbbells would cost $270. (180 pounds total for the set of dumbbells multiplied by 1.5)

As you can probably already tell, buying dumbbells one set at a time is going to add up fast.

Here is a breakdown of what buying each set of dumbbells that you would need to equal the options in a set of PowerBlocks. (still using $1.50/pound.)

Dumbbells (Pair)Cost

Now, you could make the argument that you could get all of those dumbbells for less than $2500 and you’d probably be right. Whether it’s finding dumbbells on sale or getting a discount on a large set, you can drive that price down.

However, I can pretty much guarantee you you’re not getting all those dumbbells for anywhere close to $800.

Space Efficient

PowerBlock Dumbbells vs Regular Dumbbells

One of the best aspects of a set of adjustable dumbbells is their space efficiency.

Pictured above is my set of PowerBlocks sitting next to a rack of dumbbells ranging from 8 pounds to 40 pounds. The PowerBlocks hold twice the amount of dumbbells and still take up half the amount of space!

And, my rack of dumbbells only go up to 40s. The big boys, like 80s and 90s, are way bigger and take up even more space.

Easy to Adjust

Adjusting weights from one set to the next is simple and easy. Pull the pin out and then push the pin back in where you want.

If you understand how to change the weight on a Lat Pulldown machine then you can change the weight of a set of PowerBlocks.


Durability is, in my opinion, the most important factor for a set of adjustable dumbbells.

Because if the mechanism – whether it’s a pin, turn knob, etc – that changes the weight breaks, you’re done. You now essentially have a really expensive paperweight.

You have to depend on the fact that these dumbbells are going to last because a set of regular dumbbells most likely will.

PowerBlocks has been around since 1991 and they’ve pretty much stuck to one thing – making adjustable dumbbells. And, they do that about as well as you possibly can.

My PowerBlocks are over ten years old. I have friends who have PowerBlocks that are even older.

It’s that kind of durability that’s crucial to make your investment into an expensive set of dumbbells make sense.

Finally, PowerBlocks come with a 5-year limited warranty, but chances are you won’t need it – and that’s a great thing.

PowerBlock Elite Cons

There are two qualities of PowerBlocks that I’m aware of that some lifters aren’t a fan of.

Slick on the Ends

When I’m doing a set of Dumbbell Bench, I like to sit at the edge of the bench, grab the dumbbells and set them on my thighs. I’ll make sure my grip is set and then I’ll pop myself back and hit my set.

If you do the same type of routine, you’re going to notice that the ends of the PowerBlocks are slick.

Now, this is a design feature, not a flaw necessarily because that smooth surface is what allows them to slide easily between one another when they’re in their stack.

However, if you’re used to a set of rubber-coated dumbbells that basically stick to your thighs when placed on their end, adjusting to the PowerBlocks may take a few workouts.

Tight Handle

PowerBlock Grip Handle

This next con doesn’t bother me personally (I actually like the tight space of the handle), but I know it does for some people so I want to mention it here.

The handle sits down inside two other “handles” at the center of the stack. So, when you grip the dumbbell you may find that your wrists are actually pretty snug against one of the top handles.

I have a few friends that this really bothers. They don’t like the constricted feeling of the handle. I actually think it makes my grip feel more secure. Your results may vary as they say, but just be aware it’s going to feel different than a regular set of dumbbells.

Final Verdict

In my mind, a “final verdict” is essentially – do I suggest buying a pair and/or are they worth the money?

My answer? Yes and yes.

They’re not cheap, for sure, but neither are regular dumbbells (or barbells, squat racks, treadmills, etc).

However, if you have any plans of buying a full set of dumbbells, or anywhere close to a full set of dumbbells then I would HIGHLY recommend getting a set of PowerBlocks.

They’re going to end up costing you less money, they’re going to take up a third of the space and they’re going to last you for years.

If you’d like to get your own set of PowerBlocks, you can find them on Amazon here. (If you have Prime and can take advantage of the free shipping, that’s a huge bonus)

Hope this review has helped with your buying process.

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