This is my comprehensive review of Ironmaster’s extremely popular, Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbell Set. This review covers the standard 75-pound dumbbell pair with the stand, and Ironmaster’s Heavy Handle Plate Kit; an optional accessory that increases the weight of the handles and the maximum weight of each dumbbell by 15-pounds.
In this review I’m going to cover all of the features of the Quick Lock Dumbbells, discuss the way they feel, the process of making adjustments, and their overall durability. I’ll also create a list outlining the pros and cons of these adjustable dumbbells, and go into detail when it is necessary to do so.
This is a very lengthy review and I hope to cover everything, but inevitably I will miss some-thing. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section following the review.
Quick Lock Dumbbell Review – Table of Contents
- Quick Lock Specifications
- The Heavy Handle Kit
- Overall Comfort and Feel
- Ease of Use
- Pros and Cons
- Review Summary
Ironmaster Quick Lock DB Review – Introduction
Who here wouldn’t want a 3-tier, commercial-grade rack that houses a full set of dumbbells that range from 5-lbs to 100-lbs in 5-lb increments? Seriously, given an unlimited amount of floor space and some really deep pockets, who wouldn’t prefer to have instant access to all possible increments of dumbbells just like they would at the global gym rather than have to make weight adjustments to a single pair of dumbbells? I’d wager the answer is something like 98% of you would prefer to have a full set at your disposal.
And why is that?
Well that’s easy! It’s because having to make weight adjustments; no matter how quick and easy it is; is still not ideal. It’s an extra thing to do that you don’t want to have to do. There’s no arguing that simply setting down one pair of dumbbells and grabbing another isn’t easier than messing with levers and knobs and weight plates and such (twice!).
There’s more reasons to prefer fixed dumbbells than just the hassle of making adjustments, and we’ll talk about those too, but suffice it to say for now that if we all had access to infinite space in our garage gyms and thousands of dollars to spend on sets, everyone would likely have a wall of dumbbells; but that’s just not the case for most garage/home gym owners, so the alternative is needed, and I believe that alternative is the Ironmaster Quick Lock set that I’ll be talking about in this review.
So I guess we’ll get started! I’ll begin with the product specs.
Ironmaster Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells – Specs
- core handle dimensions (with no plates): 6.7″ x 6.7″ x 8″
- total handle length at 25-lbs: 9.5″
- total handle length at 75-lbs: 14.5″
- shaft (handle) diameter: 1.25″ (~31 mm)
- handle length: about ~6.5″
- handle length with Heavy Handle kit: ~5″
- individual plate dimensions: 6.7″ square by:
- 2½-lb plate thickness: 0.4″
- 5-lb plate thickness: 0.6″
- locking mechanism: 4″ diameter x 0.5″ depth with a 3.75″ long threaded post
- core set includes:
- (2) Quick Lock handle cores (5-lbs per handle)
- (4) Quick Lock locking screws (2.5-lbs per screw)
- (24) 5-lb plates
- (4) 2.5-lb plates
- plate finish: powder coated
- handle finish: chrome
- knurl aggressiveness: moderate (fairly standard dumbbell handle knurling)
- price: $699 (set), $159 (heavy-handle kit)
- lifetime warranty
IM Quick Lock Dumbbells – The Heavy Handle Kit
Ok, so I’m going to tackle the optional Heavy Handle Kit first because I think it’s a must own accessory. I cannot imagine anymore than one or two people out of a hundred not choosing to add this to their Ironmaster order once they understand what this kit is and what it does.
The Heavy Handle Kit is two pairs of 7.5-lb plates that semi-permanently attach to the outer edge of the dumbbell handles. Yes, you read that right. These weights install on the knurled handles inside the plates that the normal weights get stacked/loaded on (see next image).
Now I mentioned that the Heavy Handle Kit attaches semi-permanently, and by that I mean that the plates require the loosening of four long bolts per dumbbell handle to remove. They are not as quickly added or removed as the normal plates, but they can indeed be removed if necessary.
Okay so we know how the Heavy Handle Kit works, but what’s the point? Well you probably don’t need me to explain this to you but I’m going to anyway. The Ironmaster Heavy Handle Kit converts your otherwise 5-lb handles into 20-lb handles; which takes your 5 to 75-lb set of adjustable dumbbells and shifts it up 15-lbs to a 20 to 90-lbs set, and since you are likely never going to strip your dumbbells down as low as 5-lb, 10-lbs, or 15-lbs, you’ve sacrificed nothing (for most people, anyway.)
It gets even better than that though. The Heavy Handle Kit also reduces the length of each handle from 6½” to only 5″. This makes the dumbbell feel extremely balanced in the hands. It feels more tight and compact; better than most fixed-weight dumbbells even.
The Heavy Handle Kit is about $160, which if you think about what it does and how it adds another three full [heavy] dumbbells to your arsenal (80s, 85s, and 90s); which would cost over $600 before shipping to do with even relatively low-cost rubber hex dumbbells, well, I would say this is quite the deal.
Seriously, get the Heavy Handle Kit if you’re capable of working with these higher weights. I’d say only miss them if you plan to work in those very low weight ranges, but honestly, I’d say get the 45-lb Ironmaster Adjustable Set if that’s the case. It’s much more affordable.
IM Quick Lock Dumbbell Review – Comfort / Feel
Ironmaster Quick Lock Dumbbells really stand out in the adjustable dumbbell world, and the reason for this is because they actually feel like fixed-weight dumbbells. That is to say, they feel like real dumbbells, not adjustable dumbbells; which tend to be large and awkward and even a little imbalanced depending on which style you’re talking about.
How could this ever feel normal? centered and balanced? What an awkward design; and so bulky!
What makes them feel like real dumbbells? Well, the plates are always close to the handle just like they would be if they were standard dumbbells. The handle isn’t in some cage, the plates aren’t excessively bulky, or at varying distances from the center of the handle, and the overall shape of the Ironmasters; regardless of the weight currently loaded; is more in line with a standard dumbbell. Simply put, Quick Lock Dumbbells always look and feel like a dumbbell. There are no protruding parts, no knobs and switches, and no weirdly-shaped surfaces.
Both of these dumbbells are 50-lbs, but the Ironmasters are actually more compact.
Without the Heavy Handle Kit, the Ironmasters feel great in the hands. The 6½” long, fully-knurled handles are of a good length and not excessively long (though any longer and they would be.) However, adding the Heavy Handle Kit only makes each unit feel more centered and balanced in the hands. It’s a major improvement. As a matter of fact I think the shorter, 5″ shaft makes the Ironmasters feel about as good as any dumbbell could feel, which is one of the reasons I think it’s a must-buy accessory.
Both of these weigh 50-lbs, but the dumbbell with the Heavy Handle Kit installed is much more compact.
Think about it like this.. no matter how heavy you make each dumbbell; be it 60-lbs or 120-lbs; they’ll be smaller and more compact than they would be had you not added the kit.
Three different 45-lb dumbbells. Look how compact the Ironmasters are. So nice.
In terms of the knurling, I think it’s perfect for the application. The entire handle is knurled; not just portions of it like some of the ergonomic handles; and the 31 mm handle diameter is quite standard, so these dumbbells will feel like an old friend when you grab them for the first time, not some stranger.
I have literally no complaints about how these dumbbells feel in the hands, and because of their shape (all flat surfaces; no protruding components), I also have zero complaints about how they feel against the body (resting them on the thighs, chest, etc.)
IM Quick Lock Dumbbell Review – Ease of Use
So, how easy is it really to change the weight of your Ironmaster dumbbells, and how long does it actually take?
Well, let’s say you have your Ironmaster Dumbbells set at 40-lbs, and you want to increase that to 50-lbs. That 10-lb jump in weight per dumbbell will require you to add a 5-lb plate on each side of both handles, correct? That means you’ll set dumbbell one on its end, spin the Quick Lock Locking Screw half a turn counterclockwise, pull out that pin, stack another 5-lb plate, then re-insert that Quick Lock Screw and turn it half a turn clockwise to lock it. That is all, my friends. Do that four times (two times per handle), and you’re done.
That’s easy right? Can we agree that this is easier than spinlock dumbbells that require you to spin a collar down many inches of a threaded shaft in order to add or remove a plate? It’s also faster than threading and tightening collars, and there’s no 1″ diameter shaft protruding from either end of your dumbbells.
Having said that, changing plates will never be as easy as sliding levers or turning a couple knobs in order to change the weight of your dumbbell handles. There’s just no way around that. However, what you give up for that convenience is durability and reliability, and in most cases, compactness.
If you look at the history of most adjustable dumbbells that rely on automatic weight change while sitting in a cradle of some sort, you’ll see that the vast majority of them have issues as time goes on. Levers and switches stop working, knobs stop spinning, and components will break. Only the commercial Powerblocks have a strong history of reliability, yet not only are the commercial Powerblocks quite expensive, they are also a rather unwieldy product.
IM Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells – Quality
There is literally no shortage of relatively inexpensive, adjustable dumbbell sets that are; for lack of a better word; fragile. Dumbbells that are prone to malfunctions and breakages if not handled with kid gloves; dumbbells with cheap plastic knobs, levers, or handles, and cheap, lightweight metal frames that just can’t handle too many drops (or tosses) to the floor before they stop adjusting properly; or just break outright. Well, you’ll be happy to know that Quick Lock Dumbbells from Ironmaster do not fit into this category of cheap adjustable dumbbells.
Ironmaster’s Quick Lock Dumbbells are one of only a handful of available options out there that you do not have to have a panic attack over if you toss them to the floor rather than set them down into their cradles gently and lovingly. This is because Ironmaster dumbbells are 100% steel and no plastic, and with no tiny pieces or parts to wear out or break. Ironmaster dumbbells consist of a fixed steel handle, giant locking pins, and iron plates. That’s it.
Truthfully, Ironmasters are the most heavy-duty adjustable dumbbells that I’m aware of, and they even come with Ironmaster’s blessing to drop them like they were your standard, fixed dumbbells (this can be found on the product page directly above the line that says “Lifetime Warranty”.) I don’t know why anyone would intentionally throw their equipment around, but there are those times you’ve got to ditch the dumbbells, and it’s nice to know that things will be okay if that has to happen. Try that with your Bowflex, Gold’s Gym, or even Powerblocks and see how long you get away with it.
The only other adjustable dumbbells that could be considered as durable as the Ironmaster Quick Locks would be the spinlock style – the 1″ handles with threaded sleeves that accept the classic, standard plates (picture below). You’d be hard-pressed to break these, as well.
As durable as spinlock dumbbells may be, I don’t really think most people are going to favor this style of adjustable dumbbell. They’re super slow to make weight changes to, and good lord do they hurt to have resting on those thighs. They are cheap though. Very cheap.
At the end of the day, just know that the Ironmaster Quick Lock Dumbbells will last. hell, it’s guaranteed!
Ironmaster Quick Lock Dumbbell Review – Pros & Cons
Ironmaster Dumbbells have a lot going for them, and a couple things against them. Here is my pros and cons list. You may see things differently than I do, and that’s okay!
Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbell Pros
- The handles are fixed-width, chrome-finished, and have a fantastic knurl (by fixed-width I mean they are not ergonomic like hex dumbbells tend to be). The handles feel like any commercial dumbbell would. Now, the handles are on the longer end of normal in terms of the length, but that length becomes absolutely ideal with the Heavy Handle Kit (which I absolutely recommend adding in pretty much all but the rarest circumstances.)
- The plates and the locking pins are flat and compact, which makes them comfortable to have sitting on your thighs; just like standard, fixed-weight dumbbells. Ironmasters only get larger as you add weight, and they are always well-proportioned with no protruding components that you wouldn’t want being pressed against you (again, just visualize the starting position of a dumbbell press, before you kick them up).
- Ironmasters can be as light or heavy as you need them to be. They are adjustable from 5 to 165-lbs in 2.5-lb increments (technically 180-lbs). If that’s not enough, then you are too damn strong, my friend. Cut it out.
- All of the components (handle and plates) are finished. With only very moderate care & cleaning you’ll have dumbbells that look great and stay oxidation-free for years to come.
- The 75-lb set includes a stand, and the stand isn’t just a stand; it holds all of your plates as and locking pins as well. It’s also very compact, taking up very little square footage in your garage gym. Everything about the Ironmasters take up very little space; especially when you compare them to what a full dumbbell set requires in terms of space.
- Practically unbreakable. Made entirely of steel, they don’t need to be handled delicately. You can even drop these adjustable dumbbells without fear of ruining components and / or any internal mechanisms.
- Quick Lock Dumbbells come with a lifetime warranty. You don’t even get that much of a warranty with commercial-grade, fixed dumbbells.
Ironmaster Adjustable Dumbbell Cons
- Even as you get fairly good at changing weights on your Ironmasters, it will still take you about 10-15 seconds per handle to make adjustments.
- Ironmaster Quick Lock Dumbbells are definitely expensive. They’re not as expensive as a complete set of fixed dumbbells, but they are relative to many other adjustable sets.
- Because of their popularity (and Covid-related issues) these are very, very tough to find in stock, as are all of the upgrade kits.
That’s a pretty good pros to cons ratio, wouldn’t you say? The second and third listed could almost be said of any equipment worth a damn; leaving only one real con. Anyway, let’s talk about these really quick.
First, the price. I actually think this is mostly irrelevant because the base set is going to be a one-time purchase and it gives you access to literally thousands of dollars worth of weights. I don’t see you ever needing to replace or upgrade this base set like you would probably do with a cheaper set, so I don’t think the $699 buy-in price is at all unreasonable. One needs only to price out any set of 5 to 75-lb dumbbells to see how $699 compares.
If and when you need to go beyond 75-lbs, that kit is also a one-time purchase. Also, I’d like to point out that if you need to upgrade to the 120- or 165-lb dumbbells, you aren’t a newbie at all, and spending several hundred dollars for that much weight isn’t going to phase you in the least. Look, it is $320 to go from 75-lb handles to 120-lb handles. A single pair of 120-lb dumbbells is $300 before shipping. That’s just the 120s!
No, I only list the pricing as a negative because $699 + $159 may simply be cost-prohibitive for some budgets, not because the price is unreasonable or unfair.
Second, let’s talk about that adjustment time. There’s just not much that can be done about that adjustment time. You can get quick at it but it’ll never be immediate. There certainly are products out there that are quicker to adjust but you will likely have to make some sacrifices in order to get those instant weight adjustments; like…
- the compactness of each handle
- the maximum achievable weight of each handle
- overall feel of each handle (shape, balance, and comfort)
- the durability of the set (more components, more plastic, etc)
If all you plan to do with your dumbbells is some lateral raises and hammer curl drop sets, then sure, I can see you owning some basic, instantly-adjusting set of dumbbells. Why go all out with an expensive, heavy-duty dumbbell set if they’ll never weigh more than 25-lbs? Why spend that kind of money?
Ironmasters are meant to be loaded up and lifted – lifted heavy and lifted often. Heavy-duty dumbbells like these are meant for big presses and rows, not 15-lb concentration curls. Not saying you can’t do some dumbbell curls, but you don’t need Ironmasters if that is all you’re doing.
So yeah, you just have to weigh the known adjustment time against all the perks of owning a pair of Ironmasters. Are you willing to have access to less total weight and less durability in exchange for immediate weight changes? Do you care about the size of the dumbbells? It’s just something you’ll have to decide. Like I said, changing weight on Ironmasters is not ever going to be instant. Quick, sure. Instant, no.
(btw, your best bet for an alternative to Ironmasters if you insist on having instant changes to the weight is the Pro Commercial Powerblocks. You’re looking at $1299 for the 90-lb set and $1599 for the 125-lb set, and you’ll have to treat them with a bit more respect than you would a pair of Ironmasters but they’re probably the only other adjustable dumbbell I’d ever consider investing money in.)
This is more of a temporary issue, and there’s not much I can say about this that you don’t already know. There certainly isn’t anything I can do about it. Stuff is hard to find. It sucks.
Ironmaster Quick Lock Dumbbell Review Summary
I am of the opinion that Ironmaster’s Quick Lock Adjustable Dumbbells are among the very best adjustable dumbbells on the market. They’re just loaded with features that make them really stand out; a compact design that is well-balanced and feels great in the hands, highly adjustable and virtually limitless weight range, and durability that is rivaled by none. If there is a drawback at all, it’s the fact that they need to be adjusted, but this drawback is inherent in nearly all other like-products, making it pretty weak drawback indeed.
I wish for you that you could have a full dumbbell set sitting on a heavy-duty dumbbell rack. I want you to be able to do a set with your 80s, toss them aside, grab a pair of 85s, and go to town. It’s the best. But since you can’t make that happen just yet, put some very serious consideration into getting a pair of the Ironmasters. It’s the next best thing if you still want to feel like you’re pressing real dumbbells.
TL;DR – Great product! 5-stars from me. You won’t be disappointed.