Weight Range: 5 to 50 pounds each
Dumbbell Size: 16.5 x 7.3 x 7.3 inches
Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth
Included Accessories: Storage tray, tablet holder
At first glance, the NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Activated Dumbbells look similar to other adjustable dumbbells I’ve tested over the past year, but upon closer inspection, there's clearly much more than meets the eye, ear, or fist. Just when I thought my gym gear couldn’t get any smarter — or more customized — NordicTrack raises the bar yet again.
Without exception, strength training is a pivotal part of any fitness routine, and the best adjustable dumbbells let you power through each pump without making you fumble around with loose weight plates in between sets. NordicTrack’s new dumbbells, however, have an extra techie trick up their sleeve: instead of using manual knobs or dials for weight plate adjustments, their dev team baked in electronic mechanisms to swap out each plate on command — your command — activated via digital dial or Amazon Alexa.
Are these high-tech dumbbells overkill for your home gym? I sure thought so at first, but by the time I finished testing the NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Activated Dumbbells, it was hard to argue with how seamlessly they complement the company’s other iFit-connected gear. This particular model is on the expensive side, but adjustable dumbbells are one of the most fundamental pieces of gym equipment you can own — minus the bulky footprint of a traditional dumbbell set. They’re ideal for high-energy HIIT routines, helping you torch through those calories and boost your metabolism in the process.
As you’ll find in our NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Activated Dumbbells review, there’s a lot to like about these adjustable dumbbells. They don’t take up too much space, and the inner tech fits in well with the rest of iFit’s interconnected ecosystem of personal trainers. Read on to see if they’re for you.
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NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Review: Price and availability
The NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Activated Dumbbells are available from the company’s website for $599, which is even more expensive than their Select-A-Weight 55 Lb Dumbbell Set ($499). The latter model offers nearly identical specs, but no newfangled voice controls. If you don’t need that much weight resistance in your weekly routine, however, NordicTrack’s $349 SpeedWeights only go up to 12.5 pounds, and they offer plenty of versatility in a tidy package. All three adjustable dumbbell sets come with a 30-day iFit Family membership which is a decent perk. (More on that below.)
NordicTrack also carries an excellent workout bench for $299, if you have some extra cash leftover. There are plenty of dumbbell exercises you can do without a workout bench, but owning one instantly doubles the value of both gym tools. Weights and weight benches go together like almond butter and sugar-free jelly, after all.
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Review: Design and build
At 16.5 x 7.3 x 7.3 inches each (minus the holding tray), these are the bulkiest dumbbells I’ve tested to date. Which isn’t exactly a bad thing, by the way. The 15.8 x 9 x 8-inch Bowflex SelectTech 522 Dumbbells — my previous favorite in the product category — feature a tapered design that gets smaller on the ends. I liked those general ergonomics, but in a side-by-side comparison, the iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells are far more streamlined, particularly since each weight plate has the same squarish size, shape, and diameter. This design felt a little clunky at first in hand, but the end result? Superior balance and equal weight distribution across the board; in my testing, the contoured knurl provided a nice, comfortable grip with every rep, and the plates fit together nice and snug. (Lesser dumbbells rattle around a bit.)
Whereas most adjustable dumbbells require the twist of a knob or handle on the dumbbells themselves to change the weight plates, NordicTrack opted for a more futuristic route. There are no controls whatsoever on the dumbbells. Instead, a nifty knob is nestled in the middle of the storage tray, which plugs into the nearest outlet, allowing you to adjust the weights in 5-pound increments. As the inner mechanisms click into place, unused weight plates are left behind on the storage tray as you pick the dumbbells up. At the end of the day, it’s an automated version of the Select-A-Weight 55 Lb Dumbbell Set, to some degree.
Note: Don’t try attaching any loose plates back onto the dumbbells without putting them back into their proper tray slots first, or using the dumbbells to support your body weight. (You’ll want traditional dumbbells for that.)
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Review: Setting up
Since these adjustable dumbbells are from the future, they require a little techno-TLC once you’ve settled on the proper storage tray placement. I’d suggest somewhere near a full-length mirror and/or your smart TV, if you have either. (And a power outlet, of course.)
First, you want to attach the included tablet holder, which just takes a few seconds. Next, you’ll need to connect the dumbbells to WiFi and pair them via Bluetooth with a nearby Amazon Alexa-enabled device — like the Echo Dot with Clock, Echo Show 8, or Sonos One — and your phone or tablet. The dumbbells are still technically useful even if your home is Amazon-free, but why buy voice-activated fitness equipment if you can’t even use the feature?
From the iSelect app, you can edit WiFi settings, alter the name of your new toy, and create movement presets for 15 different exercises; if you click on any exercise in the app, you’re treated to a brief video that illustrates proper form via iFit coach. (Neat!)
Once everything is connected, barking orders like “Alexa, increase weight by ten pounds” or “Alexa, set weights for bicep curls” lets you instantly adjust the weight plates for your next set, sans hands. Well, semi-instantly. I experienced a brief delay (read: two to five seconds) between spoken commands and the dumbbells’ internal adjustments. Luckily, this delay didn’t affect my workouts much — since I’m not the Flash — and resting between sets is part of strength training anyway.
To play around with customization, I changed the dumbbells’ name from “Weights” to “TeejMachine” via my iPad mini, and the wake work from “Alexa” to “Computer” in the Alexa app. (So when I shout stuff like “Computer, set the TeejMachine to ten pounds” I feel like I’m working out on a holodeck.) After changing these settings, however, getting Alexa to recognize my commands was a mixed bag that depended on proper pronunciation, so I eventually changed them back. Still fun, though.
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Review: Performance
It takes a few seconds to swap out weight plates on the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells, but it takes even fewer seconds with the iSelect Dumbbells’ digital dial, which worked flawlessly in my testing. When opting for the voice-controlled method of adjustment, everything worked as advertised to a relatively seamless degree; I never had any issues with the mechanisms sticking or apps malfunctioning. (Though Alexa would occasionally have trouble recognizing the commands of longer workout names, such as “overhead shoulder press.”)
After using the iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells for a variety of iFit strength-training classes — in addition to some of my own casual workouts that didn’t require a coach — I can confidently say that in terms of adjustable dumbbells, these are my new favorites. I almost hate myself for this, by the way, because voice-activated anything in the gym feels like cheating somehow. But even if you took away the voice activation and digital dial, dumbing these dumbbells back down to manual adjustments, I’d still select them over the Bowflex SelectTech 552 or Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set any day. (Though to be fair, I prefer Core Home Fitness’ aluminum-and-steel stand over NordicTrack’s plastic tray, but that’s a small quibble.)
The ergonomics are sound, the weight plates fit snugly together when in use, and the contoured steel knurl feels fantastic in hand; each dumbbell was comfortable to grip during sumo squats, skull-crushers, bicep curls, and any other exercise I performed. In contrast, the plastic grips on NordicTrack’s Select-a-Weight dumbbells got slightly slippery if my hands were too sweaty, and because of this, I never felt too confident lifting them over my head. These dumbbells aren’t designed for powerlifters, especially since dropping them on the floor is absolutely not encouraged.
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Review: iFit
The iSelect app is pretty bare-bones, but if you have an iFit membership, it increases the value of these dumbbells tenfold. NordicTrack and iFit have been bedfellows for a while now, and this unique personal training ecosystem is growing more dynamic every month.
Your iFit subscription is a virtual gateway to dozens of world-class personal trainers, accessible right from your smart TV, smartphone, or any iFit-equipped piece of gym equipment.
After sampling a number of sweat sessions from John Peel, Gideon Akande, Casey Gilbert, and several other certified personal trainers, I truly did appreciate their motivational energy during each class, not to mention their detailed step-by-step instructions.
I had an excellent experience viewing these classes from my iPad mini, but I had a much better experience firing up the same workouts on my Amazon-powered TV; you can filter strength-training workouts by intensity, duration, environment, or trainer.
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells Review: Verdict
I had good things to say about NordicTrack’s $599 Select-A-Weight 55 Lb. Dumbbell Set when I reviewed them last year, and I still appreciate the ergonomics of Bowflex’s $399 SelectTech 552 Dumbbells. But I’m always on the lookout for the future of fitness tech, and that’s exactly what we have here with the iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells, folks.
For that same $399, Core Home Fitness Adjustable Dumbbell Set offers similar functionality (minus the fancy tech), but if you pony up to the complementary $170 stand, all three models cost roughly the same price.
At the end of the day, this is a premium product with a premium price point, and some may view voice activation as an extraneous feature when it comes to pumping iron. (Which it is.) But every second of every workout is valuable in my book, and if these rock-solid dumbbells save me five minutes every week, they’re already worth their weight in sweat.