Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: How To Perform, Benefits & Tips       

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The incline dumbbell bench press is a great exercise that can accelerate your chest and tricep growth when done correctly, and there is a good reason why it is a favourite among bodybuilders and aesthetic athletes.  

However, there are some things you need to know if you want to optimise your training with the incline dumbbell bench press. 

Let’s get right into it and take a look at how to perform the incline dumbbell bench press, the benefits that come from performing this incredible exercise, and some tips to speed up your progress.  

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Overview 

The incline dumbbell bench press is a powerful exercise that targets the upper portion of your chest, as well the triceps and shoulders.  

By using dumbbells instead of a barbell, this exercise allows for a greater range of motion and engages stabilizing muscles to a higher degree. 

But why do this exercise?  

While we will dive into this further later into this article, the main reasons are unilateral development (meaning each arm gets worked individually) and greater stimulus on the shoulders.  

With the incline dumbbell bench press, you can fix any muscle imbalances you may have with your chest or triceps. 

In addition to this, it also works the shoulders a lot more, making it great for people who do not include many other shoulder exercises in their routine.  

This is just the beginning of what the incline dumbbell bench press has to offer.  

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Instructions 

To perform the incline dumbbell bench press, follow these step-by-step instructions: 

Set the bench at an incline of around 45 degrees. Adjust the angle according to your preference and comfort level. 

  1. Sit on the bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor, maintaining good stability and posture. 
  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, resting them on your thighs. Ensure your palms are facing forward. 
  1. With a controlled motion, lean back onto the bench while simultaneously lifting the dumbbells to shoulder level. This will be your starting position. 
  1. Take a deep breath, brace your core, and slowly lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Keep your elbows slightly bent and maintain control throughout the movement. 
  1. Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement, feeling the stretch in your chest muscles. 
  1. Exhale and push the dumbbells back up to the starting position, extending your arms fully while keeping your chest muscles engaged. 
  1. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form and control. 

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Video Exercise Guide 

Link: How To: Dumbbell Incline Chest Press – YouTube 

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Tips 

Focus on Mind-Muscle Connection: Concentrate on squeezing your chest muscles throughout the exercise. Visualize them working and contracting with each repetition. 

Maintain Stability: Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back pressed against the bench. This helps provide stability and a solid base for the exercise. 

Use a Controlled Tempo: Avoid using momentum or swinging the dumbbells. Instead, focus on a controlled eccentric (lowering) and concentric (lifting) phase of the exercise for maximum muscle engagement. 

How To Do an Incline Dumbbell Press 

The Best Angle For Incline Dumbbell Press 

The optimal angle for the incline dumbbell press can vary from person to person based on individual goals and preferences, but based on research, the optimal angle seems to be around 30 degrees.  

However, you can experiment with different angles to find the one that best targets your upper chest while maintaining comfort and proper form. 

Benefits of The Incline Dumbbell Press 

Upper Chest Focus: By targeting the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, the incline dumbbell press helps develop a well-rounded and defined upper chest. 

Greater Range of Motion: Using dumbbells allows for a wider range of motion compared to a barbell, activating stabilizing muscles and promoting balanced muscle development. 

Symmetry and Balance: Incorporating the incline dumbbell press helps create balanced chest development when combined with other chest exercises like flat bench press and flyes. 

Core and Stabilizer Engagement: Maintaining stability during the exercise activates your core and engages stabilizing muscles throughout your body. 

Shoulder Development: the incline dumbbell press puts more emphasis on the shoulder compared to other chest exercises like the decline bench press, incline fly, or incline dumbbell fly. 

Other Variations of The Incline Dumbbell Press 

Barbell Incline Press 

Instead of using dumbbells, the incline press involves using a barbell while maintaining the same incline angle.  

The incline barbell press or incline bench press allows for greater overall weight and can engage stabilizing muscles differently than using dumbbells. 

Kettlebell Incline Press 

By using kettlebells instead of dumbbells, you can add an element of instability to the exercise.  

This variation requires additional core and shoulder stability to control the movement. 

Single Arm Incline Press 

Performing the incline press with one arm at a time increases the demand on your stabilizing muscles, enhances core engagement, and helps address any muscular imbalances between your left and right sides. 

Common Mistakes 

Using Too Much Weight 

One of the most common incline dumbbell press mistakes is selecting weights that are too heavy, compromising your form and putting excessive stress on your muscles and joints.  

Start with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with proper technique and gradually progress as your strength improves. 

Cocking Your Wrists 

It’s important to maintain a neutral wrist position throughout the exercise.  

Avoid bending your wrists backward (cocking them) as this can strain your wrists and compromise your grip strength. Keep your wrists aligned with your forearms. 

Choosing the Wrong Angle For Your Bench 

The angle of the bench is crucial for targeting the upper chest effectively. 

Select an incline angle that allows you to feel a deep contraction in your upper chest muscles without straining your shoulders or compromising your form. 

Bouncing the Dumbbells Off Your Chest 

Avoid using momentum or bouncing the dumbbells off your chest. This takes away from the muscle engagement and can strain your joints.  

Instead, maintain control throughout the entire range of motion, pausing briefly at the bottom of the movement before pressing back up. 

Over-Arching Your Back While Pressing 

To maintain proper form and protect your lower back, avoid excessive arching during the incline press.  

Maintain a natural arch in your lower back and engage your core muscles for stability. 

Safety and Precautions 

Warm-up: Prioritize a thorough warm-up routine that includes dynamic stretches and mobility exercises to prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise. 

Use a Spotter: When lifting heavy weights, having a spotter nearby can provide an extra level of safety. They can assist you if you struggle to complete a rep and help ensure proper form. 

Focus on Proper Form: Technique is crucial for both effectiveness and safety. Maintain a stable position on the bench, use a controlled tempo, and prioritize quality over quantity. 

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during the exercise. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and assess the situation. It’s better to take a break or seek guidance from a healthcare professional if needed. 

Gradual Progression: Gradually increase the intensity of your incline dumbbell bench press over time. This allows your muscles and connective tissues to adapt and minimizes the risk of overuse injuries. 

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – FAQs 


What Does Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Work On? 

Incline dumbbell press primarily works chest, shoulders and triceps.  

In particular, the incline bench press targets shoulders more than other bench press variations.  

Is The Incline Bench 30 Or 45 Degrees? 

The incline bench is generally set to 30 degrees. 

Data has shown that performing the incline bench press at 30 degrees tends to give optimal results when it comes to muscle recruitment of the chest, shoulders, and triceps.  

Is Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Effective? 

Yes, the incline dumbbell bench press is effective. 

This bench press variation targets the upper pecs and shoulders more than the regular bench press, but it is still effective for overall chest growth.  

Why Is Incline Dumbbell Bench So Hard? 

Incline dumbbell bench is so hard because it places more emphasis on your shoulder rather than the chest. 

The shoulders are a smaller muscle group than the chest, meaning you can lift less weight overall. 

We hope this article will be of some use to you.  

When done correctly, the incline dumbbell bench press can be a fantastic exercise that will work magic in your routine.  

As long as you follow proper incline dumbbell press form and incorporate it into your routine in a way that doesn’t hinder your growth in other areas, you can’t go wrong.  

If you would like more help with the incline dumbbell bench press or just want access to more fitness content in general, don’t hesitate to check out our other content at Movingforwards.