Biomechanical Perfection: Incline Dumbbell Press

Biomechanical Perfection: Incline Dumbbell Press
Incline dumbbell bench press - Starting position (Photography by Mike Neveux)
Biomechanical Perfection: Incline Dumbbell Press
Incline dumbbell bench press - Ending position (Photography by Mike Neveux)

The Incline Dumbbell Press is one of the most basic compound movements you can do to increase total upper chest mass. Most people stick with using only barbells on their quest for a big chest but using dumbbells has a greater potential for producing growth. In this exercise each arm has to stabilize the weight individually, causing greater muscle fiber recruitment. The use of dumbbells also allow the chest to go through a greater range of movement, eliciting a deeper stretch in the starting position and a more complete contraction in the ending position. As with any exercise, start with a light weight and warm up thoroughly. Allow the movement to flow easily and comfortably for the joints and muscles. If anything feels uncomfortable or painful this exercise may not be the best suited for your natural biomechanics and consider other chest building exercises to reach your goals.

Starting Position

  • Set a free bench on an incline angle of approximately 45 degrees
  • Seated on the bench with dumbbells, legs planted comfortably and firmly on the ground for stability
  • Protect the spine by placing the lower, middle and upper back firmly against the back of the bench
  • keep the abdominals engaged
  • Kick dumbbells up to slightly above shoulder height
  • Keep wrists directly above elbows so that forearms are perpendicular with the floor
  • Protect the rotator cuff by keeping shoulders retracted back and depressed down
  • Palms face inward
  • Elbows are approximately 45 degrees away from the body
  • Head and neck relax and eyes gaze upward

Ending Position

  • Legs drive into ground
  • Chest contracts to drive dumbbells straight up
  • Shoulders stay retracted back and depressed down to keep rotator safe
  • Elbows remain slightly bent
  • Hands are directly over the elbows and shoulders
  • Lower back stays pressed firmly against the bench
  • Abdominals stay contracted for stability
  • Palms remain facing inward
  • Face and neck remain relaxed with gaze looking at central point between dumbbells

Common Mistakes

  • Palms not staying inward, increasing stress on rotator
  • Elbows moving further than 45 degrees away from body as weight is being pressed, increasing stress on rotator
  • Locking the elbows in the contracted position, increasing chance for injury
  • Palms not remaining directly over elbows and moving forward or backward, decreasing power output and increasing chance for injury
  • Shoulders not staying retracted back as weight is being pushed, increasing stress on rotator
  • Lower back coming off of the seat in an attempt to complete a rep, increasing chance for spinal injury
  • Legs shaking, weakening foundation and losing total power output

Sample Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Routine

Try shocking your upper chest to new growth by following the sample routine outlined below, training your chest every four days alternating between the two workouts. Adjust the weights accordingly to stay within the rep ranges as you progress through the sets.







8 - 10

2:00 Rest between sets



15 - 20

1:00 Rest between sets

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