What is Incline Dumbbell Press? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Incline dumbbell press targets multiple muscle groups. (Image via Pexels / Joseph Wayne Buchanan)
Incline dumbbell press targets multiple muscle groups. (Image via Pexels / Joseph Wayne Buchanan)
Soniya Y

The incline dumbbell press is a typical exercise utilized in a well-balanced intermediate strength training program. It has the benefit of building strength and size in the chest, shoulders, and triceps—a big compound lift that uses multiple muscle groups but also allows flexibility to focus on different areas at different intensities.

This makes it a popular choice for men and women interested in muscular development as well as functional fitness training.

If you're looking to build strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps while maximizing muscle gains in these areas, try adding this chest-building free weight exercise to your routine!

How to Incline Dumbbell Press the Right Way

An incline bench or an adjustable bench, as well as a set or two of dumbbells, are all you need to do the incline dumbbell press. Beyond the area required for the bench, you don't need much to perform this exercise.


To do the incline dumbbell press:

  • Lie on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended by your sides and your palms facing downward.
  • Keeping your core engaged, press both arms straight up over your chest as you exhale.
  • Your wrists should be straight (don't let them "cock" backward).
  • At the top of the movement, the dumbbells should almost touch each other, and your arms should form a 90-degree angle with your torso.
  • After you lift the dumbbells off your chest, slowly lower them back to the top of your chest as you inhale. As you lower the dumbbells, keep your elbows at about a 45-degree angle to your torso. Don't let your elbows spread out to the sides, pointing toward the side of the room. Instead, keep them pointed toward the floor.
  • 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions are ideal. Start with one set and work up to two or three sets over time as you get stronger.
  • When you're finished with a set, safely exit the exercise by sitting up and placing the dumbbells on your knees before standing up. Avoid dropping the dumbbells while you're lying on an incline bench.

Benefits of Incline Dumbbell Press

Excellent for increasing muscular mass and strength

The incline dumbbell press trains your chest and front delts in a steady stance and across a wide range of motion. That's a fantastic muscle-building formula! Your triceps are also utilized to move things around.

Strengthens the chest

The incline dumbbell press targets your upper chest muscles more effectively than flat pressing workouts. Incorporating incline presses into your routine can help you develop your entire pectoral muscle.

Keeps muscular balance

The incline dumbbell press can be utilized to detect and correct muscular imbalances from side to side because you're using dumbbells. Allow your weaker side to take the lead, and your stronger side will catch up soon.

It is shoulder-friendly

Many people believe that incline pressing is less taxing on their shoulders than flat dumbbell or bench pressing.

Tips and Techniques for Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Research shows that a 30 to 45 degree angle will best engage your upper chest. If you perform a bench press with an incline of 90 degrees, the focus will be primarily on your shoulders.
  • Doing a chest press with a flat bench results in a 0-degree incline and puts the emphasis on your middle chest.
  • A 45-degree incline will engage your upper chest muscles but it also involves your deltoids.
  • Select dumbbells that are lighter than you'd use for a flat dumbbell bench press and start light while lifting a barbell incline press.
  • If you're unsure of the right weight, start light and work your way up until you feel challenged but can still do an entire set using proper form.

Common Mistakes to Avoid


1) Wrong angle

While you may feel strain on your upper chest from a 45-degree slope, your shoulders will be performing just as much lifting. 30-degrees is the best angle for focusing on your upper chest since it maximizes clavicular head activation.

2) Too much wrist-bending

This is dangerous for your wrists and can cause injury. The wrists should be straight and parallel to the forearms.. Bending them backwards while rising puts them under unnecessary strain.

3) Heavy Dumbbells

Because the incline angle works under-worked chest muscles, you won't be able to raise as much weight as a flat press. Start with a weight you can handle to assist steady the movement, then gradually increase the weight.

4) Incorrect Form

When you use more weight than you can handle, the weight will be propelled up and down. It may appear to be a workout hack, but it is unsuccessful since the targeted muscles will not be challenged, and the focus will likely transfer to the supporting muscles required in stabilizing this fast-paced activity.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for something different and fun to work your chest muscles and don’t have access to a machine that allows for incline presses, using a pair of dumbbells will be best.

Just make sure you are using proper form, especially as you increase the weight of those individual dumbbells during each set. By incorporating it into your workout plan at least once a week, you’ll definitely feel a difference in your upper chest strength overall.

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Q. Have you tried incline dumbbell press?


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37 votes so far

Edited by Sabine Algur


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