Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

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By Alex
Last updated on
Exercise NameDumbbell Incline Bench Press
Also CalledIncline Dumbbell Press
Primary MusclesChest
Secondary MusclesShouldersTriceps
Required EquipmentDumbbells, Adjustable Weight Bench
Rep Range5-12
VariationsDumbbell Bench Press, Barbell Incline Bench Press
AlternativesBarbell Bench Press, Feet-Elevated Push Up, Low Cable Crossover

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Instructions

Note: Pictures coming soon!

1. Starting Position

  • Sit on an incline weight bench with vertically positioned dumbbells on lower thighs.
  • Flick dumbbells up to shoulders with knees and simultaneously rock back to lie on bench.
  • Plant feet on floor, spaced a comfortable distance apart.
  • Hold dumbbells just outside of chest with elbows bent to 90°.
  • Keep a neutral spine throughout the lift; only a slight arch is necessary.

2. Concentric Repetition

  • Horizontally adduct shoulders and extend elbows to press dumbbells up and together in arc motion over your chest until your arms are straight but not locked.

3. Midpoint

  • Pause at the top of the repetition to squeeze the pectorals to achieve maximum stimulation.

4. Eccentric Repetition

  • Horizontally abduct shoulders and flex elbows to lower dumbbells until elbows are at 90°.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat the motion for the desired or designated number of repetitions.
  • I find 5-12 reps to be the most effective rep range for the dumbbell incline bench press.

Common Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Errors to Avoid

Poor range of motionGo from arms extended above your chest just shy of lockout, to where your elbows 90°. You’re at ~90° if the dumbbell ends touch (or are at the same height as, but to the outside of) your outer chest/shoulder. Use weight you can handle. Partial reps is cheating.
Going too deepYou only have to go to where your elbows are 90°. Don’t bring your elbows past the backrest. You don’t get any extra benefit from going down further than you have to. You only strain the shoulders.
Elbows flaredBring you elbows in slightly (maybe by 20°); enough to take the strain off the shoulder joint, but not so much that the triceps take over the movement.

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Tips

  1. Use a low incline of 15-30°. This is high enough to emphasize the clavicular (upper) head of the pecs, but not so high that you’re using mostly shoulder strength to complete the lift.
  2. Stick your chest out and bring your scapulae together. This stabilizes your torso and allows you to activate the chest more.
  3. Angle dumbbells slightly at the bottom of the rep, such that they are at the same angle as your upper arm (i.e. lengthwise, they should be parallel to upper arms). This removes stress from the rotator cuff, and puts the focus on the pecs.
  4. Focus on squeezing your pecs on the concentric rep. The contraction should feel more intense as you near the top of the and bring the dumbbells closer together.
  5. Stop just shy of lockout, so as to keep the pressure on the chest. Flex your pecs extra hard at this point to emphasize them.

Is This Exercise Right for You?

The dumbbell incline bench press can be a fantastic addition for any lifter, no matter his level of experience.

If you’re still in the beginner stage, you can do this movement as an assistance movement for the bench press. However, it should definitely not be your main chest exercise.

For more experienced weight lifters, this lift can help if your objective is to build a bigger chest in general, with a particular focus on developing your upper chest.

Avoid the dumbbell incline bench press for now if you do have a significant pectoral- or shoulder-related issues (e.g. injury, imbalance, mobility, etc.) that would likely worsen as a result of doing this exercise.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

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