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  • Writer's pictureDylan

Exercise How To: Incline Dumbbell Press (plus benefits, variations, and more!)

Muscle Target: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Equipment Needed: Incline Bench, Pair of Dumbbells

Experience Level: Intermediate

This free weight-based exercise is a stellar developmental exercise for your chest, frontal shoulder, and triceps muscles. The incline press is different from a standard press as the angle of the bench used will allow you to utilize your upper pectoral muscles, versus a more centered approach.


  1. Select your dumbbells of choice and adjust the bench to placement between flat and 45 degrees.

  2. With a dumbbell in each hand, lay back on the bench.

  3. Start the position with the dumbbells at your shoulders, feet flat on the floor, and elbows angled slightly off of your chest.

  4. Engage your core and press the dumbbells upward toward the ceiling, maintaining their position over your chest. Press the weights until they come together at the top and your arms are straight out above you.

  5. Lower the weight back to your chest in a slow and controlled motion.

  6. Repeat the exercise for as many reps and sets as necessary.

  7. To safely finish the exercise, move the weights from your shoulder to your knees and sit back up.

BENEFITS: Size and strength development is often the goal when training your chest, and the incline dumbbell bench press helps with both of those while targeting your upper pectoral muscles.

  1. Strength and Size Development - This isolation exercise is a great way to work your upper pectoral muscles to improve both strength and size. While a more traditional exercise, this is a great functional movement as most of our motion is out in front of us. The strength you gain from this exercise will transition to everyday activities.

  2. Addresses Muscle Imbalances: Exercises that involve individual movements of each side are must-haves when addressing a current muscle imbalance (where one side is stronger than the other) or to use to help prevent those imbalances. The incline dumbbell press is a perfect exercise for creating a strong, balanced chest.


  1. Choose a weight appropriate for you, DO NOT EGO LIFT. Over-shooting your weight can result in severe injury in every exercise, but especially exercises where weight is being held over you.

  2. Ensure your elbows do not flair out to a full 90-degree angle from your chest. This will put unnecessary tension on your shoulders and outer pectoral.

  3. Don't let your wrists fall back. Instead, keep your wrists straight to have the weight directly over your forearm.

  4. DON'T LET THE WEIGHT FALL when you're finished with the exercise or at any point while laying on the bench.

  5. Perform this exercise with a standard press or an exercise targeting the lower pectoral for a more balanced approach to building/strengthening your chest.


  1. Barbell Incline Press

  2. Single Arm Press

  3. Low Cable Fly


Ascm-Cep, L. W. M. (2022, July 28). How to Incline Dumbbell Press: Techniques, Benefits, Variations. Verywell Fit.

Thomas, M., & Burns, S. (2016). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High-Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training. International Journal of Exercise Science, 9(2), 159–167.

Kim, T., Kil, S., Chung, J. W., Moon, J., & Oh, E. (2015). Effects of specific muscle imbalance improvement training on the balance ability in elite fencers. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(5), 1589–1592.


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