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Learn How to Do Incline Dumbbells Press the Right Way

Table of Contents

What is the decline dumbbell press

 

Last time we explained how to do the dumbbell bench press. This time we will explore the incline version in depth.

It is very much the same that it is still ‘lower the dumbbells as deep as you comfortably can on every single repetition and push them up and through on every single repetition, without flaring your shoulders too much, since you need stability all through your full range of motion’, though this time with an incline angle of the bench. 

This tells you what it is, but it far from explains the how-to. 

What are the important cues

  • The chest has 3 parts: the upper, middle, and lower chest.  
  • The upper chest is a harder part to develop and needs to be stimulated seperatly. Here the incline dumbbell press comes into play. 
  • Warm-up, the best way is a dynamic warm-up.
  • A good exercise is for example the face pull, with lightweight dumbbells, with bands or you could even use a doorframe.
  • Include a few warm-up sets, build up from light to medium weight to your work weight, then perform your worksets.
  • The real target is the upper pecs. But your front delts and triceps will also have a hypertrophic result.
  • Incline angle: the more you incline, the more you focus on the upper chest until the angle is too straight and the front delts take over too much. The less you incline and get closer to a flat bench, the more you will work your full chest and not enough the upper pec.
    There are 3 angles: lower (at 30°), medium (at 45°), and higher (at 60°). Try all 3 and decide for yourself which angle gives you the optimal muscle mind connection and the best pump. Check what works best for you, regardless of what anybody else does.
  • Elbows: position the elbows in an angle that works best for you. Apply that what makes you feel the upper chest best. Is it elbows tucked in? Fine. Is it a 45° angle? Good. Is it elbows fully flared? Alright. The one important thing to take into account here is how does it feel for your shoulders? If you feel pain in your joints, then don’t use this position anymore.
  • Arch: Expand your ribcage but not too extreme. So no flat back, nor a rounded one. This works the shoulders and triceps more. Arch your back a little so that your chest expands, visualize it as if you are posing as a superhero. Don’t arch too much or it becomes too much of a powerlifting variant which limits elbow lockout and a full range of motion
  • Shoulders: retract your shoulders and push them down, depress your scapula. Make sure you are well in balance.
  • Range of motion: In the top position, lock your elbows all the way out. But also go all the way down. You might see others in the gym or online not going all the waydown. They do this mostly to show off the weight they can press, but they are not building muscle most effectively. Don’t be that guy. Do the smart thing and pursue maximal gains, perform a full range of motion; To make sure you are effectively going all the way down, gently touch the outside of your shoulders with your dumbbells every single rep.
  • Make sure you perform with the same range on every rep. Don’t go changing your top or bottom position on every rep. Be consistent. Every rep should look the same.
  • Eccentric: many blast the dumbbells up and lower them as if they are dropping them onto themselves. Don’t be that fool. Do the smart thing. Every inch of the eccentric movement should be controlled by you. You should be able to stop at any given point without losing form or balance. You don’t drop the dumbbells, you pull them down.
  • Hips: Use your hips a little for that extra drive but make sure your butt never leaves the bench. Your feet are planted firmly, your hips are wedged in the bench. It is an upper chest exercise, not a hip-driven one.
  • The load: aim for full stability. The higher the weight, the more unstable you will be. This reduces your ability to produce proper force. Hence you are not maximizing your gains. If you are experienced enough and in full control of your technique you can go heavier for sets of 5-8 reps. If you are more of a beginner, choose a weight you can press for 12-20 reps.

How to do a incline dumbbell press

Don’t worry about the weight you are pressing. Don’t compare yourself to others you see in the gym or online. Focus on perfect technique and form. Progressively overload. Leave your ego at the door and lift with common sense. Be mindful of your joints and be always safe.

  • Chose the best angle to target your upper chest: lower angle (30°), medium angle (45°) or higher angle (30°).
adjustable weight bench
  • Sit on the edge of your bench, holding the dumbbells firmly tight while they rest on your knees.
  • You slowly lean back while you place the dumbbells in the bottom position. Make sure your elbows are underneath your wrists.
  • Position your shoulders. Keep the back and low. Slightly arch your lower back until you have maximum stability. 
  • Position your feet on the side of the bench. Plant your feet on the floor so they can help you with that extra drive during the push phase. 
  • Tighten your glutes and brace your core. And push the dumbbells up.
  • Slowly lower both dumbbells simultaneously. Make sure you control every part of the eccentric movement. Think of it as if you are pulling the dumbbells towards you while trying to press your body deeper into the bench. 
  • Mind the flare of your elbows, try to keep that 45°-75° angle. Some might go a bit wider, as long as you are mindful of your shoulder joints.
  • Go as low as feels comfortable for you but try to touch the outer side of your shoulders with the dumbbells.
  • Press the dumbbells back up, slowly. Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  • In the top position go for that squeeze as you bring the dumbbells closer to each other. Make sure your elbow is straight underneath your wrist. 
  • Repeat for the desired amount of reps, optimally until you are 1 or 2 reps shy of failure.

Progressive overload

If you want to get bigger and stronger, you need to gradually overload. You can overload in different ways: primarily people mean that you add more weight once you have attained a specific goal (i.e. if you are going for 3 sets of 6-8 reps and you find you perform every rep in perfect form, you add a little weight).

Another option is to add an extra set, basically doing 4 sets instead of 3.

Another way is to go much slower and increase the intensity of each rep. Or you can alter the frequency of your training in a week.

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.

                                                                                                                             — Babe Ruth

One of the most important things that you must consider while buying dumbbells is the grip of your hands. If you often get sweaty palms while working out, avoid going for those dumbbells with smooth rods, as they can make your training sessions more challenging.

According to our list, a great set of dumbbells can run anywhere from $90 to over $1,000. Some are basic, while some have all the bells and whistles you could want from a set of dumbbells, but what they all have in common is the ability to help you achieve results. It all comes down to how much you're willing to spend.

The researchers confirmed that 20% more weight can be pressed with a barbell than with a dumbbell. They also found that, although there was little difference in the muscle activity of the pecs and delts for both exercises, the dumbbell bench press used less triceps and more biceps.

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