Man performing incline dumbbell press for upper chest workout

How to do the Incline Dumbbell Press

Welcome to another empowering edition of Daily Dose of Fit, led by your trusted guide, Coach Daily. Today, we’re diving into an exercise that’s a game-changer for your upper chest: the Incline Dumbbell Press. Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or you’re a seasoned athlete, this guide aims to provide you with evidence-based, actionable insights to elevate your chest workouts.

Why the Incline Dumbbell Press is a Must-Do

Firstly, let’s delve into why the incline dumbbell press is a cornerstone exercise for anyone serious about building a balanced, powerful chest. Unlike its flat bench counterpart, the incline version zeroes in on your upper chest, offering both aesthetic and functional benefits. A strong upper chest not only enhances your physique but also plays a pivotal role in various upper body movements.

The Power of Visual Learning

We understand that sometimes words just can’t capture the essence of physical movement. That’s why we’ve included a 2-minute video tutorial by Scott from This video is a quick yet comprehensive guide that walks you through the key aspects of performing the incline dumbbell press correctly.

What’s Coming Up

In this all-encompassing guide, we’ll cover everything from the anatomy of the upper chest to variations of the incline dumbbell press. We’ll also share tips on how to safely and effectively incorporate this exercise into your workout routine. And, of course, we’ll touch on the essential topics of recovery and nutrition.

So, are you ready to unlock the full potential of your upper chest with the incline dumbbell press? Let’s dive in!

Video Demonstration: Your 2-Minute Guide to Mastering the Incline Dumbbell Press

If you’re someone who believes that seeing is believing, then you’re going to love this next segment. We’ve embedded a concise yet incredibly informative 2-minute video tutorial by Scott from This isn’t just a run-of-the-mill fitness video; it’s a quick masterclass designed to get you up to speed on the incline dumbbell press.

Why This Video?

In just two minutes, Scott covers the essentials of the incline dumbbell press. He starts by emphasizing the importance of adjusting the bench to the correct angle, cautioning against setting it too high, which would turn the exercise into a shoulder press. Scott recommends a specific bench setting and explains how it targets the upper chest effectively.

He then moves on to the actual exercise, demonstrating how to position the dumbbells and the correct form to maintain. Scott highlights the importance of keeping your wrists straight, feet flat on the ground, and elbows at a 90-degree angle. He also shares a valuable tip on how to activate the whole chest without putting undue pressure on the shoulders.

The Significance

The beauty of this video lies in its brevity and depth. In a world where time is of the essence, especially for our busy readers who juggle multiple roles, this video serves as a quick yet thorough guide. It complements the textual content of this article, ensuring that you get a 360-degree understanding of the incline dumbbell press. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a step-by-step guide or an enthusiast aiming to refine your technique, this video has something for everyone.

So go ahead, give it a watch, and let’s continue our journey towards mastering the incline dumbbell press.

Anatomy of the Upper Chest: The Science Behind the Incline Dumbbell Press

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the exercise, let’s take a moment to understand the anatomy of the upper chest and why it’s so crucial to target this area. According to PureGym, one of the leading fitness centers, the incline dumbbell press is performed at a 30 to 45-degree incline and primarily targets the chest muscles. But let’s dig a bit deeper.

Why the Upper Chest?

The upper chest, or the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, is often the most neglected part of the chest in typical workout routines. However, focusing on this area can give your chest a fuller, more balanced appearance. Moreover, a strong upper chest contributes to better posture and enhanced performance in various athletic activities.

The 30 to 45-Degree Incline: The Sweet Spot

PureGym recommends performing the incline dumbbell press at a 30 to 45-degree incline. This specific angle allows for optimal muscle activation without putting undue stress on the shoulders. It’s a fine balance that ensures you’re targeting the right muscles without risking injury.

The Mechanics of the Exercise

The incline dumbbell press involves pressing dumbbells from the chest by extending the arms upwards. This simple yet effective movement engages not only the upper chest but also the shoulders and triceps to some extent, making it a compound exercise worth incorporating into your routine.

The Takeaway

Understanding the anatomy and mechanics behind the incline dumbbell press can significantly improve your performance and results. It’s not just about lifting weights; it’s about lifting them in a way that’s both effective and safe.

Step-by-Step Guide: Master the Incline Dumbbell Press with Precision

Now that we’ve set the stage and you’ve had a chance to watch Scott’s excellent video tutorial, let’s break down the incline dumbbell press step-by-step. This section is designed to be your go-to guide for executing this exercise with precision, ensuring you get the most out of each rep while minimizing the risk of injury.

Proper Setup: The Foundation of Success

Bench Angle

  • As Scott mentioned in the video, and as endorsed by PureGym, the ideal bench angle is between 30 to 45 degrees. This angle targets the upper chest without putting undue stress on the shoulders.

Seating Position

  • Sit down on the bench with your feet flat on the ground, spaced shoulder-width apart for stability. Your back should be flush against the bench, and your eyes should be aligned with the bar if you’re using a barbell rack.

Hand and Dumbbell Positioning: The Art of Alignment

  • Hold the dumbbells above your chest, arms fully extended but not locked at the elbows.
  • Your palms should be facing forward, and the dumbbells should be parallel to each other.
  • As you lower the dumbbells, your elbows should form a 90-degree angle, ensuring that the weights align with your chest, not your shoulders.

Breathing Technique: The Unsung Hero

  • Inhale as you lower the dumbbells towards your chest.
  • Exhale forcefully as you press the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  • Proper breathing not only helps with exertion but also keeps you focused and maintains intra-abdominal pressure for stability.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Incorrect Bench Angle

  • How to Avoid: Always double-check the angle before starting the exercise. Too high, and you’ll target the shoulders; too low, and you’ll miss the upper chest.

Flaring Elbows

  • How to Avoid: Keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle to your body. Flaring them out can put stress on your shoulders.

Poor Wrist Position

  • How to Avoid: Keep your wrists straight and aligned with your forearms. A bent wrist can lead to strain and injury.

Variations of the Incline Dumbbell Press: Spice Up Your Routine

So, you’ve mastered the basics of the incline dumbbell press, and you’re ready to take things up a notch. Fantastic! One of the best things about this exercise is its versatility. By introducing some variations, you can target different muscle groups, overcome plateaus, and keep your workouts exciting. Let’s explore some of these variations.

Adjusting Bench Angles: A Subtle Game-Changer

The standard incline dumbbell press is usually performed at a 30 to 45-degree angle, but who says you have to stick to the norm? By adjusting the bench angle, you can shift the focus to different parts of your upper chest. A steeper angle will engage more of the shoulders, while a lower angle will target the chest more directly. Feel free to experiment but remember, the angle shouldn’t be so steep that it turns into a shoulder press.

Resistance Bands or Cables: Add a Twist

If you’re looking to add some resistance and variety to your incline press, consider incorporating resistance bands or cables. These tools can provide constant tension throughout the movement, making the exercise more challenging and engaging different muscle fibers. Simply attach the bands or cables to the bench or a stable surface and perform the press as you normally would.

Single-Arm Incline Press: Unilateral Focus

The single-arm incline press is an excellent variation for those looking to correct muscle imbalances or focus on unilateral strength. Perform the exercise as you would with both arms, but use only one dumbbell at a time. This variation engages your core more as you have to stabilize your body while lifting, offering an added benefit.

The Takeaway

Variety is the spice of life, and the same goes for your workout routine. These variations of the incline dumbbell press not only add excitement but also offer different challenges and benefits. So go ahead, mix it up and keep your muscles guessing!

Incorporating Incline Dumbbell Press into Workouts: Your Blueprint for Success

You’ve got the technique down, you understand the variations, and you’re ready to make the incline dumbbell press a regular part of your fitness regimen. But how do you incorporate it effectively into your workouts? In this section, we’ll provide sample chest workout routines and offer recommendations on frequency and volume to help you get the most out of this versatile exercise.

Sample Chest Workout Routines

The Beginner’s Guide

  1. Flat Bench Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  3. Push-Ups: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  4. Chest Flyes: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

The Intermediate Challenge

  1. Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  3. Decline Push-Ups: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  4. Dumbbell Pullovers: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

The Advanced Circuit

  1. Flat Bench Barbell Press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  2. Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  3. Weighted Dips: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  4. Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Frequency and Volume Recommendations


  • Beginners: Incorporate the incline dumbbell press into your chest workouts 1-2 times per week.
  • Intermediate to Advanced: You can perform this exercise up to 2-3 times per week, depending on your overall training split and recovery.


  • For muscle building, aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • For strength gains, you might opt for fewer reps (around 6-8) but increase the weight.

Recovery and Nutrition: The Pillars of Sustainable Progress

You’ve pushed through the sets, felt the burn, and now you’re ready to call it a day. But hold on—your workout isn’t truly complete without proper recovery and nutrition. These two elements are often overlooked but are crucial for muscle growth and overall well-being. In this section, we’ll delve into the importance of post-workout recovery and offer some nutritional tips to fuel your muscle growth.

The Importance of Post-Workout Recovery

Rest and Repair

  • Your muscles grow during rest, not during the workout itself. Giving your body ample time to recover ensures that you’re ready for the next session and reduces the risk of injury.

Stretching and Mobility

  • A quick stretching routine targeting the chest and shoulder muscles can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.


  • Rehydrating post-workout is essential for optimal recovery. Aim for at least 16-20 ounces of water after your workout.

Nutritional Tips for Muscle Growth

Protein Intake

  • Protein is the building block of muscles. Aim for approximately 0.54 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight, especially on workout days. For those using metric measurements, that’s equivalent to 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.


  • Carbs are your body’s primary energy source. Consuming a balanced meal rich in complex carbohydrates post-workout can help replenish glycogen stores.

Healthy Fats

  • Don’t shy away from fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can aid in muscle recovery and provide a sustained energy source.


  • The post-workout “anabolic window” is a period where your body is primed for nutrient absorption. Aim to consume a balanced meal or protein shake within 1-2 hours post-workout.

Engagement and Community: Be a Part of Something Bigger

You’ve got the tools, the techniques, and the tips to master the incline dumbbell press. But remember, fitness is not just a solo journey; it’s a community endeavor. Our SEO analysis has shown that articles with high community engagement not only rank better but also provide a more enriching experience for the reader. So let’s make this more than just a read; let’s make it a conversation.

Share Your Progress: Your Story Matters

We’d love to hear about your journey with the incline dumbbell press. Did you hit a new PR? Did you discover a variation that works wonders for you? Share your progress with us! Use the hashtag #DailyDoseOfFitProgress on social media to showcase your achievements and inspire others.

Engage with the Community: Your Voice Counts

Whether it’s a question, a suggestion, or a word of encouragement, your voice adds value to the community. Feel free to drop a comment below or engage with us on our social media platforms. Your insights could be the missing piece someone else needs to reach their fitness goals.

The Importance of Community Engagement

Community engagement isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a cornerstone of a successful fitness journey. By sharing experiences, tips, and challenges, we create a supportive environment that fosters growth and accountability. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, and it’s what makes Daily Dose of Fit more than just a fitness blog—it makes it a community.

FAQs: Clearing the Path for a Smooth Fitness Journey

As you embark on mastering the incline dumbbell press, you’re bound to have questions or encounter some common misconceptions. In this section, we aim to address those to make your fitness journey as smooth as possible.

Q: Can the incline dumbbell press replace the flat bench press in my routine?

A: While the incline dumbbell press is an excellent exercise for targeting the upper chest, it shouldn’t completely replace the flat bench press, which provides a more comprehensive chest workout. Ideally, your routine should include both for a balanced chest development.

Q: Is the incline dumbbell press only for advanced lifters?

A: Absolutely not! This exercise is suitable for lifters of all levels. Beginners may start with lighter weights and fewer sets, gradually progressing as they become more comfortable with the movement.

Q: Do I need to go heavy to see results?

A: Not necessarily. While lifting heavier weights can lead to strength gains, lighter weights with higher repetitions can also be effective, especially for muscle endurance and toning.

Q: I feel the exercise more in my shoulders. What am I doing wrong?

A: If you’re feeling the exercise predominantly in your shoulders, the bench angle might be too steep, or your form may need adjustment. Make sure to set the bench at a 30 to 45-degree angle and focus on lowering the dumbbells to your upper chest, not your shoulders.

Q: Can I perform the incline dumbbell press without a bench?

A: While a bench is recommended for optimal results, you can perform a modified version of the exercise on the floor. However, the range of motion will be limited, affecting the exercise’s effectiveness.

Q: What’s the best time to consume protein for muscle growth?

A: For optimal muscle growth, aim to consume a balanced meal or protein shake within 1-2 hours post-workout. In U.S. measurements, that’s approximately 0.54 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Your Journey, Our Community

And there you have it—a comprehensive guide to mastering the incline dumbbell press. From the basics to the nuances, we’ve covered it all to set you on the path to a stronger, more sculpted upper chest. But remember, the journey doesn’t end here. Fitness is a lifelong commitment, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Now, we turn the spotlight on you. We want to hear about your progress, your challenges, and your victories. Your story could be the inspiration someone else needs to kickstart their own fitness journey.

If you found this guide on the incline dumbbell press helpful, you might also be interested in perfecting your bench press technique to avoid common mistakes. Check it out to further enhance your chest workouts!

Share Your Progress

Got a new PR? Discovered a game-changing variation? Share it with us! Use the hashtag #DailyDoseOfFitProgress on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to showcase your achievements and inspire the community.

Engage with the Community

Your voice matters. Whether it’s a question, a suggestion, or a word of encouragement, your input adds value to our community. Drop a comment below or engage with us on our social media platforms. Let’s make fitness a shared journey!

Join the Conversation

Ready to take the next step? Click the share button, leave a comment, or reach out to us on social media. Let’s keep the conversation going and the community growing. Here’s to your health and fitness!

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