How To Do Incline Dumbbell Bench Press With Perfect Technique

If you want to build greater thickness and strength in your upper pecs, then you should add incline dumbbell bench press to your training regime. Having a well-developed upper chest contributes to the fullness of the upper body and has functional benefits.

The incline dumbbell chest press is also easy to learn and progressively overload, which is why it’s used to good effect in both novice and advanced training programs. 

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to perform the incline dumbbell bench press correctly. You will also learn its benefits, how to avoid common mistakes, and what are the best variation of incline dumbbell chest press and how to do them. You will also learn some of the best alternatives of it.

Know About Chest Muscles

The chest muscle is commonly known as the pectoralis (pecs) muscle, which is divided into upper and lower sections. The upper region of the chest is the hardest area of the chest to build.

The pectoralis major has two functional subdivisions –the upper and lower regions.

  • The upper region is referred to as the sternoclavicular head because of its attachment to the clavicle.
  • The lower regions are sometimes referred to as the sternocostal head because of their attachment to the ribs.
upper, middle, and lower Chest head

What Is the Incline Dumbbell Chest Press?

The incline dumbbell bench press aka dumbbell incline Chest press is an upper body workout that engages the upper pec muscles, the triceps, and the anterior deltoid muscles of the shoulders. The angle of the adjustable bench in this variation puts more tension on your upper chest muscles than a flat bench press would.

Incline dumbbell Chest press angle

The incline bench press is one of the best upper chest exercises, but there’s one major problem: the front deltoid likes to dominate the movement, which prevents us from getting the maximum benefit out of it.

The anterior deltoids and the upper chest are very close to each other, which means that one of the two can start dominating the other if we don’t do the exercise correctly. When you do the incline bench press, it’s important to get the angle of the bench correct.

What angles should I use during the incline dumbbell bench press to hit the upper chest the most? Or whether it’s better to do High Incline and Low Incline Dumbbell chest presses.

Research indicates that the correct angle for the Incline bench press should be 30 degrees from flat in order to target the upper chest. Even though 30 degrees may seem like a small angle, it is the proper incline for placing the strain on your upper pecs and minimizing the effect on the anterior deltoid muscles.

If you set the incline bench press angle to 60 degrees, that people will use for an incline bench press, then you’re going to shift the focus from the upper chest to the anterior deltoid.

An upright position will maximize the attention that the front delts get because the arms will move in a straight line up against gravity in an overhead pressing motion.

(Note: For proper stimulation of the upper chest muscles, keep the angle of bench at 30 degrees. If you want to increase the angle further, please avoid going beyond 45 degrees, as this will shift the focus to the anterior deltoid.)

Incline Dumbbell Press Benefits

There are several reasons that motivate you to do incline dumbbell bench press, and I’ve mentioned some of them below.

  • Dumbbell Incline Chest press exercises require more balance than barbells or machines that can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Incline DB Press with dumbbell allow unilateral training (training one limb at a time), increase core stability, and improve muscular imbalances.
  • Dumbbell incline chest press allows for greater joint safety and stabilization and allows the joints to move naturally within their range of motion.
  • Dumbbell incline press variations allow for a greater range of movement (ROM), which leads to an increased number of muscle fibers recruited.
  • It affords a greater level of variety, which prevents physical and mental burnout.
  • It requires more muscular control than barbells, enhancing kinesthetic awareness.

Incline dumbbell Chest press muscles worked

The incline dumbbell bench press primarily works the upper pectoralis major muscles, in addition to its target to the main pec muscle.

The incline DB press has the involvement of several synergist muscles, these muscles include,

A handful of other muscles worked or play the role of stabilizer muscles, include your

Incline Dumbbell Press Exercise Guide

If you’re looking for a straightforward dumbbell upper chest exercises to add to your routine, the Incline dumbbell press is a great staple exercise to get you started.

Just like the Incline Bench Press, the Incline dumbbell chest press works mostly on the upper pecs, but dumbbells allow full range of motion, and therefore in some ways better than the bench press. It adds an extra range of motion at the top for complete chest development.

Incline Dumbbell Press
Incline Dumbbell Press

How To Do Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, and lie on an incline bench (30 degree inclined).
  2. Clean the dumbbells and lift them straight overhead. Feel a good chest squeeze at the top.
  3. Lower the dumbbells and feel a good chest muscle stretch at the bottom.
  4. Repeat the desired number of reps and sets.

Training Volume (Sets And Reps) For Incline DB Press

Of course, the number of sets and reps will be determined based on your fitness journey, but here is a great starting point:

  • 3-4 Sets
  • 8-12 Reps

Choose a weight that allows you to execute the exercises with proper form throughout the entire set and repetition range. The load should bring you to or near failure within the given rep ranges to be effective.

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press Proper Form and Mistakes

Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program.

  • Exhale whilst pushing dumbbells upwards and do in a controlled manner.
  • For the Incline dumbbell press, it is best to set the bench at about 30 degrees inclined. Do not go more upright as the stress shifts more to shoulders rather than chest area.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Always use weights that you can handle comfortably.
  • Keep the tension on your chest as you press the weight up.
  • Always use the longest range of motion possible and control the dumbbells throughout the set.
  • Ultimately, your results will depend on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. It is recommended that you allow at least 36 to 48 hours of rest before training the same muscle groups again, in order to allow for sufficient recovery.
  • Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to excessive arch.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t allow the lower body to move during the set.
  • Vary bench angles to hit different angles of the chest, but do not go beyond 45 degrees.

Best Variations of Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

The incline dumbbell bench press can be done in different ways to suit your fitness level.

If you are new to performing an incline dumbbell press, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier. One way to counter this problem is to adjust the incline of the bench so that it is completely flat. Another is to use a lighter weight.

If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the chest, then try dumbbell incline alternate press, and reverse grip incline dumbbell bench press. You can make it more difficult by increasing the bench inclination and using heavier weight. But focus on form while doing the same.

1. Dumbbell Incline Alternate Press

The Dumbbell Incline Alternate Press builds size and strength in your chest, specifically targeting the upper chest. Armed with an incline bench and a pair of dumbbells, this exercise can bolster your entire upper body fitness routine.

This is one of the best two-arm upper chest exercises that you can do with a dumbbell during your upper chest workout.

Dumbbell Incline Alternate Press

Muscles Worked

Primary: Upper pectoralis major.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, triceps brachii

How To Do Dumbbell Incline Alternate Chest Press

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, and lie on an incline bench (30-45 degree inclined).
  2. Hold a pair of dumbbells directly above your chest with your arms fully extended and your palms facing outward.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades together, slightly stick out your chest, and lower both dumbbells to the sides of your chest.
  4. Now, press one dumbbell upward, keeping the other at your side. Then, as you lower the dumbbell, press the other one upward.


  • Make sure to utilize a full range of motion throughout the exercise.
  • Keep both keep firmly placed on the floor throughout the exercise.
  • Vary bench angles to hit different angles of the chest.

2. Reverse Grip Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The reverse-grip incline dumbbell chest press is a very effective compound exercise which targets the upper chest muscles for maximum muscle and strength gains.

Now, it’s an unconventional movement compared to the regular dumbbell press with an overhand grip, but it’s beneficial for emphasizing the upper chest muscles due to the reverse hand position. Must add, this exercise in your upper chest dumbbell workout.

Dumbbell Incline Reverse grip Bench Press

Muscles Worked

Primary: Pectoralis major,

Secondary: Biceps Brachii, Anterior deltoids, Triceps brachii

How To Do Reverse Grip Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, and lie on an incline bench (30-45 degree inclined).
  2. Extend the dumbbell above your chest. Keeping your elbow slightly bent, lower the weight down until it is about chest level and hold.
  3. Bring your arm back toward the midline of your body, focusing on using your upper pec muscles to draw them back together.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Beginners should start light and practice good form before training heavy.
  • Keep both keep firmly placed on the floor throughout the exercise.

3. Incline Dumbbell Squeeze Press

The incline dumbbell squeeze press is one of the most effective chest pressing exercises which target the inner chest and upper chest.

During the squeeze press, the dumbbells are kept in contact with each other at all times, and you’re actively squeezing them inward (against each other) as hard as possible.

Incline Dumbbell Squeeze Press

Muscles Worked

Primary: Pectoralis major

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, triceps.

How To Do Incline Dumbbell Squeeze Press

  1. Take the one dumbbell and grab it with both hands. Then, lay down on the incline bench.
  2. Place the dumbbell at center, and lift them up over your chest.
  3. Lower the dumbbell to touch your chest, and then push the dumbbell back up.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Breathe out on the way up.
  • Maintain more tension through the pecs by not locking out the elbows entirely.

Best Alternate of Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

Before, we take a look at the best incline dumbbell chest press alternatives. We must keep in mind that a good alternative to the Incline dumbbell bench press will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

1. Activate the chest muscle groups, which are trained in the Incline dumbbell press.

2. Isolate the muscle groups during execution.

3. Train the chest muscle through a longer range of motion

1. Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a classic exercise and is the best alternate to the incline dumbbell bench press when focusing on the upper chest. It helps build massive upper pecs and overall strength.

It is the best exercise to develop muscle mass in the upper and middle Pectoral region.

Incline Bench Press

2. Decline Push-Up

If you’re looking for a bodyweight alternative to the incline dumbbell chest press exercise that helps you build upper pecs, then the decline push-up is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is similar to normal push-ups, but with your legs on a bench. Although this is called the Decline push-up, it focuses more on the upper pecs.

Decline Push-Ups

3. Low Cable Fly (Low To High Cable Fly)

If you have access to a cable setup, I recommend you try it as an alternative to incline dumbbell chest press. The standing low to high cable fly is a used to strengthen the pushing muscles of the body including the chest, biceps, and shoulders. 

Low to High Cable Fly exercise helps to develop and define upper and inner pectoral muscles. Cable provides constant resistance and helps develop central chest muscles and provides the much-needed stress and inner pecs, for which bodybuilders crave.

Low Pulley Cable Crossovers

4. Incline Dumbbell Fly

The incline dumbbell fly is a variation of the dumbbell fly performed with an incline bench. This is one of the best upper chest exercises that you can do during your upper pecs workout.

Do not just perform a basic flat bench fly, but also add an incline variation because the incline bench position allows for the isolation of the harder-to-develop upper pectorals.

incline dumbbell fly

5. Standing Upward Chest Fly

If you are searching for an alternative to incline dumbbell chest press, standing dumbbell chest fly is a good exercise to target your upper chest. With just a pair of dumbbells, you can strengthen your chest and make it appear broader and more developed.

This exercise is like a front raise that you would do for your shoulders, but with a simple twist of the wrists that make it an effective chest exercise. For this one, you will require a dumbbell in each hand.

Standing Upward Chest Fly


Dumbbell incline chest press exercises are highly recommended for anyone interested in building upper body strength and gaining muscle size.

It is easy to do and requires no more scientific details and fancy equipment. If you consistently do dumbbell incline chest press exercises with other variation of chest press, you will see results.

Frequently asked question

Incline Dumbbell Press Vs. Flat Dumbbell Press

The main difference between the incline dumbbell chest press and the flat dumbbell press is that the incline dumbbell press emphasizes more the clavicular (upper) head of the pecs. Whereas the flat dumbbell press emphasizes both head, the clavicular (upper) and sternocostal (lower) head.

It makes sense, then, to include a mix of incline and flat pressing in your workout routine if you want well-developed, proportionate pecs.

Is incline bench 30 or 45 degrees?

Research shows that the correct angle of the Incline Bench Press should be 30 degrees from flat to target the upper chest. So, it is best to set the bench at about 30 degrees inclined. It is important not to go too upright because then the stress will shift to the shoulders rather than the chest.

What muscles does incline bench press work?

The incline bench press is one of the best upper chest exercises, but you need to ensure that you’re not allowing your front delts to dominate the movement.  To avoid this, be sure to use the correct bench angle and squeeze your shoulder blades during the movement.

How does incline bench press help you?

The incline bench press is one of the best upper chest exercises, but you need to ensure that you’re not allowing your front delts to dominate the movement. 

Know More About Chest Training


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