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Incline Dumbbell Press, How-to, Common mistakes + FAQ

The incline dumbbell press is one of the most commonly used chest exercises. This is a very effective exercise, especially for extra stimulation of the top of the chest.

All you need is a bench and a set of dumbbells, so the exercise is also easy to perform at home. Are you curious about the ideal angle for your bench, the perfect execution, and common mistakes? Read on for a complete explanation of the incline dumbbell press.

Which muscles do you train with the incline dumbbell press?

When performing the incline dumbbell press you will mainly train your chest muscles. Because the bench is at a small angle, the top of the chest is extra stimulated.

This upper part of the pectoral muscle is also called the clavicular muscle head. It is always good to alternate chest exercises on a flat bench with incline exercises to get a shapely chest.

In addition to your chest, you also use other muscles with the incline dumbbell press. Your shoulders, especially the front, play an important role. Your triceps are also greatly stimulated.

The closer you keep your elbows to your body, the more you use your triceps. The further you keep your elbows from your body, the more you will use your shoulders.

Because you use both your shoulder joint and your elbow joint, and therefore also several muscle groups, the incline dumbbell press is classified under the compound exercises.

You can often use heavy weights for these exercises, making compound exercises an ideal basis for your training schedule.

Incline Dumbbell Press

Implementation of the incline dumbbell press

The implementation of the incline dumbbell press is quite simple, making it a suitable exercise for both beginners and experienced gym-goers. You only need a bench and a set of dumbbells, so it is also an ideal exercise for people who train at home. Below you will find a step-by-step explanation of the incline dumbbell press.

1. Setup

Grab a bench with an adjustable back. Then adjust the backrest to an angle of about 30-45 degrees. The higher you set the backrest, the more you will use your shoulders instead of your chest. So try for yourself which angle feels best to you.

2. Lie down in the starting position

Lift the dumbbells off the floor and sit on the bench with both dumbbells on your thighs. Avoid having to lift the dumbbells while you are already sitting. As a result, you often have to use excessive force, which can lead to injuries.

Slowly lower your upper body backward together with the dumbbells until you are lying on the bench. If necessary, use your knees to guide the dumbbells so that they are level with the bottom of your chest.

Now place your feet firmly on the floor, push your shoulder blades in, and your chest forward.

3. Push the weight up

Push the dumbbells up while keeping your upper arms at about a 45-degree angle to your torso. Make sure the dumbbells don't touch at the top of the movement to keep tension on the chest muscles. To put extra emphasis on the top of the chest, push the dumbbells closer to your face instead of in a straight line. Make sure that you don't get any burden off your shoulders.

4. Drop the weight

Once your arms are straight, move them down again. Make sure you do this in a controlled manner and don't let the weight drop too quickly. The descending portion of the exercise is just as important for maximum muscle growth.

5. Repeat

Repeat the above steps for the desired number of reps.

Most common mistakes

If you follow the above explanation, in principle nothing can go wrong. Still, a lot of people make a number of mistakes when performing the incline dumbbell press. Read below which errors these are and how you can prevent them yourself.

  1. Do not push the chest forward
    Many people do not push their chest forward enough, causing the shoulders to stand forward. This transfers some of the load from the chest to the front of the shoulders. This can lead to strain and eventually injuries to the shoulder. It is therefore important that you pull in your shoulder blades and push your chest forward to limit the strain on your shoulders.
  2. The backrest at a Wrong Angle
    The purpose of the incline dumbbell press is primarily to work the top of the chest. An incorrect backrest angle can limit your results. Too low and you won't stimulate the top of your chest. Too high and your incline dumbbell press will look more like a shoulder press. The trick is to find the golden mean. For most people, this means that the backrest should be at an angle of 30-45 degrees. If in doubt, it is better to set the backrest low rather than high. Load on your shoulders usually indicates an angle that is too steep.
  3. Wrong upper arm angle
    Make sure your upper arms are not too far from your torso. An angle of 45 degrees to your upper body is the ideal position for training your chest. Many people tend to keep their elbows level with their shoulders. This can again lead to overloading of the shoulders with nasty injuries as a result.

Frequently asked questions about the incline dumbbell press

Do you still have questions after reading the above explanation? Then take a look at the most frequently asked questions below. Is your question not listed here? Please feel free to contact us for a personal answer and maybe we'll place your question in the overview below.

Incline dumbbell press or flat dumbbell press?

The incline dumbbell press and the flat dumbbell press are of course very similar. The difference is in the corner of the bench and with it the emphasis on the upper muscle head of the pectoral muscle.

Usually, the incline variant leads to better activation of the top of the chest. Do you want to train your upper chest extra? Then the incline dumbbell press is the better choice. Keep in mind that you can lift a little less than with the flat version.

What is the ideal angle for an incline dumbbell press?

As mentioned earlier in this article, the ideal angle for an incline dumbbell press is usually between 30 and 45 degrees. This ensures maximum stimulation of the top of the chest.

Steeper doesn't always mean you'll put more emphasis on the top of your chest. Too steep, and your shoulders will take over much of the exercise. So don't overdo it and make sure you don't get any complaints on your shoulders.

Incline dumbbell press or incline barbell press?

The incline bench press can be performed with both dumbbells and a barbell. Which of the two is better largely comes down to personal preference. We have a slight preference for dumbbells because of the larger range of motion.

You can lower your arms a little deeper with dumbbells, which allows you to stretch the muscle fibers further. The incline barbell bench press has the advantage that you can often lift more weight. Do you already have a barbell bench press in your training schedule? Then we recommend that you opt for dumbbells.

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