Incline Dumbbell Press

Technique Summary

Lay on a bench set at a 30 to 60 degree incline. Bring your elbows out forming a straight line, lower arm perpendicular to the floor. Bring the weight up, exhale, bring it down, inhale.

Technique Details

Since the purpose of the exercise is to improve your health and not the opposite, let’s identify things you should not be doing to avoid injury. First basic rule, do not lock out your elbows. This means bring the weights up, and straighten your arms up to and until the point where your elbows lock, without actually locking it. Do not bring the weight down to far. That hurts your shoulders. Going down until your upper arms make a straight line with your back is sufficient. You can bring the weights slightly lower to get a stretch and extend the range of motion, but only slightly. 


Keep your feet flat on the floor throughout the exercise. This will help you maintain balance. Generally when you don't have good balance the rest of your body pitches in to help you through the set. This means that you aren't focusing on your chest, and that you are more likely to hurt yourself. You upper back should be flat on the bench at all times. Focus on doing the exercise by only moving your arms and contracting your chest - do not bring your shoulders forward. Always make a conscious effort of keeping your shoulders pinned back. It is also important where you bring the weights, as it will  determine the concentration of the exercise. That said, bring them up over your chest, NOT your shoulders.

There are three starting and finishing positions. You could have your palms facing forward, each other, or back. You could start with any one and finish with any other. The most common such combination is starting with palms facing forward and turning them towards each other as you press the weights up. Generally, people just keep the palms facing forward both at the top and the bottom. When palms are facing up more emphasis is placed on your sternal head, middle of the chest. As mentioned in the technique summary, the bench should be set at a  30 to 60 degree angle on the incline. Most commonly, the incline is at 45 degrees. Going too far up shifts more of the burden to your shoulders, and too low, shifts away from your upper chest.

Once you are lifting heavier weights it is easiest to begin the exercise by placing both dumbbells on your quads when you sit down on the bench. Then push them up with your legs as you lay flat on the bench.