Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Shoulders, Triceps
Target Muscle Group


Chest Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Overview

The incline dumbbell bench press is a variation of the incline bench press and an exercise used to build the muscles of the chest. The shoulders and triceps will be indirectly involved as well.

Utilizing an incline will allow you to better target the upper portion of the chest, a lagging part for a lot of lifters.

The use of dumbbells will also promote balanced and equal strength among both sides of the chest. They can also help prevent shoulder and pec injuries when performing presses.

You can include incline dumbbell bench press in your chest workouts, upper body workouts, push workouts, and full body workouts.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Instructions

  1. Pick up the dumbbells off the floor using a neutral grip (palms facing in). Position the ends of the dumbbells in your hip crease, and sit down on the edge of an incline bench.
  2. To get into position, lay back and keep the weights close to your chest. Once you are in position, take a deep breath, and press the dumbbells to lockout at the top.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells under control as far as comfortably possible (the handles should be about level with your chest).
  4. Contract the chest and push the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

**Dropping the dumbbells to the side is discouraged unless you are experienced with the technique or using excessively heavy weights.

**Ideally you should twist the dumbbells back to neutral (palms facing each other), bring your knees up so the ends of the dumbbells are touching your thighs, then use the weight of the dumbbells to rock back to an upright, seated position.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Tips

  1. Maintain more tension through the pecs by not locking out the elbows entirely.
  2. Keep the weights slightly tilted at a 45 degree angle in order to keep the elbows in a neutral position.
  3. Don’t allow the dumbbells to collide at the top of each rep - bouncing them together may cause you to lose stability within the shoulder and injure yourself.
  4. Squeeze the dumbbells as tight as possible to improve a phenomenon known as “irradiation” which promotes greater shoulder stability.
  5. Keep your shoulder blades pinched together to ensure the shoulders remain in a safe position.
  6. Imagine you’re trying to push yourself away from the weights rather than pushing the weights away from yourself.
  7. If you’re feeling pain within the shoulder joint itself (specifically at the front), ensure your shoulder blades are slightly retracted and try to keep the shoulder girdle “packed”.
  8. Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to excessive arch.
  9. Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t allow the lower body to move during the set.
Posted on: Thu, 05/09/2024 - 16:54

Personal Preference: I don't want pecks.

Will I get pecks if I do this exercise? Can someone explain the benefit of this specific exercise in the women's 8 Week Beginner Fat Loss Workout for Women?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/22/2024 - 08:56

This does target the upper chest area, and it is to help promote shape and strength.

Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2024 - 19:03

what are some alternatives to this if I don't have an incline bench, regular bench, or even an exercise ball? is there a variation I can do on the floor or while standing? I have dumbbells and resistance bands. thank you.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/22/2024 - 10:16

This is the closest thing I found to an incline bench.

If you have a step, place a blanket right next to the step and a second one on top of the step. Lie back on them with your shoulder on the blanket on top of the step. The lower blanket will provide comfort for your lower back. Not a perfect fit, but it works. If that isn't an option, then you can do them standing. The front delts will be more active, but the upper pecs will receive some stimulation.

Ultimately, work to get an adjustable bench. Well worth the money.

Omar Alkotb
Posted on: Fri, 02/16/2024 - 04:01

Am doing the workout at home, so i dont have access to vench press, my question is can i do the reverse grib dumbbell press instead of the inclined dumbbell ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/21/2024 - 09:22

You can or you can do them seated in a chair. The upper pecs aren't as involved, but they will be a part of the movement.

Posted on: Wed, 01/03/2024 - 22:53

The weights are starting to get heavier and I'm less comfortable doing dumbbells without at least a spotter. How do I transition into a bar? I tried using the Smith machine, but i couldn't figure out equivalent weight. Any advice?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 01/07/2024 - 19:56

Whether you're using a bar, dumbbells, or a Smith Machine, you should have a spotter when the weights get heavier.

Simply start doing incline with a barbell only and slowly add weight once you get comfortable with form. If you can do 30's with dumbbells, there's a good chance you can do 60 on a bar. As for the Smith Machine, find out what the bar weighs alone and add enough weight to equal the pair of dumbbells you go with.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2024 - 10:53

Traditional bar weighs 45 pounds, Dale.

Believe it or not, the pullover was originally intended as a full upper body movement. When done correctly, it does work the lats as well. We may need to do a full article on this movement to explain because a lot of people get confused with it. I do recommend it as the alternative. Do you want a chest substitution, and if so, what have you been doing already?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2024 - 19:48

Re: Smith Machine - got it. Each machine has a different type of bar. I've used some that weighs 25 and others that weigh 45. You will have to check the information on the machine to find its weight.

Posted on: Thu, 01/25/2024 - 06:34

Hi Roger.

I have been doing the 5 day dumbbell workout consistently. For chest that includes bench, incline bench, and the secondary presses. I added decline bench press and high to low cable fly.

I like the dumbbell pullover, but I find it increasingly unstable as I increase in weight. Same for overhead triceps extension, but I've found an alternative I like for that one. Chest is important to me, but I guess I'm already doing a lot. Maybe I could give this lat exercise a try.

p.s. I don't know much, but I know the bar weighs 45 from middle school :). I was referring to the Smith machine. I couldn't find the weight listed on the machine or online.

Posted on: Mon, 01/15/2024 - 01:16

I don't really have a way of knowing how much the bar weighs, but I'll just use a traditional bar at the gym.

On another comment you gave the Straight Arm Pull Lat as an alternative to Dumbbell pullover, but the main muscle of Dumbbell pullover is chest with lats being secondary. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/dumbbell-pullover.html

I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know how it will feel, but I'm just going based off what's written. Do you still recommend this as the alternative?

Posted on: Thu, 10/12/2023 - 10:53

Since it’s 3 sets 5 reps are we supposed to lift as heavy as we can?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 11:09

You can either go moderate, heavy, heaviest, or you can do three heavy sets. As long as you don't sacrifice form and get all the reps, you will be good.

Posted on: Mon, 05/15/2023 - 18:06

What is the recommended rest time between sets for this workout

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 05/30/2023 - 20:48

If you're training to get leaner, 60-90 seconds. If you're training for mass and strength, two minutes.

Alex Atkinson
Posted on: Wed, 11/17/2021 - 18:08

If I feel it more in my triceps what am I doing wrong?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 11/17/2021 - 18:54

Hi, Alex. Keep in mind that these tips I'm sharing are without seeing what you're doing when you perform the exercises. That said, I hope this will help.

When you lie back on the bench, keep your chest high and your shoulders back. This will help activate the chest.

Also, press until the arms are almost straight, but don't lock out completely. This will decrease the triceps involvement. Also, forcefully squeeze the chest when you press up. You should feel the muscles tighten at the end of the rep.

Finally, take your time performing the reps. If you need to, count one thousand one, one thousand two to press, and repeat when you go back down.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Thu, 03/25/2021 - 09:08

Is it a 45• degree angle the bench or at what degree ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/25/2021 - 09:40

Hey Leno - yes, 45 degree incline

Posted on: Tue, 01/26/2021 - 20:31

I don't have an incline bench or an exercise ball. I do have a bench though.

Posted on: Mon, 08/09/2021 - 06:59

I just put the chair upsidedown then put some board behind for balance, i just make sure the chair is behind the wall so it wont move. Idk if its effective

Posted on: Fri, 12/11/2020 - 14:18

I don’t have a inclined bench so can I do this exercise on a chair?

Posted on: Wed, 11/25/2020 - 05:26

Hi, I don't have a bench or an exercise ball with me at the moment. So may I know if there is any substitute for this exercise that I can do, at least until I get myself a bench. Thank you.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 11/25/2020 - 09:33

Hey Ryan - you can try close grip bench press.

Posted on: Mon, 11/23/2020 - 06:52

Hey good morning just a quick question I’m not really a fan of the gym due to covid so I have a few weights at home so I’m doing home workouts so here is my question, I would love to do some incline dumbbells but I literally don’t know what I can use in my house to support the incline what would you use in my position?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 11/23/2020 - 10:13

Hey Kobi - do you have an exercise ball?

kunal gandhi
Posted on: Fri, 09/04/2020 - 00:06

I have no bench at home normally doing floor press both for barbell and dumbbell.
I don't know substitute of incline decline bench press on floor.
Max I could do is lifting my lower body and doing press. Is that OK to do or any suggestions for a better exercise or variation.

Posted on: Tue, 10/13/2020 - 23:51

You can use a exercise ball for incline exercises, if you have no bench.

Posted on: Thu, 10/15/2020 - 06:55

Any exercise targeting the upper chest can be used as a substitute. My go to is a regular UCV front raise, but other examples include the low UCV raise, pike push ups, standing flys, etc. YouTube has a lot of different ideas.

At any rate, it isn't necessary to abandon the inclined bench. A plank of wood covered with a towel can work. Just start with light weight to ensure stability and safety.

Nathan Robinson
Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2020 - 14:35

Hi I’m new to all this weight lifting so I’m just wondering what kind off sets do you do weight wise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:30

Hey Nathan

Check out some of our pre-written workouts. They'll give you a better understanding of sets and weight.

Posted on: Mon, 08/03/2020 - 12:53

When doing these the space between my thumb and index finger start to hurt. I don’t know if it’s how I am holding the dumbbells but can anyone relate or any tips or reasons why this is happening?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:28

Hey Will

It sounds like your grip strength could use some attention. Try performing some reverse curls to strengthen your grip.

Posted on: Tue, 04/21/2020 - 16:12

When I am doing this exercise I feel the stress more in my triceps and shoulders rather than my chest and I’m not sure why

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:27

Hey Craig

Try adjusting the angle of your arms to your torso. I recommend a 45-55° angle on the negative portion, and a 55-60° angle on the press.

Mahesh sharma
Posted on: Wed, 03/11/2020 - 12:01

Hello sir may age 42 yrs my weight 75kg
I am continues workout last 1 year
My goal is Build muscle.I expect the challenge. Of my sun one day I am the best body builder.
Please sand me my workout and diet plan. Thanks

Posted on: Thu, 05/10/2018 - 04:20

What exercise would be a good substitute for an incline dumbbell workout because I don’t have an incline bench just a regular bench

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/10/2018 - 08:56

Hi Nic,

Believe I have just answered your question on another one of your comments on a different landing page. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out.

Patrick Farchione
Posted on: Fri, 12/27/2019 - 13:23

Hey Josh, I am new to this site and not sure how to see your other comments. I am doing dumbbell workouts at home and do not have access to a bench. I was wondering if you could let me know what a good substitute would be for the incline dumbbell bench press? Just let me know, thanks!

Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2020 - 03:39

What answer sir? i want to know what can i substitute for incline bench press because i don't have a bench or an incline bench

Wilson Silva
Posted on: Tue, 05/02/2017 - 02:33

The video is gone :(

Wilson Silva
Posted on: Mon, 05/08/2017 - 01:16

It isn't. Sometimes it just says video not found for some reason. Reloading the page seems to solve the issue.

Posted on: Thu, 03/16/2017 - 20:40

Which muscles are best to combine to do a total body workout?
Exp: Abs, biceps, calves, chest, forearm, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, mid back, quads, shoulders, traps, triceps, and lats .
Thanks for ur help!

Coo Kid
Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2017 - 16:50

Too easy

Barney Moreno
Posted on: Mon, 10/10/2016 - 05:49

C'mon guys I'm looking at all these questions and they are all common sense questions. Start out with a weight we're you are most comfort at then slowly begin to increase tour weight. Also thus video shows you how exactly to do the work out. I usually do 3 sets of 10

Posted on: Wed, 01/14/2015 - 20:03

Does it matter if I keep my hand position neutral (palms in)? This makes it easier for me to avoid touching weights at the top.

José Hernández
Posted on: Wed, 02/26/2014 - 18:36

Can you replace this for benchincline?

Posted on: Mon, 09/02/2013 - 12:47

is it better to do this before or after push up's? thnx

Posted on: Tue, 08/20/2019 - 07:12