What is an Incline Dumbbell Press?

D. Messmer

An incline dumbbell press is a compound muscle-building exercise that provides a workout for the chest, shoulders and triceps. An incline dumbbell press is similar to a standard bench press except that the athlete uses a set of dumbbells rather than a barbell and, rather than lying flat on a standard weight bench, the athlete lies on a bench that is at an incline. During an incline dumbbell press, the athlete must be careful to maintain proper form, because performing the exercise incorrectly can cause injury.

Incline dumbbell bench presses primarily work the upper chest and shoulder muscles.
Incline dumbbell bench presses primarily work the upper chest and shoulder muscles.

In order to perform the incline dumbbell press, the athlete first positions his or her body face-up on an incline bench. The actual amount of incline can vary, but it generally will be 30 to 45 degrees. If the rate of incline is too high, then the exercise will not work the chest muscles adequately and will instead become a form of military press. After getting in position on the bench, the athlete should ensure that his or her back is resting on the bench and that it remains on the bench throughout the exercise.

From this position, the athlete grips a set of dumbbells in a pronated grip and holds them in front of the chest with the arms bent. The athlete's hands should be roughly level with the middle of the chest, and the dumbbells will be just above the chest. The athlete should keep his or her feet firmly on the floor throughout the exercise.

To perform the actual lift, the athlete should exhale while pressing the weight away from the chest and straight into the air. The athlete should continue to press the weight until the arms are completely straight. At this point, the athlete should begin to exhale while bending the elbows and carefully lowering the weight back to the starting position.

Throughout the incline dumbbell press, it is crucial to remain in control of the weight and to maintain proper form. It is crucial that the athlete keeps his or her back on the bench. If the athlete starts to arch the back, this can result in injury. Also, doing so changes the angle of the press and thus reduces the benefits of the exercise for the upper parts of the chest. It also is important that the athlete makes sure to keep control of the weights while raising them above his or her head, so it is important not to try to lift too much weight.

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