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How To: Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

3 Golden Rules

Posted by Scott_Herman - July 16th, 2019

Today we’re going to go over proper form for the Incline Dumbbell Bench Press. This is a great exercise to help build the upper portion of your pectoralis major and if you follow my 3 golden rules, you’ll start seeing gains relatively quickly. HOWEVER, let’s first make it very clear that whether you’re flat, incline or decline bench pressing, you’re still activating the entire pectoralis major! It’s just that when we use an incline we can place a bit more emphasis on the upper portion of the chest.

Golden Rule #1: Pack Your Shoulders!

Believe it or not, the position of your shoulders during a lift affects the muscles targeted. For example, the more protracted your shoulders are during a press or a raise, the more front and side delts you are going to activate, whereas retracting your shoulders back and down will primarily activate your chest.

Also, aside from the fact that protracted shoulders are an injury waiting to happen, especially when you’re working with heavy weights, if you do not pack your shoulders when benching that will throw off the entire movement pattern of the exercise. The easiest way for me to tell when someone isn’t packing their shoulders properly is that their elbows will be flared out.

If packed properly, your elbows will be pulled in and close to your torso and that brings us to the next golden rule.

Golden Rule #2: Arch Your Back!

When it comes to dumbbell pressing or any kind of pressing for that matter, you always want to place your body in the most advantageous position to lift the most amount of weight safely. That includes understanding the mechanics of each movement and in the case of the incline press, proper mechanics dictate that your elbows are directly below your wrists and close to your torso.

Yes, shoulder packing is a big part of this, but you are going to have a hard time executing all of this if your back is FLAT on the bench. Now I am not saying you need to contort your entire body, but an arch in your back is key to be able to properly pack your shoulders as tight as you can and bring your elbows in.

This also means that you should be flexing and BRACING your core during your sets and especially as you continue to lift heavier weights.

Golden Rule #3: Keep Your Glutes Pinned To The Bench!

How many times have you seen someone bench and their butt is 2 feet in the air?  

That is an injury waiting to happen, not to mention you lose SO MUCH POWER when your glutes leave the bench. It goes like this. Pack your shoulders, roll back with the dumbbells, arch your back, flex and squeeze your core and simultaneously flex and squeeze your GLUTES while keeping them pinned to the seat of the bench.This isn’t just a chest exercise. If executed properly, you should feel power resonating from your feet pushing into the ground all the way through your entire body. In fact, I bet the majority of you will be able to add 5 – 10lbs EASY to your next set once you apply all these tips.


So give it a shot and let me know how it goes! You don’t have to create stupid exercises to see better results. You just need someone who cares to guide you in the right direction and that’s exactly what I’m here for!

Related Videos:


How To: Barbell Squat | 3 GOLDEN RULES! (MADE BETTER!)

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