The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press is a key exercise for upper chest development.
If you want that complete "gladiator-like" chest look, with thick upper pecs, it's an exercise you absolutely should be doing.
I've got a technique for you here that's not only going to make it MUCH easier to get heavy dumbbells into position for the exercise, it's also going to make you instantly STRONGER in the incline dumbbell press exercise...and I'm not kidding about that.
I'm talking 10 to 20% stronger in the movement right away, just with this positioning secret.
Let's get to it...
One of the main problems people run into with the incline dumbbell bench press is generally not in the movement itself but in getting the dumbbells up and into position to actually DO the movement.
This is especially true when the weights start getting heavier and tougher to get into position. You can find yourself limited in your progress by the amount of weight you can get into position, especially if you don't have a spotter to hand you weights.
The OTHER big problem with the incline dumbbell bench press is a biomechanical one...and it can cause some serious lower back strain.
Visualize yourself on an incline bench, holding the dumbbells in the top position. Your upper back is on the bench, your butt is on the bench and your feet are on the floor.
The weight is bearing down on you, compressing the spine...but your butt on the seat is stopping the weight from sliding you down the bench...the accordion fold in the middle is your lower back. And that's where all the stress of the weight bearing goes.
And having your feet on the ground actually makes it WORSE by increasing anterior pelvic tilt (which means your pelvis tilting forward) due to the angle your thighs are at while they're also exerting force to prevent the weight from folding you in half at the lower back.
If you've gone heavy on an incline dumbbell bench press, you probably know exactly the awkward, not-quite-right feeling I'm talking about.
It happens because that body position stretches some the core muscles rather than allowing you to bear down and contract them into a more solid supporting position.
When you're doing bench press on a flat bench, this position doesn't matter because your core is not actually supporting the weight. When you're on an incline bench, you DO need the core active to support the weight because of the angle.
And when you're using lighter weight, neither of these issues is a big deal. You can get light dumbbells into position pretty easily and the weight won't bear you down enough to compromise your lower back position.
When you go heavy, THAT is when these issues can become big problems.
You don't get the core support you need to protect the lower back and you can't transfer force effectively from the lower body through the core.
I've got the solution to all your problems here...both getting heavy dumbbells into position AND body position compromising your stability and power transfer.
You're going to do your Incline Dumbbell Bench Press on a DECLINE bench...
And you're going to set that decline bench in front of a wall so you can put your feet up on the WALL instead of on the floor, which immediately solidifies and stabilizes the core, allowing for strong transference of force from the lower body.
It also puts the dumbbells right at upper chest level to begin with so all you have to do lift your knees up and move the dumbbells back and you're immediately into the bottom position of the dumbbell bench press.
It's an elegant solution that will literally change the way you do Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses, I can promise you that.
Here's what it looks like:
First, set the decline bench in front of a blank wall. The only drawback with using a decline bench is that the decline is often not very adjustable. It's a small price to pay, though.
Reach down and grab one dumbbell (I'm using 105 lb dumbbells here, just for reference).
Set that dumbbell on end on your knee then reach over and grab the other one.
Set both dumbbells on end on your knees and sit down at the very bottom end of the decline bench. Your shins should be almost right up against the wall here.
Now lay back and set your feet up on the wall, pushing the dumbbells up and back as you do so.
Move the dumbbells back and into the bottom position of the incline press.
Then perform the exercise.
As you can see, my hips are flexed at 90 degrees, which allows me to exert DIRECT force with my legs to stabilize my core.
THIS is what's going to make you be able to lift 10 to 20% more weight...it's not that your chest strength has increased...it's just that you're now able to generate leg drive and stabilize your core better.
THAT is what makes you instantly stronger.
Perform your reps then on the last one, bring the dumbbells down to your midsection, then bring your feet down off the wall.
Once you're sitting, then just set the dumbbells down one at a time.
And don't be one of those people that just drops the weights on the floor, PLEASE.
It's not necessary and it actually can damage the weights. If you need attention that badly, just scream while you're doing your set - at least that way, you can impress people with the amount of weight you're MOVING rather than DROPPING.
Next time you've got chest training on your schedule, give this version of the Incline Dumbbell Bench Press a try.
I can promise it will immediately feel much better than the normal version...you'll feel more solid in the lift, your back won't hurt and you'll be just plain stronger.
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