The Incline Dumbbell Press: Muscles Worked

The incline dumbbell press is a great exercise to help you build upper body strength and power.

By targeting the muscles of your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, it can help improve posture while providing many other benefits.

But have you ever wondered exactly which muscles are worked when performing an incline dumbbell press?

In this article, we’ll look at the anatomy behind the incline dumbbell press and discuss why it’s essential for building overall strength.

Plus which exercises or variations can be used in place of the classic version if desired.

So let’s take a closer look at how exactly an incline dumbbell press works those specific muscles so that you know precisely what muscle groups are being targeted with each rep.

Incline Dumbbell Press Muscles Worked

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles:

The pectoralis major is responsible for the adduction of the arm across the body as well as the internal rotation of the humerus.

This muscle also assists with horizontal abduction when performing push-ups or dips.

During an incline dumbbell press, this muscle works to bring your arms together at the top of each rep while also helping you control your descent on each rep.

Secondary Muscles:

These are activated during an incline dumbbell press include the triceps brachii, anterior deltoid, middle trapezius, serratus anterior, infraspinatus, and teres minor.

These muscles provide additional support and balance to stabilize your arms throughout each rep and help control your descent on each repetition, so you don’t lose form or drop too quickly.

The incline dumbbell press works various muscles in the upper body, from primary movers to stabilizers.

Now let’s take a closer look at the anatomy involved in performing this exercise correctly and safely.

Anatomy of the Incline Dumbbell Press

Shoulder Joints and Movements Involved:

The shoulder joint is composed of three bones—the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper arm bone).

During an incline dumbbell press, these three bones move together as one unit to lift the weight up from your chest.

This motion requires both flexion (lifting) at the shoulder joint as well as abduction (moving away from the midline) of your upper arms.

Core Engagement and Posture:

It’s also essential to engage your core muscles during an incline dumbbell press.

Keeping your core tight will help you maintain good posture throughout the exercise while protecting your lower back from injury.

Additionally, engaging your glutes can help stabilize your hips so that all of the force generated by pressing up with each rep goes into moving the weights rather than into stabilizing yourself on top of them.

By understanding the anatomy of the incline dumbbell press, you can ensure proper form and reap all the benefits that come with it.

Now let’s take a look at what those benefits are.

Benefits of the Incline Dumbbell Press

This movement involves pressing two weights simultaneously, which helps to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint.

It engages other stabilizing muscles in the chest and back, such as the pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius.

This exercise also helps to improve posture by engaging core muscles such as the rectus abdominis, and obliques.

Increased chest development and definition can be achieved with an incline dumbbell press due to its ability to target multiple muscle groups at once.

The primary movers of this exercise are the pectoralis major (chest) and anterior deltoids (front shoulders).

Secondary movers include triceps brachii (back of arms), serratus anterior (side ribs), rhomboids (upper back), teres minor/major (shoulder blades), and subscapularis/supraspinatus/infraspinatus(rotator cuff).

All these muscle groups work together during an incline dumbbell press movement helping you achieve more defined chest muscles faster than traditional flat bench presses alone.

Exercise Variations and Alternatives for the Incline Dumbbell Press

There are variations and alternatives that can be used to make this exercise more challenging or to target different areas of the chest.

Alternating Incline Dumbbell Presses with Single-Arm Variations:

This variation involves alternating arms while performing an incline dumbbell press, which helps increase muscle activation in both arms and core stability.

It also allows you to focus on one arm at a time, making it easier to isolate each side of your chest during each rep.

To perform this variation, lay on an inclined bench with two dumbbells held above your shoulders with palms facing forward.

Then alternate pressing one arm up while keeping the other stationery until both arms have completed their reps.

Barbell Incline Presses with Neutral Grip or Wide Grip Options:

This variation involves using a barbell instead of two separate dumbbells when performing an incline press, allowing you to lift heavier weights than you would be able to do with just two separate dumbbells.

You can also use either a neutral grip (palms facing inward) or wide grip (palms facing outward) depending on what feels most comfortable for you and which area of your chest you want to target more effectively – inner pecs or outer pecs respectively).

To perform this variation correctly, set up an adjustable bench at about 45 degrees angle and then lie down on it, holding onto a barbell positioned over your upper chest area with either a neutral grip or a wide grip option chosen before starting any reps

FAQs about Incline Dumbbell Press Muscles Worked

Is an incline press better than a flat one?

It is difficult to definitively answer whether an incline press is better.

Each exercise has its own benefits and drawbacks, depending on the individual’s goals and preferences.

Incline presses can help target specific muscles more effectively, while flat presses may be better for overall strength development.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for each person’s fitness goals.

What muscles does an incline work?

Incline exercises are a great way to target the upper body muscles, particularly the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

When performing incline exercises, you can focus on building strength in these areas by increasing the angle of the bench or other equipment used.

This will increase resistance and help build muscle mass. Additionally, when doing incline work, your core is engaged since it helps stabilize your body throughout each exercise.

In summary, incline exercises are an effective way to strengthen and tone your chest, shoulders, and triceps while engaging your core for improved stability.

Is the incline dumbbell press enough for the upper chest?

No, an incline dumbbell press alone is insufficient for upper chest development.

To maximize gains in the upper chest area, it’s important to include a variety of exercises that target different angles and muscle fibers.

This can be done by incorporating flat and decline presses as well as cable flys into your routine.

Additionally, using lighter weights with higher reps will help build endurance and strength in the muscles while also helping to increase size.

Should you go heavy on an incline dumbbell press?

It depends on your goals.

If you are looking to build strength and muscle mass, then going heavy on an incline dumbbell press can be beneficial.

However, if you are more focused on muscular endurance or injury prevention, then lighter weights with higher reps may be a better option.

Ultimately, it is important to tailor your program based on what works best for you and your needs.


It’s an effective way to build strength and muscle mass in these areas while also improving your posture.

The incline angle of the press allows you to work more muscles than with a flat bench press.

Additionally, there are several variations and alternative exercises that can be used to target the same muscles worked by the incline dumbbell press.

This exercise can help you reach your fitness goals quickly and safely with proper form and technique.