Many people do incline dumbbell press but few get its full benefit because they don’t use optimal form. Here is how to annihilate your pecs to get max results. Bench press is great for lower pecs but if you want to work upper pecs, you need to use an incline bench. You obviously can do this exercise at the gym but its easy to do at home as well. Many of us don’t have incline benches as part of our home gyms because they take up too much room. If you don’t have room for one at home then you can make an incline bench in 5 minutes that disassembles without taking any room up at all.
Lets start with the most important thing, shoulder packing. I know I sound like a broken record here but there are two things I credit my chest development on: shoulder packing and my focus on squeezing exercises. Shoulder packing is holding your shoulders down and back for the entire duration of the exercise. If it helps you visualize it, think of thrusting your chest out or trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Its really hard to do at first but once you get the hang of it, it will become automatic. When you practice shoulder packing, you will need to do it with light weights till you get the hang of it.
Common mistakes people make that sabotage their progress
- Micro-reps. Many people use too much weight and end up doing micro-reps. Don’t do this, the only person you are fooling is yourself! I know it lets you do lots more weight so you can show off but what do you want, strength and mass or a good show?
- Full-ROM reps. On the other extreme, going down till your thumbs hit your shoulders is too much ROM. I stop when my elbows are even with my back. The infintesimal additional benefit you get from going all the way down is overshadowed by the much higher chance of shoulder injury. Injured athletes cant workout at all and lose strength, not gain it!
- The human banana. Some people push their hips way up high so their body is arched like a banana. Guess what, when you are doing this you are working lower pecs and not upper pecs because you are basically doing a flat dumbbell press and not an incline press. Please read about pressing exercises if you are tempted to do this.
- Speed Racer. My favorite cartoon growing up was “Speed Racer”. Let him go fast, you need to go slow. Bouncy, fast reps not only reduce your time under tension but make it much more likely you will get injured as well!
- The curled leaf. Many people let their shoulders move forward and together when they press making their torso curl up like a dried leaf. This is exactly the opposite of shoulder packing! The dried leaf form not only decreases how much you can lift but puts you at risk of additional injury as well. Remember, thrust that chest out – be proud of it!
- Leaving money on the table. If you negotiate a deal poorly, like a car purchase, you leave money on the table. Similarly, if you dont give every set 101% effort, you are leaving gains on the table. Its OK to do 5 minutes of warming up before you start your hardcore workout but its my opinion that once you start that every set should be to failure.
Complete chest workouts
The incline dumbbell press is a great exercise but its just a single exercise to put in your toolbox. If you want to see how to incorporate it into a workout, please checkout my intermediate home workout plan and my advanced home workout plan. You also see lots of other chest exercises that you could incorporate into your home workout or your gym workout.