Annihilate upper pecs with incline dumbbell press

incline dumbbell press for upper pecs

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.

shoulder packing for max strength

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.

Annihilate upper pecs with incline dumbbell press

incline dumbbell press for upper pecs

22 thoughts on “Annihilate upper pecs with incline dumbbell press”

  1. scooby, My chest looks very loose, like a girls chest, I just want to make it tight what should I do, I want to get rid of these manboobs…will incline bench press help?

  2. Hey Scooby,

    I’ve been doing your Intermediate workout for a couple of months now and wondered what you thought of working the incline press and incline fly into the chest workout? I’ve been happy with the progress I’m seeing, but would like to start building my upper chest too. Am I pushing too fast?


  3. Kumaren Pillay Samoo

    Dear Scooby, YOU ARE A DOUBLE MORAL/STANDARD HYPOCRITE!!!!! You used to say that the pec muscle is ONE muscle which you can only add overall size without targeting specific areas yet recently you’ve come up with upper pec mass builders. You criticise scam who use SENSATIONALISM yet you say ANNIHILATE UPPER PECS.. Where is your integrity, dignity and self-esteem??? You criticise HIIT then you come up with Scoobervals.. We don’t need hypocrites like you.. Atleast before criticising, do your research properly so that you don’t end up incorporating the same thing you criticised into your website. Same thing on the Lance Amstrong episode.. You say that you always look for hard facts yet you say YOU GUESS THE PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS WERE THE CAUSE OF HIS CANCER. I hope you will change your attitude.. YOU ARE THE 1ST PERSON WHO SHOULD BE INDUCTED IN YOUR HALL OF SHAME!!!!!

    1. I’ve seen him say that you can’t choose between inner and outer pec before.. That’s different to upper/lower… Not accusing you of anything but are you sure you aren’t getting confused?

      1. Kumaren Pillay Samoo

        I am sure about this man.. It’s somewhere there in his blog articles.. You know there are 2 kinds of people: those who take a stand but are always humble to new ideas and those like Scooby who are die-hards on their ‘engineeresque’ opinions but then later mask new ideas they once condemned as their own.. This is stooping very low in my opinion.. Scooby is only good concerning form and cardio in my opinion.. For the rest i think he is a double moral hypocrite.. Thanks for being very courteous and respectful in your comment Russ. Cheers!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Scooby when i do cycles between exersice , lets say i change every month . it happens that iwont be able to do the same weights again and i have to start light for 2weeks and then heavy , any advice thanks

  5. Scooby, I just recently discovered your website and I am an instant FAN of you and what you represent. I am 43, 6’6″, and as of 2 months ago I weighed in at 260-265. Not a huge mess by any means for my height, but about 30-40 pounds overweight. I want to get back to my college b-ball playing weight of 225-230, with 10% body fat. My girlfriend convinced me to get a trainer (along with her, and she’s in really good shape already). We did. I am happy to report that as of today I am weighing in at 235. I have mainly been working on strengthening my core and my legs through tons of TRX core exercises and hundreds upon hundreds of Kettle Ball lunges and squats. I have limited my alcohol intake to nearly nothing, and have become a bit of a nutrition freak (man, it feels good to know I’m putting nothing but good things in my body), along with considerable aerobic workouts to shed the unwanted fat. I have literally spent 10 hours over the past couple days reading everything I can on your site. You are an inspiration and I look forward to becoming a student of your methodology. Thank you so much for what you do for all of us who are looking for unbiased, real, and informative information in the whacked-out, corporate world of health and nutrition.

    If I may, I’d like to suggest perhaps you (or I would be willing to do it if I knew how) add a link to printable recipes on the site. Maybe it’s on here and I overlooked it. And perhaps those of us who are dedicated to nutrition could have a place where we can share recipes?? Again, my apologies if this is already on the website and I overlooked it.

    One last thing. Not to be a stickler, but I noticed a typo that you might want to correct. Everything about your site looks awesome, but this line bugged me: (It’s in the “About Scooby” page)

    “With stretching, proper posture, and bodybuilding have keep my chronic back pain in check.”

    I think you wanted it to say “With stretching, proper posture, and bodybuilding I have kept my chronic back pain in check”??

    Again, just thought you’d like to know. Kind of like when you have a booger hanging out your nose or food in your teeth and no one points it out to you and then you realize when you look in the mirror and wonder ‘how long has that been there?’ :-)

    Keep up the awesomeness!!!!

    Truckee Rich

    1. Decline press doesn’t work upper chest at all. It’s all on the lower chest. You will probably find that you can press more weight using decline rather then flat or incline but this is normal. Due to the positioning of the body relative to the arms, there is a shorter range of motion as well, which also helps to enable you to lift more weight / do more reps.

  6. Yoko Joséphine Matsui

    Scooby, will you consider making a vid or writing an article for beginners who end up working out arms instead of chest from doing dumbbell press? This happens quite often. As we learn better forms and strengthen arms, we should be able to build good muscle mind connection to chest and this problem should go away. But I guess some advice from you would be really useful. And, for beginners I think it’s much better to do dumbbell press or pushup and train overall upper body than to curl, in order to build huge arms. The reason is rather obvious but I guess people would want to hear from you.

    1. Nothing better than focusing. Squeeze the pecs as you lift the weight; took me a long time to figure out, I was always lifting with just shoulders and triceps.. In fact, your arms should follow the squeeze; you’d be amazed at how actually strong you really are when focusing.
      Shoulder packing kind of bothers me, I am not comfortable with it but as long as you are not pushing forward with your shoulders, then the work is all in the pec.

  7. Hi Scooby,
    I’ve been working out for 6 months and am currently following your intermediate home workout plan. Should I just stick to the plan until I am at the advanced level or should I add/swap new exercises like this?

    1. I would like to know the answer to this too. But personally I don’t think it can hurt to add more exercises to your routine, so long as you do not do so at the sacrifice any existing ones.

  8. Shoulder packing is never overrated.
    I was in a car accident where a taxi hit us from the side. After
    that constantly had pain (like a knife getting twisted between my blades)
    Gym was a nightmare, anything heavy triggered the problem.
    I learned about ‘shoulder’ packing in this very site and changed everything (I thank God for it every day)
    What I didn`t expect was how much power/control it gives you with various muscle groups (exercising chest,back,triceps,biceps etc.)

      1. Very true. Placing more focus on my shoulder positioning over the last few months has helped increase my bench press substantially. Yet another excellent point from Scooby’s Workshop!

  9. After 3 months incorporate this move into my chest routine (I learnt from Scooby that I should do an all around chest workout which includes press, flys, lying, incline), I can see my upper pecs when squeezing them together. 101% recommended to build pecs (I prefer dumbbells, don’t know why but I feel more comfortable with them rather than barbell)
    p/s: plz correct my grammar if any, much appreciated.

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