Move of the Week: High-incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The start of spring means that summer is just around the corner…so let’s get a head start on beach season by featuring something to develop a beach body!

THE MOVE: High-incline Dumbbell Bench Press

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Vertical/horizontal push: pecs, shoulders, and triceps.

WHY DO IT: Well, of course we’re featuring a bench press variation today. If you’re looking to build your beach body for summer, benching is a good place to start.

Today’s move can be considered a hybrid bench press, as the angle of the bench creates an effective compromise between overhead and horizontal pressing. This is a great variation for gym-goers who lack full overhead mobility to do overhead presses safely. Undoubtedly, landmine presses do get a stale after a while if they’re your only vertical pushing option.

The key here is to use an incline angle of 45 degrees or higher–by doing so, you emphasize the vertical push pattern more. Benching at this angle hits the upper pecs (the portions of the pec muscles closest to your collar bones) more than the lower pecs, and bodybuilders would often use incline bench presses to bring up these areas.

From a movement standpoint though, I can’t argue with the utility of this exercise as a vertical push for gym-goers who don’t have the requisite overhead mobility to do well with traditional shoulder presses. And having the support of the bench helps too, allowing you to push more weight akin to that in traditional benching.

HOW TO DO IT: Set up a bench at an incline above 45 degrees. Sit back into the bench, with your back slightly arched and with a wide base at your feet. Set your shoulder blades into the bench to create a solid base to pres from. To keep you’re elbows from flaring, think about keeping a 45 degree angle between your upper arm and the side of your torso throughout the movement, as well. Just like in flat benching, this positioning of your arms is safest on your shoulders and allows you to push more weight.

Pull the dumbbells down to your chest while keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Then, drive the dumbbells up by pushing away from the ceiling. This should help keep your scaps glued to the bench. Lock out at the elbows, and pull the dumbbells down again in a controlled fashion. Repeat for reps.

The High-incline Dumbbell Bench fits in well in the middle of a workout, and I would recommend using it for 3-4 sets of 8 reps. If you need to work your shoulders and vertical pressing, but don’t have the overhead mobility to do so, the High-incline Bench would be a great exercise to include in your workouts. Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau Halevy Life Staff CoachJeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.