Incline Chest Exercise Is Key... Dumbbell!

Incline Chest Exercise Is Key... Dumbbell!

Raphael Calzadilla Special For eFitness

Have you ever seen a guy with a chest that pops out of his shirt? You know, that Hercules sort of look! He’s not a huge bodybuilder, but underneath that shirt, the upper chest sticks out like a sore thumb and appears sculpted and well defined.

How is this achieved? In the past several weeks, I've received several emails from eFitness members asking the same question, “How do I get my upper chest a bit more muscular?”

In fact, it’s a question I've been asked many times during my career as a personal trainer. Well, I’m going to show you how to develop your upper chest with one of my favourite exercises: the dumbbell incline chest press. My clients have experienced great success with this exercise. For men, the upper chest takes on a stronger, more prominent look. For women, the upper area is where the primary muscle tissue resides on the chest.

When performing any chest movement, whether it’s a bench press or dumbbell fly, the entire chest will always be affected. It’s not possible to completely isolate a muscle. However, a slight shift in angle will create a more pronounced effect on one specific area if the correct overload parameters are used. In the case of the upper chest muscles, it’s important to perform movements in an incline position.

Let’s take a close look at the technique of this movement with some additional tips I’ve added to make your workout more effective.

Dumbbell Incline Chest Press:

- Lie on your back on an incline bench with your spine in a neutral position.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level with your elbows at a 90 degree angle facing outward and palms facing forward.
- Contracting the chest muscles, press both arms upward above the upper area of the chest until the arms are fully extended with a slight bend in the elbows. It’s very important to contract the chest muscles for maximum benefit. Otherwise, you will place focus on the arms instead of the chest. When reaching the top part of the movement above the upper chest, tighten your chest muscles for one second.
- Inhale and slowly return to the starting position. There are many tempo parameters you can use. However, I've found that for strength and muscle gains, a two to three second count on the negative part of the movement is most effective.
- Exhale while lifting the weight and contract the weight to the position above the upper chest in about a one second count.

If you are seeking a tight and “toned” look, stay in a repetition range of 12-15. For added strength and muscle, perform 10-12 reps. Lastly, if you are seeking significant muscle mass, choose a weight that allows you to perform 8 reps. If you're a beginner, stay in the higher repetition range for two weeks in order to focus on your form. Good form in this movement is imperative! If you heave the weight up and down, you will be using every other muscle in your body except your chest. Always strive for precision during exercise. Also, work to momentary muscular failure. For example, if 10 reps is your goal, choose a weight that will be too challenging to perform an 11th rep.

The dumbbell incline chest press should be part of a balanced weight training routine that works the entire body. You can do three full body workouts per week, an upper/lower body alternate day routine or specific body part splits. Whichever routine you choose, your workout never needs to exceed 40-50 minutes. The days of 2-3 hour workouts are long gone! They are simply ineffective and detrimental from a hormonal perspective.

Ok, Hercules, now it’s your turn! If you're consistent, you’ll see a difference in your upper chest in 3-6 weeks!

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