Incline Dumbbell Press – The Best Upper Chest Exercise?

Anyone can build a big chest, but most guys have no idea how to get the right proportions that will give you that truly unstoppable look.

Most guys who work on their chest end up getting a huge lower chest because the lower chest is naturally thicker and more responsive to growth.

But there's nothing impressive about a big lower chest. It makes you look more like you've got man boobs than a muscular chest.

The secret to building the perfect chest, is not to have a sloping chest that sticks out at the bottom, but to have a vertical drop – like a cliff-face – with the upper chest being just as thick as the lower.

And there's none better to help you achieve this than the incline dumbbell press

…But Not The Way Everyone Else Is Doing The Incline Bench Press

I see too many guys at the gym doing the incline barbell press, or they're doing the incline dumbbell press the wrong way.

The trouble with the regular old barbell incline bench press is it targets way too much of the anterior (front) deltoids of the shoulders.

Incline Bench Press Anterior Deltoid Activation
The traditional barbell incline bench press results in too much anterior deltoid involvement

See, EMG studies have shown that the more you incline the bench, the more you involve the anterior deltoids, and the less you involve the chest.

So What's The Solution? How Do You Work The Upper Chest While Minimizing Involvement Of The Shoulders?

Well the secret is a powerful incline dumbbell press tweak that was used by the legendary Steve Reeves to carve out a truly thick set of upper pecs that all his competitors were jealous of.

Who was Steve Reeves? Steve Reeves was the bodybuilding superstar before Arnold. He was one of the biggest icons of modern bodybuilders that ever existed, and has long been considered the pinnacle of the male physique.

Born in 1926, Reeves won every major title of his era, retiring from competitive bodybuilding in 1950.

Steve Reeves Chest
Steve Reeves had perfectly even chest development. He was more concerned about proportionality and looking great, than he was about size.

Now, back in those days, bodybuilding was all about proportionality and achieving the ideal masculine look. Unlike bodybuilding the way it is today, it wasn't about taking steroids and getting as big as you possibly can. Face it, today's competitive bodybuilders look like freaks and women and people in general are repulsed by them.

Even most of Reeve's competitors at the time were open about the fact that Reeves had the perfect male physique.

One of Reeves' most envied body parts was his chest. He had very unique square pec development, with a particularly thick set of upper pecs.

Everyone at the time tried to duplicate Reeve's results. After questioning him, they found that the secret to his success was a special tweak he added to the incline dumbbell press.

Steve Reeves Incline Dumbbell Press
Steve Reeves’ secret to his perfect chest proportions was a special tweak he added to the incline dumbbell press

Steve Reeves' tweak is what truly sets the incline dumbbell press apart from the regular old incline barbell press.

With the incline dumbbell press, not only can you get a greater stretch at the bottom of the movement, but EMG studies have shown that you can get a more intense contraction in your pecs at the top of the movement, if you bring the dumbbells in toward one another at the top.

This is what Steve Reeves was doing long before EMG studies confirmed that it actually works.

By bringing the dumbbells in at the top, not only do you isolate the pecs (as opposed to the anterior deltoids) better than in the incline barbell press, but you also stimulate those inner pec fibers near the midline of your upper chest, to really bring out that pec separation line.

Being able to bring your hands together at the top of the movement using dumbbells, is the secret key that Steve Reeves used to develop a thick upper chest that was the envy of all of his competitors.

Sure, Reeves wasn't the first guy to ever use dumbbells, but he was one of the only guys of that era who was known to use the incline dumbbell press, at a time when everyone else was using barbells.

Nobody else knew that dumbbells allow you to isolate the upper pecs better than a barbell ever could.

How To Perform The Incline Dumbbell Press

You can do the incline dumbbell press with your torso anywhere between a 30 and 45 degree angle to the floor.

If you go much lower than 30 degrees, then you won't be putting enough emphasis on the upper chest. Go higher than 45 degrees, and you'll be putting too much emphasis on the shoulders. Personally, I prefer 45 degrees :p

You will find that you can lift less on an incline press than you can on a flat bench press. This is partly because the upper portion of the pectoralis major muscle is naturally thinner and weaker than the lower portion.

  • Lie back on a bench inclined at 30-45 degrees with a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs.
  • Using your thighs to help push the dumbbells up, assume the starting position by lifting the dumbbells to your chest. Use an overhand grip as you would with a barbell.Your elbows should be flared out, with your upper arms at 90° from your torso (see image below).

Here at the bottom of the movement, your hands should be wider than shoulder-width apart, allowing your elbows to go down below the level of your chest.

Incline Dumbbell Press Bottom
  • While breathing out, push the dumbbells up in a slight arch, so the inner bells of each dumbbell touch at the top.
  • Tense your pecs hard at the top, trying for a hard contraction.
Incline Dumbbell Press Top
  • While breathing in, lower the weights back to the starting position, being sure to get a deep stretch at the bottom of the movement.
  • When you are done, place the dumbbells back on your thighs and then on the floor.

Incline Dumbbell Press Video

In this video, I got my chest sculpting buddy Mihailo, to do the incline dumbbell press. I did ask him to do it at 45 degrees, but he went ahead and did it at 30 degrees.

Incline Dumbbell Press

So the key to a powerful set of pecs is to develop a thick upper chest, which gives you that square-cut appearance with a vertical drop.

Upper pec development is tough, and most guys get it wrong by either doing barbell incline work, or neglecting incline presses altogether.

The secret to ultimate upper pec development is to do incline dumbbell presses like good ol' Steve Reeves back in the day when bodybuilding was all about proportionality and looking great as a man.

EMG studies have shown that bringing the dumbbells together at the top, helps not only to isolate the pecs (as opposed to the front deltoids), but also to contract those inner pec fibers, which give you that full upper chest thickness.

Using The Incline Dumbbell Press For Losing Man Boobs

Developing your upper chest is an excellent way to improve the look of your chest if you have man boobs.

Guys with man boobs usually have too much fat overlying their lower chest, making their lower chest seem bigger than it should. By developing your upper chest, you can really improve the way you look by making your lower chest look smaller in comparison.

To really lose man boobs though, as well as using exercises like the incline dumbbell press to develop your upper chest, you also need to lose the fat over that lower chest.

When you lose your man boobs (by using the methods I reveal here) and develop your chest muscles the way Steve Reeves did, you'll soon be able to take off your top and look great at the beach, at the pool, or in a t-shirt out in the summer sun.

Losing man boobs really isn't that hard when you know the right way to go about it. When you discover the secrets on how to lose man boobs naturally, you can feel comfortable in a t-shirt or topless just a few short weeks from now.

The discoveries I've made are somewhat unusual though, but when you get started on these unique methods, I promise you'll never look at your man boobs in the same way again.

You can find out about these unique (somewhat unusual) methods here:

Click here to discover my totally unconventional methods on how to lose man boobs naturally

60 thoughts on “Incline Dumbbell Press – The Best Upper Chest Exercise?”

  1. Hi Gary,

    I didn’t understand this part of the instructions: “Your elbows should be flared out, with your upper arms at 90° from your torso.”

    • Hey Mike. I included another image below that paragraph, it should help clarify things. The “armpit angle” should be 90 degrees. Your armpits should be open and exposed, and your elbows as far away from your ribs as possible, just like with the picture above of Steve Reeves doing the dumbbell incline press.

  2. I have man boobs want to get rid of them just lost my job life is down hil can’t even afford your book for now just need tips, can you help me please

    • Hey Jason, sorry to hear you lost your job. Don’t worry about buying my books buddy, just read the stuff I have on here for free, and join my newsletter by signing up using the form on the upper right corner of this page.

      Life always has its ups and downs buddy. Don’t ever give in. When you’re going through a down patch, try to recall the down patches you had in your past, you know, the ones where you thought there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and yet… somehow the light came, and you looked back and wondered why on earth you felt down in the first place.

      Being financially secure is easily one of the most important things in life, so make sure you’re doing everything you can to get yourself another job, or to start a business. I recently listened to James Caan’s autobiography. This guy is a recruitment giant, and there are few people in this world who are better qualified to give you advice on how to get the job you want. He wrote a book on how to do just that, and it’s very inexpensive, you can get it here:

      Being financially secure is important, but your health is important too. Don’t let your woes prevent you from training or eating well. Don’t fall into the trap of telling yourself you’ll sort out your health and get a great body AFTER you get a new job. That way you’ll get fatter, your man boobs will get bigger, and you’ll just get more depressed.

      Keep grinding buddy, don’t ever give up. Here’s an excellent motivational video that recently helped me:

  3. Hi Garry! I m also suffering from man boobs from a long time
    Tried many things and there had been a slight change in my chet shape thnx for ur advice….
    I want to know that #mastrubating” also led to increase in man boobs .

  4. Hi Garry,
    i m from INDIA , i had man boobs from past 10 years when i was in my puberty i m 21 of age right now and i wanted to buy your book but i can’t afford it ….i have subscribed to your news letter on 8th nov 2015 and reading ur mails and i m using turmeric in water as u suggested and i eat cauliflower and cabbage 1-1 cup on daily basis plus i have brought flex seeds n grind them and eating them with food also and i do dips and squats and dead lifts and i can see result on my chest . the hunger is getting more for seeing a square flat chest . and i wanna thank you garry…currently i have man boobs on my lower chest and they hang a bit ….and i will work hard for it . can i talk u personally on ur email ?

  5. You said to lose man boobs you have to lose fat In lower chest too. My upper pec development has worked well with the tips you’ve given. However, I’m still looking to get a nice square look at the bottom of my pecs and to get rid of any sagging there. What would you suggest doing?

    • Hey Jeffrey. For losing chest fat from the lower chest, I would suggest you focus mostly on diet, hormonal tactics, and generalized body fat reduction. I go into detail about all of this in my program, How To Lose Man Boobs Naturally.

      I generally advise going on a grain-free diet, sticking mostly to meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. In terms of exercise, I suggest doing whole body weight training and high intensity interval training.

      It does also help to bring out the lower chest muscles. Dips are an excellent exercise for achieving this. But your main focus should be on trimming away the fat, rather than building out the muscle.

  6. Hi garry,
    Thank you sO much man…i’ve been reading your article and your vids of lossing man boobs.. And it brings slightly changes to my chest.. I really love your article.. And waiting for your other article and vids…thanx brO..

  7. Great advice as always, garry. I love pullover for upper chest but since i bought some dumbbells i am hoping to add this. Is it okay to lean against the bed (NOT lie down on bed) and do this exercise if one doesnt have an incline bench? Will leaning against the bed provide the same 30-45 degree angle, or would the exercise become more like shoulder press than incline press?

    Also do u think incline press would hit chest as well as shoulder (so that we can do away with shoulder press altogether?) I am asking because your gironda lateral raise is doing great for me.

    • Hi Ahmed.

      Pullover while leaning against your bed wouldn’t be the same. It would be better to lie on the bed and hang your head over the edge of your bed. You’d have difficulty here with heavier weights though, you might need someone to hold your feet in place.

      The incline press is not a good exercise for your shoulders, as it would work primarily the front delts. Stick to the gironda lateral raise and you can ditch the shoulder press.

  8. Hey Garry… Some weird dude said ur stuff was a scam and that u only send links and not actual dvd’s. I’m hoping that’s not true as i plan to buy your amazing products.

    • Hey Andrew, thanks for the compliment, but you don’t know my products are amazing till you try them :).

      I don’t send actual DVD’s in the post. After you make your purchase, you are sent to a page where you can download the program–books, audios and videos included–to your computer/phone/tablet or other device.

      The benefits of having the program in digital format, is that it can be delivered to you instantly, it costs you less money, and is far more discrete than having something sent to you in the post. Since man boobs is such an embarrassing topic for most guys, a survey of my potential customers found that over 90% of guys preferred to receive the product in digital format.

      I think you’ll find the content is amazing, and I really don’t think it’s made any less amazing by the fact that you don’t receive a physical DVD. And let’s face it, isn’t it easier these days to store everything electronically in your computer or on a hard-drive? Who can be bothered with the hassle of storing physical DVD’s and having to look for them when you need them and can’t find them?

    • Hi Mick. Yes, bands are great, the only problem with bands is you can’t increase the resistance by small increments the way you can with free weights.

  9. Mah….. ok it will still give you mass br shape is neglected. He best way by a country mile to shape upper pecs are upper cable flies but crossing over. Followed immediately by a close grip plate deltoid rise as it totally focuses on the upper movement of the cable fly. Add that it with both downward and upwards wood chops and you will get the T shape chest people are after. While yes dumbbell press and include works the upper chest it still doesn’t shape it enough and adds mass.

    Without the focus on moving arms up to essentially do an upwards fly, as well as twisting the chest as a secondary function in the wood chops (which is obviously more core) you still won’t get a really cut look

    • Those exercises sound really good, but lately, I have been reading about the reverse grip bench press (with a barbell or dumbbells) on either a flat or incline bench. There were two studies done – one in Australia and another in Canada – that pointed to the reverse grip bench press as being excellent for the upper pecs.

      Dr. Jim Stoppani has countless articles and videos on the Internet about it.


Leave a Comment