Average dumbbell incline bench press standards not only allow you to benchmark your performance against yourself but also against others.
For the average male, a good dumbbell incline bench press weight is above 196 pounds. This is for two dumbbells combined and for a single repetition. However, a person’s dumbbell press weight will also be affected by their training level and body weight.
These benchmarks were important for me when I first started doing the incline press, and I’m assuming it will also benefit you as well.
After all, you want to know if you’re doing a good job with your training right?
My research will give you the numbers YOU should be hitting for it to be deemed “respectable”.
You’ll also find out how to improve your bench press if your numbers are sub-par.
- Factors Affecting Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Weight
- Beginner Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
- Intermediate Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
- Advanced Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
- Average Male Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
- How Good Is Your Dumbbell Incline Press Vs Others?
- Reasons Your Incline Press May Be Below Average
- How To Improve Your Incline Press
- How These Standards Were Calculated
Factors Affecting Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Weight
3 factors affect how much weight you can lift on the dumbbell incline bench press:
- Training Level. The longer you’ve been practicing the incline press, the more weight you can lift. As a general rule, beginners have been practicing for at least 1 month, intermediates at least 2 years, and advanced at least 5 years.
- Body weight. The heavier you are, the more weight you can lift. That’s because body weight has a positive correlation with muscle mass.
- Rep number. The less reps you do, the more weight you can lift. This post focuses on a 1-10 rep range which is generally accepted to be the best for building chest strength and size.
Next, you’ll find out how different training levels, body weights, and rep numbers affect dumbbell incline bench press standards.
Beginner Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
A beginner has been practicing the incline dumbbell press for at least 1 month.
Here’s how much weight you should be lifting on the incline dumbbell press as a beginner:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Note: x-rep max is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for x-number of reps. Generally speaking, rep ranges closer to 1 are ideal for strength development, whilst rep ranges closer to 10 are ideal for size development (hypertrophy).
Here’s how much weight beginners should be lifting on the incline dumbbell press as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 29 to 40%.
- 150lb body weight- 35 to 48%.
- 200lb body weight- 39 to 54%.
- 250lb body weight- 41 to 57%.
- 300lb body weight- 42 to 58%.
If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell incline press for 1 month or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a very good job!
Intermediate Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
An intermediate has been practicing the incline dumbbell press for at least 2 years.
Here’s how much weight you should be incline dumbbell pressing as an intermediate:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Here’s how much weight intermediates should be lifting on the incline dumbbell press as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 67 to 92%.
- 150lb body weight- 70 to 96%.
- 200lb body weight- 72 to 98%.
- 250lb body weight- 70 to 96%.
- 300lb body weight- 68 to 93%.
If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell incline press for 2 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a great job.
These are very respectable standards for beginners to aim for.
Advanced Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
An advanced lifter has been practicing the incline dumbbell press for at least 5 years.
Here’s how much weight you should be dumbbell incline pressing as an advanced lifter:
|Bodyweight||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Here’s how much weight advanced lifters should be doing on the incline dumbbell press as a percentage of body weight:
- 120lb body weight – 95 to 130%.
- 150lb body weight- 95 to 131%.
- 200lb body weight- 91 to 125%.
- 250lb body weight- 88 to 120%.
- 300lb body weight- 84 to 115%.
If you’ve been practicing the dumbbell incline press for 5 years or more, and you’re above these averages, then you’re doing a fantastic job.
These are also very respectable standards for intermediates to aim for.
Average Male Dumbbell Incline Bench Press Standards
Here’s how much weight an average 200lb male should incline dumbbell press at different training levels:
|Training Level||1-rep max||6-rep max||7-rep max||8-rep max||9-rep max||10-rep max|
Therefore the average man should be able to incline dumbbell press 29-131% of their body weight.
The exact weight will depend on training experience and rep number (as seen in the aforementioned standards).
How Good Is Your Dumbbell Incline Press Vs Others?
Determining your current incline dumbbell press weight as a fraction of your body weight is a reliable way to compare your performance with others.
To do this, simply divide the weight of both dumbbells combined by your body weight.
Here are the percentages of males who can incline dumbbell bench press their own body weight:
|Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 1RM Weight (As A Fraction Of Bodyweight)||% Of People Who Can Do It|
- 75% of men can dumbbell incline bench press 0.81x their bodyweight. This represents the lower percentile of males and is a respectable weight for absolute beginners to achieve. But you should aim for higher numbers with training.
- 50% of men can dumbbell incline bench press 0.98x their bodyweight. This represents the median percentile of males and is a respectable weight for intermediates to achieve. It’s also a good target for beginners to aim for.
- 25% of men can dumbbell incline bench press 1.20x their bodyweight. This represents the upper percentile of males and is a respectable weight for advanced lifters. It’s also a good target for intermediates to aim for.
In accordance with these standards, here is the recommendation by the American College Of Sports Medicine:
An adult male in his 20’s should be able to do a one rep max with 106% of his bodyweight.ACSM
If you’re a skinny beginner struggling to build your dream physique, there are many invaluable muscle-building tips you should know. If you’re interested, then you can check out my other article for a complete guide to building your first 10 pounds of lean muscle.
Reasons Your Incline Press May Be Below Average
If your numbers are below the standards given above, the first thing you should do is learn why the dumbbell incline bench press can be hard for some people
Here are some common reasons why you may be finding the incline dumbbell press difficult to do:
1) The weight bench incline angle is too high.
The angle of your bench makes a huge difference in which muscles are being activated.
To get maximum upper pectoral activation, your bench should be angled at 30°.
A higher angle will begin to emphasize your anterior deltoids, whilst a lower angle will emphasize the mid/lower pectorals.
So if you’re dumbbell incline press is sub-par, then make sure your bench is not set below/above a 30° incline.
This way, you’ll ensure you’re training the correct target muscle- the upper pecs!
Top tip: adjustable weight benches are an affordable way to train the entire chest at home.
I use the Flybird FB149 adjustable weight bench (link to check cheapest Amazon price) and fully recommend it.
The best thing about this bench (find my full review here) is the 700lb weight capacity, folding capabilities, and 7x angle settings (including 30°). This means you can use it for a heavy dumbbell chest session and then stow it away afterward.
It’s ideal for people between 5’7″ to 6’0″.
If you fall outside this height range, then the Fitness Reality adjustable weight bench is a good alternative since the seat is slightly lower and the backrest longer.
2) You’re not training with a full range of motion.
A bench press range of motion (ROM) describes the extent to which your arms travel along the shoulder joint.
A full-ROM correlates with higher chest activation.
Therefore to get the most strength benefits from your incline press, you should be aiming for a full-ROM.
This means both dumbbells should touch your chest line at the end of the downward phase.
After they’ve reached chest level, you can drive the dumbbells all the way up.
3) You’re not arching your back.
Arching your back brings your chest closer to the dumbbells, making it easier to press heavier dumbbells.
In fact, this method is a popular way for powerlifters to increase their bench press weight.
But a small minority of people may consider this a form of “cheating” (whilst many people don’t).
So use this method at your own discretion.
4) You aren’t driving your legs into the ground.
To generate maximum bench press power, it’s essential to plant both feet firmly into the ground.
By doing this, you can push both feet into the ground and create a stable foundation as you lift your dumbbells.
This method is called “leg drive”, and it’s not generally considered to be cheating.
In fact, the opposite.
Many people consider leg drive to be a key aspect for good bench press form.
5) Your upper pectorals and triceps lack strength.
The upper pecs and triceps are the primary drivers for the dumbbell incline bench press.
Together, they allow your upper arms to adduct and your elbows to extend.
This allows you to press the dumbbells upwards.
If these two muscles lack strength, then your incline press strength will also be lacking.
The best way to build muscle strength and size is to combine progressive overload with a caloric surplus nutrition program (see below).
If you’re trying to build a bigger chest at home but don’t have a bench, you can go to my other article for 11 incline weight bench alternatives.
6) Your stabilizers haven’t developed.
The dumbbell incline press is an inherently unstable exercise since both dumbbells move independently from each other.
Therefore each dumbbell needs to be supported by each arm.
As a result, stabilizer muscles are involved in helping you maintain balance throughout the movement and prevent “wobble”.
Here are the incline press stabilizers you should train to prevent wobbling:
- Latissimus dorsi.
The best way to train stabilizer strength is to perform accessory exercises that target these muscles and to keep progressive overloading on the incline press.
7) You’re not benching frequently or heavy enough.
Generally speaking, you should aim to bench press 2 to 3 times per week.
This is the ideal training frequency to promote maximum pectoral growth.
These training sessions should also involve heavy weights (around 70-90% of your 1RM).
Without a sufficient training frequency and load, your pecs won’t become stronger.
And this will negatively impact your dumbbell incline press progression.
How To Improve Your Incline Press
A sub-standard incline bench press is not a disaster.
Here are some great tips for you to build a stronger dumbbell press:
1) Eat a bulking diet with enough calories and protein to build muscle.
This is a general must for any muscle-building endeavor.
It’s recommended to eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and a 5-15% caloric surplus every day.
This will provide your body with the fuel it needs to become stronger and bigger.
The incline dumbbell press burns around 75-120 calories per 10 mins, and calories continue to burn after a workout as the muscle repair process begins.
So you better provide the body with the right nutrients if you want to build a stronger bench press!
Top tip: protein powders are a cost-effective way to reach protein/calorie targets (the cost per $ for whey protein is cheaper than many protein sources from food), especially if you struggle to eat enough food.
I used the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass (you can find the specs here) when I was a skinny beginner with <12% body fat. It contains 50g protein and 1250 cal per serving and this helped me to quickly gain weight and become stronger.
If you’re >12% body fat, I’d instead recommend MyProtein Impact Whey which is what I use now. It has 21g protein and 100 cal per serving. Not only is it cheaper per portion, but it also has fewer fats and sugars. This makes it perfect for building lean muscle gains with minimal fat storage.
The MyVegan Pea Protein is a good vegan alternative to the Impact Whey (but it doesn’t taste as nice in my opinion).
I also mix in a scoop of MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate with my shakes.
Creatine is a cheap and natural substance that facilitates energy utilization in muscles. It’ll help you squeeze out more reps at higher weights when you do your incline press.
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2) Perfect you incline bench press form to maximize muscle activation.
Adding more weight is not always the best solution if you’re struggling to increase your bench press numbers.
Instead, try reducing the poundage by 10% and focus on lifting slowly with good form.
Once you’ve mastered the form for that weight, you can slowly add 5% weight to each dumbbell.
This will increase muscle activation and help you build a stronger press.
Here’s how to do the perfect dumbbell incline bench press:
3) Progressive overload regularly to increase bench press strength.
Progressive overload involves adding weight to your dumbbell incline press.
How do you tell when you should increase weight?
A good sign is when you can comfortably perform 8-12 reps per set with good form.
Once you reach this stage, you can add 5% weight to each dumbbell.
Don’t worry if this means you have to decrease the rep number. Remember- overloading your muscle means you’re giving it more work than it can handle.
Just slowly build back up to 8-12 reps as your incline press strength increases.
Top tip: if you’re training at home, using heavy dumbbells with small weight increments is absolutely essential to progressive overload efficiently.
Most people don’t have the space and money for a full-blown set of fixed-weight dumbbells with all the necessary increments.
This makes selectorized dumbbells a perfect alternative (they can replace up to 28 pairs of dumbbell weights).
I use the Powerblock Elite series (you can find the cheapest price here) and highly recommend them for anyone trying to build 20lbs or more at home.
Not only are they some of the cheapest 90lb dumbbells you can get, but they also feature 2.5-5lb increments.
Note: you’ll need to get the stage 2 and stage 3 addon kits to take the 50lb base model to 90lbs.
This means you can make small but regular weight increases to keep building your pressing strength.
Additionally, they’re quick and comfortable to use, have excellent customer reviews, and are backed by the famous Powerblock durability (5-year warranty).
If you don’t have $300 for a pair of selectorized dumbbells, then the Yes4All spinlock dumbbells make a great budget alternative.
Just be aware that the weight increments are much larger on spinlock dumbbells.
4) Don’t overwork the chest to avoid overtraining.
Working your chest every day is not a good idea for increasing your bench press either.
This is a common mistake many beginners make which should be avoided at all costs.
If you train your chest every day with intense sessions, you run the risk of overtraining.
This happens when the rate of muscle breakdown (which occurs during training) is greater than the rate of muscle recovery.
As a result, daily chest workouts can be counterproductive to building a stronger dumbbell incline press.
“I only do about 3-4 sets on chest per week. You can make incredible chest gains with far less than you think!”Greg O’Gallgagher, Kinobody.
Although 3-4 sets can drive chest growth if the dumbbells are extremely heavy, I would recommend aiming for 10-15 total weekly sets split over 3 days as a more sustainable alternative.
I would avoid doing more than 20 weekly chest sets to prevent overtraining the chest.
If your chest is being stubborn as F, then you might want to check out my other article for reasons why your pecs aren’t getting bigger.
5) Vary your rep ranges.
Doing 8-12 reps per set is generally recommended for increasing muscle size.
But if you forever stay in this rep range, your dumbbell incline press will probably plateau in no time.
“Make sure you switch up the reps and weight to maximise chest strength and size.”Blue Star Nutraceuticals
Instead, try alternating between low reps (3-6) and high reps (7-12) every month.
I like to lift at ~85% 1RM when doing low reps and ~75% 1RM when doing high reps.
This helps drive chest development by giving your muscles different kinds of stimuli.
You can learn more about different RM’s here in my other post.
6) Prioritise the incline bench press first in each workout.
This might sound obvious to some, but many beginners fail to follow this rule:
If you want a muscle to get bigger, prioritize it first in a workout.
You should also do the “big compound” exercises before the “small isolation” lifts.
So if chest day involves dumbbell incline presses and chest flyes, then do the incline pressing first.
By doing this, you’ll be able to lift more weight for the bench press since you’re muscles won’t be fatigued yet.
“Start your chest workouts with the Bench Press and you’ll be most likely to make progress.”Mike Matthews, Legion Athletics.
How These Standards Were Calculated
The numbers for my research were sourced from Strength Level’s database of 66,000 user-generated dumbbell incline presses.
Average dumbbell incline bench press standards.
Dumbbell incline press 1RMs were taken from the Strength Level database.
These were then multiplied by the following fractions to get the 6-10RM weights:
- x0.84 for 6RM.
- x0.82 for 7RM.
- x0.80 for 8RM.
- x0.78 for 9RM.
- x0.73 for 10RM.
% of people who can dumbbell incline press their body weight
The Strength Level database also allows for different dumbbell incline press weights to be sampled against a total population.
I sampled a variety of dumbbell incline press weights for a 200-lb male beginner aged 24-39.
I’ve shared with you dumbbell incline bench press standards for different training levels and body weights.
If you’re above these averages, then you’re lifting a very respectable weight and you should be proud of yourself.
But if you’re below average, then you can try some of the tips I shared to improve your dumbbell incline press.
How much weight do you currently incline bench press with dumbbells?
Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)