Incline Dumbbell Curl Workout for Strength

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on March 4, 2016Written by Alex White on May 4, 2016
incline dumbbell curl

Creating change in your regular workouts is a very important piece to seeing consistent progress. This not only keeps your body guessing and adapting, but it also keeps you mentally stimulated. Changing up your workout can be as simple as adjusting the angles of your lifts or switching the tools you lift with.

Two of the most versatile pieces of training equipment are dumbbells and an adjustable weight bench. Between these two simple pieces of equipment, you can accomplish just about every fitness goal you have — with the appropriate training program and the right amount of effort.

The following exercises simply require an adjustable bench and a few different pairs of dumbbells that are appropriate for you. Use this workout to create a little variety and build strength throughout your entire body.

One-arm dumbbell high incline chest press with rotation

Adjust the bench to a position slightly higher than a 45-degree angle. Sit on the bench and lean back.

Equipment needed: adjustable bench, dumbbells

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, triceps, and core

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground.
  2. Flatten out your back on the bench and brace your core.
  3. Press one dumbbell up over your chest. Internally rotate your hand until your palm faces away from you.
  4. Lower your arm down toward the body as you externally rotate the hand until your palm faces up toward your head.
  5. Press the dumbbell back up and rotate the hand back to the starting position. 
  6. Switch sides.
  7. Complete the following.
    1. Beginner: 2 sets of 20 reps with light to moderate weight
    2. Moderate: 3 sets of 12 reps with moderate weight
    3. Advanced: 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

Two-arm dumbbell low incline chest fly

Adjust the bench to a degree slightly lower than 45, but higher than a flat bench.

Equipment needed: adjustable bench, dumbbells

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, and core

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground.
  2. Flatten your back on the bench and brace your core.
  3. Press both dumbbells up over your chest.
  4. At the same time, slowly lower both dumbbells out to the sides stopping at or slightly above shoulder height. Make sure to not put too much stress on the shoulders.
  5. Brace the core and press the arms back up to the top while exhaling. Repeat.
  6. Complete the following.
    1. Beginner: 2 sets of 20 reps with light weight
    2. Moderate: 3 sets of 12 reps with moderate weight
    3. Advanced: 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

Two-arm dumbbell low incline reverse fly

Adjust the bench to a degree slightly lower than 45, but higher than a flat bench.

Equipment needed: adjustable bench, dumbbells

Muscles worked: back, shoulders, and core

  1. Start facing the bench. Straddle the seat with both feet hip-width apart and toes on the ground.
  2. Lying with your face toward the bench, flatten your abdomen out on the bench, squeeze your glutes, and brace your core. 
  3. With a slight bend in the elbows, raise both dumbbells out to your sides, high and wide.
  4. Lower the dumbbells down to the ground and repeat.
  5. Make sure to keep the hands and shoulder in a straight line across the back.
  6. Complete the following.
    1. Beginner: 2 sets of 20 reps with light weight
    2. Moderate: 3 sets of 12 reps with moderate weight
    3. Advanced: 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

Two-arm high incline dumbbell front raise with twist

Adjust the bench to a position slightly higher than a 45-degree angel but less than 90. Face the bench and lie down with your chest at the top of the bench. Let your arms hang down perpendicular to the floor.    

Equipment needed: adjustable bench, dumbbells

Muscles worked: shoulders, back, and core

  1. Start facing the bench with both feet hip-width apart and toes on the ground.
  2. Flatten out your abdomen out on the bench, squeeze your glutes, and brace your core.
  3. Raise both hands up in front of your body until your arms are parallel to the ground, and hold.
  4. Twist your arms in and out twice until you get back to the starting position.
  5. Lower your arms and repeat until done.
  6. Complete the following:
    1. Beginner: 2 sets of 20 reps with light to moderate weight
    2. Moderate: 3 sets of 12 reps with moderate weight
    3. Advanced: 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

Two-arm dumbbell incline bicep curl with leg extension

Adjust the bench to a 45-degree angle. Sit at the bench with a flat back. Let your arms hang down perpendicular to the floor.   

Equipment needed: adjustable bench, dumbbells

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, and core

  1. Flatten out your back on the bench and brace your core.
  2. Lift both legs off the ground, raise them up toward the ceiling, and hold.
  3. With arms hanging down toward the ground and palms facing forward, complete bicep curls with both arms.
  4. Try to keep your legs up and your back flat against the bench the entire time.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Complete the following.
    1. Beginner: 2 sets of 15 reps with light weight
    2. Moderate: 3 sets of 10 reps with moderate weight
    3. Advanced: 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

Take it to the next level

If your core is strong and you find that you are able to maintain a legs raised position without much effort, try this modification. The benefit is an increased level of core strength.

  1. Once you have reached the starting position, add a light dumbbell (5 to 8 pounds) between your feet.
  2. Raise and hold the weight up while you complete the bicep curls.

The takeaway

Your training routine should always be something you enjoy. But that doesn’t mean it should be easy.

Creating slight variations in each workout will allow your sessions to remain entertaining and fresh. By changing the angles in your lifts using an incline bench, you can easily create fun and new workouts that test your abilities.

Pay close attention to your joints and how fluid the new movements feel. Start light and progressively increase over time with either weight or reps, based on the desired outcome. Happy lifting!

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