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Incline Dumbbell vs. Smith incline


So I really like incline dumbbell press, but I've progressed to the point where its become pretty fucking hard to lift the dumbbells over my chest to start the exercise. I am a smaller guy lifting 75 lbs dumbbells at the moment (not very Internet-Strong, I know.), so it's become a real struggle to start the exercise.

Would switching to a smith machine cause 'muscle imbalance' or whatever? I do really like the serratus-anterior growth I get from incline dumbbell, would that also translate to the smith machine?


Well, are you doing something stupid like lifting dumbbells so heavy that you could only get a few reps? If so, knock it off, and then your problem is solved.

Otherwise no you do not need to go run to the smith machine just because an exercises is becoming challenging. You can stick with it until you're strong enough to do the next set of dumbbells.


  1. Get someone to help, or learn technique for getting dumb-bells up. 75lbs aren't heavy in real life, the insinuation of internet numbers by people is quite ignorant. Most guys on here seem quite legit when you see their numbers and the matching builds (case in point, I have intermediate numbers for most lifts and have a 'works out' build)
  2. No it won't cause imbalance or whatever, unless you have other issues in the shoulder that a Smith may exacerbate.
  3. Odd that you pay attention to Serratus growth from incline pressing, but fair enough.


Just ask someone to push up your elbows on your first set. Surely there are other people in your gym?


You can certainly lift heavier on the Smith versus DBs, so if your shoulders can handle it, why not do both? Like others have said, get a spot if it's too hard to lift the DBs to the starting position. DBs give you the benefit of working stabilizers that the Smith won't.


This. I have bad technique with getting the DBs up on my own... in fact, I CAN'T do it. For me personally, I would have never been able to start using heavy DBs without the use of someone else.


Get better at kicking up the dumbells? How small are you?

I used to lift with my roommate who was about 150lbs and he could kick up the 70's pretty easily by himself..


Rest them on your knees and learn to kick them up as you are falling back on the bench. If its a problem with the first rep from the end of the eccentric position then get a lift on the first rep.


I'm certain you can figure out a way to get the dumbbells up but there is nothing wrong with the smith machine either. I use it pretty frequently because it's actually easier on my shoulder and I can feel the muscle group working more as opposed to barbell, but I still do both.


there is also a hook system you can get for DBs which let you hang them off a bar, then unrack them like a bench for your set


it's so easy even a caveman can do it


lol at "internet-strong" I don't think anybody's going around bragging about their 70lb db bench.


I think it's alot to do with overall strength too, if your biceps, lower back and core are weak etc then it can limit what your going to get up on yourself. I can get 55kgs dbs up on myself @76kg bw but can only press 45kgs comfortably on an incline. Less than a year ago i was struggling to get 30kgs up but wasn't even deadlifting or doing barbell curls. I can now do about 70kg x 5 on the bbcurl and had my dead upto 190kg at one point and i feel it pushed my strength up alot on getting dbs up for bench etc.


Use some sort of barbell/machine for the heavy pressing (e.g. 4-8 reps).

And dumbbells for the "lighter" pressing (e.g. 8-15 reps)

Problem solved :slight_smile:


I kinda cheat on the first rep. I pretty much bounce at the bottom much like guys bouncing the barbell off their chest.

On the smith incline I like to go closer to the neck and really get a nice stretch. Seems to hit my upper chest pretty well.



I'm a tiny dude, but 85's go up easily with the kick-up. Learn the kick-up. It's just a skill like any other that takes a bit of practice.


Depends on what the lifter weighs.


No pain no gain push it, have someone help on 1st rep or have 2 people hand you the dumbell's


I agree with who said to do heavy pressing with a smith (or a barbell, as I do now) and then inline DB for lighter, later sets.

It is hard to kick up the heavier DBs (heavier for me at the momemnt for incline is about 45kg), since this has a negative effect on the workout, I just don't do it. Help with a hand-off is one of the benefits of a gym partner.


I'd like to hijack this for a second, while we're on the incline subject. My left shoulder is a little messed up and the only incline movement I can do is the HS seated incline press. Is there any way back to using the barbell or dumbbells?