Dumbbell Shrug: Benefits and How to Do It Correctly

Suppose you’re working at a desk and you work at a desk. In that case, you probably will spend most of your working day in a position where your neck is tipped towards the front, your shoulders in a slump with your eyes on the screen in the front of you. This position will take a significant toll on your shoulder and neck muscles as time passes.

You can perform exercises to relax your shoulders, neck, and upper back muscles.

The dumbbell shrug is a common exercise option to strengthen your shoulder muscles and the upper arms.

The dumbbell shrug is a breeze to do anyplace and take less than a minute. Additionally, they are suitable for all fitness levels and can be modified to suit various fitness levels.

This article will discuss the advantages and correct method for this simple and effective exercise.

The Dumbbell Shrug

The trapezius muscles are located in the upper back. The traps are located in the upper back. They are crucial for supporting posture as well as the upper body workout. The dumbbell shrug is among the best exercises to strengthen and build larger trapezius muscles.

Let’s look at this simple but highly effective trapping technique.

The Dumbbell Shrug: Working Muscles

The Dumbbell Shrug Working Muscles

Primary Muscle Group

The trapezius and the rhomboids are engaged by the dumbbell shrug. The upper back muscles are located there, and the upper back work to support and pull back your shoulders.

Secondary Muscle Group

The dumbbell shrug secondarily works your forearms and the abdominal muscles in your core. The brachioradialis muscles in your forearms are activated to secure the dumbbells and thus increase the strength of your forearms. When you lift weights, your core also works to help stabilize your upper body.

The Dumbbell Shrug: Benefits

The Dumbbell Shrug Benefits

#1 Strength And Size Gains

The dumbbell shrug is a vital exercise to build strength and bulk in the traps since it is a great way to activate the muscles of the back of the upper part. The developed traps will offer a wider physical appearance. Strength in this region will assist you in other compound exercises, such as deadlifting and squatting.

Bodybuilders and weightlifters often overlook traps and hamstrings in favor of larger muscles, like pecs or the lats. The dumbbell shrug will aid in building stronger traps and create a more well-balanced upper body look.

#2 A Better Posture

You frequently find yourself in the traditional “hunchback” posture with shoulders bent and head tilted? This is a common occurrence when sitting on a stool for extended durations. To avoid long-term issues in posture, it’s essential to have a healthy upper back.

If you perform the dumbbell shrug, you build an enlarger muscle band that surrounds your upper back, which allows you to exert less to keep good posture. This workout can be very helpful in maintaining and correcting good posture over the long run.

#3 Isolation Of The Traps

The dumbbell shrug is among the most effective exercises for strengthening the trapezius because it’s an isolation exercise. This means it concentrates on only one muscle section. Compounded exercises may activate the traps but not in the same way as an isolated exercise, such as the dumbbell shrug.

The Dumbbell Shrug: Instructions


For the exercise of the dumbbell shrug, you’ll need the dumbbells.


  • Assume a standing position, with dumbbells to either side.
  • Hold your waist, engage your core, and then grab each dumbbell with your palms.
  • Assume a standing position, with the back straight and your abdominal muscles in a tight position.
MUST READ  Slide Jump Shot (Master the Perfect Shot) Complete Guide!


  1. Contract your traps and slightly lift your shoulders upwards and back while doing it.
  2. Squeeze your traps very hard towards the peak, stop for a second, and slowly move the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
  3. Repeat this move until you have completed your desired number of times.


There’s no need to buy the largest dumbbells available. Instead, opt for the lighter weight and perform three sets of 10-12 reps.

The Dumbbell Shrug: Mistakes

The Dumbbell Shrug Mistakes

#1 Using Too Much Weight

If you opt for heavy dumbbells for the dumbbell shrug, you’ll be forced to utilize momentum to move your weight up. You’ll be unable to attain the full range of movement in the end.

This can also increase the chance of getting injured.

If you are using too much weight, it can result in your body the body to “bouncing” during the end of each rep, which puts too much strain on joints and tendons. Instead, you should focus on feeling every force of your traps using a lighter weight!

#2 Shrugging Straight Up And Down

Many people prefer to shrug off a vertical plane. Although this is not a way to pose a risk of injury, it doesn’t maximize how your traps contract or the upper back. If you just shrug your shoulders straight both ways, it engages the levator scapulae more than the traps.

The levator scapulae muscle is a smaller muscle connected to the neck. It is responsible for lifting shoulders upwards.

While training the levator scapulae can be beneficial, working on your traps may be more important. This is why it’s the purpose of the dumbbell shrug.

If you the dumbbell shrug, attempt to raise your shoulders and back slightly in the same manner. You’ll feel more tension around your traps.

The Dumbbell Shrug: Variations

#1 Behind The Back Dumbbell Shrugs

The back shrug behind triggers the middle-back part, that is the part of the traps. This technique may seem somewhat awkward initially, but it’s beneficial. Simply grasp the dumbbells using an overhand grip and place these behind the back of your head.

Use a similar form to the dumbbell shrug in a neutral grip. Repeat!

#2 Speed Front Shrugs

The traps are also responsive to rapid, swift, rapid actions. While your palms are facing your body and your dumbbells in a row, move them upwards and downwards rapidly. Repeat!

#3 Side Shrug

It is also possible to train your traps unilaterally using an arm side-shrug. This is an effective exercise to correct any muscle imbalances within your traps. Pick up a kettlebell or a dumbbell (as shown below) and shrug up to the other side. Repeat!

The Dumbbell Shrug: Alternatives

If you liked the dumbbell shrug, you should check out these additional trapezius exercises that will help you improve the strength of your back:

#1 Close Grip Upright Rows

Take a resistance band (or dumbbells) with your palms in front of your body. Use your traps to bring your hands to the sky. Keep your elbows above your wrists. Repeat!

#2 Lying Superman Raises

With your forehead resting on the ground, engage your traps to lift your shoulders off of the ground. Be sure to keep your abs in place throughout this exercise. Repeat!

#3 Bent Over Face Pull

Make a nut at your waist and turn your back to ensure your back is almost as wide as the floor. Pull your back delts in while you push your elbows upwards and then slightly back, and then bring the kettlebell just under your eyes.

Keep your elbows over your wrists. You should feel a pinching sensation in your shoulder blades near the end of each exercise! Repeat!

The Dumbbell Shrug: Workout Programming

Based on the fitness schedule, it is possible to get huge traps by using the dumbbell shrug once or two days per week.

The shoulder, arm, and back days are ideal for setting up shrugs since you’re likely already lifting dumbbells during those times. The great aspect of the dumbbell shrug is it’s extremely difficult. However, if you’re slaying your traps on a day, you may want to schedule an off or core day to allow them to rest.

For example, your five-day split of yours could appear as follows:

Day #1 Arm And Shoulder Day

Day #2 Leg Day

Day #3 Chest Day

MUST READ  Scapular Pull Up (Strengthen Your Upper Back) Exercise Guide

Day #4 Core Day

Day #5 Back Day

This split lets you perform as many shrug exercises as you’re able to in the beginning and gives your traps time to build their muscles before bringing them back the days 3, 4, and five. As with other isolation exercises, the dumbbell shrug can be a great method of exhausting a particular muscle after more difficult weightlifting workouts like deadlifts or squats. In contrast to other exercises, the dumbbell shrug isn’t an ideal warm-up since they can weaken your traps before the heavier weights. Do not assume that you’ve got sturdy traps already. Many very strong people who train hard find that they don’t require more than 20-30 pounds of dumbbells when first introducing the dumbbell shrug into their routine.

The Dumbbell Shrug Sets, Reps & Programming Recommendations

Are you looking to incorporate traps into your routine? Here are three suggestions for reps and sets. Be aware that these are just suggestions. Feel free to experiment using these reps and sets to suit your own goals.

Improve Strength

To build Muscle, try to complete up to six sets of 5 to 10 reps and rest for two hours between each set. Strength training is typically performed within the one-to-five rep range. However, the weight you’ll have to lift to achieve that range can affect your posture. Be aware that traps also receive a lot of stimulation in this rep range due to massive deadlifts and presses.

Build Muscle

The dumbbell shrug is most efficient. Perform 3 to 6 sets with between 10 and twenty repetitions. Relax for a minimum of an hour between sets. The time under tension assists in generating muscle growth, So managing your eccentric or lower phase of the movement and working the entire range of motion will ensure that you reap the maximum benefit of your training.

Improve Power

The use of the dumbbell shrug in training can increase the strength on your pull upwards to help transfer to Olympic lifting performances. Do up to three sets of 3-8 repetitions, with 90 to 120 seconds of rest during sets. When the power is the objective, using the jump or power shrug will be the most effective shrug to choose. To accomplish the dumbbell shrug, you will need to shrug the weight, but use a triple extension to push the bar off your hips as if you are engaging in a snatch, clean, and jerk.

Who Should Do The Dumbbell Shrug?

Who Should Do The Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug can help a variety of athletes and lifters. This article will highlight who could benefit from using the dumbbell shrug as part of their programs and how.

The Strength And Power Of Athletes

Strong upper traps help when deadlifting, squatting as well as pressing. Focusing on the traps directly with the dumbbell shrug, at least a portion of the time, will assist athletes with the strength to reach their full potential when it comes to their immediate lifting.

Bodybuilders And Physical Athletes

The dumbbell shrug is a great exercise that can increase the size of the upper traps. When the hypertrophy of the traps on the upper side is your goal, the dumbbell shrug is essential. Those who are relatively new to the weights room and those working for less than a year will likely see their traps increase in size by doing exercises such as deadlifts or carrying and do not have to spend time on the dumbbell shrug. The best option is for advanced and intermediate lifters who want to elevate their body to the next level with the dumbbell shrug.

General Fitness

The dumbbell shrug has been thrown out of fashion with many personal trainers. There are fears that most people have a dominant upper trap because of poor posture and that the dumbbell shrug can only exacerbate this issue. Even though posture is vital and dominance of the upper trap is normal, the dumbbell shrug may actually improve posture. The eccentric or lowering portion of the exercise offers an often needed extension of the upper trap. It may also provide beneficial effects when done in conjunction with a properly designed strength training program.

The Dumbbell Shrug: Sets & Reps

The number of reps you do will be contingent on the goals you have set for yourself.

Since there aren’t long periods of tension during this exercise, it’s ideal to set your goals for sets of between 10 and 20 repetitions.

Begin at the lower portion of this range, and work your way up to 20 reps if you want to build hypertrophy. Do between 8-12 reps with the heavier weights to build strength.

MUST READ  Sled Row (Full-Body Resistance Training) Exercise Guide!

If you’re doing the dumbbell shrug to relieve neck pain, only do so when it’s safe. Keep them as lightweight as you can.

When Should I Do The Dumbbell Shrug?

When Should I Do The Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug can be an added exercise close to the conclusion of your workout after your main liftings have been completed. It’s not necessary to work on the dumbbell shrug throughout the year. Instead, you can add them to your training program from time to time to increase strength and bulk inside the traps. Traps recuperate rapidly compared to other muscle groups trained regularly throughout the week with no issues for most lifters.

Dumbbell Shrugs Vs Barbell Shrugs

The barbell shrugs are the more popular version of this workout. Both are alike, but they don’t offer exactly the same advantages. As we’ve mentioned before, the advantages of dumbbells allow for an increased range of movement. Barbells, however, are limited to as far as the bar allows you. They are more flexible and are great if you’ve been practicing the exercise enough to master proper posture. Barbells can allow you to lift more weight, which can be helpful when you’re trying to perform the power shrug, which we’ll talk about in greater detail in the coming weeks.

It’s also possible to test different grip widths with the barbell. However, it’s not as effective an impact with this workout as it does with, for example, a bench press. This version with dumbbells puts less stress on the lower back. If you have been suffering from pain or injuries in the past, that’s the option you should select. Since dumbbells aren’t able to lift the same amount of weight, they are less likely to make the mistakes in a form that we discussed earlier. Also, you’ll get a feel for how it feels lifting with your traps.

It’s a good idea, to begin with dumbbells while learning how to shrug. If you decide to switch to barbells or think they’re more fun in the future, you’ll have the posture perfected and gain more from it.

Who Should Avoid The Dumbbell Shrug?

There is a tendency within the fitness community to stay clear of the dumbbell shrug since most individuals are dominant on the upper trap because of sitting for long periods with poor posture. When used as part of a balanced training regimen, the stretched component of the dumbbell shrug could aid those suffering from this postural pattern. So long as you can perform the exercise without discomfort and discomfort, there’s no reason to remove it from one’s training routine.

Last Words

In contrast to their name, the dumbbell shrug (shoulder shrug) don’t aim designed to make your shoulders appear scapular; however, they are designed to increase the size of your upper back. Noticeable. They accentuate your traps, the erector spinae, and the levator scapulae.

But, first, you need to try dipping your toes into the workout by learning the correct techniques and forms. This is because it’s about which muscles you can strike during the exercise instead of what muscles the exercise is aimed at.

Keep your body straight and press your shoulder blades. Begin by using 1/4 percent of the weight you carry in each hand, and slowly lower and raise the bars. Place pressure on your traps.


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

    View all posts
error: Content is protected !!