Dumbbell Shrugs Exercise- Build Trapezius muscles now

Why is Dumbbell Shrug so effective?

An excellent alternative to Barbell Shrugs, the dumbbell shrugs also allows to lift heavy weights with a better & longer range of motion.

Its a isolation move for trapezius muscles and when done properly it will help you build bigger trapezius muscles without harming your shoulders as the move in free in the air and not rigid.

I prefer to do these at the end of my shoulder workouts.


To Build and thicken the trapezius muscles and build a strong, flexible neck.

Steps with correct form and technique


  1. Stand upright with a pair of dumbbells hanging by your sides. Your feet should be hip-width apart.

  2. Remember there is no passive hanging here. You need to tense your arms, lats and trapezius muscles as if you are pushing the dumbbells downwards. Make your body feel the weight!

  3. Now Raise your shoulders {not your arms which remain fixed and extended} with straight elbows {no bending elbows} on both sides as high as possible.

  4. You should try to touch your shoulders to your ears. This mental programming will help for better trapezius or neck muscle contraction. Try to see for yourself.

  5. Feel the contraction for a moment at the top position and slowly lower the dumbbells back to standing position fighting the tension all the way back.

  6. Never bend your neck in an effort to recruit more muscle fibers. Its plain dangerous.

  7. Never roll your shoulders as it has minimal effect on trapezius muscle activation.

Dumbbell Shrugs or Barbell Shrugs, which one to do? Dumbbell Shrug Vs Barbell Shrug...

Dumbbell Shrugs are great if the dumbbell weights are enough to load your muscles. Remember the exercise should not be easy. No going on for tens or reps with low weights.

Dumbbell Shrugs have advantages as they do not stress the shoulder joints as much as barbell ones do.  Why?

Because your shoulder muscles and the joints will be working in their natural angles since there is no shoulder joint rotation to hold the loaded bar.

Also it is a personal preference. I have seen women love dumbbells more than barbells, so feel free to choose your weights.

Cool Point - If the dumbbells are not big enough for you then start with barbell shrugs and then when you are exhausted, move on to dumbbell ones. But many a gym has big enough dumbbells now-a-days.

Machine Shrugs can be a good alternative too as you will be working only in one plane, there is not much difference between barbell shrug or machine shrug. Ask your gym instructor to show you the shrug machine.

Points to remember

  • Never hold your breathe. Holding breathe increases pressure in your lungs and can cause cervical muscles and joint problems.

  • Hold the dumbbells securely as heavy dumbbells can slip off.

  • Go full range of motion as you will not only build muscle and strength, you will also build a flexible neck.

More Killer Shoulder Exercises and Workouts at  Shoulder Training Exercises and Workouts.

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