Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredDumbbell
  • MechanicsIsolation
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Traps Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Dumbbell Shrug Overview

The dumbbell shrug is a variation of the shrug and an exercise used to build trap muscle size.

Traps, being a stubborn muscle group for many, can be trained with a fairly high frequency during the week. When doing so, be sure to mix up the volume, intensity, and implements you use to train the traps.

Dumbbell shrugs can be included into your shoulder workouts, back workouts, upper body workouts, and full body workouts.

Dumbbell Shrug Instructions

  1. Assume a standing position with the dumbbells on both sides of your body.
  2. Hinge forward, inhale, and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip.
  3. Stand up tall and ensure your spine remains neutral.
  4. Contract the traps to elevate the shoulders. Squeeze hard at the top and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Shrug Tips

  1. Looking slightly up while shrugging may enhance the contraction as traps help to control movement of the skull. This motion should be smooth and controlled, as a ballistic movement could result in a neck injury.
  2. The traps tend to respond well to high reps and explosive movements (e.g. snatch grip high pulls) so program your accessory work accordingly.
  3. Limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight. No one cares about how much you shrug.
  4. Don’t allow the head to jut forward excessively as you squeeze the traps, this can put the neck in a compromised position and result in an injury.
  5. Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind muscle connection.
Posted on: Tue, 04/30/2024 - 23:32

While doing Dumbbell Shrug Exercise with my 5kg Dumbbell, after 11th rep while lifting my neck and head start to vibrating is that normal?? Or am I doing wrong

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/13/2024 - 20:45

No, that is not normal. You should see a doctor about your neck. In the meantime, stop doing shrugs completely. The trap development is not worth it if you have a neck injury.

Posted on: Sun, 06/20/2021 - 01:40

Any substitute for this exercise??

Posted on: Sun, 04/11/2021 - 22:31

Hi there,
I have dumbbells of 5kg each , only want to workout on home and i have no bench n equipments that belongs to gym except dumbbells , so i want workout program which can be done without any bench, equipments .... Home workout program with dumbbells.....

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/12/2021 - 09:58
Posted on: Sat, 06/20/2020 - 08:10

need a schedule of home workout with dumbells and rods(free weights)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 15:56

Hey Gurpreet

Try out this home workout for DB and BB. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/dumbbell-barbell-home-workout...

Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2020 - 11:27

Would this workout work better with a false grip?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2020 - 12:22

If you're having trouble with grip strength you could user Versa grips or straps on this exercise. Links here:


Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2020 - 12:26

There’s no problem with my grip, I just thought false grip might workout the traps better

Posted on: Mon, 02/03/2020 - 15:04

what do you do on day 6 and 7 ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/12/2020 - 12:20

What are you referring to?

Posted on: Fri, 06/19/2020 - 13:05

If it's the 5 day workout thing you just have a break on day 6 and 7

Posted on: Thu, 07/16/2020 - 08:46

If you are referring to a 5 day workout split program, then that means you get two rest days to spread throughout the week. Many people call those days "active rest days" because they don't recommend just sitting on your butt all day. They recommend some form of cardio, like walking, running, swimming riding a bike, shooting hoops, etc. . Feel free to fix it up if you get bored of one form of cardio.

Posted on: Wed, 01/06/2021 - 14:42

Those are off days. Or you could do cardio if you wanted to.

Marvin Meyers
Posted on: Sun, 06/23/2019 - 00:07

Why do you recommend doing shrugs with an up and down movement.? The muscles you are trying to activate do not run up and down. They run from the base of the neck out toward the shoulder ?.

Posted on: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 06:15

Can i Do this Exercise by sitting

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 09:13

Hi Sushant,

Absolutely, it's called a Seated Dumbbell Shrug.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2015 - 10:11

I'm going to start this workout, but one thing is, will be good to do this workout at home as I'm going to do it at home, need advise please

Posted on: Thu, 12/25/2014 - 09:46

Got amazing results with this 10 week workout plan Without using a mass gainer

Posted on: Tue, 08/12/2014 - 00:06

Lmao! Adam... thats awesome, lol

Marcus Cooper
Posted on: Sat, 06/29/2013 - 22:31

I want to know what are the best supplements to take cause I wanna get bulked up but yet be cut I'm 5'9 and I'm 175 pounds.

Posted on: Thu, 08/15/2013 - 06:33

For that Marcus i'd recommend some slim-fast followed by a weight gainer.

Lindy Billy IV
Posted on: Mon, 03/22/2021 - 15:38

Hey I use the GNC Triple XXX cookies and cream that really helps and got bulky and lean just look up or go to a GNC store it's called Triple XXX

Posted on: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:27

i am doing dough's 5 day workout and i like to know what pounds to use for the dumbbell shrugs, my current weight is 174 lb and height is 5'6"

Posted on: Sun, 01/27/2013 - 09:37

You do what you can handle and what you are capable of.

Posted on: Sun, 01/24/2016 - 13:25

gullien what u have got in these many years can u tell me please?