Dumbbell shrug

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Upper Trapezius
  • Synergists: Middle Trapezius, Levator Scapulae
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand.


  1. Exhale as you elevate your shoulders straight up as high as possible.
  2. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your trapezius.
  3. Inhale as you lower your shoulders to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your arms slightly bent.
  • Do not move your arms. Only your shoulders should move.
  • Do not roll your shoulders.
  • The dumbbell shrug is great for building the size and strength of your upper and middle trapezius, which will help you with many other key lifts and movements.
  • Bodybuilders from the golden era, such as Frank Zane, are said to have avoided building the upper trapezius because a big upper trapezius makes your shoulders look less broad.
  • See also the barbell shrug and the Smith machine shrug.

Dumbbell shrug video


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