Dumbbell Shrugs Exercise Guide & Video

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Watch Dumbbell Shrugs

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Step 1. Take two dumbbells and hold them at your side but do not rest them on your legs. Your palms should be facing body.

Step 2. Pull the weight upward by raising your shoulders. Raise your shoulders as close to your ears as possible. Move only your shoulders and do not sway. Squeeze your traps at the top of the motion.


Dumbbell shrugs are a size and strength building exercise for the traps. One of the benefits to performing the shrug with dumbbells instead of a barbell is that the hands will get stronger in order to hold each dumbbell. When you first start performing this exercise, your hands may be weaker than your traps. This will limit the weight you can do at first. Do not use wraps to allow you use heavier weight. Your forearm and grip strength will increase the more the exercise is performed and will eventually even out with trap strength. Resist the urge to help the weight up by bouncing at the knees. This increases the risk of injury greatly and the traps are not a muscle that benefits from “cheating” the weight up. Instead, this exercise should be performed in a slow and deliberate motion, holding briefly at the top of the motion to maximize the exercise.

Dumbbell Shrugs 4
Dumbbell Shrugs 3

Updated: March 30th, 2015