The Top 5 Trapezius Exercises With Dumbbells

Dumbbells can really help to get you a great workout without needing a ton of fitness equipment. They’re especially handy if you find yourself pressed for time. You can just load up a set of dumbbells and get going.

And if you’re looking to put some trapezius exercises into your training sessions, you might find the list below to help you reach your goals.

Trapezius Exercises
(Photo: Marc-John Photographic)

In this post we’ll discuss the five dumbbell exercises you should be using in your trap workouts. But first you should know there are three regions which define this muscle:

The upper - This part of the superficial muscle is mainly used for neck movement, and provides the ability to do a shrugging motion.

The middle - Without the middle raising, retracting and rotating the shoulder blades would be close to impossible.

The lower - The is signified as the inverted triangle that rests in the middle point of the back. This region is responsible for the same functions as the middle region, but will help to arch the back in an upward motion.

Five Exercises to Target Your Traps

For someone just starting out with trap exercises you might be pleasantly surprised they come in both isolation and compound exercises. This means some movements will also incorporate the abdominals, biceps, forearms and the lower back. This is perfect if you’re goal is to build meaningful muscle definition on to your physique.

#1: Shoulder Shrugs

In this exercise you’re basically just shrugging your shoulders as if you were responding to a question you didn’t know the answer. This is probably the most common of all the trapezius exercises.

Trapezius Exercises – Dumbbell Shrugs For Building Big Traps

#2: Upright Rows

This is a great for a workout hitting the upper region of the trapezius muscle.

How To: Dumbbell Upright-Row

#3: Power Cleans

This is an Olyimpic Lift that can help you strengthen, through speed and power, and build up the size of your traps, if you choose.

Dumbell Power Clean

#4: Reverse DB Flyes

You’ll be working the lower regions in this trapezius exercise. The main point you’ll want to consider when performing this movement is to lift the weight with little-to-no momentum from the previous rep. Form is important.

Shoulders – Reverse Dumbbell Fly

#5: Lateral Raises with Flared Traps

This is just one of the very few movements that will target the middle shoulder as well as, with the flared traps, get you a good workout in this region. Make sure you’re bending your arms slightly and the elbows stay above the rest. Also, rotate the knife edge of the hand so it’s higher than the thumb.

Build Huge Trapezius Muscles With Trap Exercises

If there was a sixth exercise I’d add it would be the one that “feels” right to you. It’s one thing to read about what can work to steer your sessions in a specific way, however, it’s also a completely different thing to discover what will allow you to break free of a plateau and continue on a path towards attaining your ultimate goals.

One of the best courses I’ve come across is Clint Nielsen’s Reveal The Steel. If you’re looking to add on size or increase the density of your muscles this premium course is a step beyond what you will find with the typical exercise program.

Putting These Exercises into Use Is Just the Beginning

While adding these exercises into your routines you’ll see quite a few gains. But to get the full benefit these exercises your best bet is to focus on using them to enhance the look of you muscle composition. Sticking to each of these specific exercises is just the beginning to building a strong back.

Even though dumbbells are a very effective way to spice up your workout, that’s why they are main focus of this post, you can also take your sessions up a notch by merely adding your own bodyweight and a little gravity into the equation. Pike presses are just one of many trapezius exercises to help get the job done. Again, it’s all about discovering what works for you so you can take your trap workouts to the next level.

About the Author

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mr apollo creed
mr apollo creed

I don't care for the dumbell pwer cleans. Erything else is a go. Great tips.


The best exercises are the ones you're excited to use in a workout. Thanks for the compliment.


Good information, thank you. However no mention of the behiend the back shrug. They can be done on a Smith Machine or on a squat rack. Simular movement as a traditional shurg only it's done from from behind. Thank you again for your helpfull information.


Zeke, thanks for the comment, and giving a shout-out to the behind the back shrug exercise. This version of the shrug is a great exercise for hitting the often neglected upper trap region. I didn't include them because you have to use a barbell. My focus for the post was on movements that can be done with a pair of dumbbells. -Mitchell

AJ Whitfield
AJ Whitfield

Great Tips!!!


AJ, thanks for the support. I hope they help your reach your goals. -Mitchell

Tina Chiodo
Tina Chiodo

Very informative!


Thanks, Tina. I appreciate it. -Mitchell

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