Best Dumbbell Trap Exercises For Mass and Strength

The trapezius muscles, also known as trap muscles, are a large muscle group in the upper back. Dumbbell trap exercises are strength-training exercises that target the trap muscles.

Dumbbell trap workout can help you build bigger traps, improve your posture, and provide strength for Olympic weightlifting moves, such as deadlifts.

The trapezius works to stabilize your shoulders and upper back. To maintain good posture and avoid back pain, it’s important to keep the trapezius strong.

The weak trapezius can increase the risk of injury during other exercises, such as a chest press, overhead press. So, let’s take a closer look at how to strengthen and develop your traps.

In this article, we will look the trap muscle, the best dumbbell trap exercises, how to do them.

Trapezius Muscle anatomy and its Function

The trapezius aka trap muscle is a large muscle in your back. Providers call it the trapezius because of its shape. It looks like a trapezoid (a shape with four sides, two that are parallel).

Healthcare providers divide the trapezius into three areas. Each area helps you with a specific kind of movement.

Together, the three parts of the trapezius help you move your head, stand up straight, bend or twist your torso and raise your arms.

As mentioned above, the trapezius muscle is divided into 3 areas:

trapezius muscle workout

Dumbbell Trap Exercises Benefits

Here are the benefits of a dumbbell trap exercises :

  • Muscle strength & growth: Practicing dumbbell trap workouts is one of the most effective ways to increase hypertrophy in the back and shoulders.
  • Stability & conditioning: Dumbbell trap workout activates all major areas of the shoulders, making it excellent for upper body stability and conditioning. By doing frequent shrug and upright rows, you will improve your position while protecting yourself from injury.
  • Builds Traps: Traps are tricky to build. There are only a handful of exercises that mainly target your traps. A dumbbell trap exercises utilizes your traps just as much as it works your shoulders.
  • Improve your posture. When practiced with proper form, dumbbell trap workout help build strength in your upper body stabilizer muscle groups, helping you stand up tall and keep your back straight.
  • Stronger traps can help reduce neck pain. Strengthening your traps increases the activation of your shoulder muscles, helping provide better support to your head and neck.

7 Best Dumbbell Trap Exercises

Some of the best dumbbell trap exercises to add to your workout routine include:

1. Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug is a variation and one of the best exercises to build bigger and stronger trapezius muscles.

This exercise can be done extremely heavily to thicken the traps, which really helps you in doing back poses. This is one of the best upper trap isolation exercises for trapezius muscle.

Being a stubborn muscle group for many, traps can be trained with a fairly high frequency during the week.

Dumbbell Shrugs

Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius, Lateral deltoid.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, teres minor.

Execution Technique

  1. Stand upright, keeping arms at sides and with a heavy dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Raise your shoulders as high as you can, as if trying to touch them to your ears.
  3. Hold at the top for a moment, then release and return to the starting position.


  • Try not to move anything but your shoulders.
  • Inhale when you lower the weight and exhale when you lift.
  • Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind-muscle connection.
  • Limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight.

2. Dumbbell Upright Row

The heavy upright Row is one of the best dumbbell middle and upper trap exercises to build huge Trapezius muscles and create that deltopectoral separation. Heavy Upright Rows along with shrugs can build massive traps.

Upright Rows can be done with both narrow grips and wider ones.

The narrow grip focuses on Trapezius and the wider focuses on the entire shoulder girdle. Also, the wider grip allows some cheating movement, thereby allowing you to lift more weight.

Upright Row

Muscles Involved

Primary: Lateral deltoid, trapezius.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, teres minor.

Execution Technique

  1. Hold a dumbbell with a narrow overhand grip and let it hang in front of you.
  2. Lift the dumbbell, get it as close as possible to the chin using your arms, and elevate your shoulders to squeeze your trapezius muscles.
  3. Now, lower the dumbbell under controlled motion until it comes back to its starting position.


  • Remember to exhale while you exert.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keep your back straight.

3. Incline Dumbbell Shrug

Incline Dumbbell Shrug is a variation of trap dumbbell shrug exercises that strengthens the upper part of the trapezius and neck region and also helps to improve posture.

This shrug variation will shift emphasis to the upper traps as well as the upper portion of the middle traps.

The fact that your chest is pressed on the bench will make it difficult to use momentum to drive the weight up.

Incline Dumbbell Shrug

Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius, Lateral deltoid.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, teres minor.

Execution Technique

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and straddle an adjustable-incline bench with your feet flat on the floor or position them on the bench frame to support your body.
  2. Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip at your sides and lie chest-down on an incline bench.
  3. Slowly shrug your shoulders up toward your ears. At the top, pause for a moment and contract hard through your traps and rhomboids.
  4. Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.


  • Keep your arms straight throughout the entire movement.
  • Avoid using extremely heavy weights.
  • Move the dumbbells in a smooth and even manner, without jerking them at all.

4. Dumbbell Farmers Walk

The farmer’s walk exercise also called the farmer’s carry, is a strength and conditioning exercise in which you hold a heavy load in each hand while walking for a designated distance.

Farmer’s Walk with Dumbbells might be one of the classic exercises and a move that men’s been doing since the beginning of time.

The Farmer’s Walk allows you to accomplish a tremendous amount in a single exercise.   

Dumbbell Farmers Walk

Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids, core

Secondary: Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, Quadriceps.

Execution Technique

  1. Deadlift a pair of dumbbells from the floor. Reach down, bending at the hips and knees, and grasp the dumbbells in each hand.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your side with a firm grip. Stand tall, keeping your shoulders, back, and core tight.
  3. Take small steps and walk forward at an even pace with your eyes focused straight ahead of you.
  4. Complete the desired number of steps, come to a stop, and place the dumbbells down while keeping a tight core and neutral spine.


  • Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades and tightening your abs.
  • Keep a neutral or straight spine throughout the movement to avoid injury.

5. Incline Y-Raise

Y Raises are a great and easy-to-do shoulder stability exercise that targets both the rotator cuff muscles and your mid and lower traps.

Although the Y Raise is commonly performed on an incline bench, it can be modified to suit your needs and performed in a variety of different ways: standing, on the floor, flat or incline bench, or even a swiss ball. Must add this dumbbell trap workout in your exercises regimen.


Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius.

Secondary: Rear deltoid, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor.

Execution Technique

  1. Lie face down on a flat bench with your chin past the end of the bench. Hold two light dumbbells or weight plates.
  2. Lift both dumbbells up as high as you can while forming a letter Y with your arms and torso.
  3. Hold this position for two seconds before returning the dumbbells to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  1. Raise arms up in a slow, controlled manner.
  2. Be careful not to use too much weight, as it is very easy to injure your deltoids.

6. Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Bent Over raises are an excellent exercise to isolate and work specifically on rear deltoid, middle and lower trap muscles. For complete shoulder muscle development, bent-over raises are a must-do.

Thus, the exercise hit specifically the rear delt and mid-trap head by isolating it.

This exercise can be performed in both a standing and a seated position. Prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.

Lateral Bent over row

Muscles Involved

Primary: Posterior deltoid.

Secondary: Lateral deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major.

Execution Technique

  1. Sit at the end of a bench with a pair of dumbbells.
  2. Bend forward and let the dumbbells hang on your sides.
  3. Lift the dumbbells raising them on your sides to a level slightly upper more than your shoulders.
  4. Now lower the dumbbells back to your sides.


  • Your arms should be parallel to your shoulders.
  • Keep strict form to isolate the rear delts.

7. Lying Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

Dumbbell Lying Rear Delt Row is a strength exercise that works your side deltoids and trap. It is a great basic move.

When done correctly, it can effectively target your shoulders and upper body.

The muscles used for dumbbell lying rear delt row may change slightly based on your trained range of motion and technique.

Lying Dumbbell Rear Delt Row

Muscles Involved

Primary Movers: Posterior deltoid, Trapezius

Secondary Muscles: Traps, Biceps, Rhomboids, and Forearms.

Execution Technique

  1. Start off lying on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand extended out in front of you.
  2. Slowly pull the dumbbells until your elbows are just above your shoulders.
  3. Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your muscles.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.


  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Pause for a moment at the top before slowly lowering the dumbbell back to the starting position.
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Frequently Asked Question

How to get bigger traps with dumbbells

There are many great trap exercises that you can do with dumbbells to help you build bigger traps.

To build bigger, stronger traps, you should add the above-mentioned dumbbell exercises to your upper body training sessions.

Shrugs and upright rows can be used to build up the upper traps, and pulling the shoulder blades together can be used to build up the middle and lower traps.

The quickest way to build big trap muscles is with an intensive workout routine, which typically consists of about 2-3 exercises, including the farmer’s carry and dumbbell shrugs.

Perform the workout twice a week and take at least 3 days of rest between each workout.

Trap exercises at home with dumbbells

If you invest in a good set of dumbbells, you can do a lot of trap exercises at home to build your traps.

You could try dumbbell shrugs, upright rows, one-arm rows, farmers carries, military presses, and bent over dumbbell lateral raises.


Big traps are a great way to show the world that you are a good athlete.

Beyond making you look better in a t-shirt, developed traps play a role in nearly every upper-body exercise in one form or another.

Know More About Trap Training

Best Trap Workout and Exercises for Muscle mass and Strength

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