Best Dumbbell Trap Exercises For Mass and Strength

If you want to strengthen your trapezius muscles, doing dumbbell trap exercises is a good way to start.

The traps work 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, or overhead press.

A dumbbell trap exercise is the best for you to build bigger traps, improve your posture, and provide strength at home or in the gym.

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

Let’s take a closer look at how to strengthen and develop your traps.

10 Best Dumbbell Trap Exercises For Home or Gym

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.

The results of electromyography indicated that the shoulder shrug exercise significantly increased upper trapezius activation compared to the other dumbbell exercises.

This exercise can be done extremely heavily to thicken the traps, which helps you do back poses.

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

Dumbbell Shrugs

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended by your sides.
  3. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your core engaged.
  4. Inhale and lift your shoulders towards your ears, making a shrugging motion.
  5. Hold the contraction for a second or two, then exhale and lower your shoulders back down to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, typically 8-15 reps for 2-3 sets.


  • 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 dumbbell upright row is a compound exercise that builds stronger and bigger traps and deltoids (Shoulders).

It is one of the best middle and upper trap exercises for building huge trapezius muscles.

The combination of Upright Rows and shrugs can create massive traps. It can be done with both narrow grips and wider ones.

  • The normal grip upright row provides overall shoulder development and suits those seeking balanced muscle activation.
  • The narrow grip upright rows emphasize more on the upper trap and a little less on the lateral and rear delt.
  • The wide-grip upright row places heavy emphasis on the lateral and rear deltoid and little less on the upper and middle trap.
Upright Row

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, maintaining a straight posture.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip (palms facing your body).
  3. Lift the dumbbells by pulling them straight up towards your chest.
  4. Aim to bring the dumbbells up to the level of your collarbone, just below your chin.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  6. Inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  7. Now, lower the dumbbell under controlled motion until it returns to its starting position.
  8. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps.


  • Keep the weight close to the body.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Avoid shrugging your shoulders upward; the movement should be focused on pulling the elbows up and back.

3. Incline Dumbbell Shrug

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

This shrug variation will shift emphasis to the upper traps and 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

How To Do

  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.
  4. At the top, pause momentarily and contract hard through your traps and rhomboids.
  5. 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 smoothly and evenly 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 much in a single exercise. This is one of my favorite exercises. It helps me build bigger trap and forearm muscles.

Dumbbell Farmers Walk

How To Do

  1. Deadlift a pair of dumbbells from the floor.
  2. Reach down, bending at the hips and knees, and grasp the dumbbells in each hand.
  3. Hold the dumbbells at your side with a firm grip.
  4. Stand tall, keeping your shoulders, back, and core tight.
  5. Take small steps and walk forward at an even pace with your eyes focused straight ahead of you.
  6. Complete the desired number of steps, come to a stop.
  7. 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 various ways: standing on the floor, flat or incline bench, or even a Swiss ball.

You should add this dumbbell trap workout to your workout regimen.

How To Do

  1. Lie face down on a flat bench with your chin past the end of the bench.
  2. Hold two light dumbbells or weight plates.
  3. Lift both dumbbells up as high as you can while forming a letter Y with your arms and torso.
  4. Hold this position for two seconds before returning the dumbbells to the starting position.
  5. 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 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. I prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.

Lateral Bent over row

How To Do

  1. Choose weights that are suitable for your strength level.
  2. Sit on the edge of a bench or a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Bend at your waist and lean forward, keeping your back straight.
  4. Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing each other), arms hanging down.
  5. Lift the dumbbells to the sides until your arms parallel the floor.
  6. Pause briefly at the top of the movement.
  7. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.


  • Your arms should be parallel to your shoulders.
  • Keep strict form to isolate the rear delts.
  • Always keep a slight bend in your elbows.

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

How To Do

  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.

8. Incline Dumbbell T Raise

The dumbbell incline T-raise exercise focuses on the lateral delt and posterior delt.

It is commonly used in rehabilitation to enhance range of motion and increase strength in the entire shoulder complex.

This exercise uses light to medium weights to isolate the muscles of the posterior shoulder, strengthen the rotator cuff, and improve both stability and flexibility.

Incline Dumbbell T Raise

How To Do

  1. Adjust an incline bench to a 45-degree angle and lie face down with your chest against the bench.
  2. Grab dumbbells with an underhand grip, letting them hang directly under your shoulders
  3. Keep your arms straight and slowly raise the dumbbells up and out to the side until they reach shoulder height.
  4. Pause for a second and then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.


  • Keep your chest firmly against the bench throughout the exercise.
  • Engage your shoulder blades by squeezing them together as you lift the dumbbells.
  • Focus on keeping your arms straight and lifting with your shoulders, rather than using momentum to swing the weights up.
  • Breathe in as you lower the dumbbells, and exhale as you lift them up.

9. Dumbbell Rear Delt Pull

Want wider, impressive deltoids and traps? Try the dumbbell delt pull (also known as the armpit row or monkey row) in your shoulder routine.

This exercise involves lifting dumbbells along your torso to target the outer portion of your shoulders (lateral delt) and traps.

It’s a unique variation that can keep your shoulder training interesting.

Dumbbell Rear Delt Pull

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  2. Hold a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, allowing them to hang at your sides.
  3. Engage your shoulders and squeeze your rear delts, then lift the dumbbells straight up by bending your elbows until the weights are positioned above your hips.
  4. Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.


  • You should warm up your shoulders before doing this exercise.

10. Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Rows

The seated rear delt row is an effective variation of rowing exercise that targets the muscles in the upper back and shoulders.

By sitting on a bench, it eliminates any leg assistance and allows for a more isolated movement.

This exercise involves horizontal shoulder abduction and pulling the elbows behind the body, which primarily targets the rear delt and also engages the upper back muscles, including the rhomboids and the middle and lower trapezius muscles.

Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Rows

How To Do

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench or a chair with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and let your arms hang straight down in front of you.
  3. Bend forward at your hips, keeping your back flat and your core engaged.
  4. With your elbows slightly bent, lift the dumbbells up and out to the sides until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  6. Lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  7. Repeat 8-12 repetitions.


  • Keep your chest lifted, and avoid rounding your back.
  • Make sure to use a weight that challenges you without compromising your form

Add Dumbbell Exercises Into Your Trap Workout Routine

Here are some tips for adding this exercise to your workouts:

1. Add Optimum No Of Sets And Reps

A good starting point is to perform 3–4 sets of 8–12 reps.

However, you can adjust the number of sets and reps according to your fitness level and goals.

2. During Workout Splits.

You can perform trap exercises as part of an upper body or during Push Pull Leg workout Split.

3. Frequency

You can do trap exercises once or twice a week.

However, it is important to allow your muscles to recover between workouts to maximize results.

I. During Shoulder Workout

1Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press3-48-12
2Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise3-410-15
3Rear Delt Fly310-12
4Front Plate Raise312-15
5Upright Row310-12

II. During Pull Workout Split

2Bent Over Barbell Rows3-48-10
3Dumbbell Shrug310-12
4Bicep Curls (with dumbbells or barbell)312-15
5Hammer Curls310-12
6Dumbbell Shrug312-15

III. During Upper Body Workout

1Bench Press (with barbell or dumbbells)3-48-10
2Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press3-48-12
3Incline Dumbbell Y-Raise3-410-12
4Lat Pulldowns (with machine or bar)3-410-12
5Cable Tricep Pushdowns312-15
6Bicep Curls (with dumbbells or barbell)312-15

Trapezius Muscle anatomy

The trapezius muscles, also known as trap muscles, are a large muscle group in the upper 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

Best Dumbbell Exercises To Build Bigger Trap

Dumbbell trap exercises are a group of exercises that target the trapezius muscle using dumbbells. The trapezius muscle is a large muscle that spans from the base of the neck to the mid-back. Trap is responsible for shoulder movement and stability.

Dumbbell trap exercises are a great way to build a thick upper back and neck, improve posture, and prevent pain.

Dumbbell exercises are versatile and can be used for a variety of exercises, including shrugging, pulling, and raising movements that target the trapezius muscle.

Some of the best dumbbell trap exercises include dumbbell shrugs, dumbbell upright rows, farmer walk, and dumbbell row. 

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: The dumbbell trap workout activates all major areas of the shoulders, making it excellent for upper body stability and conditioning. Doing shrug and upright rows often will improve your position and keep yourself safe.
  • Builds Traps: Traps are tricky to build. There are only a handful of exercises that mainly target your traps. A dumbbell trap exercise utilizes your traps just as much as it works your shoulders.
  • Improve your posture. When practiced with proper form, the dumbbell trap workout helps build strength in your upper body stabilizer muscle groups. It will help you stand up tall and maintain your back straight.
  • Stronger traps can help reduce neck pain. Strengthening your traps increases the activation of your shoulder muscles, which provide better support to your head and neck.

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 many 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.

Are Dumbbell Shrugs Enough for Building Big Traps?

Dumbbell shrugs are a good exercise for building traps, but they may not be enough on their own.

It is important to incorporate several different exercises that target different areas of the traps, such as barbell shrugs, upright rows, and face pulls.

How to Target Your Lower Traps with Dumbbells

To target your lower traps with dumbbells, try exercises like Incline Y Raise, Dumbbell Rear Delt rows, and Reverse flys.

Make sure to focus on proper form and engage your lower traps by pulling your shoulder blades down and back.


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.


  • Andersen, L. L., Andersen, C. H., Skotte, J. H., Suetta, C., Søgaard, K., Saltin, B., & Sjøgaard, G. (2014). High-intensity strength training improves function of chronically painful muscles: Case-control and RCT studies. Biomedical Research International, 2014, 187324.
  • Ekstrom RA Donatelli RA Soderberg GL. Surface electromyographic analysis of exercises for the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003; 33:247-258
  • Schory A, Bidinger E, Wolf J, Murray L. A systematic review of the exercises that produce optimal muscle ratios of the scapular stabilizers in normal shoulders. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016 Jun;11(3):321-336.

Best Trap Exercises For Muscle Mass & Strength

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