Primary Muscle Group: Trapezius
Secondary Muscle Group: Levator scapulae and Rhomboid muscles
Equipment Needed: Dumbbells
The Benefits of Dumbbell Shrugs
The dumbbell shrug is a variation of the barbell shrug and an exercise used to build the trap muscles. If you’re looking to boost the strength of your shoulder, neck, or upper back muscles, or you want to improve your posture, consider adding shoulder shrugs to your workout routine.
Strengthening your trapezius muscles can help stabilize you neck and upper back and reduce the strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.
Shoulder shrugs may also be a good option if you have chronic neck pain. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about this exercise.
If you are looking for new and exciting shoulder workouts you can download a Free Workout Plan or purchase one of our Workout Plans with coaching.
The Risks of doing Dumbbell Shrugs
Dumbbell Shrugs focus the majority of resistance on your upper trapezius. Overloading your dumbbell weight while performing a single vertical movement can pull or tear your trapezius muscle. Because you’re only focusing on a single muscle while shrugging, overloading your dumbbells puts tremendous risk on one area. Tearing can also occur if you let your shoulders fall from the shrug instead of using your muscles to lowering them gradually. Keep your arms extended during the exercise. Performing the exercise with arms bent at the elbow could strain the forearm.
How To Do Dumbbell Shrugs
1. Start by standing in an upright position with the dumbbells on both sides of your body.
2. Hinge forward, inhale, and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip.
3. Stand up tall and ensure your spine remains neutral.
4. Contract the traps to elevate the shoulders. Squeeze hard at the top and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
For Perfect Technique
1. Looking slightly up while shrugging can enhance the contraction as traps help to control movement of your head. This motion should be smooth and controlled, as a sudden jolt like movement could result in a neck injury.
2. The traps tend to respond well to high reps and explosive movements (e.g. snatch grip high pulls) so program your accessory work accordingly.
3. Limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight.
4. Don’t allow the head to jut forward excessively as you squeeze the traps, this can put the neck in a compromised position and result in an injury.
5. Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind muscle connection.
6. Never lock your elbows out fully as this will put the joint under pressure and it could lead to an injury over time.
Once you have mastered the Dumbbell Shrugs you can try alternative exercises that target similar muscle groups such as;
How To Barbell Shrugs
1) Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width as you hold a barbell with both hands in front of you using a pronated grip & your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. (palms facing the thighs).
2) Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. It’s important to remember not to use your biceps to move the barbell.
3) Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
4) Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
How To Smith Machine Shrugs
1) Set the bar height on the smith machine near the middle of your thighs. Grab the bar with palms facing towards you at shoulder width apart.
2) Lift the barbell up and fully extend your arms with your back straight. This is the starting position.
3) While exhaling, lift the bar by raising your shoulders until they come close to touching your ears. Hold the contraction.