Best Trap Workout With Dumbbells

If you want to have a bigger, stronger back, you need to work on your traps. Consider this is one of the largest muscle groups in your upper back, so you’ll definitely change the shape of your upper body by targeting these muscles. The best trap workout with dumbbells can help you grow your back and shoulders while improving your overall upper-body strength.

Best Trap Workout with Dumbbells

Some of these dumbbells exercises are the best bangs for your buck exercises you can do. Your traps will greatly benefit from a few loaded sets, and the advantage of dumbbells is that you can do these exercises at home, too. Just make sure you always keep proper form and watch your diet, too.

Woman doing a trap workout with dumbbells

Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug is a popular dumbbell exercise that helps in strengthening and building your trap muscles. Your trap muscles require constant training with a high frequency. Make sure that you mix up the intensity and volume of this workout to truly work your trap muscles effectively.

How to Do the Dumbbell Shrug

  1. Start by assuming a standing position with dumbbells in each hand. Make sure you place the dumbbells on both sides of your body.
  2. Slightly hinge forward and make sure you grab each dumbbell with a slightly tight grip.
  3. Stand up and make sure your spine remains straight in the process.
  4. Next, contract your traps, as you elevate your shoulders. Make sure you squeeze hard at the top and then proceed to lower your hands and dumbbells slowly back to your starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.

You should do at least three sets of five to eight reps. Make sure you raise your shoulders as high as possible.

Dumbbell Farmers Carry

Apart from strengthening your trap muscles, this exercise helps in strengthening your glutes, calves, and lower back. It also helps in building a solid core, a stronger grip, and healthier shoulders. The movement helps improve your optimal strength as well.

How to Do a Dumbbell Farmers Carry

Woman lifting a dumbbell with one hand
  1. Grab two dumbbells with each hand using a neutral grip. Make sure you stand up straight. The dumbbells should be between your hips, feet, and slightly in front of your ankles. 
  2. Next, proceed to squeeze your shoulders together.
  3. Brace your core and take a deep breath.
  4. While gripping the dumbbells tightly, stand tall and drive through your heels
  5. Walk straight and make consistent steps 

When doing the farmer’s carry, make sure you stabilize your dumbbell weight to keep you from straining yourself.

Dumbbell Overhead Carry

The dumbbell overhead carry is an exercise that not only engages your trap muscles; it also helps strengthen your core, as it requires you to carry the weight above your head. 

How to Do a Dumbbell Overhead Carry

  1. Start by grasping dumbbells in each hand with a neutral grip. 
  2. Stand tall with both your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  3. Raise the dumbbells directly above your head and make sure you lock your elbows.
  4. Keep your shoulders down and core tight while lifting the dumbbells.
  5. With the dumbbells above your head, walk for a predetermined distance and time.
  6. Lower your dumbbells and repeat.

Make sure you don’t bend your elbows when performing this exercise. Also, maintain an even slow pace during the walk, as this will help prevent any injuries from occurring. Lastly, keep your back in a neutral position and make sure your core is completely engaged. 

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The dumbbell lateral raise is an exercise that turns your trap muscles into boulders. This movement isolates your shoulder muscles. This, in turn, makes it easy to work your trap muscle.

Back view of a woman holding a 2kg dumbbell with one hand

How to Do a Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  1. Sit or stand with a dumbbell in both hands. Make sure that your core is tight, back is straight, and dumbbells are on your side.
  2. Lift the weights slowly out to your sides until your elbows are bent and arms are parallel with the floor.
  3. Next, lower your arms back down.
  4. Repeat and aim for at least ten to twelve reps.

Make sure you perform this workout using the proper form, as this will keep your arms from being injured.

Dumbbell Jump Shrug

If you are looking for an exercise that will not only work your upper body; it also works your lower body as well; then this one workout you should consider. The dumbbell jump shrug works on your traps, glutes, quads, shoulders, and hamstrings.

How to do a Dumbbell Jump Shrug

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your body in a partial squat.
  2. Ensure you hold the dumbbells with both hands.
  3. Lower your body into a full squat then quickly shrug your shoulders and explode up toward your ears. 
  4. Slowly land back to the starting position.

Dumbbell Power Cleans

Dumbbell power cleans is an exercise that not only works on your trap muscles; it also works your glutes, hamstrings, outer thighs, hip flexors, and quads. 

How to Do Dumbbell Power Cleans

Woman lifting dumbbells to her sides with each hand
  1. Start by grasping a set of beginner dumbbells. Make sure that you hold each dumbbell close to your waist and outside the body.
  2. Bend your knees down into a squat-like position and proceed to explode upwards.
  3. While exploding upward ensure that you swing the dumbbells upward as well.
  4. The dumbbells sets should be at shoulder height with your palms facing upwards.
  5. Lower your hands and dumbbells back down and repeat the motion.

Always make sure you start in the right position; as your starting position always directly affects your entire movement. 


By strengthening your trap muscles, you also help strengthen your upper body. Try incorporating the above exercises as part of your workout routine. Make sure you don’t over-perform them so as to not strain your feet and muscles, and rest properly. With these exercises, you’ll be on your way to becoming a trap king.

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.