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Best Trapezius (Trap) Exercises With Dumbbells


Dumbbells can provide a great workout without needing a ton of fitness equipment.

They’re also perfect if you find yourself pressed for time. You can load a set of dumbbells and get going instead of finding the perfect gym with all the unnecessary equipment.

If you’re looking to put some trapezius exercises into your training sessions, you’ll find them in the list below.

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.

Trapeziues Workouts

For someone just starting out with trap exercises you might be surprised they come in both isolation and compound exercises. Compound 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.

#2 Upright Rows

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

#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.

#4 Reverse Dumbbell Fly

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.

#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.

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 Good Trap 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 body weight and a little gravity into the equation.

Pike presses are a great trap exercise 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.

Supplements to Pack on the Muscle

Creatine is proven to increase mass and power output. With it’s low cost and high return, creatine monohydrate is the ideal creatine format.

You can start with a loading phase of 5 to 10 grams a day for the first several days then lower dosage. Or keep it simple and just stick to 3 to 5 grams daily.

When to take creatine for maximum trap size

A general rule for effective creatine dosing is to take it right after your workout. This allows your muscles to “soak up” the creatine as your body is primed for maximum nutrient intake after your workout. I take 3 grams after my workout and my weight is around 190 lbs.

Caffeine and Beta Alanine Too

Caffeine goes well with creatine. It’s another supplement that increases power output. Be sure to drink plenty of water with the caffeine and creatine combo.

Beta alanine completes the trifecta, as it increases muscle endurance and reduces fatigue. You also get the benefit of “the tingles”, also called paraesthesia.

Taking beta alanine before a workout gives you a Pavlovian trigger that it’s time to workout. But note that it’s not necessary to take it right before your workout. It can be dosed two to three times daily for a max of around 5 grams. I usually take 2 to 3 grams in the morning and then again before working out for the tingling trigger.