7 Best Dumbbell Exercises for Men to Build Bigger Traps

Dumbbell workout stimulates and enhances shoulder muscle growth. (Image via Unsplash / Morrow Solutions)
Dumbbell workout stimulates and enhances shoulder muscle growth. (Image via Unsplash / Morrow Solutions)

If you want to build bigger traps, use dumbbell trap exercises. These exercises are not the only way to stimulate muscle growth, though.

That's because the trapezius muscles aren't the only muscles in your upper back that deserve your attention. It's a delicate balance between using specific muscles, using different exercises and rep ranges, and mixing things up with tempo control and movement patterns.

Best Dumbbell Exercises for Building Bigger Traps

Trap workouts can increase upper-body strength and improve your posture. Performing the following seven dumbbell trap exercises can help you build bigger shoulders and improve your posture:

1) Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug, a variation of the barbell shrug, is one of the best exercises for building bigger and stronger trapezius muscles. You can build up your shoulders with this exercise, which helps you achieve a wider range of poses in your back workouts.


To work your shoulders:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging down at your sides.
  • Raise your arms straight out to the sides as high as they go.
  • Hold for a while, and lower them back to the starting position.

2) The Upright Row

The Upright Row is a great dumbbell exercise for building big trapezius muscles and getting the deltoid-pectoral separation.

It's an old-school lift, but it still works. You can do it with both a narrow grip or a wider one - it'll hit your muscles from different angles. However, if you go wide, you have to keep it strict, or else you might cheat more than you want to.


Here's how you do it:

  • Narrow-grip upright rows will work your trapezius muscles.
  • Starting with a dumbbell in each hand, let the weights hang in front of you, and lift them upward till they reach chin level, using only your arms.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lower the weights under control till they're back at their starting position.

3) Dumbbell Farmer's Walk

The farmer’s walk exercise is a strength and conditioning exercise, where you carry two heavy weights while walking for a specific distance. Dumbbell farmer’s walks are one of the classic moves for building strength and muscle mass.


To perform this exercise:

  • Grasp a pair of dumbbells in each hand, and hold them at your sides. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your tummy tucked in.
  • Take small steps forward at an even pace while keeping your head up and eyes focused straight ahead.

4) Incline Dumbbell Shrug

Incline Dumbbell Shrug is a modification of the dumbbell shrug exercise. It strengthens the upper part of the trapezius and neck region, helping improve posture.


To do this move:

  • Lie chest-down on an adjustable-incline bench with your feet flat on the floor, or position them on the frame.
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, and slowly shrug your shoulders up toward your ears.
  • At the top of the movement, pause for a moment, and contract your shoulder muscles. Lower the weights slowly to the starting position.

5) Incline Y-Raise

Y Raises are a great exercise for strengthening your shoulder muscles, particularly the rotator cuff. This exercise can be modified to suit different body types, and you can perform it on an incline bench or on the floor.


Here's how you do it:

  • Lie face down on a flat bench, and lift two light dumbbells up towards the ceiling while forming a capital letter 'Y' with your arms and torso.
  • Slowly lower yourself, and raise yourself back up for the desired number of repetitions.

6) Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Bent-over raises are a great way to isolate and work your rear deltoids and mid traps. For complete shoulder development, it's a must-do exercise. Perform the exercise in both the standing and seated positions. Prefer the seated version, as it calls for strict form.


To perform this exercise:

  • Sit at the end of a bench, and place a pair of dumbbells on your thighs.
  • Bend forward from your hips, and let the weights hang down at your sides.
  • Lift them to shoulder height, but don't raise your shoulders.Slowly lower your knees to your thighs.

7) Lying Dumbbell Dealt Row

The Dumbbell Lying Rear Delt Row is a great basic move for training your side deltoids and upper back. The muscles used for this exercise depend on your range of motion and how you do the exercise.


To do this exercise:

  • Lie on an incline bench, and hold two dumbbells above your shoulders.
  • Slowly bring the dumbbells together till they touch, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for as many reps as you desire.


The seven aforementioned exercises will activate your trapezius and help you build more muscle mass. They can be used as an alternative to regular dumbbell shrugs or simply included in your workout programme as another variation.

You can use the said exercises to create an exercise routine at home, or incorporate them into your gym workout. At the end of the day, the goal is to keep moving and building more muscle.

Quick Links

Edited by Bhargav
App download animated image Get the free App now