Main Muscle Worked: Traps (Shoulders)
What are Seated Dumbbell Shrugs?
Most people who go to the gym do dumbbell shoulder shrugs completely wrong. When they pull up on the weight, they use their legs to bounce, giving themselves an extra boost. To get your traps to grow, you have to stimulate the muscles, which means isolating the movement.
So, sit before you shrug to ensure you don’t use your legs to give yourself that extra boost and makes the exercise tougher which is what you want.
Seated dumbbell shrugs target your upper trapezius muscles, also known as the traps. Located on your upper back and across the back of your shoulders, big, strong traps can be useful in many contact sports such as rugby, boxing, hockey, football and wrestling as they provide essential support for your neck which is an important factor for injury prevention.
From an aesthetic point of view, well-developed upper traps also result in a powerful-looking physique, and many bodybuilders work hard to develop this muscle as they can potentially take a long time to develop. Of all the exercises you can perform for your upper traps, one of the most common and beneficial is the shrug.
If you need a dumbbell to perform this exercise one can be purchased here: Dumbbells
Muscles worked in the Seated Dumbbell Shrug
primary: Trapizius, Upper Back and Rhomboids
secondary: Forearms and Biceps
Benefits of Seated Dumbbell Shrugs
Stronger, More Stable Neck Muscles
This may not seem important to most, but for anyone who has played a contact sport; such as rugby, American football, hockey, or wrestling, neck strength is key for injury prevention. In addition to shrugs — neck flexion, extension, and lateral strengthening should happen which increases stability and strength for athletes who come under contact.
A Better Posture
Seated shoulder shrugs help to increase muscle mass and postural strength of the traps and upper back, which can assist in a better spinal and torso positions in pulling, squatting, and most everyday movements.
Fuller Extension in Olympic Lifts
Movement like shrugs, pulls, muscle snatches, no contact power cleans, etc, are all essential movements to create a more vertical finish in the Olympic lifts. Developing the trapezius muscles, and the vertical finish in the movement patterning can increase overall performance in the snatch and clean.
Improved Pulling Strength
The traps are a key muscle group of the upper body (in addition to the erectors, latissimus dorsi, biceps, and forearms) which are responsible for strong pulling and stable positions in movements like heavy carries, deadlifts, and the Olympic lifts.
How to do Seated Dumbbell Shrugs
- Set up for the seated dumbbell shrug by choosing a pair of dumbbells and sitting with your back straight on a flat bench.
- Grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing in), with your hands down at your sides.
- Let your shoulders “sag” as far as possible. This is the starting position for the exercise.
- Slowly shrug your shoulders up as far as possible.
- Pause, and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Repeat for desired reps.
1. Focus on lifting the weight with your traps and not your biceps.
2. Pausing at the top of the dumbbell shrug makes the exercise more challenging and you’ll get more out of it. Try and pause for a count of 1-3 at the top of each rep.
You can use a chair at home for this although if you want to use a bench one can be bought here which can be flat and in an incline or decline postion: Benches
Mistakes commonly made in the seated dumbbell shrug
It is important that when performing the seated dumbbell shrug that you should keep your back straight and brace your abs throughout the exercise instead of performing with a rounded back and careless abs.
Too Heavy Weights
The seated dumbbell shrug is an exercise where you should never lift weights that would cause you to fail at the end of a set and prevent you from doing the last few reps, this can stress the joints and sometimes even lead to injury.
Safety when performing seated dumbbell shrugs
Do not do the seated dumbbell shrug if you have pre-existing tightness in your neck, if you experience neck/shoulder pain during this exercise then slowly lower the weights and end the exercise. You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out whether the seated dumbbell shrug is appropriate for you.
Variations of Seated Dumbbell Shrugs
One armed Dumbbell Shrug
You can perform the dumbbell shrug with one arm at a time to fix any muscle imbalances and improve conditioning.
- 1. Begin by grasping a single dumbbell in your right hand.
- 2. Let the dumbbell hang down at arm’s length at your side with palm facing your body. This is the starting position.
- 3. Begin exercise by shrugging your right shoulder up (imagine trying to touch your ear with your shoulder).
- 4. Squeeze for a brief moment at the top and then slowly lower all the way back down to the starting position.
Repeat for desired reps, then switch sides.
Standing Dumbbell Shrug
- 1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang down in front of you so that it’s down at your side.
- 2. Without bending your elbows, shrug your shoulders straight up as high as you can as though you’re trying to touch your ears.
- 3. Squeeze for a second.
- 4. Lower straight back down under control to that original starting position.
Repeat for desired amount of reps.
Write below in the comments your opinion on the seated dumbbell shrug, if it works for you and any questions you might have.