• Welcome to realmuscleforum.com
  • When doing db shrugs, what muscles are worked?

    Note: If you are viewing exercise videos on a mobile device, please switch to horizontal view for the best experience.

    In this article, we will look at db shrugs and the muscles worked and give you an idea of the exercise and the muscles involved. Dumbbell exercises benefit the triceps, particularly the three-head triceps, but you must do the exercises correctly. Before looking at the muscles worked by db shrugs, let’s look at this simple but useful exercise.

    Posture and movement with db shrugs

    First of all, the starting position should see you hunched straight down to pick up the dumbbells positioned on either side of your body. Rather than using your arms or back to lift the dumbbells, you must use your legs with a straightforward upward movement.

    Now that we are preparing for the db shrugs, focusing on your body alignment is essential. Firstly, keep your feet relatively close together so that the dumbbells can naturally hang in line with your arms. Then, maintain a slight arch in your back, and pinching your shoulders together, ensure that your arms are straight and your spine is neutral. Your wrists must remain straight throughout the exercise.

    This is where the db shrug starts; as you elevate your shoulders upwards, breathe out and slowly bring your shoulders down, as you would with a typical shrug. You must maintain a pinching of your shoulders throughout the exercises, allowing the muscle exercise to focus on the back and neck area.

    Which muscles do db shrugs work?

    As with any exercise, you must be able to identify which muscles you are working on. If you are unaware of the muscles you are exercising, focusing on one muscle is very easy, which can enhance the chances of injury. So, when it comes to db shrugs, the primary muscles worked include:-

    Trapezius (often referred to as the trap muscle)

    The trapezius muscle is significant and consists of three elements: the upper, middle and lower. It extends from the base of the skull down through your spine and right across your shoulder blades. DB shrugs tend to focus on the upper portion of your trapezius, enhancing the form and strength of your shoulders.

    Levator scapulae

    The levator scapulae does precisely what it says, lifting the shoulder blades, with which db shrugs are particularly helpful. It is positioned on the side of the neck, with regular db shrugs helping to exercise this particular muscle and help with overall posture.


    Split between the rhomboid major and rhomboid minor, this muscle is collectively referred to as the rhomboids. Typically, these muscles are not the prime focus of db shrugs, but they work together with the trapezius to control the shoulder blades’ movement and position.


    The supraspinatus is one of the four rotor cuff muscles located towards the upper back and shoulder blades. When looking at db shrugs, and what muscles are worked, this muscle is likely engaged during the shrug exercise and plays a critical role in stabilising the shoulder joint. This has a knock-on effect on the shoulder blades and the connected muscles.


    The anterior, middle, and posterior deltoids are critical parts of the shoulder joint, giving the shoulder a rounded contour and enhancing movement. While not a significant focus of dumbbell shrugs, they receive a workout as part of the wider shoulder muscle/joint.

    Spinal erectors

    The spinal erectors are a group of muscles and tendons that run down your spine’s entire length. They have several roles, such as stabilisation of the back and straightening, and they also assist with side rotation. While the shoulder blades are isolated during dumbbell shrugs, there is a degree of exercise for the spinal erectors, more of a stabilisation role.


    When it comes to db shrugs and what muscles are worked, we have covered the principal elements and how they impact movement, stability and strength. As with any exercise, it’s vital to take advice, plan and ensure that your exercises are reasonable and appropriate. We have an interactive body muscle page that allows you to select one or more muscles and watch a number of exercise videos on your desktop, tablet, or mobile phone.