The upright row is one of the most effective exercises to strengthen the shoulder and back muscles. While the upright row is the best form for maximum results and to avoid injury, it can be dangerous to the shoulders. A full day of upper body and shoulder exercises includes upright rows. This article will provide more information about the excellent row exercise.


The upright row is a great back exercise for larger traps. However, it is also one of the easiest to do incorrectly. This will reduce the muscle-building benefits of the upright row but can also cause injury risk by putting undue strain on your shoulders.

One of the best ways to ensure your form is perfect is to avoid using too heavy weights. If you begin jerking or swinging to help you lift a problematic weight, your risk-to-reward ratio will be thrown off. Continue reading for the best tips and tricks to safely and effectively perform an upright row.

What is Upright Row?

The barbell upright row can be an excellent exercise for building your upper back and shoulders. It can also shape your upper arms.

Begin by placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the barbell. You can lift the barbell to your upper chest but not your hips. Then lower it slowly.

Upright rows, a free-weight exercise, can be done with dumbbells and barbells. It’s an easy workout that can be done with little to no effort, but it is essential to do it correctly for best results and injury prevention. Use our tips to be successful with this exercise.

  • Targets Shoulders, Upper Back, Side Belts, and Traps
  • Equipment Required: Barbell, a kettlebell, or dumbbells
  • Level: Advance

A 4-Step Method to Make an Upright Row

As you stand, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the barbell by the handle and allow it to hang at arm’s reach in front of your face. You should align your hands with your thighs and palms toward your body. After you have adapted to this position, you can follow the 4-step process to make an upright row.

  1. Deeply inhale and contract your abdominals. Keep your head forward, chest up, and back straight.
  2. Inhale and raise the barbell towards your chin. The bar should be kept close to your torso. You can lead by your elbows.
  3. At the top of the elevator, stop.
  4. Inhale and lower the barbell back to its original position.

You Must Try To Get the Best Out Of Upright Row Exercise

The upright row is a great exercise to include in your training program for strength training. This simple motion encourages muscle development and improves pulling mechanics. These are just a few of the upright row benefits.

  • Strength: The benefits of straight rows increase shoulder strength.
  • Hypertrophy & Aesthetics: As a result, shoulders and traps are broader and more sculpted.
  • Fat loss & efficiency: The upright row is a complex exercise stimulating many joints and muscles simultaneously and increasing calorie expenditure.
  • Shoulder Stability and Mobility: The shoulder region is one of the most mobile parts of the body. It can move in many directions, including abduction, rotation, and adduction. This flexibility increases the chance of injury to the shoulder region. This exercise targets all deltoids. It requires internal shoulder rotation to maintain a stable shoulder joint.
  • Property: Working the traps, upper back muscles, and the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids help to pull the shoulders back and maintain a more upright position.
  • Performance in Exercise: Athletes who have more mobility in their shoulders will perform better during exercises like cleans or snatches. This is made more accessible by upright rows. You can build muscle endurance using smaller loads, 12-20 reps, and 2-4 sets.

What Muscles are Worked in Upright Row?

When done correctly, the upright row targets your upper body muscles. Your muscles will contract immediately after you lift the barbell. Continue reading to learn more about the exemplary row target muscle.


The traps pull the barbell up during the lift. Due to the shrugging motion, power production is high. The unique action of the upright row allows the lures to drive the barbell upwards.


In the upward motion of the upright row, the anterior, middle, and posterior muscle heads all play a role. The shoulders are responsible for flexing the barbell upwards and drawing it towards your chest, especially in the second part of the pull.


The rapid arm bending motion works the biceps in the upright row. The biceps will not be the main attraction, but they are vital to the success of the exercise. Because you bend your elbows while doing the upright row, your biceps are working together to pull the bar closer to your body.

Upper Back

For the upright row, you need to maintain a firm posture. To keep the weight’s proximity, the weight must be loaded anteriorly at the lift start. This is made more accessible by the fact that your upper back contracts.


Your core is the support base for the upright row. Your core helps to lock you in the starting position while keeping your torso stable.

4 Upright Row Variations That You Should Try

You can modify this exercise to increase the difficulty and make it easier for beginners. These are just a few of the upright row variations.

Dumbbell Upright Row

If you don’t own a barbell, you can do this upright row variation with a set of dumbbells. While performing this variation, keep your hands in a vertical row similar to a barbell upright row. Your hands should be in line with your thighs and palms facing in. Only use dumbbells if you are confident in doing this exercise correctly. It is recommended that you start with a barbell to perfect your technique.

Kettlebell Upright Row

A kettlebell can also be used to perform the upright row variation. This weight can be managed with your hands, just like a barbell, unlike dumbbells, which require you to manage each weight individually.

Cable Upright Row

A cable machine can be used to add an extra row. The cable system allows fluid movement, and you can easily adjust the weight to match your strength. Start by grasping the bar at your thigh height, and then bring it towards your chest.

Plank Upright Row

The exercise will be more difficult if you place a plank at the end. After lowering your body to a plank, stand up and perform the upright row.

5 Common Upright Row Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  1. Your ulnar deviation (how far your wrist must bend) can increase if your hands are too close together. This can be avoided by simply increasing the width of your grip to make it more comfortable as you lift.
  2. You will need momentum to move if you are too heavy. Heavy lifting can affect the appearance of your shoulders or, worse, put excessive strain on them.
  3. Keep the bar close. This increases the chance of shoulder impingement. By controlling your actions and preventing your shoulder from being overused and potentially injuring yourself, you can avoid injury to your shoulder.
  4. Keep your core strong and solid throughout the lift to brace and protect your spine. Keep your torso straight and brace your core. This will help you avoid swaying your weight from the center of your mass when doing upright rows.
  5. To avoid rolling your shoulders forward, keep your shoulders together and your shoulders back. This is called scapular retract.

What other alternative to an upright row?

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You can still enjoy the benefits of an upright row even if you don’t like it. Engage in activities that encourage a similar movement pattern. Here are some alternatives to the vertical row.

Barbell Row

This upright row option, the barbell row, is a great way to work many of the same muscles but at a different angle. Instead of rowing with a tall body, hinging at your hips allows you to focus on your lats by drawing the bar up. The barbell row is a great exercise to increase your back width.

Inverted Row

You can also perform an inverted row by using your body weight. Hanging from a stationary grip such as a barbell on a squat rack, gymnastics rings, or a barbell can help you exercise your back muscles. You can control the difficulty of this activity by changing your body’s posture. Tugging is more difficult if your body is horizontal to the ground.

Snatch Pull

This alternative to the upright row is where the barbell is raised using lower body strength. This activity simulates the pulling phase in a snatch. This motion starts on the ground. To practice the same tall pulling action with heavier weights than what you can use in the upright row, perform a snatch deadlift followed by a leg drive at its top.


The upright row is an excellent exercise for your upper body. It targets your shoulders, traps, and biceps. To isolate your lateral delts, you can modify the practice with dumbbells and lateral raises.

Because it works many muscles, you should include this exercise in your training program early. It’s best to do it when you’re still young.

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