How to Do the Upright Row for More Upper Body Muscle

Maximum shoulder workouts contain urgent a weight overhead, whilst maximum again workouts contain pulling a weight towards your frame. The upright row is a bit little bit of each. This distinctive vertical pulling workout goals your shoulders in addition to your higher again. This motion bureaucracy the root of the Olympic lifts and different vertical pulling diversifications. It’s flexible…
The submit Easy methods to Do the Upright Row for Extra Higher Frame Muscle gave the impression first on Breaking Muscle.

Maximum shoulder workouts contain urgent a weight overhead, whilst maximum again workouts contain pulling a weight towards your frame. The upright row is a bit little bit of each. This distinctive vertical pulling workout goals your shoulders in addition to your higher again.

Muscular person lifting barbell to shoulders.
Credit score: Benoit Daoust / Shutterstock

This motion bureaucracy the root of the Olympic lifts and different vertical pulling diversifications. It’s flexible and may also be carried out just about any instrument together with a barbell, EZ-curl bar, resistance bands, even one or two dumbbells or kettlebells.

The vintage and maximum not unusual motion is the usual barbell upright row. This lets you construct essentially the most vertical energy and gear whilst packing dimension onto your “yoke” — the trapezius, higher again, and shoulders. Right here’s the whole lot you want to grasp to thrive with this weightlifting staple.

Easy methods to Do the Upright Row

The upright row is a vertical pulling workout, shifting the load out of your waist to close your shoulders. This motion can concurrently beef up higher frame coordination and gear for sports activities efficiency, whilst construction some beefy shoulders and higher again.

Step 1 — Nail Your Beginning Place

Muscular person in gym holding barbell
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Rise up immediately, retaining a barbell with a shoulder-width grip at arm’s duration. Drop your shoulders down, raise your chest up, and have interaction your glutes. Have your knuckles dealing with the bottom and flex your thighs for all of the set. Tuck for your chin and stay a ahead gaze to assist care for excellent posture during all of the set.

Shape Tip: You’ll regulate your grip width to switch the muscle recruitment. (1) A better than shoulder-width grip will emphasize your entrance deltoids (shoulders). Lifting with a much broader grip will hit your higher traps tougher.

Step 2 — Lead With Your Elbows

Muscular person in gym lifting barbell to shoulders
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Bend your elbows and pull them as much as shoulder-height. Stay the barbell with reference to your frame and convey it up till you succeed in kind of chest-level. Care for an upright torso and don’t let your hips swing the load up. Stay your core, quads, and glutes engaged to stay a robust, strong posture. Squeeze your shoulder blades, trapezius, and shoulder muscle tissues as you pause in short within the most sensible place. Don’t lean too a long way again when the load is on the most sensible.

Shape Tip: Within the most sensible place, your elbows will have to be just about point along with your shoulders. Your wrists will have to be rather beneath your shoulders, and the barbell will have to be beneath your wrists. This may occasionally assist to stay your joints in robust and wholesome positions.

Step 3 — Decrease the Weight with Keep an eye on

Muscular person in gym lowering barbell from shoulders
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Stay the load with reference to your frame as you slide it backtrack towards the beginning place. Grip the barbell tightly to care for complete regulate. When your palms are immediately, pause and reset to make sure a excellent posture prior to doing the following rep.

Shape Tip: Take 3 seconds to decrease the barbell. This may occasionally permit you to regulate the eccentric (decrease section) and building up muscular stress for extra enlargement.

Upright Row Errors to Steer clear of

The upright row might appear simple — you pull the barbell up and down your frame and let the higher frame features start. However, grasp on, there’s greater than meets the attention right here. Steer clear of those errors to get essentially the most out of this workout.

Lifting Too Heavy

As tempting as it’s to load up an workout to look how a lot you’ll raise, the upright row isn’t that workout. It must be handled as an “accent” to beef up your vertical pulls and to construct muscle for your shoulders and higher again. It shouldn’t be educated for “absolute energy,” or essentially the most quantity of weight you’ll raise for a unmarried repetition.

Seeking to pull an excessive amount of weight will inspire you to swing your frame for momentum, which is able to pressure your decrease again. Excessively heavy weights too can rigidity your shoulder joints within the most sensible place.

Steer clear of it: When you find yourself wanting frame English to tug the load up, and if you can’t regulate the eccentric for 2 or 3 seconds, don’t be a hero. Lighten the burden and raise with excellent shape and correct regulate for higher effects.

Lifting Your Elbows Too Prime

Bringing your elbows upper than parallel to the ground might purpose shoulder problems like impingement or bursitis when repeated over the years. (2) Somewhat than riding your elbows as much as your ears and looking to pull the bar on your neck, forestall when your elbows have reached shoulder-level.

Muscular person in gym lifting barbell to shoulders.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Extra vary of movement isn’t higher on this case as a result of, as your elbows upward push above shoulder-level, your shoulder joint is put into an ungainly and doubtlessly bad place because the smaller tissues inside the joint pill may also be compressed and doubtlessly broken.

Steer clear of it: Take note of the place your elbows are with regards to your shoulders. As you carry the load, focal point on achieving the best top and now not any farther.

Leaning Again

In case you’re pushing the boundaries with an excessive amount of load or attempting (inefficiently) to create an extended vary of movement, it’s possible you’ll finally end up leaning too a long way again and lengthening your decrease again whilst pulling the load upwards.

When that occurs, you lose excellent posture and put your self in danger for a possible damage. You additionally upload a “diagonal” motion to what will have to be a vertical pull, which adjustments your leverage and decreases the trouble of the raise.

Steer clear of it: Stay your core tight, and have interaction your quads (thighs) and glutes for all of the set. Whilst you lose that muscular engagement, finish the set and believe lightening the burden.  

Letting The Bar Waft Away

In case you get drained and start the use of momentum to complete your set, or when you’ve were given an excessive amount of weight loaded, the barbell might flow away out of your torso since you’re the use of an excessive amount of frame English and will’t care for regulate over the bar.

Person in gym doing upright row exercise.
Credit score: MDV Edwards / Shutterstock

Because the bar will get farther in entrance of your frame, your smaller rotator cuffs are put beneath extra rigidity, your wrist and elbow joints are put beneath extra pressure, and your total leverage decreases which gets rid of muscular activation out of your higher again.

Steer clear of it: Stay your shoulders down and your chest up. This will have to assist to recruit your shoulder and higher again muscle tissues, which is able to assist stay the barbell with reference to your torso as you raise and decrease the load.

Easy methods to Development the Upright Row

The upright row would possibly not all the time be the perfect motion for a vertical pulling workout relying for your particular person mobility. Chances are you’ll have the benefit of running as much as the overall barbell upright row. Right here’s the right way to get began.

Two-Dumbbell Upright Row

The barbell can every now and then be unforgiving for lifters with existing wrist or elbow joint problems. A barbell additionally locks your fingers into a set width and a place that can be uncomfortable to your present wrist or forearm mobility. Acting dumbbell upright rows is a superb technique to construct dimension and energy whilst running round any mobility problems.

Dumbbells permit your fingers and wrists to naturally rotate all through the workout, and this freedom of motion is extra forgiving for your joints whilst nonetheless making use of stress at the goal muscle tissues.

Pace Upright Row

Each and every rep of each and every workout technically has has 4 “portions” — the eccentric or reducing portion, the stretched place, the concentric or lifting portion, and the lockout or height contraction. Manipulating how lengthy every phase takes is known as pace lifting, and it may be the important thing to getting extra effects from lighter weights.

For instance, chances are you’ll paintings with 3-1-2-3. This is able to imply you’re taking 3 seconds to decrease the load, dangle a one-second pause within the stretched place, raise the load in two seconds, and pause for 3 complete seconds within the shrunk place. This places the running muscle tissues via extra time beneath stress, and extra time beneath stress ends up in extra enlargement. (3)

Unilateral Smith System Upright Row

Whilst you’ll carry out a single-arm dumbbell upright row, the load can grow to be problematic and unwieldy because the dumbbells get larger and bulkier. This is a superb time to show to the Smith device for an unconventional however extremely efficient motion.

With the fastened vary of movement supplied by way of the guided rails, the Smith device supplies additional steadiness. This lets you pass heavier than any dumbbell variation. The lengthy barbell may be more uncomplicated and extra at ease to seize than a somewhat smaller dumbbell.

Advantages of the Upright Row

The upright row has superb carryover to different vertical pulling movements just like the grasp and blank & jerk. It’s additionally a really perfect workout to construct a large “yoke” — the muscle tissues throughout your shoulders and higher again.

Higher Frame Muscle

Since the upright row works your deltoid muscle tissues, higher again, and traps, bodybuilders and physique-focused lifters will have to come with this workout to coach their whole shoulder house. It is a good workout for shoulder hypertrophy (enlargement), and construction the “yoke” is helping you glance are compatible, muscular, and athletic even while you’re dressed in a dishevelled sweatshirt.

Energy Carryover

In case you’re a energy athlete enthusiastic about CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting, you might be frequently appearing lifts comparable to energy cleans or top pulls. Coaching the upright row could have a right away carryover to the efficiency of those lifts as it trains the similar muscle teams and helps total building.

The upright row may be a excellent accent workout for Olympic weightlifting as it mimics the motion trail of the grasp and blank. Even if the overall Olympic lifts educate total-body power, the upright row is helping to construct the muscle tissues concerned, which is helping to toughen all of the motion.

Person in gym performing barbell Olympic lift.
Credit score: The Artwork Of Lifestyles / Shutterstock

All the way through the grasp and the blank & jerk, it’s very important to stay the barbell with reference to your torso when it travels at complete velocity. Doing the barbell upright row as an adjunct workout will beef up the energy had to stay the barbell with reference to your frame. 

Stepped forward Posture

The barbell upright row goals the higher again and higher traps, that are very important for excellent posture. Bettering postural energy has superb carryover when conserving a impartial backbone for barbell squats and deadlifts, or when merely strolling in day by day job.

Stepped forward Core Energy

The upright row is basically an higher frame workout, so your anterior core (abs and hips) and posterior core (decrease again and glutes) paintings exhausting to care for a impartial posture. With the load being in entrance of your frame, your six-pack muscle tissues are running exhausting so that you don’t spherical ahead or tilt sideways, whilst your posterior core guarantees you don’t prolong your decrease again as you pull the burden up towards your chest.   

Muscle mass Labored by way of the Upright Row

The upright row is predominantly an higher frame motion along with your core and lower body muscle tissues taking part in a supporting function. Listed here are the most important muscle tissues educated by way of the upright row.


The trapezius muscle’s number one serve as is controlling your shoulder blades, which happens when pulling the barbell up. The scapulae (shoulder blades) outwardly rotate to tug the barbell up your torso. The vertical pulling movement of the upright row is within the lure’s wheelhouse.


All 3 heads of the deltoids — the entrance, aspect, and rear — are educated in shoulder abduction when your higher arm rises out on your facets. That is observed most importantly within the height contraction on the most sensible of the upright row.

Higher Again

The upper back (together with your rhomboids and teres) performs two roles all through the upright row. It controls the upward rotation of the scapula, as you succeed in the highest a part of the repetition, and it really works to stay a excellent lifting posture with a impartial backbone from most sensible to backside. 


As a result of your elbows bend and flex all through the upright row, your biceps also are educated. Then again, they play a supportive function and aren’t the principle goal. In case your biceps are fatiguing prior to different muscle tissues, regulate your grip width and concentrate on riding your elbows up — don’t overfocus on pulling along with your fingers. 


Your abdominals, obliques, and decrease again paintings encompass your torso to beef up your backbone. This lets you stay in a excellent total posture so you’ll focal point on the remainder of the higher frame muscle tissues doing their process to transport the load.

Easy methods to Program the Upright Row

The upright row may also be custom designed by way of adjusting units and reps to fit your private objectives. The upright row law enforcement officials some flack in lifting circles as a result of it may put the shoulders in a doubtlessly susceptible place. But if the motion is programmed correctly and carried out appropriately, it may be a particularly recommended workout with restricted chance.

For Energy

Like many barbell workouts, the upright row can building up total higher frame energy. That is finished by way of appearing fewer reps and a couple of extra units at a somewhat heavier weight. To concentrate on bettering your higher again energy, carry out 3 to 5 units of 4 to 6 repetitions. Then again, the motion will have to stay strict and with none swinging. If you need to heave the load up, you’ve long past too heavy.

For Efficiency

The barbell upright row may also be carried out when weightlifting athletes wish to beef up their bar trail, coordination, and energy for Olympic lifts. When that is the case, use a reasonable weight with the next quantity — 3 to 4 units of 10 repetitions works neatly.

For Muscle  

When taking a look to build your yoke, somewhat upper reps with a mild to reasonable weight will have to be your go-to. This permits you to emphasize your shoulders and higher again with upper quantity to overload the tissue for higher possible muscle enlargement. Right here, anyplace from 3 to 5 units of 10 to fifteen repetitions works neatly.

Upright Row Permutations

Even if the barbell upright row is a brilliant workout to construct your shoulders and higher again, it is helping to have a couple of diversifications for your again pocket to tug out for selection, to scale back boredom, and to steer clear of overuse accidents. Listed here are 3 such diversifications.

Kettlebell Upright Row

The kettlebell upright row may also be carried out with one or two kettlebells. Conserving one kettlebell with each fingers doesn’t prefer the shoulder joint, so both carry out is with one weight in a single hand or one weight in every hand.

Running unilaterally (a weight in every hand) can assist toughen imbalances between facets. The kettlebell additionally provides a special really feel in comparison to a dumbbell for the reason that weight’s middle of gravity is decrease. It will assist to improve conserving the load with reference to your frame all through the raise.

 Seize Pull

The grasp pull is an Olympic raise variation that trains lower- and higher frame energy. Since you’re riding the load along with your decrease frame, extra weight can be utilized than with a strict upright row.

The grasp pull mimics a deadlift setup mixed with the pulling a part of the upright row, however the use of a large snatch-grip will additional toughen your higher again. The explosive nature of the raise additionally is helping to increase energy and energy.

Unmarried-Arm Upright Row 

In case you haven’t were given get entry to to a kettlebell, the single-arm upright row with a dumbbell is a good and dependable variation.

The focal point on unilateral energy will assist toughen every aspect of the frame to beef up total bilateral efficiency. This is likely one of the maximum joint-friendly diversifications as a result of you’ll simply regulate the variety of movement and your hand place on your particular person mobility wishes.


It’s completely high quality when you’re undecided concerning the execs and cons of the upright barbell row, as it’s earned a rather “debatable” recognition through the years — in part because of its calls for at the shoulder joint, and in part because of lifters merely appearing it incorrectly and negating its advantages.

Why do my wrists bend all through the upright row?

Your wrist will flex or bend towards your frame when the burden will get heavy as you pull the load up towards your chest. Whilst some wrist flexion is fine on the finish vary of movement, you will have to cut back the load in case your wrists harm.

The older lifters on the gymnasium say the upright row will grind my shoulders into mud. Are they proper?

The barbell upright row isn’t for everyone. Since the shoulders are internally circled, a set vary of movement and excellent shoulder mobility is needed, and a few will really feel ache, specifically on the most sensible of the raise.
If so, carry out kettlebell or dumbbell upright rows whilst bettering your shoulder mobility. Paintings round the problem and now not via it.

Know Your Row

The upright row is a time-tested motion for including dimension on your shoulders, traps, and again and construction pulling energy that carries over to just about each and every higher frame workout. It’s short-sighted to brush aside the upright row as merely being doubtlessly bad. When carried out with excellent methodology, following correct programming, it may be a vital participant in construction a extra muscular and extra robust higher frame.


  1. McAllister, M. J., Schilling, B. Okay., Hammond, Okay. G., Weiss, L. W., & Farney, T. M. (2013). Impact of grip width on electromyographic job all through the upright row. Magazine of energy and conditioning analysis27(1), 181–187.
  2. Schoenfeld, Brad MSc, CSCS1; Kolber, Morey J PT, PhD, CSCS2; Haimes, Jonathan E BS, CSCS2. The Upright Row: Implications for Fighting Subacromial Impingement. Energy and Conditioning Magazine: October 2011 – Quantity 33 – Factor 5 – p 25-28 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e31822ec3e3
  3. Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., Cashaback, J. G., Gibala, M. J., Potvin, J. R., Baker, S. Okay., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time beneath stress all through resistance workout stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional artificial responses in males. The Magazine of body structure590(2), 351–362.

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The submit How to Do the Upright Row for More Upper Body Muscle gave the impression first on Breaking Muscle.

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