See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Barbell Upright Rows –
Compound Exercise, Pull Movement
Standing, grasp bar at shoulder width or slightly narrower with an overhand grip. Pull upright with elbows leading towards ears and then lower until arms are extended again.
Tips and Techniques:
Keep barbell close to body, allow wrists to drop at the top of the exercise. Concentrate on pulling with your traps (your mid and lower traps do the bulk of the work) or with your shoulders depending on which muscles you most want to target.
Experimenting a little with the width of your grip can also help target the exercise – for most, a narrower grip will help target the traps more and a wider grip the shoulders more but some individuals will report the opposite effect.
Some people will get pain with a narrower grip and some will get pain regardless of the grip – if there is pain, DON’T DO UPRIGHT ROWS.
We are all built a little different and this is an exercise that is a bit awkward for all and extremely awkward for some. It can be too tough on the shoulders and/or wrists of certain builds.
Experimenting with grips and/or the height you take the exercise (stopping the barbell at the mid or lower chest for example) can alleviate pain but if you just drop the upright row from your weight lifting exercise arsenal, that isn’t going to kill your physique hopes and dreams. It can be an effective exercise but it isn’t a “must do.”
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion.
- Dumbbell Upright Rows – Same motion as above with both arms or alternating between arms. Keep elbows to the sides, don’t let them migrate forwards.
- Machine-Based Upright Rows – Cable and Smith Machines offer alternative ways to perform upright rows. But, if possible, stick to free weights for best results.
As far as exercises that target both the traps and delts as well, you’re kind of limited. Armpit Rows (start with dumbbells at sides and then pull them up as though you are trying to place them in your armpits) are a less commonly done exercise but they do have a dedicated fan-base with many lifters considering them superior to upright rows for both trap and delt development.
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Check your program against this checklist and see if you are doing as much right as possible and getting the best possible results.