One of the best exercises for developing the back and shoulder muscles is the upright row. The ideal form is necessary for the greatest results and helps to prevent injury, but it is also possibly harmful to the shoulders. Include upright rows in a full day of the upper body or shoulder exercise. This article is to know more about the upright row exercise.


One of the best back exercises for bigger traps is the upright row, which is also one of the easiest moves to perform incorrectly. The move's muscle-building benefits will usually be lost as a result, but improper form can also put undue strain on your shoulders and raise your risk of injury.

Avoiding utilizing weights that are too heavy is one of the simplest strategies to make sure your form is impeccable. Your risk-to-reward ratio is thrown off if you start jerking and swinging to assist you in lifting a weight you're finding difficult, so you might as well abandon the set. For the finest tips on how to perform the upright row exercise safely and effectively, continue reading.

What Is Upright Row?

When done properly, the barbell upright row may be a great upper back and shoulder muscle-building exercise that can also assist shape your upper arms and torso.

Start by placing your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart on a barbell. Pull the barbell up to your upper chest without moving your hips, then slowly lower the weight back down.

A free-weight workout called upright rows is often done with dumbbells or a barbell. Although it's a straightforward workout, precise execution is necessary for the best outcomes and injury prevention. Utilize our advice to succeed at this exercise.

  • Targets: Shoulders, upper back; side belts and traps
  • Equipment Needed: Barbell (or a kettlebell or dumbbells)
  • Level: Advanced

How To Do Upright Row: A 4-Step Procedure?

Place your feet shoulder-width apart as you stand. Take hold of the barbell and let it hang in front of you at arm's length. Your hands should be lined up with your thighs and palms towards your body. Once you adapt yourself to this position, follow the below mentioned 4-step procedure on how to do an upright row.

  1. Inhale deeply and contract your abdominals. Keep your eyes forward, chest high, and back straight.
  2. As you exhale, raise the barbell (toward the chin). Keep the bar close to your torso and lead with your elbows.
  3. Stop at the elevator's peak.
  4. As you inhale, lower the barbell to the beginning position.

The Benefits Of Upright Row Exercise You Cannot Miss Out On

An excellent exercise to keep in your repertoire for effective strength training is the upright row. It's a straightforward motion that encourages muscular development and enhances pulling mechanics. Below mentioned are a few upright row benefits.

  • Strength: Upright rows benefits increase the shoulder strength.
  • Aesthetics &  Hypertrophy: The shoulders and traps become broader and more sculpted as a result.
  • Fat Loss & Efficiency: The upright row workout is a complex exercise that stimulates several joints and muscles at once and increases calorie expenditure.
  • Shoulder Stability & Mobility: One of the body's most mobile regions, the shoulder region can move in a variety of directions, including rotation, abduction, and adduction. This adaptability also increases the risk of damage in the shoulder region. This exercise targets all deltoids and needs internal shoulder rotation, maintaining a stable and flexible shoulder joint.
  • Posture: Working the traps and upper back muscles, as well as the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, aids in pulling the shoulders back and maintaining a more upright posture.
  • Exercise Performance: When shoulders are more mobile, athletes perform better in other workouts like cleans and snatches. Upright rows aid with this. Using smaller loads for 12–20 reps and 2-4 sets will help you build more muscle endurance.

What Muscles Are Worked In Upright Row?

The upright row targets muscles in your upper body when it is done correctly. In this lift, your muscles begin to contract as soon as you move the barbell. Scroll below to read more about the upright row target muscles.


In the lift, the traps pull the barbell upward. The power production is high given the shrugging motion. The upright row's unique motion enables the traps to take over and drive the barbell up.


The anterior, middle and posterior muscle heads of the deltoids all play a part in the upright row's upward action. Particularly in the second half of the pull, the shoulders are in charge of vigorously flexing and drawing the barbell higher and towards your chest.


In the upright row, the biceps are worked by the rapid arm bending motion. Although they won't necessarily be the stars of the show, the biceps are essential to the action. The biceps and brachialis work together to pull the bar close to your body because you are bending your elbows during the upright row workout.

Upper Back

A firm posture is necessary for the upright row workout. The weight is loaded anteriorly at the start of the lift, which requires pulling the weight up and back to maintain its proximity. The upper back contracts to draw tight and close to make this easier.


The core serves as the upright row's supporting base. To ensure that the right muscles are engaged during the lift, your core can help lock you into the starting position and maintain your torso stable.

4 Upright Row Variations You Should Try

This exercise can be changed to increase the difficulty as you gain strength and to make it more accessible to beginners. Below mentioned are some of the upright row variations.

Dumbbell Upright Row

You can perform this upright row variation using a set of dumbbells if you don't have a barbell. Keep your hands in a posture similar to that of a barbell upright row while performing this variant. Hands should be lined up with the thighs, palms facing in. If you know how to perform this exercise properly, only use dumbbells. It is advised to start using a barbell until you perfect your technique.

Kettlebell Upright Row

When performing this upright row variation, a kettlebell is another option. With this form of weight, you can manage it with both hands, just like with a barbell, as opposed to having to control each weight separately (as you do with dumbbells).

Cable Upright Row

Using a cable machine is an additional upright row variation. You may easily change the weight to correspond to your degree of strength thanks to the cable system, which allows for fluid movement. To begin this exercise, grasp the bar at thigh height and bring it up toward your chest.

Plank Upright Row

A plank at the end of the upright row will increase the difficulty of the exercise. Lower your body into a plank position, hold it for a short period, then stand back up after performing the upright row and bringing the weight back to the beginning position.

5 Common Upright Row Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

  1. Make sure your hands aren't too close together because doing so can cause your ulnar deviation to increase (how much your wrist must bend to the side). By simply adjusting your grip width to be slightly wider so that it is more comfortable for you as you lift, you may easily avoid this possibility of wrist damage.
  2. If you are too hefty, momentum will be needed to move. Heavy lifting will detract from the shoulders' appearance or, worse still, place excessive strain on them.
  3. Keep the bar from being pulled too high; doing so increases the risk of shoulder impingement damage. You may prevent overusing your shoulder and possibly injuring it by controlling the action and keeping your elbows from rising over your shoulders.
  4. Maintain a strong and stable core the entire lift to help with bracing and protect the spine. Brace your core and keep your torso upright. This will assist in reducing or preventing swinging the weight away from your center of mass during upright rows.
  5. Keep your shoulders drawn back and together as you lower the weight to avoid rolling your shoulders forward (known as scapular retraction).

What alternative to an upright row can you try?

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Even if the upright row isn't quite your thing, you can still reap some of its advantages by engaging in activities that stimulate a related movement pattern. Below mentioned are some of the alternatives to an upright row.

Barbell Row

Many of the same muscles are worked by this upright row alternative, the barbell row, but from a different angle. Hinging at the hips enables you to draw the bar up to concentrate on your lats rather than rowing with a tall torso. If you want to increase the width of your back, the barbell row can be a better exercise for you.

Inverted Row

Using your body weight, you can perform another upright row alternative, the inverted row. You can exercise all of your back muscles without using heavy weights by hanging from a stationary grip, such as a barbell in a squat rack or gymnastics rings. By altering your body's stance, you may control how challenging this activity is for you. The tugging action will be more challenging the more horizontal the body is to the ground.

Snatch Pull

In this alternative to upright row, the barbell is rowed upward by employing lower body strength. This activity simulates the pulling phase of a snatch. The lift in this motion begins on the ground. You can practice the same tall pulling pattern with higher weights than you would be able to use in the strict upright row by performing a snatch deadlift and finishing with a leg drive at the top to elevate the bar.


An almost entirely upper body exercise, the upright row works your shoulders, traps, forearms, and biceps. You can change the exercise by using dumbbells or by doing lateral rises to better isolate your lateral delts.

As it uses numerous muscles, try including this exercise early in your training. You'll want to crush it while you're still fresh.

Buy The Equipment Needed For Upright Row Exercise From Decathlon

Barbell - Weight Training Bar 28 mm 1.55 m

Decathlon’s design teams created this solid weight training bar for users to build muscles, including Biceps, Triceps, Pecs, Back, and Legs. The given steel bar is highly robust and comes with a warranty of 5 years. It can take a maximum load of up to 160 kg. Additionally, the knurled handles provide a better grip.

Dumbell - Weight Training 20 kg Threaded Weights Kit

This 20 kg kit is developed by the weight training coaches and design team of Decathlon to help you perform weight training at home. The product is highly robust with iron discs and steel bars which come with a 2-year safety warranty. Also, it is highly versatile and can be used to do various exercises: biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pecs. Additionally, this product is easy to transport and store, and it has an ergonomic shape providing a better grip.

Kettlebell - Gym Kettlebell 8 Kg Black Blue

The design team of Decathlon developed this Kettlebell with a rubber base for cross-training workouts at home or in a box. The ultra-durable rubber base protects floors against knocks and provides robustness. It is also versatile for a complete workout where you can combine muscle strengthening and cardio training. The wide, practical handle provides improved gripping depending on the exercise.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What causes my wrists to occasionally flex at the peak of the pull?

If the weight is too heavy for your shoulders or traps, you might unknowingly bend your wrists as you pull it. Although a small amount of wrist flexion is acceptable at the very top of the action, reduce the weight if you notice that you are bending your wrists too much.

What if, at the peak of the pull, I feel discomfort in my shoulders?

At the peak of the lift, the upright row calls for an expanded range of motion. It takes a lot of shoulder flexibility to pull the elbows up high with the knuckles pointing downward. If you feel pain at the top of the lift, a mobility restriction is probably to blame.

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