Fitness & Equipment Guides > Why The Upright Row Can Ruin Your Training

Why The Upright Row Can Ruin Your Training

1st Jul 19

The upright row is an effective exercise for those looking to improve upper body strength, particularly the shoulders and upper back. That much is undeniable. BUT, this comes at a huge risk to your body, potentially permanently. The risk is pretty huge.

What Is An Upright Row?

The upright row is a weighted exercise, usually using a barbell or dumbbells. to do it correctly, it requires you to stand, back straight holding the bar in front, and pull the bar up to your collar bone. In essence, that’s it.

Hold the barbell close to your body with an overhand grip and stand in an upright position. Your arms should remain straight with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows above your hands, lift the barbell to just below your chin and lower back to the starting position.

Now you’ve learned how to perform the exercise, we’re going to ask you to never use it. Let’s take a look at why we would say such a thing!

Implications Involved

Like a lot of exercises, it has its risks. An additional or unwanted strain can be placed on the target muscle groups causing injuries. Due to the substantial amount of rotation movements involved with your shoulders, this exercise can cause distress to your muscles around this area, particularly the smaller muscle groups. As a result, this can cause shoulder pain or injuries like a torn rotator cuff. They’re one of the most common injuries in training after all.

Upright rows overwork your deltoid muscles (located at the top of your shoulder). That’s where the issues lie. Day to day posture can also have a harmful bearing on your shoulders too, like with rounded shoulders, which can tighten your deltoids and cause them to overdevelop. The combination is an accident waiting to happen.

Prevention & Alternatives to the Upright Row

Aside from not using the exercise, injuries and unwanted discomfort can be prevented with the correct posture and utilising alternative exercises. Strong and healthy shoulders can also prevent injuries when performing a variety of exercises.

person performing an upright row

If targeting your deltoids is part of your fitness regime, then try alternative exercises that will have the same effect but are less prone to injury. These include:

Lateral Raises

Begin standing in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart. Whilst holding a pair of dumbbells, raise the dumbbells outwards so your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back and repeat.

Alternatively, bend over with your knees slightly bent. Make sure your back is flat. The dumbbells should now be positioned in front and below your shoulders, then continue with the exercise using the same technique.


Standing in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight, hold the dumbbells at your thighs. Keeping your arms straight, raise the dumbbells so they’re out in front and positioned shoulder height at a 30-45 degree angle. Lower the dumbbells and repeat.

Shoulder Press

the shoulder press is probably the ultimate shoulder exercise. (Even better than the upright row) It hits every section of the deltoid muscles too. with a barbell or dumbbells in hand, lift the bar straight up above your head until your arms are near straight. Hold, and lower back down until your arms are at right angles. That’s a rep.

Bent Row

To complete a bent-over row, you will need a workout bench, an aerobic step or something similar and a dumbbell. Place one knee on the bench and hold the dumbbell in the opposite hand with your arm straight, whilst keeping your back flat. Bending at the elbow, lift the dumbbell so it reaches the side of your ribcage. Lower the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat.

Once you’ve completed the repetitions on one arm, swap to the other side, switching your knee and arm over.


Although upright rows can have a negative effect on your shoulders, it doesn’t mean you should disregard shoulder training, there’s a multitude of healthy ways to train them.



Consult a fitness professional if you’re unsure of how to correctly perform this exercise and if you begin feeling unwanted pain, stop. The last thing you want is to inherit a shoulder injury, preventing you from performing other exercises and achieving your fitness goals.

The upright row is just not worth the risk considering there are alternatives out there. Stay safe. Home Gym Equipment

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.