Upright Row Exercise: A Guide to Perfect Your Technique

Upright Row Exercise
Upright Row Exercise
Image Credit: Renaissance Periodization (see video below)

If you want to build upper body strength and tone your shoulders, the upright row is an excellent exercise to add to your workout routine. This underrated exercise is easy to perform with just a barbell or dumbbells.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits, the body parts impacted, the equipment required, a step-by-step guide on performing the exercise, and common errors to avoid.

Benefits of the Upright Row Exercise

The upright row is also an efficient exercise that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. By performing this exercise, you can also target your biceps and forearms, which helps to build overall arm strength and definition.

This makes it a magnificent exercise for anyone looking to tone their upper body and build strength without having to do a lot of different exercises.

Moreover, it is a great exercise for athletes or anyone who wants to improve their sports performance. Strong shoulders and upper back muscles are essential for many sports, such as swimming, baseball, and volleyball.

By incorporating this exercise into your workout routine, you can improve your upper body strength and endurance, making you better equipped to excel in your sport.

What Body Parts are Impacted by the Upright Row Exercise

The upright row primarily targets your shoulders, specifically the deltoids and trapezius muscles. However, this exercise also engages your biceps, forearms, and upper back muscles, contributing to a more balanced and defined physique.

Equipment You Need to do the Upright Row Exercise

To perform the upright row, you’ll need a barbell or dumbbells, depending on your preference. Make sure to choose a weight that challenges you without compromising your form.

Steps for Doing the Upright Row Exercise

Step 1: Assume a stance with your feet positioned at a hip-width distance from each other. Grasp a barbell or dumbbells in front of you while maintaining an overhand grip.

Ensure that your arms remain straight, and your palms face downwards.

Step 2: Lift the barbell or dumbbells towards your chin, keeping your elbows pointed out to the sides. Make sure to keep the barbell or dumbbells close to your body as you lift.

Step 3: Pause briefly at the top of the movement, engaging your shoulder muscles, then slowly lower the barbell or dumbbells back down to the starting position.

Step 4: Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps. Aim for three sets of 10–15 reps to start, and gradually increase the number of reps or sets as you get stronger.

Here is a video on how to complete the upright row with a barbell. 

Mistakes to Avoid while doing the Upright Row Exercise

One common mistake people make while doing the upright row is lifting the weight too high, leading to unnecessary strain on the shoulders. Avoid lifting the weight higher than your chin level.

Another mistake to avoid is using momentum to lift the weight. Make sure to lift the weight slowly and with control, engaging your shoulder muscles throughout the movement.

Finally, be sure to maintain proper posture and avoid arching your back or rounding your shoulders during the exercise.


The upright row is a simple exercise that targets your shoulders, upper back, and arms. By incorporating this exercise into your workout routine, you can build upper body strength and increase your shoulder mobility.

With consistent practice, it can help you achieve your fitness goals and take your upper body strength to the next level. Check out the overhead tricep stretch to stretch those arms!