Barbell Upright Row


About Upright Barbell Rows

The barbell upright row exercise is fairly common. Unfortunately, a lot of people perform barbell upright rows incorrectly. As people perform the barbell upright row exercise, most of them tend to elevate the elbows beyond shoulder-level. When this occurs, the trainee is at risk of sustaining an injury to the rotator cuff. When analyzing the anatomy of the shoulder, it is important to note that the space between the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the roof of the shoulder joint is very limited. So limited in fact, that the ligaments and muscles (usually the supraspinatus muscle of the rotator cuff) can become impinged between the space. When this happens, swelling occurs which further decreases the available space and leads to more complications such as pain, decreased mobility and weakness. The best way to minimise risk when performing the barbell upright row exercise is to stop the movement once your elbows reach shoulder level. Never elevate beyond shoulder height!


Barbell Upright Row Video


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How To Do The Barbell Upright Row Exercise

  1. While standing in an upright position, grasp Olympic bar using an overhand grip. Your hands should be positioned approximately two thumb lengths apart.
  2. Exhale and while maintaining a slight bend at the knees and elbows, elevate the bar to a position that has your elbows and shoulders in alignment.
  3. Inhale and at a controlled speed, lower the barbell back down to starting position.
  4. Repeat until the desired number of repetitions are completed.

Barbell Upright Row Variations

The movement can also be performed by holding a dumbbell in each hand as a substitution for the Olympic bar.


The barbell upright row exercise can also be executed by using a narrow bar or rope attachment on a cable machine.

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