Upright Row Alternative (Safe And Effective)

Upright row is one of the best exercises for shoulders to increase size and muscles both. Who does not want to build bigger traps and enhance their ability to clean and snatch?

Then take a side step from the upright row.  It is because an upright row can really mess up with your shoulders.

Instead try out these safer alternatives which may prove to be the best of upright row alternatives  which you can also do at home.

Simple and straightforward that everyone can guess is the lateral raise. it along with reduction in the risk of shoulder injury.

Similar to upright row the muscles on the front and sides of your shoulders move very much the same as they do while doing right row which makes it the best alternative exercise for upright row.

 Here in this article I am going to mention similar exercises which are going to increase strength and the size of the upper body.

However, they primarily work your side deltoids and upper trapezius muscles.

Secondarily they also help you build your front and rear deltoids, biceps, rhomboid, and forearms too.

Upright Row Alternatives

There is no denying to the fact that an upright row is one of the  badass exercises to cause shoulder injury.

The traditional upright row exerts  anteriorly directed joint stress to your shoulder girdle.

It happens especially when you go with an upright row with incorrect or has expired positioning and when your shoulder mobility is not perfect. n simple words, when you have bad posture.

Bad posture prevents the shoulder blade from functioning correctly which in turn creates internal rotation at the gleno-humeral joint which later on proves to be harmful.

In short,  trying upright row exercises with the correct posture is a sure-fire way to get shoulder injury and notorious pain in shoulders. 

Instead of doing upright rows, try out these few exercises, all of which are great upright row alternatives.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Dumbbell lateral raises are a comparatively safer and more effective way of boosting  size and strength of all three shoulder heads: posterior, anterior, and medial, heads.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises drastically increase the hypertrophy in shoulders but definitely will help you increase muscle mass in similar muscle groups to that of upright row.

That is why dumbbell lateral raises make a good alternative to upright rowing exercises.

Cable Face Pulls

Hypertrophy is what you want when it comes to bodybuilding and fitness. So if you want to boost the posterior deltoid trap and rhomboid hypertrophy, cable is the best and excellent movement.

Although the movements seem like horizontal rows, it can be easily customized to look like a complex horizontal and vertical row.

Moreover, this exercise offers you more custom settings with regards to angles and grip positioning.

Seated Muscle Snatch

You may be wondering where this exercise came from.

It is one of the Olympic weightlifting movements  which you may need to build serious boulder shoulders and huge traps.

It also offers you the benefit of high pull.  It also involves shoulder pressing and external rotation movement, the movement well-balanced.

The best part of Seated Muscle Snatchis that it takes hips and legs out of the movement and all of your traps, posterior shoulder and upper body are forced to move during the pulling process.

Snatch Grip High Pull

Snatch Grip High Pull is also an Olympic movement, it has much more to offer.

It is just a slight variation of upright row when you will take a wider grip also known as “snatch grip”.

The bar is usually kept closer to the body during the pulling process which is performed by elevating the elbows slightly higher.

It in turn works out your  upper back and posterior shoulder more actively

Reasons to choose upright row alternatives

There are many benefits of doing barbell upright rows but they come with the cost of weakness and pain which was built in your shoulders with time.

Screenshot from Athlean-X Youtube Video

Shoulder Impingement

Scientifically it is also called Rotator Cuff Tendinitis.

The risk of shoulder impingement is greatly increased due to the healthy movements that occur during upright row  process.

It usually occurs when the tendon which is a fibrous body inside the shoulder joint squeezes  in between the bones  at the bottom of this and top of  the upper arm.

This the functionality of your shoulder is reduced due to increased pain and weakness in it. The harsh part is that it could even lead to shoulder tendon damage and rotator cuff tearing.

If you have any trouble with your shoulders reaching behind your back or generally doing overhead activities, those are the clear symbol for you to avoid barbell upright rows.

Intense Loading

The major muscles involved in upright row movement at the shoulder and deltoid.

If you try to move a  heavy load with the moment like heavy arm pulling, shrugging, and hip extension,  it can cause trouble in shoulders and deltoids.

So this may happen if you do not master the technique of isolating muscles for movement or if you do not have that free and smooth Movement in your shoulder joint.

Excessive Internal Rotation

Upright row movement involves a lot of internal rotation and you place your shoulder in one fixing your grip on the bar.

This usually causes excessive loading.

If you experience any kind of joint movement, you should  immediately stop it and consult a medical or trained professional.

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Upright Row and Upright Row Alternatives

  1. Are upright rows bad?

    Upright rows are really bad in the long term. It is because you raise the weight in your soldier and get pinched ( commonly called as impingement ) by the bones in your shoulders. It may not hurt then and there immediately, but it is really dreadly in the long run.

  2. Why shouldn't you do upright rows?

    The risk of having shoulder impingement by doing in the long run, professionals and experience  bodybuilders usually suggest not to do upright rows.

  3. Can upright rows be done safely?

    Upright row movement is directly related to shoulder impingement.  If you want to do an upright row at any cost, try not to keep your hands too close together because narrow hand placement causes internal rotation as you raise your bar up.

  4. What muscle do upright rows work?

    This exercise targets the traps, which span the upper to mid back, and the deltoids, which wrap around your shoulder.

  5. What Are Upright Row Alternatives Good For?

    Upright row alternatives are known for their safe and effective action to widen your shoulders and narrow your waist  giving out that V-shaped upper body. They work out your trapezius and deltoid muscles.

  6. How To Tell If You Have Shoulder Impingement?

    If you feel any sort of pain while doing upright rows, it is the major sign of shoulder impingement.
    Under the guidance of trained professionals, you can try out a test called Neer Test to confirm it. 


Aaron Reiner

Aaron is a fitness blogger, founder & editor of Prosfitness. He has been lifting weights & writing about fitness for over 3 years. He has been a contributor for several health and fitness publications.

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