T Nation

Introduction and Upright Row Question

Hello T-Nation,

I’ve been lurking around on this site since earlier this summer, and only registered a name a month or so ago. I wanted to introduce myself to the community here, both to say thank you and to ask a question.

I stumbled onto this site after floundering around the Men’s Health web site, and have been blown away with the amount of knowledge, experience, and support to be found on this site. The contributors (read: authors) have provided amazing quantities of their time and knowledge for free, and the community of members seem more than willing to provide guidance, advice, and share experience with anyone who asks. For an internet forum, this is a fantastic place to call home. For that, I thank all of you.

A little about myself: I’ve recently graduated from college, well, done with my undergrad degree anyway, and am working on my graduate degree and working full-time. I’m 22, 5’11, 190 lbs. and probably somewhere around 10-15% body fat (I’m aware that’s quite a range, but I’ve never had it measured, so all I have to go on are comparing composition photos with those that actually have had it measured).

In truth, I don’t care a great deal about that number, but figured I’d list it in the interest of full disclosure. I’ve lifted on and off for a few years, but most of that was without any direction or real knowledge. I was one of ‘those dudes.’ Hence my profile lists training years at ‘1’. I figure I’m starting at square one.

As far as training goes, at the moment I’m only able to get to the gym twice a week due to class and work restraints, though thankfully I’ve managed to shift my schedule around starting in January, so that I’ll make it there three times a week.

I generally do a full body program on monday and thursday: squats, deadlifts, flat bench presses, pull ups (front hand version), seated cable rows, dips, lat pull downs and bent over reverse flys. If I have anything left in the tank, I’ll throw in side raises, but that’s rare as the sessions last me nearly an hour and a half.

I realize some of it is probably overkill (i.e. pull ups and lat pull downs) but that’s by design at the moment, as I’m trying to bring up some lagging areas. But, when you’ve only got two days to lift real weight, I figure it’s best to hit everything and hit it hard.

As far as set/rep schemes, Mondays are 5x5 (working toward 10x3, but not there yet), and Thursdays are 3x15 or 2x20, for muscle endurance.

As far as numbers go, mine are pathetic, but knowing where I was when I started, I think I’ve made some progress. Listed below are max efforts:
Ass to Grass Squat: 250 (as of this summer: 185, and barely to parallel…yeah…I know)
Deadlift: 275 (summer: 150, had never done them before)
Bench Press: 215 (summer: 145)
Pull-ups: 12 straight, as I haven’t tried weighted yet (summer: about 6)

So yeah, I was tragically weak. And I’m probably only marginally above ‘weak’ now. But I’m working on it. If there’s one thing that reading this board has given me in addition to a wealth of knowledge/accessible resources, it’s the knowledge that this is a long process. And doing it right takes some time. Which has a given me a new-found respect for everyone on here that’s been in the game for awhile.

On to the question: I’ve read more than a few of the contributors here who have shown a disinclination to do upright rows, as it can and has led many people to have some shoulder problems.

But recently I’d read an article somewhere, though I can’t remember where, saying that if you did them with your hands placed at shoulder width on the bar, instead of in a close grip, that greatly reduced the risk of any shoulder impingement.

I don’t currently incorporate these into my program, but it was something I hadn’t seen addressed on here, and was curious to hear someone a lot more knowledgeable than me give their two cents.

This post has dragged on long enough, but I imagine I’ll be checking in often with questions. Thanks in advance for the feedback.


In short I dont see them as the devil and will throw them in from time to time but use DB’s. This allows the hands to follow a more natural path not get bound so no should probs or as of yet from them.

If you dont want to do the plenty of other choices. face pulls, do shrugs, rear delt flys etc.

Try them if they hurt STOP if the help. there good for YOU and thats what matters, real world results.


Welcome to the sight Sabre T. Good luck with your training.

I stopped doing upright rows a long time back because, like most people, they began to aggravate my shoulders. I tried them several months ago with DB’s pulling them in a V pattern (narrow down bottom and a little wider up top) and that seemed to help, but dropped them because my shoulder volume was going up considerably with the program I was doing, and didn’t want to aggravate them again.

I can’t say that I have read the article which talks about having a shoulder width grip being less stressful on the shoulders, but I guess that is essentially what I was doing with the DB’s.

I just tried the upright row motion without weight, first with a narrow grip, then with a shoulder width grip, and then starting up top with a narrow grip and moving my hands outward until I hit shoulder width. I can say that having my hands narrower is less stressful for me. As I widen my grip, I feel a tightness in my shoulders, and immediately want to lessen the range of motion.

For me, the risk/reward benefit just isn’t there. There are too many other good exercises to choose from. Many people have had the same experience, and yet many can do them with no issues. You will have to make your own decision. Either way, best of luck with your training.

First off welcome. You will get some different opinions about upright rows. The normal close grip high pulling style of upright row was always murder on my shoulders and led to some overdeveloped traps for me.

But since trying a much wider grip and pulling the bar from my thighs to a position about a foot away from my neck I feel much of the work done by my shoulders and with no pain to date. So if the exercise causes you pain there are certainely other and probably better ones to replace it with.

Alright, thanks for the replies all. The upright rows (or some variation) aren’t something I’m looking to add to my program anytime soon, but when/if I do I’ll play around with it a bit to see what works. Thanks again,