T Nation

Need Help w/ Upright Row

Hey, folks. I am in need of your help/guidance/advice. I’m doing Meltdown I. One of the exercises is the Upright Row. I either need an alternative exercise, an alternative grip or someone who can tell me what is wrong with my form.



The exercise is causing me pain in my right forearm, the medial side. I feel pain from the wrist to about halfway up my forearm. And after my last workout, my shoulder on the same side is beginning to bother me as well. I’ve been doing a close, over-handed grip. My left shoulder and arm seem to naturally or more easily lift higher than the right side. So this last workout I actually tried to make sure that I lifted equally/symetrically. Result, my right shoulder is acting up a bit today. The weight is not heavy for me, just the 45-pound bar. One thing I am focusing on – and it seemed to help a bit – is not lifting too high, just to the clavicle or a little below. Oh, yes, and it seems to be the eccentric portion of the exercise that causes me pain; not in the muscles I’m working, of course, but my right forearm.



Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really like the exercise and what it’s doing for my shoulder development, but I don’t want to aggrevate things further.

This might seem like a weenie way out, but I’ve had alot of success switching over to pulley uprights using a rope attachment. Use a low-level cable, attach the rope (like the kind some use for tri pressdowns). Grab the rope so that, at the start of the pull, your thumbs are pointing down, knuckles together. Focus on pulling with your elbows, not your hands.

I had never been able to even use the bar on barbell uprights, but I’ve used the rope for over four years now with neither injury nor rotator pain. I’m sure the purists will say it ain’t the same as a barbell (and I don’t disagree), but at least it allows me to do them.

Terry, as I recall the exercise you’re referring to in Meltdown Phase I is a bent row not an upright row. Maybe you just misinterpreted? I don’t know, just throwing that out there if that’s the case.

I think that you are right about it being a Bent over row. Try using the smith machine for uprights I had the same problem and I can do them on a smith with no pain.

Upright row has a reputation for ruining shoulders. For me, a wider grip helps alleviate the forearm pain (no, you’re not the only one).

To Chris & Colin:


I’m doing a Joel-Marion-Modified Meltdown. I do both the bentover row and the upright row (on different days). Should have told you that in my post. Replacing the uprights with the bentovers sure would have been a quick fix. (grin)



With that out of the way, thank you, everyone for the alternatives. Boscobarbell, I like the idea of the rope. That’s going to be first on my list of things to try. The one thing that I picked up on, that I think is a critical piece of information, is the “thumbs down” part. And no, it doesn’t seem like a weenie way out when I’m faced with not being able to do the exercise at all. Thanks for the detailed instructions!



Colin, the Smith Machine sounds like a good option, too. I’m going to try it and see what my arm and shoulder can handle . . . after giving it a bit of R&R, of course



Brider, useful bit of information, re being hard on the shoulders; I didn’t know that. And it’s a relief to know that it’s not just me and that it’s not just a case of bad form or not knowing what I’m doing. I had surgery on the one shoulder (that wasn’t having a problem with the lift) in June; rotator cuff & impingement syndrome. When I was looking at replacement exercises for the upright row, I was giving some serious consideration to the Cuban Press. But my preference is to stick with the program to the best of my ability.

Poliquin has often recommended performing upright rows with an EZ Bar to alleviate wrist and shoulder pain.

EZ-Curl Bar – boy, I never would have thought of that one. That’s downright brilliant. My wrist thanks you . . . and Polliquin, of course.

I noticed that several others have mentioned the same thing but the machine based cable system with a low pulley hooked onto a rope pull seems to work wonders for me. One of the guys in our nut house gym is currently using a towel instead of the rope. For what it’s worth he swears by it. Try bringing the center of the rope pull all the way to your cheast with every rep. That means your arms go out and back at a funny angle for the last part but it really seems to work. By the way 5+5+5 strip sets this way can really have you crying after three sets. It gets you from the top of your back all the way down.

Glad I could help. Good luck with the upright rows and the Methoxy-7 test!